Brian Fink

TA WEEK: McAfee Talent Partner Brian Fink

Brian Fink Talent Acquisition Partner

Live with us today at Talent Acquisition Week is Brian Fink, Talent Acquisition Partner at McAfee, to discuss how to recruit in online chat forums. We discuss why this event is not one to be missed, why Brian loves Hired and events in general, and what his presentation is about. Brian even shares with us how he “hacks Slack,” how he recruits on Discord, and why you should use your personal email address when joining these communities, as well as how you can find them and what mistakes to avoid. We delve into why Brian offers practice interviews and resume reviews before discussing why conversations have to be taken offline. He also tells us what he looks for when recruiting for certain roles and shares the best career advice he has ever gotten. To hear all this and more, tune in now!

Episode Transcript


[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontline’s modern recruitment.

[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions, where are they willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail.

[0:00:22.7] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings, I got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

[0:00:39.7] MALE: Talent acquisition, it’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization, you get to work with the C-Suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between, and everybody knows you.

[0:00:52.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk Talent to Me.


[0:00:59.0] RS: Joining me here on the expo floor at TA week is a talent partner at McAfee, Brian Fink. Brian, Welcome to the pod. How the heck are ya?

[0:01:06.0] BF: What’s going on? Man? I’m having fun. It’s a lot of excitement here. For those of you who are not with us here. This is a marquee event, you’re going to want to be here next year, you’re going to be part of the madness, whether it’s happy hours, whether it’s hackathons, whether it’s getting an on on the floor, we are getting it on the floor, okay? I said that? Well, I’ll live with that. I live with that.

[0:01:24.0] RS: Throwing down on the dance floor, getting down on the floor, whatever, whatever it may be.

[0:01:29.0] BF: Now, I’m going to start singing the number block song for my daughter’s preschool years.

[0:01:33.0] RS: Gosh, I’m imagining that stuff is just like a loop in your brain.

[0:01:37.0] BF: It is. But numberblocks are actually pretty good. So for any of you who are listening, it is a show that is on Netflix. And it teaches the joy of counting multiplication, division and subtraction. Fantastic. Yeah. Which is kind of a little bit like what brought us here for recruiting, right? Because we’re trying to multiply people’s efforts. We’re trying to solve problems. We’re getting into a robust equation.

[0:01:57.0] RS: We’re dividing the budget. We’re adding hires. Well, I didn’t. I didn’t know how you’re going to bring that back around. But you really slipped into him there.

[0:02:04.0] BF: Yeah, I did. Thank you. I appreciate that. And I was like, and we’re going where? All right. So that’s that, that’s the story. And I’m sticking with it.

[0:02:12.0] RS: Yeah, this has been, I wouldn’t want to reiterate what you said there that if people are listening from home, and you didn’t make it, you blew it, you missed out and get your company to send you to this event next year. It’s like a time now.

[0:02:22.0] BF: So there’s this event. And there’s also a virtual online event that’s going to be held in the summer, or I think spring timeframe, which is going to be a great opportunity to, you know, what I like about events so much, Rob, is the fact that there’s an energy, there’s a collective community. And I think that through social platforms that you can build that. And I think that’s one of the things that really endears TA week to those people who are participants. So you know, if nobodythanks you, I’m glad that you’re a participant, I’m glad that you guys are rocking the floor. What else can I share with you?

[0:02:52.0] RS: Man, I have so many things. I want to speak with you about Brian, I guess let’s start in the obvious direction, which is what was your presentation about?

[0:02:58.0] BF: Okay, so my presentation is on the long and short of it is how to hack slack is that I just mentioned communities, whether it’s virtual, or whether it’s an in person community, Slack is real people having real conversations in real time about what’s important to them and the challenges that are trying to accomplish when we think of slack or We think of it as an interoffice communication tool, right? I don’t think of it like that. I think of it as like old school AOL messenger, how do you find the right chat room to get into at the right time and eavesdrop into the conversation? And invest in that community? Right? I know that eavesdropping sounds a little nefarious, investing in community sounds a little trite. But I kind of take some of the social cues from like Gary Vaynerchuk, or Grant Cardone is that you want to give before you take from that proverbial social capital checking account. So that’s really what I’m trying to do when I’m recruiting inside of slack. And I’m going to show the 480 participants that are here with us today, how to do that, and how to build community, and then how to activate that community when they’ve got an open role.

[0:04:04.0] RS: Eavesdropping does sound bad, but you have to do this. You have to listen and understand what the community is talking about. Because if you don’t do that, and you just go in there and yell, absolutely, it looks so bad. And it’s like you’re not adding any value. You’re just hoping to extract value. And I see it all the time. Like someone posts on LinkedIn recruiter posts on LinkedIn, look at these JSON roles. We’re hiring.

[0:04:26.0] BF: Yeah, there’s so cool! Again, want to be part of it.

[0:04:27.0] RS: Who cares? Why would I always click a link to and indeed, you know,

[0:04:30.0] BF: So wait a minute, so you bring something up? Is it it recruiter puts out there and says, I’m hiring for these JSON roles? What would it be like if you found 10 Really good JSON developers, and you invited them into a private Slack channel inside of a Slack group, and you let them have a Q&A real time with the hiring manager about what they can do to perpetuate their career, or how they can improve their resume or their interview skill. Think about the value that you’re delivering that you bring into that community then in there.

[0:05:02.0] RS: Yeah, this is kind of a webinar strategy that I’ve seen, like HIRED has done it, for example. But you can do that on an individual basis on a lower stakes basis, which it feels more genuine, because there’s not like a company sponsoring it. It’s like, Oh, I’m just putting you in this room, as the hiring manager, anything you want. And there’s knowledge here, they’re like there’s access to this person, and there’s not going to be an expectation that they get funneled into a job experience. Right.

[0:05:26.0] BF: So one of the things that I like about HIRED, okay, now I’m plugging the platform, whatever that is not is that is one of the things that I like about HIRED is that HIRED gives me enough information to create a credible relationship with that individual, and not just hit them with spam. In fact, it’s one of those things that you’re encouraged to build that community to build that relationship with the individual. That’s one of the reasons why I like to recruit on Slack. That’s one of the reasons why I like to recruit on Medium, I get to find out what people are talking about, or one of the reasons that I like to recruit on Discord. How do you do that? So Discord is a little more difficult, because there’s a large degree of anonymous activity that takes place on Discord. But what you’re doing is you’re looking for those social cues, you’re looking for those links that they’re sharing, what are they interested in? We’re podcasting. But I like to think of recruiting as tuning into the channel, wi I fm, what’s in it for me. And when we tune into wi FM, we’re able to have a real genuine conversation not built around what we’re trying to serve and the interests that we’re trying to perpetuate. But instead the mission that that candidate or that individual is trying to serve. So let them have the service. And it takes place by that social listening, or that eavesdropping, or that going through their files. Because there are a tremendous amount of files that are shared on a network like discord, right? It’s not just video games and kitten pictures. And if it is video games and kitten pictures, you know how to talk to your candidate now through memes and through and saying, Hey, do you want to join me on Call of Duty? let’s team up? What’s that like? Like, you’re totally you’re given them a taste of the culture of the organization that is kind of really unparalleled, you can’t really do that in an interview, like, you know what cooperative team play looks like. And if this person is just out for their kills, or if this person is out to really kind of solve the mission for the team. So that’s just, that’s just one way that I kind of do a little do a little different dance.

[0:07:21.0] RS: Yes, I love this different dance. And it’s a different dance to the beat of long term relationship building is way better than just in time hiring, right? Because if you’re gonna do just in time hiring, and you’re gonna reach out and cold email, whatever, someone, you kind of just have to hope that they are looking for a new role or open to a new role in this really finite window of time, which is not how typically people are, you’d have to get lucky, right?

[0:07:45.0] BF: But you can make your own luck, Rob, is that one of the things that sourcers do, and that they really good sourcers do very well, is that they build those longtime conduits with candidates. And so they can quickly activate for just in time hiring. So I don’t want to take anything away from them there.

[0:08:00.0] RS: Well, that’s what it’s for. It’s so that when you are ready to hire them, or reach out about a role that it’s not out of nowhere, it’s not cold, and maybe even they come to you when they start to look for a role. Right? Absolutely. I totally endorse that approach. Here’s the problem. If you’re listening to this, and you’re like, that sounds great. But I haven’t done any of it yet. And I got roles to fill in the next 90 days. Okay, you both.

[0:08:22.0] BF: Yes, you can do both, you can absolutely do both, as if you jump on Discord, or you jump on Slack, and you’re in the right community. And I’m going to show people how to get into the different communities, there will actually be in a lot of instances, there will be job boards that will be internalized in that group. And what will happen is that you’ll have a string of comments of people who maybe didn’t apply to the job, but want to know more about that opportunity. Those are people that you can quickly activate, and that you can quickly start a conversation with those are the people that are looking. Also, as I was having a conversation, Rob with your counterpart, Sarah, Sarah, we love you, Sarah, we just want to get that out there. Shout out to Sarah. Sarah has the most magical hair of anybody here at the conference, I’ve been Batman. Anyhow, long story short, is that you can find codebase and documents that are shared. And a document that people love to share when they’re looking for a job is a resume. And if you find a person who shared a resume in the past week, they’re either looking for feedback on that resume, or they’re looking for a job immediately. If they’re looking for feedback on the resume, why don’t you build the relationship and help them and do interview coaching? Because interviews are weird conversations. This is a unique instance where you can add that value that value may pay off down the line or where you can jump in and have that immediate conversation around the intimacy of a resume that has been shared, even if it wasn’t shared with you.

[0:09:43.0] RS: Are these communities, people who are like specialized talent sharing career advice with each other? What are these communities organized under?

[0:09:51.0] BF: That’s a great question. So for instance, one community that I I like to think that I play a pretty significant role in is the Kubernetes community. You can find The Kubernetes, Slack channel To join it, all you need is an email address, it doesn’t have to be your corporate email address, it can be a Gmail address what have you. But what I do is that there are different channels that are listed inside of that team. And in those channels, you can find where people are talking about what they’re building the problems they’re solving, the jobs they’re hiring for, cat memes, things, you know, I make that joke, but they’re definitely there. And so like, jump into the community, and take the code that is shared, and pass it to your development team, and see if that is code that is worthy of your time investing interest in this candidate. Or, like I said, you can pull the resumes and you’re specifically pulling people who are Kubernetes experts, they’re drawn together because they want to know about Kubernetes, they want to share about Kubernetes. They’re invested in building the Kubernetes codebase, Sarah and I were having a conversation about how to find salespeople. And we jumped into one of the different teams that’s based on finding salespeople and sharing information. And I showed her and just like I’m showing in the presentation, how to extract people’s contact information, or Calendly links, so you can have those quick conversations with them on a meaningful timetable. Yeah, those are those are a few dozen other ways. I’m sorry, I went off on tangent, I got passionate about this shit, and stuff.

[0:11:17.0] RS: That’s great. That’s great. No, I would never cut you off on that. That’s exactly what I’m hoping you do here, right? Point of order. If you’re gonna join one of these communities, don’t use your corporate email address, right? Use your personal email address, because the Kubernetes slack group will be there. Probably after you leave the company you currently work.

[0:11:34.0] BF: Kubernetes slack. Absolutely, that is something that I preach is tie it to your Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail ID and have it so that you can use that almost as a keychain to log into multiple groups. Like I talked about teams and workplaces, I’m active on about 20 to 30 of them. And when I say active, like I’m posting what our team at McAfee is doing, I’m looking in those communities for individuals who might be potential Kubernetes engineers, and help us in our migration and using different Docker containerization orchestration. Sorry, I got super technical. I didn’t mean to do that, guys, and gals, that’s just the party that I run. I’m passionate about being part of this community. One of the things that I volunteer in this community is that when I see somebody who is sharing their resume, even if I don’t have a role for him, I say, Do you want to mock interview? Do you want to practice interview? And we take 30 minutes just to talk about what makes them unique? Not a sales conversation. This is just a conversation, what makes you unique? And what kind of problems do you want to solve? So you can articulate that when you have the awkward hiring conversation with the hiring manager.

[0:12:56.0] RS: When you are getting into these communities, you have to have the learning phase, right, while you’re trying to understand like when you are, you know, Jane Goodall trying to collect some anthropological data about how these these social hierarchies work in the discord? What are you looking for in that period, so that you can make sure when you do engage, you’re getting something meaningful and valuable.

[0:12:56.0] BF: So when I look at developers, I’m looking for people who will share their GitHub profile, I will cross reference that GitHub profile, and I will see how many stars they have, or how many repositories that they’ve had forked. And I’ll use that to figure out their social credibility, right? Like, in that instance, they’re verified by the community as to who they are, what they do and how they contribute to the open codebase. So that’s for maybe for tech people, when I’m looking for sales or marketing individuals. I’m looking for the person who’s answering the questions, not the person who’s interjecting every five seconds and saying, but you forgot this. I’m looking for the person who, in a core setting, is answering those questions and going deep with them is having those subsequent DM me conversations. So they can take things offline, and they can make them private. I’m looking for the person who says, Hey, I’d love to talk to you about this. Here’s my Calendly link, and sharing their availability so that they can not build credibility in the community, but so that they can have a meaningful conversation to help elevate the community. And I think that’s one of the things actually we’re doing today by having this podcast is we’re elevating how people recruit on Discord, how people recruit on Slack and other IRCs.

[0:14:08.0] RS: I love taking things offline. How about you, dude?

[0:14:12.0] BF: I mean, like, it’s part of the common nomenclature, right? Like, we’re going to take this offline. But that’s one of the unique features that you have to be aware of: when you’re in a public Slack channel, do you actually know how private your conversation is unless you truly take it offline. Like I will drop in there. So if I use Gmail, I will drop in a Gchat or a Google Hangouts link. That’s actually how we talked right? Yeah, I’ll drop that in the channel. And I’ll have somebody connect with me that way. And I’ll just kind of run an open chat room in that forum.

[0:14:47.0] RS: Yeah. And while I was being cheeky when I called it out, but I do believe it. I love taking things offline because what it really is saying is, let’s get serious. Let’s take this like a one to one. Let’s get off LinkedIn. Let’s get out Slack and let’s actually hammer out something meaningful.

[0:15:02.0] BF: Absolutely. I would agree with that. I don’t think that people are sold or qualified over email or over slack or over video. Maybe I like video a little too much, you know? Yeah.

[0:15:12.0] RS: I mean, it is good. It’s just like you, you can accomplish more in an eight minute video call than you can in an ad thread email conversation.

[0:15:20.0] BF: I totally agree with that. That’s actually one of the things that I’m kind of critical about the talent acquisition community is that there are some sorcerers who never pick up the phone and never talk to a candidate and find out what their motivation is. They just like say, here’s an email, tell me your three top skills, what are you focused on? They’re not focusing on the quality and the qualifications that they’re going through. And I think that you have to take it offline to get there.

[0:15:20.0] RS: So you mentioned Kubernetes, as one example, how are you finding these communities?

[0:15:49.0] BF: Okay, how do you find communities? So I gave the example of So one thing that you can do is I’m a big boolean proponent, shout out to Steve Rath and Charlize sacral and Shannon van Keuren, as she used to be known, but Shannon over at higher EZ, is that these are the individuals who taught me boolean, they taught me how to make the internet tell me its secrets, right? Yeah, I mean, I’m serious, right. So like when I look for slack groups, and I go through this in the presentation, is that I use Boolean, and I use directories. So one directory, if you want it simple, go to slow file, S L O, f i l Type in what you’re looking for women in entrepreneurism or Latinos in tech, or Blackson sales, I just give those examples because they will pull up multiple slack groups that are publicly held communities that you can join just by listing your Gmail, or identifying yourself as an ally to those communities and reading the rules of the community. Or what you can do is you can type in, in URL, colon, the word you’re looking for, will say Kubernetes, or sales, or entrepreneurship, then I’m going to put the site command colon Because all slack groups whether your public slack group, or private slack groups are tied back to the domain. And I’m gonna use some maybe some additional qualifiers, I might use the word like engineer or salespeople, or about us so that I can bring back a descriptor of what’s going on in this group before I aimlessly kind of try to join.

[0:17:23.0] RS: Yeah. Do you see examples of talent folks who have gone as far as getting in the community understanding Okay, Slack discord awesome new channel for me, but then are doing it wrong, like you see them trying to ingratiate themselves, but they’re doing a bad job. Like it makes you cringe.

[0:17:40.0] BF: Okay, so I have seen things that are cringe worthy, but the group, the community police’s itself, right, like I said, you could type in Latinas and tech, there is a group that I’m a member of that is called the tech taqueria, or the tech Tucker. Maybe I mispronounced That’s it. Okay. So tech Korea, and it is specifically for helping Latina X individuals in their pursuit of joining startups, underscoring entrepreneurial endeavors or being engaged in technology, right? So what there is, is there two different logins that you can go under, you can say, hey, I’m Latinx. And I’m looking for this community to support my community and to grow in my community, and for my community to help me land my next job, or for those of you who are tuning in and you can’t see us on the floor. Rob and I are both white males, my pronouns are he him, Rob, what are your pronouns? Yeah, okay. So real quick, as an ally, I am going from a position of power. And I am looking at this community and I am saying, hey, what can I do to raise all tides? What can I do to raise all boats? So if I’m not doing that thing, the community is going to kick me out and revoke my credentials. And there’s not going to be a conversation, right? So have I seen bad things in groups? Yeah, I’ve seen people who spam announcement channels with jobs. When the rules say, put jobs in the job channel. Yeah, put gigs in the gig channel.

[0:19:09.0] RS: RTFM. Right. Read the effing manual.

[0:19:10.0] BF: Yes, yes. Yes. Okay. Well, I didn’t know I could say that. But yeah. I guess it goes back to what Greg Fischer said, this is a conference for adults. So there will be adult language?

[0:19:20.0] RS: Yes, yes. Yeah, the reason I asked is because like, sure the channel will police it, but it’s better to not be police, right. It’s better to have your first involvement makes sense. And so I wanted to see if we can steer people away from getting as far as getting in but then blowing it when it comes time to actually contribute.

[0:19:39.0] BF: Okay, so I think that your community is going to tell you, if you kind of spy on the wall, or fly on the wall this for a little bit. Your community is going to tell you what they’re interested in and how you can bring value to it. One of the ways that I gave the example with the Kubernetes group is that I offer resume reviews. Full disclosure, I don’t run a resume business. If somebody wants a resume done. I have passed them off to Trish Watarrka. I’m just here to tell them, hey, they’re not enough numbers here. You didn’t include this link, this sentence doesn’t make sense. I just post in the group and say, How can I provide value? What is it that you need for me? Oh, are you interested in an opportunity? My organization? Let me see how I can help you. It was an individual actually who’s looking for a marketing role. And full disclosure, I think everybody’s picked up on the fact that I recruit technology professionals, marketing is really foreign to me, right? I had a conversation about what they did, who they did it for their experience at different organizations. And it was like, Okay, let me see if I can find the recruiter and let’s see what we can do to bait, take our bridge, and build that further so that we can bring you to McAfee.

[0:20:44.0] RS: Brian, we are giving him an optimal podcast lengthier podcast, which is actually a thing and it’s different when you’re on the expo floor. Because there’s hustle and bustle we have to get in and out. It’s a little bit like a bank heist. So now that we’ve cracked the safe and looted it, we’re gonna make our escape here. But before we do, I want to ask you to wrap a bow on this episode, what is the best career advice you have ever received?

[0:21:08.0] BF: The best career advice that I’ve ever received is probably from my dad, loving dad very much, Dad, if you’re listening, this is for you, is always do one more do one more thing than what the other guys doing. When I first got an agency that was make one more phone call if I had to make 100 phone calls, make 101 If I had to have an hour and a half of talk time, have two hours to talk Tom do one more. It will set you apart from a work ethic standpoint, but also from a candidate experience standpoint. If you tell that candidate Hey, I’m gonna get back to you Friday, and I do something a Friday wrap up where I let people know where they stand in the process. Just do one more. One more thing. And that’s for you, Dad, if you’re listening to this podcast. That’s it. Awesome. Let’s rock.

[0:21:53.0] RS: That’s beautiful. Thank you so much, Brian, for being with me here today.

[0:21 :55.0] BF: Rob, thanks for making this happen. Let’s do Whoo, all right.


[0:22:01.0] RS: Talk Talent to Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired empowers connections by matching the world’s most innovative companies with ambitious tech and sales candidates. With Hired, candidates and the companies have visibility into salary offers, competing opportunities and job details. Hired’s unique offering includes customized assessments and salary bias alerts to help remove unconscious bias when hiring. By combining technology and human touch, our goal is to provide transparency in the recruiting process and empower each of our partners to employ their potential and keep their talent pipeline full.

To learn more about how we can help you find your next great hire, head to