S4 E41 | CXR 25 – Gerry and Glenn Gutmacher talk 25 years of CXR and Sourcing

Gerry Crispen and Glenn Gutmacher of ATAP sit down to reflect on 25 years of CareerXroads and Sourcing.

Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcast for talent acquisition and talent management. Listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.

Gerry Crispin 0:19
Welcome, pleasant, good day. This is Gerry Crispin at CareerXroads, and I am with Glenn Guttmacher. And this is all about thinking a little bit about the old days. So that’s kind of what we’re going to be talking about CareerXroads is celebrating 25 years 1995-96 was when we we first started having an idea about a book and we started doing a little bit of training in New York City as a matter of fact, with Cornell University on how to use how to recruit on the internet. And we only did it for about three or four years and by the time we were finished, we got out of it because we really weren’t doing recruiting. We were more like helping people figure out how to get on the computer so they can turn on the damn computer. And they didn’t know and, and then there were some real recruiters who started actually doing the kind of work and I think that’s kind of when we first met, wasn’t it? Glenn, you were up in Boston working for for a publisher, and I recall,

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 1:39
Yeah. It was called Community Newspaper company at the time, and they owned all the little town papers in eastern Massachusetts, you know, probably 100 at their peak, and they brought me on to help with turning their different print classified sections into online products. So I love it.

Gerry Crispin 2:05
When Yeah, how old were you? When was that?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 2:08
That was in 96.

Gerry Crispin 2:10
Okay

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 2:11
The person who hired me was Charlene Lee, who’s since become very famous with a number of books and consulting in the internet realm. And she was my boss at the time.

Gerry Crispin 2:25
And you were do so so but I recall that you started the whole training program, because I remember you were you just were among the very first doing this.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 2:34
Yeah, that was interesting. So in the course of trying to explain to our print advertisers, what online was which I agree with you, you were basically telling them how to turn on their computer. But they were curious because the only thing that was well known in Massachusetts at that time was monster.com, which was started a couple years earlier by Jeff Taylor. And so they’re saying, okay, we can advertise with monster we can buy job postings and search CV in your database, we had equivalent functionality to Monster. But what else can we do? And that’s when I started doing my own online research and I just happened to discover things like Boolean searching and realizing that the internet had a lot of interesting people data on it that would be very complimentary to job postings and CV searching because you can find all kinds of online footprints of people. And this was of course before Google even so your main search engine was probably AltaVista and they had no filters at all. So anything that their spiders could index was searchable content and you got a lot of good stuff.

Gerry Crispin 3:51
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, the partly the reason why we were producing CareerXroads books was because There was no Google, there wasn’t a good search engine that everybody could figure out easily how to use, you’d have to, you had to learn a few things in order to be able to use it in a way that would make it sensible to you. So we were we were using those kinds of things to track down job boards, and then writing about those. So we we were producing paper books in 96 and 97, actually through 2003. When did you first were aware of that?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 4:31
So you guys actually called me and 97 or might have been 98, I think was 97. To say, we’ve heard about your job board. We’d like to list it in our book. Okay, great. I didn’t even know there was a job board directory, but that’s a good idea. So happy to be listed. And we’ve been we were in it ever since.

Gerry Crispin 4:54
Wow. Yeah. And we were. We kept on doing that. We did it for eight different things. publications and then obviously just got so confusing and everybody was cooking the books in terms of the data of what’s in there. So everybody claimed they had all the jobs of the entire world in their database. And, and everybody in the world would come and look at it, you know, kind of thing. And you couldn’t disprove their claims. You just it was hard as hell to find out what the hell was going on. Increasingly?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 5:30
Well, I agree that the criteria for choosing best job boards was pretty subjective at the time. And in fact, in 1998, our site won the Newspaper Publishers of America contest for best career website, which was, of course the industry vertical among all our classifieds that had the most traction, which is why I spent the most effort on that, and of course, created our online course for teaching internet search similar to what you had and that kept me really busy. We were doing at least one, sometimes two classes a month in the training room. At our Austin headquarters we’d have, we had 12 different workstations where you could go on the internet. And they each got a seat and we fill those easily. And they got a course training book to use to go online. But the thing that was neat was all of our content was stored on the internet. So really, the book was just showing you the same kind of content, you could get just logging into our site. And even after I left the newspaper company in 2000, I continue to run that online course site and still exist today. I wouldn’t say it’s the best course anymore because lots of changes have happened. But the fact that you had a self paced online course teaching you sourcing, of course now we don’t think that’s a big deal. But that was pretty innovative back in the 90s.

Gerry Crispin 6:56
It sure as hell was. So yeah, so kind of fast forwarding a little bit. You You worked for a couple companies that were members of CareerXroads.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 7:06
Microsoft primarily. Yeah.

Gerry Crispin 7:08
Yeah. And when did you get a chance to go to any of the meetings?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 7:13
I think I went to one or two, because I was not your main contact at those firms. And I was an individual contributor. By the time I got to be a manager in sourcing. I don’t think those companies were colloquium members, but you were kind enough to let me in. I think I sat in on one that even when I wasn’t at a member company, you said, Glenn, I think this topic will be interesting to you and, and I definitely have met a number of TA and sourcing leaders through the those groups that continue to be very important in my network today.

Gerry Crispin 7:48
Yeah, you know, obviously, we always were trying to attract people who were committed to helping each other and paying it forward, and so you know, the more that we would find companies that, that had people who really wanted to do more than simply have a network, but actually use that network to actually to move things forward is really a positive kind of approach. You know, over time is there so as you as you grew in this, because you really have a perspective, I believe, That’s intense, unlike many others, who tell me that they you know, they started recruiting in 2010 or something like that. But you have one that is extremely expands all of the the the impact of the internet. And is there anything that you think has truly shifted and changed? What would be if you had, you know, what would you pick is probably the most critical shift in terms of where we are today.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 9:00
Well, on the technology front, I’d say the biggest change from the early days of job boards is now your results are automatically ranked. Which makes a big difference in being able to sift through all the applicants or when you’re doing a search to be able to get, you know, some kind of filtered list of results to let you focus on the ones that are probably more likely to be a match for what you’re looking for. That’s a big time saver. And that feature was not available in the very beginning. And so, you know,

Gerry Crispin 9:33
That’s a great point. The only issue and and tell me where, where you think that might go, is that almost all of those capabilities are algorithms that are often proprietary and are seldom shared. So you’re now working as a recruiter, with a stack ranked set of possibilities, and very often don’t necessarily know why the people at the top are different than the people at the bottom other than what you’re told. You can’t ascertain easily for yourself that that makes a difference. Is that accurate? Or is it one of the problems that we need still need to solve?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 10:22
Oh, I think there’s more to be done. There is a new class of these AI tools that are claiming that they can take your top 50 people in a given job function, figure out what makes them really strong in terms of various characteristics and then can compare any new applicant to that standard and thus give you more people who should theoretically be like your existing top performers. But that also runs the risk or danger of giving you more like what you have and if you’re trying to get away from a homogenous culture. That may be in your way.

Gerry Crispin 11:02
That’s a good point from and actually from two perspectives. One is the concurrent validation strategy. And and what it suggests, though, is that the top performers who are now performing at the top are equal to the people that you would now hire for that job. And the problem is that you’re not taking into account what the top performers learned in order to become top performers after they were hired. So you almost have to revert to what the top performers brought to the table when they were hired in order to do a proper comparison. And what you’re not taking into account clearly is the fact that the job itself may be need to be recalibrated because new skills are going to be needed to be a top performer in the future that don’t fit the people who are currently top performers.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 12:05
But because that is so hard to predict the future of what’s needed. Really, I think the best solution is just have a really strong in house training program once people are on boarded, and put them through rotations or whatever else they need in order to pick up those skills. What you’re really concerned about is do they have the fundamental base, you know, the characteristics like for sourcers, for example, we always look for strong curiosity and research skills and creativity. So you can take a look at those strong performers now. Where were they three years ago in their career in terms of job titles, other experiences, and this is how I think a lot of companies often do their regular sourcing even if it’s not technology based where you want to find people early on in their career. We’re who probably will end up having a very successful path. But you want to grab them, frankly, almost out of school when they’re still more affordable. And then you can mold them into what you want in the long term in a more cost effective way.

Gerry Crispin 13:16
Right. And the sort of the, the elephant the room to is whether or not what we’re trying to build as an algorithm to predict, you know, who would be a great performer in the future is based on data that may in fact, be institutionally a problem in terms of being able to identify people who are diverse, so that we can create a much more inclusive kind of environment. And, and so that that’s always an issue that I think recruiters especially world class recruiters have to balance when they’re looking at the tools that are doing some of that stack ranking for them as to whether or not the pool that they’re creating, in fact, is diverse enough.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 14:06
And this is why we’re seeing the emergence of new kinds of job titles in HR, like data analytics experts, who actually have the skill set to evaluate the code in the algorithms and other things behind the scenes to see if this is validatable stuff and hopefully can make some product suggestions if it’s not quite what it should be.

Gerry Crispin 14:33
Cool. So looking at last last question is kind of looking ahead of all the things that you’ve seen over the course of the last 25 years, and the changes that have taken place. Can you can you identify one or two things that you think in the next five to 10 you have an expectation will change significantly in terms of In terms of recruiting,

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 15:01
well the other area, of course, that’s exploded in the last several years is around data aggregation in these tools like the hire tools, the Seekouts, the Intel O’s, the talent bins of the world, where you don’t have to depend on people entering their data in one place the way LinkedIn does. That’s their competitive advantage at the moment. But you would assume that over time, it will be easier for these other tools to amass an even greater set of data and make all the connection points between them so that you do have a much more well rounded view of any candidates that you find online. And I would think that if you’re the kind of person who enjoys web scraping and grabbing data on the internet yourself, there’s still no way you’re going to be able to compete with tools that are already doing that. And then on top of the really good, constant scraping. They’re also making those inferences and connections between all these different data points to create that single, complete profile. So at some point, that’s going to be the go to I think for sourcers is to have this amazing repository that tells you almost everything you need to know about a candidate to decide whether it’s worth contacting them for a given role.

Gerry Crispin 16:27
Interesting. And in my, in my head when you’re saying that what it what it suggested to me is that if I were a recruiter in the future, and I was able to identify what I thought was the ideal profile, and suddenly, my tools are telling me well, here’s five people who fit that ideal profile that you’re looking for. And let’s say they’re diverse for the sake of argument. I deliver that. It seems to me my first conversation with them would be to confirm that their perception of the profile that I’ve I’ve gotten is, in fact, true or accurate from their perspective as well, sincethey didn’t supply it to me, and they don’t need to spend all that time applying, if you will. In fact, it seems to me that if somebody wanted to apply, they should simply say, Well, here’s my name. And here’s a couple instances where you might find me on the web. And you should be able to use that to confirm other instances you can find me and and draw your own conclusions.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 17:40
Yeah. Well, we all know that resumes have a lot of lies either due to over exaggeration or under exaggeration, and we’re depending too much on a recruiter to make inferences about what they can or cannot do from that. So I agree that first phone call whether it’s by the sourcer or recruiter to get past those myths and find out how much is true and more importantly I think to just find out if they’re even the kind of person who would be interested in your opportunity because you could be really qualified for something. But you know, you don’t want to do that kind of work anymore. We see that quite often

Gerry Crispin 18:20
You may not have the end you may you may be wanting to rescale totally from that perspective so it’s it serves you everyone if you confirm and learn the kinds of skills that allow for you to engage somebody around those kinds of things but you raise your raise something else for me too when you say you know resumes have a lot of lies until they have a lot of marketing in them. is really the the Kinder way of saying that because a resume is trying to put your best foot forward. And while you don’t want to actually lie you want may want to stretch the edge of what you’re capable of, or what you’ve accomplished, to what you’re capable of. And I only say that because it aligns well, with the exaggeration, not lies, but the marketing, if you will, of many jobs and job descriptions, which often are equally, exaggerations, if you will, of what is required in order to succeed on the job. And so I find, I find both sides of that equation, needing an adjustment. And and while corporations seem to have a lot more tools to be able to discern the truth of the candidate, I doubt that the candidates have equal equally good tools to discern the truth of what the job is like. And yeah, and I would hope that we can improve that as we go to.

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 20:01
Well, tools like Glassdoor are certainly helpful. If you want to see some candid reviews by people. It’s just hard to know if that’s representative of the department that you’re going to end up in if you take a job there. Yeah, sometimes the people, the people with an axe to grind may be referring to a hiring manager who was no longer at the company. And so it’s not really as bad as they say.

Gerry Crispin 20:24
Right. And there’s, there’s, I would suspect that we’re going to see many more tools that have nuances that Glassdoor is not even close to at this particular juncture that might be available to candidates downstream especially as companies become more transparent or at least tried to just kind of kind of cool that point of view any last thoughts relative to CareerXroads and you know where we are in our space?

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 20:54
Well, having had the opportunity to at least get a little window on you for the last 25 years, or almost all of it, I don’t think anyone can over emphasize the contribution level that you have made both on a macro scale and a one on one scale with individuals because you are very generous with your time if people have a question, they need career advice. They’re looking for a business related tool or process improvement, you’ve always got someone to steer them to or direct knowledge to provide and that’s been invaluable and I certainly hope that the rest of the CareerXroads team is getting mentored properly by you to continue going for another 25.

Gerry Crispin 21:43
Why Thank you, those are those very kind words and I can assure you that you know, after five years, sucking Chris into into running CareerXroads and and the time you know, spent in helping You know, Shannon make her decision to come. I am very, very thrilled that I have not only colleagues and peers among, you know, my, my, the four of us, including Barbara’s but but the fact that I have among many of the CareerXroads leaders, from the companies as well as people that I’ve gotten to know, are just extraordinary in in their willingness to be part of a community, whether it’s a formal one like Careerxroads, or the expanded one of looking at our space as a profession. And so it’s very satisfying to have spent my career in recruiting and feel proud of the fact that we are part of a profession that does make a huge difference in the lives of so many people. So it’s kind of cool. So thank you thank you for participating and engaging in in this particular effort that we have to kind of celebrate the 25th

Glen Gutmacher, ATAP 23:09
Very happy to have had a chance to be part of the celebration looking forward to the next 25.

Gerry Crispin 23:14
You got it.

Announcer 23:16
Thanks for listening to the CXR channel please subscribe to CXR on your favorite podcast resource and leave us a review while you’re at it. Learn more about CXR are at our website CXR.works facebook.com and twitter.com/careerxroads and on Instagram @careerxroads. We’ll catch you next time