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JobBoardGeek podcast: Ditching the resume to find better candidates: one site’s story

JobBoardGeek PodcastThis episode of JobBoardGeek finds hosts Jeff Dickey-Chasins and Steven Rothberg discussing Indeed’s recent record financials, and then chatting with Jonathan Samuels of the sales and tech recruiting site Ntroduced. The platform focuses on assessing candidates for fit and culture, rather than using a resume checklist. Steven also reviews the early reviews of the podcast – but something seems a little bit fishy!

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Transcript:

[music]

0:00:01.5 Jeff Dickey-Chasins: Hello, everyone. This is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the Job Board Doctor, and I want to welcome you to Job Board Geek. It’s the podcast about the business of connecting employers and candidates. And today we have a very special guest. We have Jonathan Samuels of Ntroduced, and he’ll be on in a little bit. But first, I wanna say hi to Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter. Hey, Steven, how you doing?

0:00:27.1 Steven Rothberg: I am doing really well, Jeff. Good to be with you again.

0:00:30.1 JD: Yeah, well, I would have to agree with that. I’m always happy to be with myself as well, so. It’s a good day in my business when I’m upright, so… Before we get started, I was just gonna say, did you see that outrageous amount of revenue that Indeed produced? They had like a 107% year-over-year increase in revenue in their last financials.

0:00:55.3 SR: Yeah, a little bit of that, and I… Emphasis on little was currency fluctuations but I still think even without that, I think it was like 101 or something like that, so, clearly, they didn’t make the money off of currency fluctuations. They just… The only thing that they really do well is just execute, execute, execute.

0:01:16.4 JD: Yeah, and… Part of what surprised me is that a few days after that came out, Indeed Ireland’s results came out, and they actually lost money this cycle. And Indeed Ireland, for those of you who don’t know, is basically all of Indeed except for the US and Asia, all the other places they’ve expanded to rolled up into Indeed Ireland, and… Frankly, I was a little surprised that they had lost money. The previous year, they’ve shown a tidy profit, and historically, Indeed has grown by expanding into other markets, so I don’t know what that means, but I certainly found it curious.

0:01:52.7 SR: Well, coincidentally, sales of Guinness and whiskey in Ireland were way up. [laughter] So, I don’t think that there’s any correlation at all between the two of those things. I just… There’s no causation, there’s certainly correlation.

0:02:07.7 JD: Yeah. I’m trying to remember if it was Indeed or LinkedIn, one or the other was running a pub. I think it was LinkedIn was running sort of a pop-up pub in London, and also in Dublin, to promote their business. Come in, create a profile, get a free pint of Guinness. Maybe Indeed’s gonna get into that business too.

0:02:25.3 SR: I would have 47 profiles, no problem.

0:02:27.9 JD: [laughter] Well, okay. Enough of our brilliant insight into the industry. So, I wanna introduce our guest today, Jonathan Samuels. He’s the founder of Ntroduced, along with the founder of several other companies over the years. Jonathan, welcome to Job Board Geek.

0:02:47.8 Jonathan Samuels: It’s good to be here, and looking forward to hanging with you guys.

0:02:51.8 JD: Jonathan, one of the things that we’re trying to do on the show is really spotlight companies that have a non-traditional model, and I think Ntroduced is definitely that kind of site. I’ll call it a job board just because it’s a generic term, but you’re really quite different from what most people think of as a job board. Why don’t you give me some background on you, and how you came to create Ntroduced, and what’s it all about? Why is it different?

0:03:20.3 JS: Yeah, sure. I’ve been in this business for probably giving up my age a little bit here, but I’ve been in it for about 25 years almost, and started off on… Working in an agency, learning everything that way, when you’re in an agency, you learn the good, the bad, and the ugly. And, I started developing a real interest probably about seven or eight years ago, using technology to help with some of the pain points of hiring, and not just for employers, but the pain points for job seekers as well. So, that really interested me and that’s what brought me to the point where I am now, with my platform, Ntroduced. Ntroduced is spelled without the I at the beginning, like introduced, but no I at the beginning.

0:04:15.6 JD: So guaranteed to confuse someone like me if I’m actually trying to write it up like, “Ah, how do I spell it?”, so…

0:04:21.4 JS: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We just wanted that little twist there, and we have it. But the platform itself is… It is a little bit different out there, and I think sometimes, things need to be. We’re more of a platform that… We put job seekers and companies together based on personality traits, their soft skills, and their shared values. I remember years ago that I used to hear about that, and I used to think it sounded kinda corny. I started interviewing people using my own, practicing what I preach. And when I interview people, I don’t even look at their resume anymore. I’ll take a glance at their LinkedIn profile. My interview with them is to find out who they are as a person. I wanna know what motivates them, I wanna know what kind of… What cultural values they share, I’d like to know what soft skills they have, so I can really see past just the hard skills.

0:05:23.1 JS: Hard skills… You can teach hard skills, you cannot teach soft skills. I’ve had businesses with cancerous employees and things like that, and they ruin businesses. And when I started interviewing people this way, based on who they are as a person, we ended up creating this incredible team. There’s a team of 16 of us right now, and all of them are awesome. They’re just great people, everybody’s friendly with everybody else, they’re helpful. I realized that this stuff is real. If you want engagement and retention, you’ve gotta look… You start looking past the hard skills and that three-month gap in the resume, because there is some… It’s really… It is not that hard to fix high attrition.

0:06:13.0 JD: So how do you guys assess the soft skills? That’s… I’ve certainly done this sorta stuff in my past, when I was a hiring manager, but I’m just curious as to how you do this through the job site and how you scale up. It can be time-consuming, right?

0:06:29.3 JS: Yeah, it was time consuming, actually, putting that together. That’s a really good question. So, I did… Aside from having a strong interest in organizational psychology, probably should have majored in that, in college, but I didn’t, but I’m studying it now. I hired… I actually hired an advisor who is a professor at the University… At Boston University. She specializes in building assessments. Her name is Taylor Peyton, Dr. Taylor Peyton. And, she helped build this assessment that I have. It’s part of Ntroduced. It’s a very short assessment. It gets to the point with the soft skills that are important to employers. And after they take that three-minute assessment, it shows them 10 different soft skills and where they fall against the norm.

0:07:31.2 JS: So somebody might be top ten-percentile, so they’re 90% better than… Better than 90% of the people out there. And, we have this… And that’s pretty new, but it definitely gives us a good idea about somebody’s soft skills. And then we go a little further, and we go into career motivators, and I think career motivators is something that kinda goes together, or should, because when you learn somebody’s career motivators and what they are, you’re gonna know if you’re in alignment or not, with a company interviewing a candidate, so, we have little mini-assessments like that, we gamified it a little bit, and that’s how we determine that, and then our presentation of that to our employers is done through a really cool, beautiful profile that they’re gonna get much more information about any candidate that they could have interviewed on their own from our profile alone, on our candidates.

0:08:30.6 SR: So Jonathan, I love what you said about teaching the hard skills. One of College Recruiter’s customers is a Big Four accounting and consulting company, and one of their recruiting leaders said to me, I don’t know, probably four years ago, five years ago now, that “We can teach a candidate or an employee how to read a balance sheet, but we cannot teach them how to be a critical thinker.” That revelation to them allowed them to be far more inclusive in their hiring. No longer did they restrict their candidate base to finance, accounting, and economic students. Now, if you are in liberal arts or fine arts or, God forbid… Occupation or a… A therapist on kind of a major, that they would actually be happy to talk with you. Question for you, if I was a candidate going to Ntroduced, if I was an employer going to Ntroduced, on the candidate side, do I get assessed before I am looking at that potential job, or does my assessment then lead me to “Hey, based upon your assessment, you should be looking at these 12 jobs,” or is it more of a “For this particular employer, we want you to answer this three-minute segment of questions and because that’s what matters to this employer.”?

0:09:48.2 JS: Yeah, that’s a great question. Really good question, actually. So, employers, we wanna make this… We want the user experience on our platform to be very simple, as simple as possible or easy as possible, so we don’t get it too far into the weeds of passing assessments back and forth between the company and then the candidate. But what we do is, when a job seeker creates a profile on Ntroduced, they have… Besides the basic information that people ask, we ask… We talk about soft skills, we talk about career motivators, we talk about cultural values that they hold near and dear, and we even talk… We have asked them about their… They select the benefits and perks that they like. So they make all these selections, and once they make the selections, we have their information, and they go to… We have a jobs page of all of our partner companies, and when we onboard a partner company, they fill out pretty much a similar assessment… Type assessments, what their culture is like, this, that and the other thing. And, so when candidates scroll down to the different jobs, they see pie charts and showing people, showing them how much they match on this one right here, on values, how much they match on the perks they want, the benefits, that kinda thing.

0:11:15.9 SR: And is that employer by employer or job by job? I asked the question because I…

0:11:19.5 JS: Employer by employer.

0:11:21.2 SR: Employer by employer. Okay, so…

0:11:22.8 JS: Yeah.

0:11:23.3 SR: So like a Fortune 500 company with 50,000 employees, they would have sort of like one registration they’d fill in their desired profile once. If they had a thousand jobs, they don’t… They’re not filling that in a thousand times.

0:11:37.3 JS: No, no no, right. And actually, in a large organization like that, it would be the particular department, like engineering or sales, because amongst the big… The culture of a large organization, you’ve got subcultures in there, and the subcultures would be in the sales department. There’s a separate subculture in the engineering department, accounting, whichever.

0:12:02.0 JD: And I think you said… Or maybe I saw this on the site you guys primarily focused on sales positions and tech positions, right?

0:12:10.0 JS: Yeah, so I started the platform. It was called… It used to be called the Sales Club. And we only had sales jobs, it was only sales jobs, it was just me that started it this is several years ago. And, it was great. It went great. And then, it was time to add tech jobs, and I’m like, “Uh-oh, I gotta change the name.” [laughter] So, I was trying to think of something that was relevant. That could be relevant for everything, and basically, what this platform does is, it literally introduces candidates and companies, each one can, just with one click, it automated email will go out from the company asking for the candidate’s interview availability and vice versa. So, it was about introductions, and that’s why I came up with Ntroduced, and so now, as Jeff was saying, yeah, sure, we have sales, now we have tech, and we also do marketing. So marketing is our third one, and that’s relatively new, and we’ll see… You’ll see that we just finished the work on that, on the platform, and that’ll start showing next week.

0:13:21.8 JD: And I assume your revenue model is that candidates aren’t paying that this is an employer-paid system?

0:13:29.2 JS: Yeah. It is an employer-paid system, so… What we wanna do is, we wanna… We deal a lot with startups. Maybe late C round or A round, maybe B round. We… They’re all in different stages, one has an HR department, one doesn’t, one only has one recruiter. So, we offer… People can order a subscription… A subscription service to the platform and hire as many salespeople as they like, and they pay an annual fee or for six months, and they can just pick them off on their dashboard on the platform. And then we also offer the paper hire, which not like agencies, but it’s just… They’re just pay like an agency, so all done on the platform, but they still pay like an agency style, whatever percent. And then, we also have kind of an RPO kinda thing where we’ll dedicate people to these certain startups that have no greeting help at all, and no HR help, and we’ll step in and do all that nitty-gritty work and screen other people’s… Their resumes from other job boards, and do the things that they don’t have the time to do and stuff.

0:14:49.1 JD: Now, originally, weren’t you guys just focused on the Boston area?

0:14:53.4 JS: Yes, yeah. So we’re born and bred in Boston, and we are spreading out. We will be in probably two new cities in 2022, and one city already is in the works. So, we’ll have that. We’ll have a second city very soon, and we’re looking forward to that. And people love what we do. Our users… They’re fabulous. Our companies… They’re awesome. So, what we do, we wanna share with people in other cities, and I really think that we can be helpful to job seekers and companies, not just in our area, but everywhere.

0:15:33.7 SR: I can definitely see the startups, the smaller organizations. To me, a startup is both small and young. You don’t… Most people don’t think of a small company that’s 30 years old as being a startup, but I could sure see a company like that getting a tremendous values with the assessments. The larger organizations I would think that’s gonna be where your sales efforts become more difficult, because they already have their own assessments, or they’ve decided for some, quite frankly, stupid reason not to use assessments. But they’d rather look at a degree or a school or a job title that you held eight years ago, and then try to guess at whether you can do their work. I think that the use of assessments is clearly growing rapidly, because they’re so much better now than they used to be. They scale well, and they’re far more inclusive, so, are you finding that employers are talking with you about the… Improving their diversity and inclusion efforts, which I think you’re better positioned to do through an assessment than what school they happen to go to, for example.

0:16:43.5 JS: Yeah, absolutely. Some of our partner companies say, “Listen, we need more diversity.” We’re in a great position to be able to deliver all types of candidates, because we don’t just focus on, like you’re saying, what they did in the past. We’re more focused about the person. And yeah, there is a lot of bias in traditional resumes. It’s gonna knock people out that could be tremendous. They could be your next superhero in your workplace, but they’ll never get that chance, and they’ll never know, because that person’s resume didn’t… Did nothing, as far as telling the company about who that person is, what their abilities really are, what they can do, not what they’ve done.

0:17:30.1 JD: Yeah, that’s interesting. In a way, you’re basically helping these companies hire for people that could really be critical to their long-term success, and you’re hiring the people that are resourceful, innovated, and… I think that’s wonderful. I’m kinda curious, how did the pandemic affect you guys?

0:17:50.4 JS: Yeah, the pandemic, it affected us, probably like a lot of people. Our business were the first to know about… [chuckle] About slowdowns, and fortunately, we’re the first to learn when things are coming back, but boy, we were dead as a doornail for two months, the two months, the… When was it? March, April, I guess?

0:18:11.5 JD: Yeah, it would have been.

0:18:13.0 JS: And then, all of a sudden, in the last week of May, I think it was, after two months, we started getting calls from our client companies again, asking for this or that and needing help, and it just kept building, and then turned into a monster year for us. It just… It was great. Those two months though, they sucked.

0:18:38.3 JD: [chuckle] I’ve always thought that… Your company actually is pretty resourceful, because you’ve had to pivot a couple of times in the time that I’ve known you, and it sounds like you’ve come out of the pandemic really, really well. So, Jonathan, if people wanna get in touch with you and talk to you more about the company and about yourself, how can they do that?

0:19:01.4 JS: Yeah. So, we love interacting with our network. Reach out on LinkedIn. Can’t miss me on LinkedIn, Jonathan Samuels. You can just send me a… Send me invites. I’ll talk to anybody and everybody, I really enjoy that. [chuckle] And my email is Jonathan, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N @ntroduced.com.

0:19:27.7 JD: And that’s the letter N-troduced, right?

0:19:29.8 JS: The letter N, no I at the beginning.

0:19:32.2 JD: That’s great. Well, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. I knew it would be fascinating, and it was. And I believe that Steven has some reviews of the very first podcast that we released this week.

0:19:45.8 SR: Yeah. Yeah, reviews are really important to podcast publishers. It’s one of the ways that the platforms, whether it’s Apple or Google or Spotify, rank a platform for how people are gonna see them. If they just are looking for a recruiting or, God forbid, a job board podcast, then that’s… They’re gonna go, and some of them are gonna type in keywords. Some of them, even if they type in pretty much the exact name of your podcast, if you don’t have very many reviews, your podcast might not surface, but fortunately, within a day of our first podcast dropping, we had hit our goal for the number of downloads that we were hoping to hit in total. I don’t know if that says that we’re really great or listeners are really stupid, but one of them is probably true, maybe it’s both.

0:20:32.0 SR: But some of the reviews that we had were… I thought were kinda interesting. Francis in Vatican City in Italy said, “Finally, my prayers have been answered.” Joe in Washington DC: “Come on, man! You gotta listen to this podcast and get vaccinated.” Donald in Florida: “Fake news.” Chad in Portugal, “I’m super excited about listening to a podcast by two middle-aged white guys.” Joel in Indiana, “The Job Board Geek Podcast, a slice of cheddar, and a PBR are part of a nutritional breakfast.” Shelly in Alberta, Canada, “I’m excited again about something south of the 49th parallel.” And finally, Serge, who says he grew up in New Brunswick, but somehow found his way to Western Canada, “Well, you have to admit that it’s a lot better than poutine.”

[laughter]

0:21:27.2 JD: I don’t know why I doubt the authenticity of those reviews, but I… It’s probably because I’ve known you for a long time, Steven, so.

0:21:38.1 SR: If you’re saying it’s fake news, then I don’t know. I think… I don’t know where we’re gonna go with that.

0:21:45.3 JD: Yeah. Yeah, okay, well, it’s time for us to end this podcast recording. Again, I’m Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the Job Board Doctor. You could get any of the podcasts that we have recorded, which, at this point, amount to two, on the jobboarddoctor.com/podcast, or you can look at our site on Buzzsprout. And if you need to reach me, you can reach me at thedoctor@jobboarddoctor.com, and I will see everyone next time. Thanks a lot.

[music]

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