E360 Recruiting Community: Anoop Gupta, CEO SeekOut, talks ChatGPT, Skills-Based Organizations

It’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to catch up with SeekOut’s CEO & Co-Founder, Anoop Gupta. Join us as we learn what he’s up to these days and what he’s hearing around talent trends & optimization, ChatGPT, and the hype around skills-based organizations.

E360 Recruiting Community: Anoop Gupta, CEO SeekOut, talks ChatGPT, Skills-Based Organizations

It’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to catch up with SeekOut’s CEO & Co-Founder, Anoop Gupta. Join us as we learn what he’s up to these days and what he’s hearing around talent trends & optimization, ChatGPT, and the hype around skills-based organizations.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 
Get you know you can’t be mad about it every every day is a gift. That’s what it is.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 0:04
That’s the way to treat it for sure.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:07
So what I hear is Gerry is going to retire after I retire. And Anoop, you have no no retirement in your in your visible horizon

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:18
Doesn’t look like that for now.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
I can’t I can’t blame you. I mean, you’re doing the work you’re doing right.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:25
Yes. Yes, that looks pretty amazing. And a lot of it is the people you work with in the community you work with, right?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:34
Yeah, 100% we actually I do think that’s what keeps a lot of people going like I love the people that we get to work with.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 0:41

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:43
Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I am looking at property in Portugal. It is viable, it is a viable option

Gerry Crispin, CXR 0:51
You and half of half of you know the industry is looking at property in Portugal.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:57
Look, you two guys are smarter than me find me and find me the next Portugal No, nothing. You just not gonna tell anybody

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 1:07
That’s pretty special. I want to be in an isolated islands, you know, so there are lots of places with warm climate and very nice beaches, but you want people and culture and engagement around too?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:28
Yeah, maybe maybe when I retire. I’ll just be a curmudgeon. I don’t want to I want to I don’t want anybody around me

Gerry Crispin, CXR 1:35
Your’e going to miss family. You know?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 1:38
Yeah, that is true, too. That is true. too

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:41
There is that all right. Well, you guys, are you guys ready to jump it? Yep. All right. We got a we got a good topic today. Let’s go.

CXR Announcer 1:50
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.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:19
Right, everybody, welcome back to another edition of the recruiting community podcast. I am Chris Hoyt, your host today. Just a quick reminder, this is a show for about 20 minutes or so where we bring in folks that we think are pretty darn interesting from within the recruiting space. They may be practitioners, they may be founders, they may be pundits. But we’ve got a good combination of people who come in and just share what’s top of mind for them. And we like to chat with him. This is not an ad sponsored show, we do this as a labor of love. So you know that the folks that we bring in, we really don’t give a damn about sort of where their head is at in that headspace. I’m going to remind you of a couple of things over the course of this conversation if you’re happen if you happen to be joining us live. We are live streaming on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If some of those I believe have a live chat stream on them, I think also at CXR.works/podcast, you can jump right in and be part of the conversation. So at any time, feel free to ask a question or just say hello or if you feel so inclined to do a little power networking. Go ahead and drop your LinkedIn profile in there and connect with some other folks who might be might be already dialed in and who have joined us. So just say hello, throw you up on the screen and say hi, with that I’m going to bring in my partner in crime. Mr. Gerry Crispin, how are you today?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 3:35
I’m wonderful. Thank you.

You’re living the dream aren’t you?

Living the dream.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:41
No complaints. Well, look, we have a pretty impressive guy coming in here. Now we’ve known him for a little bit of time. I want everybody to say hello to Anoop, Mr. Gupta. How are you?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 3:52
Hi, I’m doing great. The bowl that’s amazing changing. And I love that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:02
Well look for those who don’t know you. You have been making sure I’ve got this right. You have been a scientist. You have worked at Microsoft. I think you worked there for almost almost 20 years. I think you were a direct report of Bill Gates I mean, who so who for those who don’t know you can you kind of give us the escalator pitch of who is Anoop Gupta and why should we be listening to him today?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 4:24
So I have an eight candidate entrepreneur you know, so kind of academic and taught at Stanford 18 years at Microsoft including reporting to Bill Gates global tech policy, but startups are in my blood. This is my second startup I hand so delighted to be focusing on people technology have always believed that people have the essential essence of you know, success people I want that matter in personal lives and professionally. So excited to be working on talent, tech acquisition, you know, retention, growth, everything people that just turns me on and excites me to be there.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:11
In the fortunate position of talking to as a talent, it was a patient of yours with a talent acquisition all the time. It is literally, we do it like it’s our job. And we and we get to hear about what’s top of mind for them, and what they’re working on and their biggest victories, and their biggest defeats, but you’re also in a unique spot where you talk to a lot of TA viewers, as well as CHRO. And I guess, within TA and as well as not managed, given sort of the circumstance that you’re in. But let me ask you, what are you hearing, when you hear about how these leaders are sort of working through what we can call? I mean, it just got straight to where we got unprecedented and changing? Yeah. Are you hearing any trends? Or surviving? Are you writing sort of right now?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 6:08
Yeah, no, thanks, Chris. And I know you’re breaking up a little. So I’ll just repeat the question. So Chris was asking me, you know, in these unprecedented times, what am I hearing from CHROs and talent leaders? So fundamentally, you know, changes the only constant no industry is immune, you know, COVID happen, think change, inflation happened things fundamentally change Chat GPT app. And what the AI can do is changing. And so what I hear is that there’s business agility, right. And so businesses have to change and adapt to survive. And business agility requires talent agility. So how are you just saying, the talent and everything else? So that is where I’m hearing, we are the CHROs are feeling a lot of pressures. The business leaders say, Okay, here’s a shift in our business strategy. And they come to the CHRO, and say, you know, how do we adjust talent that we need to recruit, that you need to read, apply that you need to upskill and everything else. And the first thing I heard from CHRO is, we don’t understand our people that when they joined, okay, the company between threw away everything, we threw away their resumes, we threw away their experience, you know, it’s in some siloed position. And then when you ask them about what about, you know, you know about them, since they joined the company, can your HR is is not a great place where that is toward the real thing of what you have done, is stored in your productivity system. So if you’re a developer, then you say, in GitHub, or wherever it is, maybe it’s some project management software, or it is in the Salesforce, and that information is never brought in. So when it comes to making these hard decisions, CHROs are really struggling, okay, on how to optimize their organizations. Another thing I’m hearing is that talent acquisition and Talent Management are coming very closely together. Because when you have retention issues, and people are leaving, or who to retain, and talent acquisition, they’re connected because if people are leaving, that’s a huge cost to the organization. And you know, talent acquisition organization needs to bring in those people so the thing is, how do we get a holistic look at talent and not separate out you know, candidly, you have a vice president of talent acquisition and vice president of talent management and the vice president of learning and development all these three things are rarely together they are about talent. So it’s super interesting what’s happening and this business agility and talent that you’re looking at having a seat you know, at the executive table and being influenced is becoming really important.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:32
Interested in and can you is my audio. Okay, can you hear me now? Listening to the show, we know we have a strange issue coming out of the Austin podcast Center. We’re occasionally I sound like a robot. So if that happens, if you’re watching you can Gerry gives me the high sign and I know I need to reboot. If I just

Gerry Crispin, CXR 9:52
don’t pay attention to my high signs

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:54
Watching the guest Gerry, I’m watching the guests. Gerry just give me a big wave. So Anoop you, are you I love that. And I think I think we’re hearing sort of the same thing. But are you are you seeing or at least predicting where, you know, we talked about these VPS, are you thinking it’s a consolidation down the road of roles? Whereas we have just seen in the last five or six years, some of these really bubble up? Are you seeing them consolidate? Are you talking more about a stronger partnership between existing roles?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 10:27
I think that there’s a stronger partnership between the existing roles, I am also seeing some companies where, you know, the head of talent, acquisition and talent ability of the same person. In some cases, in other cases, you know, it is a tighter partnership that is emerging. And regardless of the two, you know, it takes and also people invest a lot in learning and development systems. And when I talk to a lot of CHROs they say, Don’t get used people, you know, there’s a whole employee, why should I go and take this particular course? And what does it do things and not interconnected for people. And being able to interconnect learning and career growth, whether it is horizontal or vertical, humanoid recruiting becomes really important, I think.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 11:25
I think it’s, it’s fascinating to me what you’re saying, because, one, we’re looking for a set of attitudes about learning, as being really every basic requirement for how we would select someone, even though it has nothing to do with the job. It has to do with how people approach not only the job, but the future. And and that’s one of the things that I think is there and the other. The other is, if you’re going to consolidate those roles, most of the people in these different silos of talent, have had totally different experiences from one another. And so they need to know that if they’re going to absorb another role, they need to spend time, energy and effort upskilling themselves by by really sitting and shadowing the people in that, in that area, the development area, the learning area, if they’re coming from TA, so they really understand how how they can be integrated. And I don’t see a lot of people spending the time doing that. But I don’t see a lot of leaders forcing that issue either. But I love where you’re going with this.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 12:42
Ya no, I think learning and curiosity actually a more fundamental thing behind learning, I put curiosity, and it is increasingly becoming important that the people we get are curious because things are changing, that creates an inner drive, to learn and learn relevant and stay current. And the other thing actually, on the TSI, you know, that we kind of believe in emphasizes being digitally savvy, being, you know, data savvy, and being able to learn from data and statistics and have systems that allow you to do that, you know, becomes really important, as you know, in our C code is focusing on recruiting, retention grow with a foundation of a much better understanding of your people, your employees, so that you can do all the rest of the stuff.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 13:38
So I want to know how you would then not only defend, but but measure, if you will, as part of our inferences about people, that they’re curious, and that they’re data savvy when we’re talking about jobs that wouldn’t necessarily require us a list of things that skills, if you will, or experiences around that. Would you be pushing for that?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 14:08
So the way I actually say, you know, like, I think skills are overhyped today, and a lot of organizations and leaders will say we want to become a skills based organization. So, here here’s what skills are skills are phrases, you know, leadership, you know, Java or C sharp or something like that. And, you know, search engine optimization. And these phrases rarely don’t mean too much in reality for who we hire for a job or who we promote for a job. Let’s look at a little bit off sort of stream. You may use some of these phrases to filter profiles, let’s say the recruiting example that but right after that, you go and Look at what did they actually do? I use this to build a mobile application that is used by a million people. You know, when I’m hiring a Chief Revenue Officer for a company, I say, did they take the company from 50 to $200? million? Do they how I don’t say they have the skill of consultative selling? Yeah, somewhere deep down in the lore, we read the English language text. Right? So there is a lot of information, that the most important information is What have people done, you know, that is who we hire for. Now, the problem has been that our databases and systems don’t have the capability to understand and reason with natural language. So you know, that’s where the humans that recruiter plus interviews, and the hiring manager interviews and digs into what did you attribute? What was your role in the building of that system? And how did you deal with harsh situations, you know, it’s that conversation, the beauty with, some of the new stuff that is happening with Chad GPT, and all generating AI technologies, is we are finally building capabilities to deal with natural language, understand natural language for the machines to understand that. And that actually opens up a whole lot of capabilities that we’re super excited about. And I think they’ll actually revolutionize the talent space and how we approach talent, and how we develop talent and grow talent.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 16:40
It’s interesting to me, because we do hear a lot of talk around a skills based organization. And I understand that inherently, right, where we’re, you know, in order to move people internally and or do that’s like a, what you’re saying is, and I think what you’re saying is that that’s a little that’s a little bit overhyped, and that we should be focusing on what people get done, not necessarily the, you know, the connecting the dots of what they’ve learned. But I also think Anoop, and tell me if you disagree, but in order for that, an organization who embraces that thought train, has to be willing to invest in their people. Right, internally, like, once, once we bring you in, because of what you’ve done, and we may need these skills internally, I have to be willing to train you in some of those baseline things that we need you to be successful in.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 17:30
Yeah, so you know, we were, you know, meeting with the CHRO of a large insurance company, I was meeting with them. And so they have a lot of Actuaries, right? And for actuaries turns out, they use VBA, Visual Basic for Applications. And so you say, what do they do with it, with the natural language capabilities, now, you can see how they actually use it. So if you’re taking a learning course, you know, you want to go there to say, you know, we have a group of people with learning, you know, leadership or 3.5, you know, management or two, there’s nothing you can do with that, you know, that is what people in skills based things are doing. So we believe, you know, there is a way to think beyond that. And that capability is just becoming available. And, you know, I would love to talk to HR leaders who are thinking about all this stuff fan, where we can, you know, go together, but just even the basics are broken today, right? We don’t know, you know, what you have done, all that gets thrown away, as soon as you get hired a lot of the data about what they did at your company, you know, you can get rarely or what you can do and Chat gpt can understand code as well as you know, French and English in some sense, you know, figuring out what people have done, and then basing decisions and building organizations and helping. I think it’s something very exciting. So

Chris Hoyt, CXR 19:14
I love that and I love the fact that you’ve brought up we are actually this entire podcast is a chat GPT conversation. None of us are glad that you brought it up. But there’s a lot of hype about that. And recruiting we’ve seen some sessions already been conducted about how chat GPT can be used for sourcing or how it can be used to better engage people or but I mean, isn’t that isn’t the truth that again, another hype topic. There is some impact downstream this tech does get better. I hate to say smarter, this tech does get better, exponentially day by day. But But isn’t it isn’t it just still a long ways away and he doesn’t chat GPT in the middle of an answer. Get lost or hallucinate, or, or just makes shit up? Sometimes when it’s responding, I mean, aren’t we kind of seeing even Google’s big fail when they want great, the big promo got the last question of the telescope wrong, right? Just just made it up.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 20:10
So, you know, we believe deeply and human driven AI assisted okay? It can do a lot of things can help you. Okay, and humans should review, because any employment decision both by law and otherwise, it is really important, you know, that we get it right. So that is a deep philosophy, and every product and tool we are building, you know, when it goes to hallucinations, etc, you know, there needs to be careful use, but machines are totally capable and do that every day. Okay, so the fact that, you know, we hallucinate and makeup, and this is without drugs. Oh sure you know, when you have people in a, you know, I’m you’re trying to identify and say, you know, this was the person who did something we are very imperfect to and that is how the core system works. So, we have to be careful about the usage scenarios, how we use what data is used. But I genuinely believe there are some really positive things we can do you know, how you can take a job description, understand it, rarely understand, what do people do in your organization? You know, look at people and see, how do you match them? There’s something called embeddings, that they do that. So a lot of good stuff coming in, and they get better and better.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:48
You raise a really, I haven’t heard anybody, pushback like that. Anoop, I’ll be honest with you, when I had a team of recruiters, I had recruiters who just made stuff up too. So I mean, you’re right. Is it worse than we are? Well, okay, so look, lots to talk about I know, we’re kind of running up on time, we try to keep these pretty snackable a Anoop, let me ask you with everything that’s going on in space, and we are gonna have you back, by the way, because you’re just so fun to have on. But with everything going on in this space, if you were gonna write a book about what’s happening right now, kind of where your head is out, what what do you think you would title that book

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 22:32
I would title it you know, Human Connection, as the Foundation of Our Health, and Well being, you know, so fundamentally, with all the technology, I believe, it becomes even more important, how we connect to each other in deeper ways, and not just the superficial ways, because, you know, we are having a lot of mental health issues, we are having a lot of issues. And the only solution to that, I believe. We feel connection and true connection with a small number, at least a larger number. And so a talking about that, I think would be great.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 23:21
I love that I will tell you and that, that actually I love putting the guests on the spot and asking this question. I literally had a conversation this morning with one of our TA leaders. I had a meeting with them coming up on Friday, they canceled this morning because they’re going to death in the family unexpected. I think they said the person was 58 good health, you know, you would never know this and just literally passed away heart attack while making make dinner for friends. And it’s just like, I was just having this conversation with my partner last night. We were talking, you know, she was like, Well, I feel like you know, you’re going back to your live events. Some of our stuff is picking back up. I’m getting to connect directly with people that missed and I said the same thing, because we’re excited to see people in real life, but I do. I do think that is the thread that that kind of activity piece is so important to your overall health.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 24:09
Yes, yes.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 24:10
It’s it’s very powerful. And life’s too short. Life’s way too short. Anoop, let me ask you, you you’ve written the book, who do you give the first signed copy to? And it’s not can’t be Gerry and me. Everybody that’s the cop out answer. So who gets your first side coffee?

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 24:32
Who gets my thoughts? Actually, you know, I was influenced by a gentleman named Vivek Murthy. So he’s our Surgeon General. And he actually talked about how so many of our social ills whether it is drug addiction, whether it is no comes from where people feeling that they are not connected. Okay, that the root cause of a lot of the problems then, you know, our interactions have to do with a feeling of isolation of feeling that the world is not there. So I was inspired by him. And he would be the first one.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:20
Love that. Absolutely love that. Well, look, I’m gonna put you in the greenroom. Don’t go anywhere. You’ll be in there with Gerry. I’ll put you both in there real quick. Just want to tell everybody. Thank you. And we are so, so grateful. For the time you give us today, we know you’re super busy. So thanks for jumping on with us.

Anoop Gupta, Seekout 25:35
Thank you so much. And if anybody is looking at talent acquisition or retention or growth, uh, you know, reach out to us that Seekout.com.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:47
All right, put you guys in there, don’t go anywhere. I’m gonna put myself in there. I just want to remind everybody got a couple of things up on February 22, which is just just around the corner, we have our talent analytics meeting that’s coming up. So we’re gonna see dashboards from several different organizations talking about quality of hire, time to x, right, we’ve got the time to filter on to overtime to whatever. We’re going to be talking a lot about that with some of these heads of talent. Coming in there. We’ve got podcasts coming up with Stephen Rothberg, from College Recruiting to talk job boards and advertising. In addition to that, we have a recruiting economics discussion on March 2. So back by popular demand, it’s our friend Andrew Flowers. And then I want to remind everybody is we’re moving into March, we have the book club is back at it full speed. So Barb’s running that show over there and they’re reading The Light, We Carry a Michelle Obama book, and that is absolutely open 100% to anybody that wants to join in. So you can do that just head to CXR.works/books for that. And then if you want more information on the events at CXR.works/events. With that I’m gonna say goodbye to everybody and we’ll see you on the next show.

CXR Announcer 26:54
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