S4 E118 | CXR Podcast: Chris Forman talks about management platforms

Chris shares with the community how hiring management platforms and job marketplaces are starting to converge and what that means for you
S4 E118 CXR Podcast: Chris Forman

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Welcome to the CXR podcast, we’re excited to just jump right in today we’ve got about 15 minutes or so with industry friend, CEO and founder of Appcast Chris Forman, Chris say hello to everybody.

Chris Forman, Appcast 0:31
Hi, everybody.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:33
It’s awfully great to have you on the line. If you guys are here live, we got about 20 years. So if you’re here live, you can go ahead and drop some questions in the chat. We’ll open that and keep an eye out. Otherwise, it’s just us just us Chris, the Chris’s we get to talk a little bit about what’s going on in space.

Chris Forman, Appcast 0:47
Awesome. Well been looking forward to this. So thanks for the opportunity.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:51
It’s good stuff. So look, Chris, before we jump in, I love to ask everybody for kind of an elevator or an escalator pitch. It’s your choice around who Chris Foreman is, and why anybody cares what Chris Foreman has to say. So who is Chris foreman,

Chris Forman, Appcast 1:04
Well, I’m a 51 year old, middle aged white guy that lives on a dairy farm in northern New Hampshire. I’m lucky enough that my wife loves me and likes me most of the time. And I’ve got four great kids. But probably, you know, besides those things, the reason why people may be interested is I’ve been spending the last 20 years working in recruitment technology with as part of a team of super smart folks from starting with the AIRs, you know, the company that did the Recruitment Training, and the first generation recruitment CRM that was broadly adopted to the right thing, you know, big RPO player, to founding a lab, by Dartmouth College that incubated a whole series of kind of interesting req tech kind of technologies. One piece of tech that we developed, there became the basis for Appcast, which today is by most, you know, kind of objective measures, the largest programmatic ad platform in the world.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:14
Nice. So you’ve come to join us today to talk a little bit about hiring management platforms, right? That’s the there’s a convergence here, as well as job marketplaces, and how some things are sort of starting to change, and we should be keeping an eye on it. Can you? Can you level set for us first, Chris, like when we say, a hiring management platform or a job marketplace? What are we talking about?

Chris Forman, Appcast 2:39
I’m trying to use new age words for you know, old technology, I’m talking about applicant tracking systems that have probably expanded and offer more than just applicant and hire, you know, applicant management. I’m also talking about, you know, the the next generation of job boards, where truly you have a marketplace, where you’ve got employers on one side, and you’ve got job seekers on the other and the and the purpose of that marketplace, whether it’s Indeed, Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, you know Glassdoor is to connect those two players. So just trying to make confuse the crunch out of everybody, Chris, by using new words.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:21
I love it. I like when we throw in extra syllables when we don’t need them, or when that’s not required. It’s fantastic. Look, I think it makes sense to be looking at these things and how they’re changing and evolving. The majority, vast majority of our listeners are practitioners who are doing the work and heads of talent. So if we’re telling them to, if we’re not if we’re finally not saying, hey, it’s the death of job boards, I think I think Gerry and I had a laugh the other day that this is probably the 11th or 12th year that it’s been the death of job boards, but they seem to be hanging in there. And we have noticed an increase in job board usage. Obviously, with everything that’s going on in the market, people are sort of turning to these where they didn’t before they’re investing more or prices on the boards we see are going up a little bit here and there. So if I’m a practitioner, Chris, what wisdom would you give me what should I glean from you today with regards to the evolution of that space and those platforms?

Chris Forman, Appcast 4:14
Yeah, so um, there’s, if you think about there’s there’s two markets here, so you’ve got you’ve got the job site, job aggregate or, you know, kind of job marketplace market. And then you’ve got the the the, the applicant tracking, hiring platform market. And for the longest time, they had to work together, right, you know, jobs that were on an ATS had to go into an envelope and get put onto a job site and job seekers from you know, the marketplace would click on a link and go to the ATS. But they were with the exception of like, you know, job ad distribution. And let’s say some level of apply integrations that you’ve seen from these different platforms. You know, it was church and state right? They, they were different, and they really didn’t get into anybody’s business, then all of a sudden, two big things happen. One of them was that Indeed launched a hiring management platform. And, you know, now, you know, indeed isn’t iCIMS client, and, you know, they use iCIMS for their, you know, for their own hiring or a big enterprise company, but, but they want a product, that straight up is something that if you’re an SMB, you can use that soup to nuts to basically do your, your hiring. Okay, so boom, then Smart Recruiters went exactly the other direction. And, you know, it’s super interesting, like, if, if any of your practitioners, you know, are Smart Recruiters clients pull out your contract, you know, people that apply for a job on Smart Recruiters, in many cases are opted in to, you know, the, the smart recruiters. Job seeker platform, which is a really interesting platform has lots of capabilities, and is super, super neat. But fundamentally, what it is, is it allows job seekers to discover jobs. And so all of a sudden, you’ve got these the two major kind of pillars of our, of our industry coming together. And as an entrepreneur, you know, again, I’ve been structurally unemployable for 20 years. So, you know, what I do is I, you know, I look at the market. And, and one of the things that I’ve learned through a whole bunch of companies is whenever there is major market shifts, that’s when opportunity is created. And that’s also where, you know, this new friction impacts. Lots and lots of folks. So like, and by folks, I mean, practitioners. How do you think job marketplaces are going to feel about the idea of people clicking on job ads from their customers going to an applicant tracking system and having those people get put into a platform that then competes with those job marketplaces? How do you think applicant tracking systems are going to feel about sending jobs to, you know, theoretically, at some particular level competitor, I’m not taking a position on either one of these things. But like, when those two things happen, I’m like, oh, boy, I’m gonna go pop some popcorn, this is sure gonna be interesting.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:30
I know, the idea of sharing talent across platforms or across systems has always come up. Every couple of years, we hear about a new sharing platform, right? Or a new system that says look, give us your, you know, silver medalist, just put your silver medalists in here. Nobody wants to share, right? They want to stick them with like the I don’t know, the mud medalists like no, nobody even in the top 20. Yeah, we’ll put some people in there. And it never seems to really take off the way that I, you know, ideally, when you think about these things, that you would hope that it would for the benefit of the candidate. Are you Chris, are you already hearing any blowback? Or people sort of scoffing at this evolution that you’re looking at?

Chris Forman, Appcast 8:08
No, because the other one, you know, when when you had these talent exchanges, you know, those were super interesting intellectually, but man, they were hard, right? You know, there had to be rules about which people were opted in which direction and yeah, you know, silver medalists or, or, you know, kind of the, the white ribbons, you know, number 10 at a dairy show, you know, you never, it was hard. What we’re really dealing with here, though, is, is something that’s that’s much simpler. You know, you’ve got job marketplaces, building hiring management tools, they have customers that have hiring management tools, there’s gonna be some level of competition. And here’s the dirty secret. When people buy recruiting technology, all that they want, is hires. All they want is hires, all that they want is quality applicants that they can hire. Okay, so if a job marketplace has a hiring management platform that is so well integrated, that it makes it easier for people to get those hires. That’s super compelling, right? That’s super compelling, which is one of the reasons why the hiring management platforms are starting to say, You know what, we want to go the other direction, we looked at these programmatic guys, holy smokes, they’re, they’re growing really fast. They’re in the job advertising space without necessarily, you know, getting into a two sided marketplace. There’s a lot of money there. Maybe we should look at that. Or heck, maybe we just go build our own version of this because, you know, if you take a look at the job board space, there has been lots of iteration, right? You know, there’s been new game changers that come you know, every seven to 10 years. And maybe this is the next thing that’s coming. So I tend to like when I talk about this stuff, to want to be very practical, saying here’s a piece of news that you can use tomorrow to go get more hires reduced costs. Improve apply flow. This isn’t one of those things. But the folks that Listen, your podcast, you know, are the inner part of your organization, work for industry leading companies. And you need to be thinking around the corner. And this is one of those things that I’ve I’ve taped to my whiteboard to think about, because I don’t know what it necessarily means right now. But my pattern recognition is telling me this is big. And so it’s something to kind of keep keep an eye on.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:33
Yeah, I would agree with that. Chris and, let me ask you two, you mentioned programmatic advertising, we’ve got a couple of our of our member customers, they’re large organizations and, and our membership ranges, they’re hiring anywhere from 2000 to 200,000 people a year each in the non COVID, pre COVID. And now sort of trying to figure that out as we come out of it, but we’re seeing a handful of them really push towards programmatic advertising. But we’re also noticing in the space that there seems to be some rather slow adoption for this technology. And a lot of people are saying like yourselves, like, this is a big deal. This is something that should be invested in. And I suspect, I know a little bit around why the adoption is so slow. But before I chime in with that, Chris, I’m wondering, can you give some insight as to or your opinion of why you think adoption of programmatic is so slow?

Chris Forman, Appcast 11:19
Well, I’m gonna I’m gonna disagree with the premise. I would say it isn’t. And so here’s my data. I value I measured the you the the North American job ad market. And when I say this, I mean job ads. I’m not talking about LinkedIn recruiter seeds, resume database access brand ads, that direct response ads, between five to $6 billion a year. Okay, so most folks say that the typically in the job ad marketplace, they say it’s seven, 8 billion, but that includes lots of stuff that isn’t actually a job ad. Okay. So so my first question to you is, I’m going to, I’m going to, I’m going to test that with you guys. Does that sound? You guys know this? Does that sound reasonable?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:04
Yeah, I think that’s pretty reasonable.

Chris Forman, Appcast 12:06
Okay. All right. So, um, as of now, if you take that, that that, that five to $6 billion 60% of it, are companies that have less than 1000 employees. In fact, a lot of them are, you know, mom and pop shops, the pizza shops, the, you know, the, the the local grocery store, you know, the the local car service up to companies that are in the mid range. So that means I’m going to use the 5 billion recognizing it’s probably a little bit better because my brain can do the math here. So that means in the, in, in your, you know, communities marketplace, they spend $2 billion a year on job ads. North America, okay.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:54

Chris Forman, Appcast 12:55
Take it for what it’s worth. As of right now, Appcasts cast alone, alone, has $1.2 billion of job ads going through our software by ourselves. That doesn’t include Panda, that doesn’t include jovia. That doesn’t include RaidenC, that doesn’t include, you know, click IQ that doesn’t include anybody else.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:24

Chris Forman, Appcast 13:25
So there you go. I disagree with the premise. Now, do what’s what’s interesting is, you know, there’s a lot now where’s most of that coming? It’s for anybody that’s recruiting and blue collar, if you are doing high volume blue collar, and you’re not using programmatic? Yeah, I mean, that’s a very, it’s a it’s a small group. Folks that use it for corporate hiring are much slower to adopt. And why. Right, right now, I mean, it is absolute. I mean, I think the term war for talent is so overused, I’m, you know, trying to use my addled brain to come up with something that’s different, but it is, it’s harder than you’ve ever seen it before. And so also, when you think about the level of competition that exists, and the competitive needs, folks that are in the blue collar space, they’re at the cutting edge of how to optimize recruitment marketing.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:29
Yeah, and, Chris, I think, you know, when I set up the question in terms of like, you know, who our membership base is that are primarily going to be enterprise sized. And we see, we do see that I think we’re sort of saying the same thing, at least in that segment that we do see a slower adoption in that space. And I wonder if it’s, if it’s an issue of patience also, because programatic for a lot when we talk to our members, like they have to sit down and be patient with the investment. And it’s more of a long strategy for some Have that programmatic use or use? Are you seeing the same thing? Is it an issue of patience or long term investment?

Chris Forman, Appcast 15:05
Yeah, I mean, one of the neat things about, you know, programmatic technologies is there is a switching cost and, and depending on how sophisticated it is, it can be high, but it’s not the same switching costs that you see with applicant tracking systems, or hiring management system. So typically, like we, when we install a new client, it’s 90 days, because what we do is we run everyone’s, you know, kind of ads through the platform the same as they were running them for 90 days to create a bench mark. Okay? Because if you can’t measure where you’re at, you don’t know if you’re doing better or not. And typically, people have some difficulty being able to answer the simple question of what was I getting before. So 30 days is a benchmark 30 days, you make a set of changes that predominantly are around management of job corpus, turning off jobs that have enough applications, and allowing jobs that don’t have enough applications to stay on, which, you know, one of the first rules of marketing is knowing when to stop spending, that alone gets you a massive amount of uplift. And so that’s the second 30 days is just turning off things that you don’t need to be spending money anymore. And that route leads to left and then in the last 90 days, is where you start to use algorithmic bidding. And you start to, you know, kind of expand into the places that you go to, and, you know, that leads to a tremendous amount of, of of lift. So, do we find some patients are, are, are sometimes, you know, what are toe tappers? You don’t want to go a little bit faster. Sure. The biggest, candidly, the biggest challenge that large organizations have, when they evaluate programmatic is this, they they make the same mistake that they did when Indeed started and when Monsters around and they take, they open up the bottom right hand drawer of their desk that has the junk Rex, that like, no one has ever been able to fill, you know, just the stinky, stinky ones, and say, Oh, we’re gonna do a test. We’re going to do it with those,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 17:08
Why wouldn’t I give you those? I need those skills right away.

Chris Forman, Appcast 17:11
Right, right. But But what are we testing here? are we testing that, that, you know, we suck at an equal level with every you know, so no, I mean, what programmatic software is, it’s not a point solution. What it is, it’s a it’s an enterprise solution to optimize the biggest non headcount budget that a lot of people have, appropriately. So if what you end up doing is you test it with your hard to fill requisitions. That’s precisely the wrong way to look at it, what you want to do is you want to test it with everything, and then you look at how the allocation changes. And this is what happens is, you end up spending less money per job, you end up spending more money for applicant, and you end up spending less money per hire.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 17:54
So it is long, it is a longer patient investment, than most leaders would probably like it, I would imagine, especially now when they cannot hire enough people. And they’re struggling to get everything and they’re throwing money at a lot of solutions that previously they wouldn’t have even considered.

Chris Forman, Appcast 18:10
Yeah, I I guess so. You know, I will say that, you know, within your customer base, if you talk to the folks that are responsible for store hiring, warehouse hiring, transportation, eComm logistics they’re using I mean, everybody and everybody at big companies that is responsible for that in some way shape or form is using a programmatic technology when it goes to the non field based stuff that’s that’s that’s when probably there’s less patience. Yeah, because today it’s it’s so hard out there that everybody is is willing to to dig in a little bit.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:47
I want all my hires yesterday Chris, I don’t understand why I can’t have all my especially the crummy smelly ones that are done in the drawer.

Chris Forman, Appcast 18:53
That bottom right hand drawer you know that Yeah, yeah, the dirty req Yep.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:57
Chris if you gotta leave the listeners with one thought as sort of their they’re out in that space doing the work and leaning in what what would that be? What What would you give them a sort of a parting gift today?

Chris Forman, Appcast 19:07
Yeah, well, you know, first off apologies again for being late and the reason why I was late, I was listening to Madeline and and she’s done some really incredible research around. She’s I think she’s the best you know, are

Chris Hoyt, CXR 19:20
Chris again are you getting a nickel every time you say Madeline’s name?

Chris Forman, Appcast 19:23
Yeah, there you go. But, you know, on req you know, reqtech analysts, I think she’s just great. She did. And her team did a quantitative and qualitative research with some of the biggest companies in the United States around programmatic. And what I’m about to say has nothing to do with Appcast. This is this is this is segment based. Once you go to programmatic, you don’t go back. Like literally, you don’t go back. And 90% of the people that have invested in programmatic technology are planning to stay to invest the same amount Next year, or increase it, only 10% are saying that they want to reduce their investment there. And so, you know, I think that over the question about the the the talent marketplaces that we’re, you know, that we’re, you know, competing in right now. Really, the only question is, are we is it going to be really hard for the next couple of quarters? Or is it gonna be really hard for the next six quarters. And I think there’s three things that are going to determine that the feds response to inflation and whether or not they put the brakes on on inflation, which would actually decelerate the labor market A, B, COVID, and C care, you know, having a care solution that brings predominantly women back into the marketplace, because you’ve seen a complete recovery, almost a complete recovery in male participation rate in the economy, but we’re not seeing that with women. Those three things are going to dictate whether or not we’re in this for medium term or long term. And if we’re into the long term, I think you’re going to see more, more people making decisions to try things like programmatic or to, you know, finally figure out how to integrate all of their siloed req tech together. So the CRM talks to everything else, and it actually works really well. Because we’re gonna be forced to have to deal with that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:19
Yeah. Well, that’s a radical thought all the systems communicating together.

Chris Forman, Appcast 21:23
No, I know.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:25
Chris, thank you so much for your time today, we really appreciate being on I know you’re off site. So we’re just we’re just super happy that you were able to dial in and make it if you’re listening still, if you hung in there with us. We’re excited about next week, we’ve got the real Inc CEO and co founder, Sam Davies, to join us if you’ve not heard of them, they launched earlier this year, late last year with a wonderful product for internal mobility. But in partnering with the CXR Foundation, we’ve done something a little different with it. And that platform. So Sam is gonna join us next week, we’re gonna talk about the importance of internal mobility, but we’re also going to talk about that new work done with the foundation. So until then, we’ll see you guys online at CXR.works in the community. Thanks, everybody.

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