The Value of Education as a Recruiter with Adrian Russo

Adrian RussoDirector of Talent Acquisition at MotoRefi

Adrian Russo is the Director of Talent Acquisition at MotoRefi. Adrian also has a Master’s degree in Information Systems, and this in-depth understanding has helped him stand out as a tech recruiter.

Episode Transcript





[00:00:05] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent To Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines with modern recruitment.


[00:00:12] SPEAKER 1: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions. Are they willing to take risks? And what it looks like when they fail.


[00:00:22] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment VPS of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.


[00:00:29] SPEAKER 2: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.


[00:00:39] SPEAKER 3: 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.


[00:00:52] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk Talent To Me.




[00:00:59] RS: Joining me today on Talk Talent To Me is MotoRefi’s Adrian Russo. Adrian, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?


[00:01:06] AR: I’m well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.


[00:01:08] RS: Yeah, yeah, I’m so excited that you’re joining me. How’s your week going? What’s top of mind for you?


[00:01:14] AR: Weeks going well. I just got back from vacation. So, well rested, and really happy to be here. So excited. Thanks.


[00:01:21] RS: Yeah, yeah, me too. Man, we could just dive into MotoRefi, but maybe we should earn the insight a little bit because you have had such an interesting and varied background. You are an entrepreneur, you were in the military, you’ve recruited as part of all of those roles. Let’s go back a little bit. I guess first, Adrian, I’d love to just know a little bit about your own career recruiting in the military, and then we can kind of go on on from there. What was that experience like for you?


[00:01:50] AR: Yeah, it’s kind of an interesting journey. I think I started out just about like everyone else in recruiting. I don’t think anyone wakes up and says, in first grade, “I want to be a recruiter when I grow up.” My personal journey was a little bit different. I also never intended on joining the military. I joined after September 11. So, I went to a school in rural Pennsylvania that was really close to Shanksville, not really close, it was close to Shanksville, but I also went to school with a lot of people from New York.


So, September 11th was really an event that impacted me. And so, I joined initially, as Airborne Ranger, I got hurt and then I went into an airborne infantry unit, went to Iraq, got injured there, and then I came back, got injured again on my first jump back. So long story short, they sent me to become a recruiter, while I rehab. I did the traditional army recruiter thing for a very short period of time. And because of my background, they sent me to support special missions’ units and OGAs. And for those that are not familiar, that stands for other government agencies. And what I recruited there were electronic warfare, signals intelligence, crypto linguists, interpreters, and network engineers. These types of individuals, typically didn’t wear a uniform, and they also didn’t report to a base, so you can kind of get a sense for what these individuals did. Really loved it, and so this is something I decided to do when I got out.


[00:03:11] RS: Yeah, I mean, the OGA recruiting for basically civilian roles, highly technical civilian roles, it’s just starting to look a lot like the tech recruiting that happens at any kind of company, right?


[00:03:20] AR: Yeah, it’s funny, it really is. A lot of people, for whatever reason, think that there’s not a lot of parallels between recruiting in the military and recruiting in the private sector. And in some cases, there really is. There’s a lot of parallels, you can draw and that was one specific instance where there are a lot of similarities.


[00:03:39] RS: So, you get out of the military, and you’re like, you have all this varied experience, from having served for however long. What made you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in recruiting?


[00:03:48] AR: I did a little bit of everything while I was recruiting in the military. One thing that I found myself drawn to was technical recruiting. I knew nothing about technology when I started. And even after I left the military, I still knew nothing about technology. But what I didn’t know was that I was really impressed with how much you can do if you had a certain level of understanding of technology. I’ve always had a lot of respect for technologists and what they can do.


So, I decided to continue in the tech recruiting field. And what I wanted to do was learn a little bit more about technology and continue learning about the professionals in the field, and just really soak up as much information as I could. I basically started going and learning more about certain areas of tech and trying to enroll in courses and things of that nature to learn as much about the field as I could.


[00:04:40] RS: What kind of coursework did you do?


[00:04:41] AR: So, I started out doing undergraduate courses and computer science. I bounced around a little bit into computer science, IT and undergrad, and eventually that led me into a Master’s in IT, which I started at Stevenson University.


[00:04:57] RS: I’m kidding. No relation. I should point out for the folks at home. It’s interesting that you went the academic route, because that technical literacy is so important when you’re speaking with software engineers or whomever. You really need to speak their language a little bit, because otherwise, they’re just going to hang up on you, right? They’re like, “Well, why would I talk to you? I just want to talk to the hiring manager.” Or maybe you turn them off completely to the business just by not really understanding their background. And for most tech recruiters I speak with, they are learning that ad hoc on the job, or maybe they’re taking some online coursework, I don’t know. But it’s interesting that you sort of when the academic route. Would you say that was really helpful to you as you went out to continue your career in tech recruiting that you had this master’s degree?


[00:05:41] AR: For me, it was very helpful. When I started out, I had to be really honest, I was very, very bad at tech recruiting from the perspective of actually understanding technology. I was very bad at it. So, if there are any tech recruiters that are starting out right now, and you’re just really struggling to understand what it is these technical professionals do, my advice would be stick with it, it’ll at one point, click. And if you’re just passionate about tech recruiting, you really like what you do, stick with it, it’ll click. But what I found is going back and getting a Master’s in IT, it’s been really a force multiplier.


The master’s degree, specifically at Stevenson, it’s a really great program. It’s more of an Information Systems degree that touches on a lot of different aspects of programming. So, for me, I became really familiarized with high level architecture, and then my specific field focused a lot on programming, specifically with databases. So, I found it very helpful to speak with software engineers, architects, people that worked in that field predominantly, and it really helped me out when I went back into tech recruiting and more on the consulting side, to be honest. And that’s where I really found it to be advantageous.


I think now, there’s a lot more options that are available to recruiters. So, if I could do it over again, I might maybe supplement, but I really do think there’s a lot of advantages to going out and getting a Master’s in IT.


[00:07:06] RS: What would you supplement with?


[00:07:09] AR: There are a lot of really great online curriculums that I like. There are definitely a lot of MOOCs out there that are really great. But I’m a big fan of A Cloud Guru. I know that they’ve recently acquired a lot of different online forums, and they were recently acquired by Pluralsight. I haven’t really used them since they’ve been acquired by Pluralsight, just because I just really haven’t had the time. But A Cloud Guru is great. We’ve used those in the past at organizations that I’ve been at, in a past company, in a past team that I’ve led, I’ve had my entire team get certified as AWS certified recruiters.


At a practitioner level, everyone got certified as an AWS certified cloud practitioner, and then we went on to get certified at a Solutions Architect level, and we use A Cloud Guru, so they’re great. So, I like A Cloud Guru, Linux Academy, which is now A Cloud Guru. I think they’re both great. So really, there’s a lot of options out there that you can use. And to be honest, where A Cloud Guru started, Reddit. Reddit has a lot of great, great forums, believe it or not. There are some things you have to stay away from, obviously, when you go to sites like that, but that’s where you get started. If you go in the right communities, like Stack Overflow, someplace on Reddit, there’s a lot of great resources there.


[00:08:25] RS: Yeah, definitely more so than ever before. Right now, is a great time to try and learn a trade or learn a new skill digitally. And something that I love hearing from talent professionals, especially as they sort of work their way up the organizational chart, is an ability to really be strategic advisors to other leaders in the business. It strikes me that having an advanced degree and really understanding architecture in the way that you do, what affords you an ability to sort of speak the language of directors of engineering, chief product officers, those kinds of individuals, to help them shape what actual needs they have to build products. Is that the case at all for you?


[00:09:07] AR: It definitely is. And we could ask meaningful questions when we’re actually sitting down with hiring managers and trying to understand a job. A lot of times the first questions we ask are to better understand the tech stack. I say we, because, at MotoRefi, the team that we have, the technical recruiters, actually have technical backgrounds. One of the tech recruiters is two times AWS certified. The other one has a Bachelor’s in Information Systems and is also AWS certified, and comes from a business systems analyst background.


So, we’re actually able to ask technical questions, get a better understanding for what they’re trying to do long term, and then not only get a better understanding for that role, and what that role entails and actually come at it from a consultative perspective, but also understand the long-term needs and then project what they might need in the future, and kind of piggyback off of those roles.


So for example, if we have multiple candidates that are potentially a good fit for the position, and we all know that we can hire, multiple candidates for one role, there might be another role on the hiring plan two months from now that that second candidate would be a good fit for, we can say, “Hey, this other candidate, Jane Smith, she might not be a great fit for this position. But what about this one over here? Here’s where she’d be able to add value. Here’s why I think she’d be great. What if we looked at her for this position?” And what we found is we do that quite often. And it’s my opinion of value-add for the business, and it really helps not only with the business case, but it also helps the candidate experience. And leading into that, one thing that we’re seeing on that side with the candidate experience is it’s improving our net promoter score. In the last 90 days, our candidate Net Promoter Score went from 72%, to just today, it went to 86%. So, we’re seeing that on the business side, and we’re seeing a net promoter score increase on the candidate side as well.


[00:11:04] RS: Yeah, it just really speaks to the nuance, I guess, or maybe deeper thinking you’re able to bring to that process by understanding what about a profile would be relevant to a different role or to a business need. That’s not even perhaps represented by an open role. And when recruiters and when when talent pros that I speak to consider advanced degrees, it’s almost always an MBA, which is just like the path of least resistance. It’s like, “Oh, well, obviously, you’re going to go for your MBA, because you want to have a C level role sometime.” But I guess when you think of like, what is the actual business output that you want to be better at, I guess you have to really reflect on that before you make a decision, like a huge decision, an expensive decision, like an advanced degree, right?


[00:11:55] AR: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you’re always going to get pushed back when you make asymmetric decisions. In my case, I was summarily laughed at when I told my boss at the time that I was going to pursue a Master’s in IT. So, whenever you have ideas, or thoughts that are against the norm, you’re going to get pushed back, or people are going to question why you’re doing it. But I think if you’re doing it for the right reasons, and pursuing it, because you feel it’s best for you and your career, you shouldn’t doubt yourself. In all three of our cases, it wound up I think, being good for our careers. And to be honest, I think it helps better serve the candidates as well. And some of these cases are able to better understand the candidates, what they’re looking for, and if you get to understand what the career path looks like, for some of these professionals, you can help match them up with some of the roles in your company, or provide them with some advice along the way, or point them in the right direction.


[00:12:54] RS: Yeah, absolutely. I would say that getting laughed at or dismissed by someone, maybe someone whose job you don’t want, or who you didn’t want to end up like, would be a good indicator for me. I’m like, okay, if I wanted to think creatively about my career, and have a lot of different types of roles, maybe start my own thing, maybe provide a different sort of value to the business, than they’re used to seeing, then you have to do different things, right? Then you have to roll up your sleeves a little bit and get in on those MOOCs or take a degree that maybe isn’t expected. This is all part and parcel of forming a unique approach to your life, not just in terms of your career. But if you want a different outcome, you need to put in different work.


So, I just think it makes all the sense in the world to me that, especially looking at the kind of career you’ve had, that this would be a good approach for you. I wonder also, if that helped inform your decision to start recruit locator, which is an HR tech tool that you fired up. Can we go into a little bit about that and how you founded that? How you came to start that company? What was your experience in the market that led you to want to start Recruit Locator?


[00:14:01] AR: So, at the time, I just finished up my graduate degree at Stevenson and as I mentioned before, this degree was a little bit more technical for an Information Systems degree. I learned a lot of programming, I learned a lot of high-level systems architecture. And at the time, I realized that I had a lot more to offer from a technical perspective on the technical recruiting side, and I thought I could bring value as more of a consultant. So, I decided to go out on my own. I had a partner who I co-founded Recruit Locator with, and what we did was we developed a desktop application that essentially was our technical differentiator, in this business.


So, the thought process was there are a lot of staffing companies out there, and we had to do something that was different, and we had to kind of differentiate ourselves from everyone else. And so, I developed this solution that allowed recruiters to search how recruiters search. A lot of recruiters search by keyword. So, instead of going against the grain and trying to change that habit, I decided to create something to let them search the way they search. And the thought is, we would create, essentially, a tool that sits on top of search engines that would return results for everything but job boards.


So essentially, you would get profiles, resumes, CVs, from everywhere on the open web, but job boards. And so, what we would do is we would go out to all these clients to try and get new business and they would inevitably say, “Well, what’s different from you and everyone else?” And we would just show them this tool and we would ask for their business. And they would say, “Yeah, sure. But how do we license this product?” And we would tell them, “Well, this is our tool, we use it internally, we can find new talent. Let us show you how we can get you talent for this.” 


Well, after hearing that enough, we decided to quickly refactor this into a SaaS product. And so, I wound up spending all my time, on quickly spinning this up into a SaaS product. I had a small development team of me and two other developers that spent a lot of time refactoring this, developing our modules, developing our new services. And really, that’s how Recruit Locator started. We had a side that was recruiting, and then we had a side that was the SaaS product.


[00:16:17] RS: Was it that sort of disillusionment with job boards, writ large, that led you to be like, “Okay, let’s just exclude all of that from the search and be a little more thoughtful about where we serve as folks.”


[00:16:28] AR: I don’t want to make this sound like I have any issues with job boards or resume databases, I think they’re great. I think every recruiting tool has a use. And every recruiting tool has a purpose. I just thought if you want to use a job board, there’s there’s a lot of great tools for that. I wanted to have something that was different. There aren’t a lot of tools that allow recruiters to search by keyword on everything, but job boards.


So, if you go to Google right now, and you just typed in things like angular node and react, and people who are listening to try this, you’re not going to just return resumes of candidates or profiles of candidates. And some people might be thinking, “Well, I could do a Boolean string.” The problem is, you cannot programmatically search Google or Bing or whatever your search engine is even DuckDuckGo. You cannot programmatically search doing that. You also cannot search unindexed sites doing that. You can do that programmatically the way we did it. So that’s what we did. There was not a tool out there that did that at the time. I don’t know if there is now, there may be, but at the time, there wasn’t one. So, this was our differentiator. It wasn’t so much that I, that what we preferred, we didn’t prefer, it was that we saw a gap in the market there that we can take advantage of to find talent.


[00:17:49] RS: This tool sounds great. I mean, what happened? Why isn’t there 100 by 100, Recruit Locator booth at Source Con?


[00:17:55] AR: We actually did have one at Disrupt and a few other places. And we actually demoed at this Rob, and we were featured on a couple docuseries on amazon prime. But the challenge came into play in a couple different areas. As I mentioned, this is something that actually sat on top of search engine. So, you can imagine how difficult it is to manipulate search engines like Google and Bing and others. And they have these massive dev teams, and even LinkedIn to some extent.


We have videos out there that you could actually search right now, where we returned better and more relevant results, then LinkedIn recruiter, believe it or not. But that requires a ton of effort and you have to constantly iterate, just to make sure that you stay away from like, 503 responses, 404, all these CAPTCHA and redirects. You have to monitor how many redirects you get and handle those responses, and it just became really challenging to be able to do that with a small dev team. It took away from adding new features and new functions, not to mention the fact that you accumulate a ton of tech debt doing that.


The other factor to that is we’re entirely bootstrapped. We decided not to take any funding, which you know, you can have discussions about all day. And then just to be frank, there came a point in time where I just said, “We’re putting a lot of effort into this. This was never intended to be something that we’re going to license full time.” At one point, we got up to 300 licenses, we’re doing really well from that respect and it just took me out of recruiting. I never intended to be a full-time software engineer or principal engineer or anything like that. I’ve always been a talent acquisition professional. I just took this detour for two years. And I wanted to get back into talent acquisition.


So, the company that I went to at the time, they were gracious enough to give me a great role, leading a big team. And as part of that agreement, I had to sign something that said I would sunset licenses. So that was really the end of Recruit Locater and it was a great ride, I really enjoyed it. And it was a lot of fun. I love the experience.


[00:20:07] RS: You, in that case, represented my favorite kind of entrepreneur, which I refer to as phase two. Basically, meaning phase one, entrepreneurship is someone who’s just savvy and who sees a gap in a business that they maybe don’t even fully understand, that they maybe haven’t worked with, they see a problem that they haven’t personally struggled with. And like, I could spin up a product around this and probably help people and sell it and maybe exit. But I think what results in much better products are folks like you making something because you have personally struggled with it. So, like when you turn around and try and sell it to someone who has the job you had, you actually understand their pain points, which is to say, I guess leading me into this question, did you get the entrepreneurship bug? Did you get out of your system? Do you see yourself going back something like that? Or do you prefer the kind of stuff you have now?


[00:20:59] AR: Well, first of all, I appreciate all the kind words. So, thank you for that. That’s a great question. I’ll say this, I love MotoRefi. I love where I’m at. It’s a great company. And really, that’s what I’m focused on right now. MotoRefi is doing amazing things and I feel incredibly fulfilled doing what I’m doing now. I have an amazing team. They have amazing leadership. And the company is just, really the sky’s the limit. I wake up every day, I enjoy going to work, I enjoy working with my team. The team that I’m with is just incredible, from the larger people and culture team, all the way down to the team that I work with on a daily basis. So, that’s really what I’m focused on right now and I just love MotoRefi. So, that’s really where my focus is.


[00:21:48] RS: Very diplomatic response. But even like MotoRefi, assuming it is, this fantastic company is perfect for you, and the sky’s the limit, right? I don’t take issue with any of that. It’s interesting to me, though, is that entrepreneurship is often positioned as like the be all end all. And when someone goes that route, if they wind up taking a role as company number, whatever non founder, usually, it’s because their company that they tried to start didn’t work out, right? Usually, it’s because like, they couldn’t figure out a way to get profitable and no one wanted their product or whatever. It’s rarely because they were just like, “You know what, I think I like my other job better.” And it sounds like you had that approach, which is so important, I think to just iterate that, like entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily need to be the ultimate goal, and it’s totally rewarding to have a role, like the one you have now. Was that kind of your experience? Do you just kind of decide that, like, you didn’t really like doing that job and running a company that you would rather be back in talent, be running a team of recruiters, and that was sort of where your passion was, as opposed to building a company?


[00:22:56] AR: It was a couple of things. I did love a lot of aspects of running a company. To be perfectly honest, I think it was the right idea. I still own all the IT, it was just the wrong time. And maybe in the future, there’ll be something. But talent acquisition, for me is where my heart always be at. That’s what I love doing. I’ll always be a talent acquisition professional. So, no regrets. I really enjoyed the experience. I think it made me a much better talent acquisition professional. It taught me to think about recruiting challenges from a much different perspective. But I don’t think that running a company or being an entrepreneur is like, the pinnacle of where you have to be in the business world. I think you can be incredibly fulfilled at any station. It’s really what you enjoy, at the end of the day. It’s really what you enjoy, for your lifestyle, for you and your family.


So, for me, this is what I love doing. This is what I love doing. I mean, to be honest, if I wanted to go back and do that, I could do that. I could do that right now if I wanted to. But this is why I love doing and I know it was a very diplomatic answer, but it is the truth. I mean, this is what I love doing and there’s no place I’d rather be than MotoRefi.


[00:24:14] RS: We’re getting into MotoRefi. We’re so close. And I promise, I promise we will talk about the current gig. I just wanted to double click on something you said there. You mentioned that you approached town acquisition with a different lens, perhaps with a more informed lens after having run Recruit Locator. What lessons did you learn? How has it affected your current approach?


[00:24:33] AR: The biggest takeaway is just how I think about recruiting. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, everything from what you would think about from a technical perspective, meaning, how we would go about recruiting, what we could automate, what we can automate. I’m not one of those individuals and this isn’t to say there’s a right or wrong way. I don’t think that we’ll ever automate all aspects of recruiting. I just don’t think that’s possible. I think you could do a lot of automation, you can make things easier, but I don’t think you’ll automate recruiting fully.


But what I do think you can do is you can do things to make it easier. One thing, for example that I’ve done in the past is I’ve used different services to create a nightly search engine that had an API connection to ingest resumes as a nightly feed into an ATS. That’s how you can leverage technology in recruiting. That’s not automating recruiters at all out of a job, what it’s doing is it’s helping them be more efficient so when they come in, in the morning, they have candidates that are accustomed tailor to their search and the requisition that they could then call or reach out to, or then you create a secondary service that actually reaches out to those candidates via email. There are plenty of services that do that now, you don’t have to create that.


Another thing, and this is at a more basic level, when you’re in that community, and you’re in the engineering community, you’re exposed to other things. You can make open source contributions. I’ve adopted much more of an open source approach to recruiting. So, really being a part of open source communities like CNCF, Apache,, Spinnaker, Kubernetes, these types of communities that you’re in because you’re in the community, actually leveraging them because of your tech background, and then being able to get in front of these professionals, and then talking to them on their level. And then, “Hey, you know what, I’m hiring.” “Oh, are you hiring for your team?” “No, I’m actually hiring for this hiring manager over here.” Or, “No, I’m actually the director of this”, or “I’m the manager of that and I have a hiring manager that’s looking.” That happens all the time at networking events. So, it’s really just changed the way I’ve looked at approach recruiting overall, I would say.


[00:26:51] RS: Got it. Yeah, I’m glad you brought up automation and AI in recruiting. We don’t talk about AI much on this podcast. And I’ll tell you, it’s because there’s not much to talk about. I also host and produce an AI podcast where I interview AI experts. And the goal is not to replace humans. The goal is to allow humans to focus on their highest leverage activity, and the things that only human can do really, really well, and that are like the best use of your time, right? So, think of all of like the reporting and the boring things that you do at your job. That’s like, man, if I could stand to have to do this, I’d be so much more productive. That’s the stuff we’re pointing AI at. And this like utopian future where like AI does all the jobs and we have like, universal basic income and we spend our days like under a tree painting or something, that’s like the future people are like looking forward to slash afraid of, we’re so far from that. This is like not a realistic eventuality.


So, just shout out to anyone out there who’s afraid of AI taking your job. You don’t have to be afraid. It’s going to help you be better at your job. It’s interesting that like, you having seen lots of tools, and you building these kinds of tools sort of gave you this viewpoint to like, let’s make people better at their jobs as opposed to like, “How do we stop hiring humans?”


[00:28:07] AR: Yeah, there’s no Skynet coming anytime soon.


[00:28:09] RS: No, definitely not. Let’s get to MotoRefi though. I really want to hear about your your current role. You’ve had such an interesting background though. I wanted to kind of get the whole Adrian journey. But before we get into kind of the state of the talent union over there at MotoRefi, could you maybe for the folks at home, share a little bit about the company and kind of what you all do?


[00:28:28] AR: MotoRefi, we’re a fast growing, mission driven FinTech startup. And so, what we do is we have a marketplace and technology platform that helps consumers save on average, $100 a month on their car loans via our easy and seamless platform. So, we connect consumers to a network of lenders, and what we find is, on average, after we provide value added services, or refinance or loan, they’re saving, on average, $100 or more at most.


[00:28:53] RS: Got it. And then what’s the Adrian role? What’s your kind of current role? And what are you focused on right now?


[00:28:59] AR: My role in MotoRefi is the director of talent acquisition. So, I manage our talent acquisition team and I also develop the organizational strategy to ensure that we have the talent we need to fill all of our operational roles at MotoRefi. And we do that from the perspective of DEI&B, making sure that we have a broad group of diverse talent to fill all the roles across our organization and at all levels.


[00:29:24] RS: Got it. So, you’re going through this exciting period of hyper growth, right? And it’s always interesting to me how people prioritize DE&I in amongst hypergrowth, because hiring as hard as it is, and then when you apply more layers on to people more, more needs for the kind of folks you want to bring on, it gets more and more difficult. So, I do fear that companies who are so focused on growth could deemphasize DE&I. Sounds like it’s not the case for you, which I’m thrilled to hear. What is the the DE&I approach and how do you kind of marry that with the priorities of growing really quickly?


[00:29:58] AR: So, I would DEI&B has been at the core of everything that MotoRefi does and it’s been in our DNA from the start. Everyone from our CEO down has a commitment to DE&I. And in fact, one of the things, just outside of purely talent acquisition that MotoRefi has done that’s been great is putting together a workplace experience team. And so, you we have a workplace experience team that ensures that we’re doing everything to preserve, essentially, and this is really over simplifying things. Part of that is the employee experience. So that’s number one.


The other thing that we do is we also have a DE&I counsel. But from the talent acquisition perspective, we’ve shifted away from things like just pure resume databases, and job boards, and just posting to more of partnerships. So, we have a partnership approach to how we hire. So, we’ve partnered with companies like out in tech, Women Who Code, women impact tech, and professional diversity network to ensure that as we’re growing, we have all these sources of places to find very diverse talent for all of our different types of jobs. And when I say partnerships, these are actual partnerships. We’re sponsoring FinTech events. We have multiple speaking engagements with these groups. We’re members of their corporate councils. We’re actively staying engaged. Each recruiter on the team has different associations with these groups and they’re staying actively engaged on a weekly basis to ensure that we’re being true partners to the organization, and not only going to the organization when we’re looking to hire talent, but seeing what we could also do to add value to their organization as well. Maybe they need something and they need advice, career advice, or there’s something we can do to provide value for resume writing, things like that, that we can basically partner with organizations to ensure that we’re adding value as well.


[00:31:56] RS: Yeah, I’m so glad you said that, because partnering with professional organizations who represent underrepresented groups, is so crucial, but I think a lot of people may not know exactly how to do it, right? It’s like, we want to partner with Women Who Code, go to their website and click, like, partner with us. How much guidance do they provide when you start engaging with a group like this? And how much do you need to be sort of strategic about like, “Hey, I understand this about your organization and we want to add value in this way, here are our goals.” How do you make sure you are getting the most out of the organization and also that like you help them as well, and that’s a true partnership, as opposed to just like something that you can put in a blog post?


[00:32:37] AR: I think it’s one of those situations where there has to be synergy. So, there are a lot of really great organizations out there. And this is my personal thing, you can have a great organization that does really great things for groups, and they really help people out, but they just might not be a fit for whatever reason. So, you have to be able to add value. And there’s one organization in particular, that we recently partnered with that comes to us and me in particular for advice on how to restructure some of their programs. So, I’m always willing and available to help out and give them advice on how they can maybe add value to their organization, other organizations and restructure some of their programs.


And in turn, if I need help with something on the recruiting side, they’ll come out and help us. Same with some of our other partners on the insourcing side. We’ll go out and do panels, and we’ll help them with some panels, and they’ll always help us out with insourcing. So, it has to be a certain type of relationship, where you’re able to help the company out, the company is able to help you out, and not every organization is a great fit. It’s about finding that right fit where the two companies could have that symbiotic relationship.


[00:33:54] RS: Yes. And I’m so glad, Adrian, that when I kind of asked you about your DE&I strategy, you didn’t go right to pipeline numbers or like metrics at all, like, because those kinds of things that that do help you quantify the effectiveness of a DE&I strategy, there are results of these honest sort of partnerships set out upon in good faith, right? And so, you can measure things, but guess what, it’s going to look bad if you’ve done nothing. So, like, yeah, sure, measure it. But this is the action you need to take before you start to see things reflected in your pipelines in a company, right?


[00:34:30] AR: Yeah, absolutely. And I think all those numbers and metrics, they’re all going to come if you’re taking the right approach. I think the perfect example is, you know, the candidate Net Promoter Score. We don’t focus on that, we monitor that. We’re not sitting there every day saying, “Oh, why didn’t it move this way? Why didn’t move that way?” We were not following the daily gyrations of that score. We’re sitting there saying, “Okay, what can we do to improve the candidate experience?” And what we’re finding is over a 90-day period, it goes from a 72 to an 86. And so that’s a result of not sitting there saying, “Okay, why isn’t it here? Why is it?” No, it’s because every recruiter on that team, there is such consummate professionals and they’re so dedicated to providing that white glove treatment to everyone, that they’re improving the candidate experience. And in return, more candidates are filling out surveys, giving us more feedback, and they’re trying to give us the feedback that we need to tell us what to keep, and what we need to improve on, and we really value that feedback.


[00:35:33] RS: Yes. I love that you said like the 90-day viewpoint because this has been kind of my mantra the last like year or so. I have it on my whiteboard above my computer. It says. “Impatient with action, patient with results.” And if you’re just looking at a stat, for example, or in my case, like a downloader number, every day, guess what, nothing happens. But you have to just like think critically about what are all the things I can do start doing immediately, over and over again, iterate, and then you get the results you want eventually.


[00:36:02] AR: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s one of those things. I’m sure you see it all the time. You’ll have filby ebbs and flows. But at the end of the day, if you track things over time, and I think 90 days is a good mark, that’s where you look for your improvements. If you check daily, you’re going to see things up and down here and there. But you look over time, you’ll see your steady increases.


[00:36:20] RS: Yeah, such a good point. If you look daily, it’s just a great way to just kickstart your anxiety because like, you might have a low day for no other reason, then something out of your control. And then you’re like, “Oh, my God, I’m panicking. Why is it so low? What do I do?” Like you calm down, you zoom out, right?


[00:36:37] AR: Yeah, someone had a bad day, maybe you didn’t get back to someone in time, or you had an off day recording that day, and you had some bad feedback, but you pick it up in the next day, and you get back into your groove. You get back to giving the experience that your listeners are used to or your candidates are used to and you you see results.


[00:36:58] RS: Exactly. Adrian, before I let you go, I’m going to put it on you to slide into home here a little bit. You’ve had such an interesting and varied career, and I would just love for you to share some advice for the folks out there, as people are sort of reflecting on what they want out of their careers, how they can leverage their skill set, how would you encourage someone to reflect and think on what is best for them and how they can structure their next move?


[00:37:25] AR: I would encourage people to just look at what’s being done, and dare to be different. Think differently. Think outside the box. And if you’re looking at different approaches, and people were saying, “Oh, that’s not how it’s done”, and you really believe in the idea. Great. If people are saying that’s not how it’s done, you should say, “Awesome. I’m glad it’s not done that way.” Figure it out, and try and figure out a way to make it work and aggressively pursue how to make that work.


If you keep doing the same things over and over that everyone’s always done, and you just perfect the way that things have always been done, you’ll probably have some measure of success. But the way disruptors come out, they’re the ones who dare to do things differently. And eventually, it might take months or years, but eventually, those people who dare to do things differently will be the disruptors.


[00:38:24] RS: Love that. Adrian, this has been a fascinating conversation. Thank you for being here and sharing your whole journey and experience with me today. I really loved it.


[00:38:32] AR: I appreciate it. I love the show. It’s been an honor. Thank you for having me.


[00:38:36] RS: Absolutely.




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