S4 E77 | eXpert Tease: How Jim D’Amico fell into recruiting as a profession, and conversation around better ways to find industry rockstars

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:17
Everybody, welcome to another episode of CXR’s eXpert Tease. I’m Chris Hoyt, President at CareerXroads. And this is a special segment of our podcast where I grab about 10 minutes with an industry practitioner or a leader and we get them to share just one thing with our listeners. Now, that one thing might be a lesson learned or career hurdle or victory, there really are no rules outside of the idea that it should fall within categories that hundreds of talent acquisition leaders told us that CXR were important to their success or their leadership going forward. Now, that means we’re typically talking about a range of topics spanning anything from employee wellness, to diversity, equity, inclusion, to industry ethics, or any number of trending items in our space. If you’re interested, and weighing in on what’s important moving forward in 2021, you can take part in our 2021 priorities benchmark survey that is open to everyone. And it is actually found within the research and Reports section of CXR.works. Now. If you’re attending live today, you can participate via the chat feature of our broadcast, anyone should feel free to ask our guests a question or two. And if we’ve got the time, we’ll make sure to try and answer them. If we don’t have time, or you think of something later, you’d like to ask, you can always join us and our open and free exchange found at CXR.works/talent talks. So with all of that, I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest and a pretty fun topic. So with me is Jim D’Amico, who is the Global Head of talent at Celanese and who, for the last four years, has been the board president for the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals. Jim, welcome to this expertise.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 1:50
Thanks for having me, Chris. Happy to be here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:53
Yeah, it’s always good to see you.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 1:56
Agree. Good to see you as well.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:59
Jim, we’ve got a topic today that is actually from being really honest, it’s actually one I really used to enjoy getting into with leaders when we would travel live, this is a really great happy hour topic, I think. And I’m excited to chat you up about it. Obviously, the idea being how we or where people fall into recruiting as a profession, and why that’s okay. And then maybe a little bit of discussion around if we think there should be a better way to find recruiting rockstars, or if we’re just fine the way it is.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 2:34
So I’ll answer the last question. First, there has to be a better way, right? I mean, just this, this random falling in that we all go through. Seems seems a bit rough. And for me, it was a series of failures that led me to success. And I think that that’s, that’s often true for folks. But you know, my background is, is really kind of different. So I started in the military, I was in the army. I was certainly not the greatest soldier ever produced by the army and really thought it was much more of a lover than a fighter. So, you know, after that, look, I figured I don’t have a lot of skills. But I’m at least think I’m a little funny. So I got into stand up comedy. And you’ve probably not seen me in many movies or Netflix specials, because I also was not really good at that. You know, and from there, I fell into sales. And from there is how I finally got into recruiting. Because you know, at some point, you eventually have to have money to eat. If you want to go out on dates, the person you’re taking out usually appreciates money, you know, bust out with those 241 coupons is never a great move. So, but you know, I as I look back, I learned so many great lessons from these different things. I mean, in the army again, although I was not a super soldier. I really I learned discipline, I learned tenacity, I learned about getting a job done and not quitting until it’s done. In comedy, believe it or not, you know, you you learn so much about reading people and communicating with people as a student of Second City. You know, I learned about cooperation and working as a team. And really, most importantly, not saying no, that was a huge lesson to me. That all plays out now. So Well,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:29
Jim, I can’t are you? Are you messing with me? So I’m just gonna tell you this. I had no idea that was your path. Do you do you? Okay, you’re blowing my mind. So I was in the army. I got out of the Army and did stand up for a little while. I wasn’t funny enough to pay the bills. So I had to get a real job. I got it in sales. And and through being the worst manager in the world, my punished It was to re staff, my store. And that’s how I fell into recruiting.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 5:06
So So Chris, I think maybe we have identified the proper path.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:11
You might just be my brother from another mother like I I’m blown away right now, I had no idea we had such a similar path.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 5:19
Either. That is amazing. I mean, look, how many times have we talked before? Things like that? That’s never came up. That is that is crazy. Amazing.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:28
Oh, my God, that’s so funny. Okay, so I agree with you failure along the way makes for a better almost anything, right? Absolutely. Almost. And I’m still blown away my head spinning. So, so from a delivery standpoint, right into recruiting? What what’s a big like, what would be the biggest life lesson that you think you took with you into recruiting to make you a successful recruiting leader? And then part B of that, I guess is, how does that get replicated somewhere else? versus Hey, everybody should go to school and study HR to be a recruiter?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 6:05
Yeah, I think the biggest lesson actually came from second city for me, and that’s the concept of improvisational comedy is based on the premise of agreement, right? Instead of saying no, you say, yes. And and that’s how you continue dialogue. And I think for so long in HR HR has been the no police, right? They’re like, No, no, no. And that’s not how you continue dialogue. That’s not how you build consensus. That’s how you get to a solution. Yes. And is how you resolve that. And that simple lesson that you learn day one, in that training has probably been the one thing that has served me the most in my career.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:47
And do you think that transitions well, into any career?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 6:54
Absolutely. I think it struggles with HR, because HR is sometimes feel so programmed to say no, but we have to break that right. Anybody that works for agreement and builds, you know, a team that cooperates together is going to be successful. I think that when you look and this is sorry, this is not a comedy bit here. But you know, I think HR we spend not enough time learning business. I think when you look at business success, you see that that’s where it comes from. So yeah, I think it’s it’s easily translatable.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:35
There we go, sorry, I had to unmute. I was trying not to sneeze and I muted myself. And zoom doesn’t let you unmute yourself. Sorry about that.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 7:43
You’re talking like my dad for a second? He’s Italian

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:47
It’s just all hands.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 7:48
Yeah, I thought I was in trouble.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:51
So I did. So it’s kind of an interesting piece, right? Because we’re talking about people that sort of fall in. Would you? Where would you? How would you give us a real world, real world application? Like, if we’re looking for recruiters as leaders, we’re typically recruiting recruiters. Right? But how does somebody nowadays right, because when when you and I fell into recruiting, there was only just maybe the beginning of internet job postings. And, you know, it’s, we’re still hovering over a fax machine. And no, we don’t even say anymore. Right. So my question is, now, if you’re not studying to be a recruiter, you don’t have experience in it. What? How would we hire somebody or leaders still gonna take a risk on someone who’s coming out of sales into recruiting? And at what level?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 8:40
Heck yeah, I mean, I think I think so. Because if you look at the fundamentals of recruiting, it’s honesty, its energy, it’s it’s honestly, energy and intelligence. And if you have those three things, then I think that you’re going to be successful, we just have to be willing to understand that that’s what we’re looking for. I don’t care what a TTS is you’ve worked with, I don’t care. You know what Boolean search strings you know how to write. If you have those three things, you can be successful. Those three things are are foundational, I think, basically, any role, we just have to come to accept it, and then take the responsibility of building on that as leaders for our team. We don’t hire somebody, plug and play, we have to take the time to, to build them and to nurture them to be really successful. You know, we all fell into it. But hopefully when we fell into it, somebody took the time to do that for us. That’s why we’re we’re still around this many years later. Or we were just funny in the break room.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:39
We were just funny enough,

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 9:40

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:42
I think there’s something to be said for folks of our generation who have maybe who maybe fell into recruiting, I think there is an element of and I’ve always been a fan of this learning agility. So the ability is it doesn’t matter what system you’ve been in, but to be able to come in and learn as you go. And quickly adopt. And I think that works for any industry not not just recruiting. Right?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 10:05
Absolutely. You know, if you were in the army like people think we’re taught rigid ways of doing things, you have to be agile, right? I mean, you just absolutely have to. There’s the right way, the wrong way, the army way. And you need to know how to move between all three.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:19
Yeah, for sure. So Jim, let me ask you on your recruiting team, how many of you are have a background? If you had to guess, right? How many of you folks on your recruiting team, or even just your favorite recruiters, we won’t just do your team do you think have a background where they also fell into recruiting not not when a coordinator and became a recruiter or were in HR and did a lateral move, like how many just fell out of the sky into recruited?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 10:45
Oh my gosh, it almost all of them, there’s very few people I know that have grown up. And and part of that is because we haven’t done a great job of creating a career path in it. For folks, that’s problematic. But also, it’s just, I love these stories. I could sit around all day talking to people about how they fell into this because we all have these unique, amazing, wonderful paths that make each of us, you know, who we are. And we all learn from each other’s past. So I mean, very few I know that said, You know, I grew up playing interviewee and candidate, this is what I’ve always wanted to do.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 11:25
There’s a joke in there about doctor versus interviewing candidate, but when looking back on an uncorked segment, right. I think it’s really interesting when we’re talking about how, like how, like, we used to joke and say that the recruiting folks that we love the most are almost like they’re from an Island of Misfit Toys. Right? And it’s because there’s such a diverse background, and they all sort of fell together a wonder, I wonder what would happen to our dynamic, if there truly was a formalized track, you know, education track and go to college being kicked out of college and, you know, immediately became a certified? Or to begin starting your career? Do you think what do you think that would do to the space for us?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 12:09
I think it would do miracles, one of the biggest things that is to me is a tragedy is how many people come into our field from that Island of Misfit Toys every year, and leave and leave broken and you know, just disappointed a damaged and they leave. And they’re not certainly not evangelists for the work that we do. So I think having a program where we could, you know, really build people up in a, you know, safe college environment where you’re learning, you’re allowed to make mistakes, you’re getting the the tutelage you need, wouldn’t provide the foundation, not just for amazing recruiters to serve, you know, the industries that we serve dial, but also that’s the foundation for the leaders down the road. I mean, look, look at this, this is getting really, really great. I don’t have much longer and rage. I need somebody to step in and be those next leaders. And I think we have to we have to start from the beginning of that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:11
Yeah, I don’t I don’t know, off the top of my head. I don’t have too many education programs or curriculum. They’re geared that way. But I would, I would love to see more of those developed. I think a lot of organizations would get behind them. But I also think that there is something to be said for the diversity of thought, in that pool that we swim in now. Right? Because we’ve got all these Misfit Toys because we’ve got comedians and sales sales people and you know, people who are doing stuff we’ve never even heard of before they just found out they were amazing at recruiting, right?

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 13:41
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think I don’t think it’s an all or nothing, right? I think we, you know, it’s bring the best of both worlds together.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:51
Good stuff. But look, Jim, we’ve always been a fan of you and the heart, the big heart that you put into the industry. And it’s the insight in the heart that we want to say thank you to today. We really appreciate you giving us few moments and letting our listeners get to know you a bit more.

Jim D’Amico, Celanese 14:06
Well, thank you very much for this opportunity. I’d love to catch up with you. And it sounds like we need to have another conversation about some past experiences pretty soon.

Absolutely. I just like I am. My mind is blown. I can’t believe we have such a very similar kick into recruiting like, everybody out there is listening next week, we’ve got an equally fun guest Marin Hogan. She is the CEO of Red Branch Media to marketing and advertising firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, she and I are going to talk about a topic that isn’t always easy to talk about. And that’s why doing good. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy and how it sometimes might not even feel right when you’re running a business and you’re trying to survive in some of these challenging times. So until then, we hope we’ll see everyone online@csr.org slash talent talks. Make sure that you subscribe to the CXR podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google podcasts, amazon music, I Heart Radio tune in stitcher or just about anywhere else you listen to your favorite podcast. You can get those details at CXR.works/podcast. We’ll see you next week.

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