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JobBoardGeek podcast: The Eyes Have It: Finding candidates that are hard to see

JobBoardGeek PodcastJobBoardGeek talks to Brad McCorkle of Local Eyesite, a job board that focuses on the ophthalmology sector. Hosts Jeff Dickey-Chasins and Steven Rothberg learn how candidate assessments, scholarships, and yes, even an ATS, have helped Brad reach a very scarce group of candidates and employers.  Jeff wonders what the pandemic has in store for the job board industry in 2022, and Steven weighs in on some of the challenges. Take a listen!

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Transcript:

0:00:01.3 Jeff Dickey-Chasins: Hello, everyone. And welcome to JobBoardGeek. We’re the podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the Job Board Doctor, and I’m here today with my co-host, Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter. How you doing, Steven?

0:00:19.5 Steven Rothberg: It is a great day, Jeff. Thank you.

0:00:22.1 JD: Good. I understand that tomorrow we’re gonna be having 70 mile an hour winds here in Iowa, so I may not be with you next week for a podcast recording, or I may be reporting from Illinois instead of Iowa, so we’ll just see what happens. It could be interesting. We have a great guest today, Brad McCorkle of Local Eye Site, I’ve known Brad for a long time. He’s got a really interesting niche that he works in, and he’s done some interesting things in terms of trying to reach this really challenging target of candidates and employers, so we’re gonna talk to him about that. But first I just wanted to chat just a little bit about what’s gonna happen for the industry in terms of 2022. I think probably the biggest challenge is gonna continue to be the same challenge we had this year, which is the pandemic and all the things that are sort of rolling out of the pandemic. I mean, we had a shortage of workers in a lot of industries before the pandemic, it’s even more now. I mean, a lot of people died. A lot of people are very nervous about coming back to work. And a lot of people that would’ve been here through immigration aren’t here. Steven, I don’t know, what do you think is gonna happen with regard to this in the coming 12 months or so?

0:01:37.6 SR: Yeah, Jeff, I agree with you. To add to that, we had our recent discussion with Alex Murphy of JobSync. One of the sort of additional, I guess it’s a problem, certainly is the long COVID, people that are effectively disabled in partly or wholly. And then also the people who are caring for them which are largely family and friends that takes those people either completely out of the labor market or partially out of the labor market. When we talked as an industry about vaccinations are gonna solve all of this, and I think that helped, but it wasn’t the solution. And then people were talking about, “Well, when unemployment insurance goes away, that’s gonna solve the problem.” And I think in some ways that’s helped, but it didn’t solve the problem.

0:02:23.7 SR: I do, I think this is the new normal in a lot of ways. And I think that there are some good things that are coming out of this for some people, real wage growth, for those at the bottom end of the wage scale, is up significantly more than the high rate of inflation that we’re experiencing, that’s a really good thing. The shift in power from employers to employees is, I think, in my mind is a really good thing. And yet when you go into a Starbucks, and they don’t have your favorite beverage, because the employee isn’t available to make it or the supply chain problem, that really ticks me off, so I guess I’m hypocritical.

0:03:01.1 JD: Yeah, well, I think we’re all hypocritical at times. And I think it’s interesting actually, I think our guests will have some interesting thoughts about this, because he’s in an industry that’s long had a challenge in terms of finding skilled people, and his site has taken that on. And I think we’re probably gonna see that with some of the other job boards that are out there where they just sort of say, “Hey, you know, what, if we don’t have enough people that are trained to do the work that our employers are doing, let’s figure out ways to get more of them into the labor force and sort of bring in pools of people that maybe traditionally we wouldn’t have targeted.” Anyway, it’s gonna be an interesting year. So with that, let me introduce Brad McCorkle of Local Eye Site which is a site that focuses on eye doctors and eye clinics and all the people that work in the industry. Welcome to JobBoardGeek, Brad, how you doing?

0:03:55.1 Brad McCorkle: I’m doing great. Yeah, thanks for having me. Glad to see you guys.

0:03:57.8 JD: Good. Glad to see you, and I detect there’s a little bit of a drawl. Are you from a state that isn’t Iowa?

0:04:08.3 BM: Correct, I’m from North Carolina but even worse, I grew up in South Carolina, so yeah.

0:04:17.0 JD: Yeah. Well, I guess if you have a south Carolinian accent, it still works, if you go north one state, right, people don’t shun you.

0:04:25.7 BM: Yeah, no, no no, it’s…

0:04:26.9 JD: I grew up in Texas, and when I go down and visit my relatives, I acquire the accent and then as I drive north, it goes away again, and my wife is always highly amused by that. So, Brad, I’m just kind of curious, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came to found Local Eye Site, how you got started there?

0:04:46.9 BM: Yeah, sure. The site’s been up since 2008, before that, I had a career in medical sales, and I just happened to work for Alcon Labs, which is arguably the biggest supplier of ophthalmic-related pharmaceutical medical devices. And so I spent about six years in and out of optometric and ophthalmic clinics. And often, a doctor or an administrator might pull me aside and say, “We really need to hire a tech, or we need to hire an optometrist, do you know anyone?” It happened enough times that it occurred to me that there was… There must not be great solutions out there, or else they wouldn’t keep pulling their medical sales rep into the fray. And then I remember, and I still have the article, I remember reading an article in Ophthalmology Times about the shortage of ophthalmic techs. This is, again, this is like 2007, 2006. So yeah, so I have an creative streak, and I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and so I started designing the site and the model and went home and told my wife I was [laughter] quitting my job to start this site. And after I picked her up off the floor…

[laughter]

0:05:58.5 BM: We move forward. But, yeah, that’s how it happened.

0:06:01.9 SR: One of the things that I noticed about your site that I think that some of our listeners might find interesting is that you not only disclose the… Your network that you’ve built with affiliated sites, print publications that you form partnerships with, but you really put that forward. It is a significant part of your selling proposition, and there are definitely sites in our industry that will take a job that an employer post to them and send it over to some other site to help drive additional traffic to it, but they kinda do it behind the scenes. It seems like they’re ashamed of those partnerships. You’re clearly proud of it. You put that front and center. Talk with me, if you could, about your thinking behind that and what the reaction to your… Has been by your employer, customers to that.

0:06:55.2 BM: Yeah, so the way that started is my original idea was that I can see if you were an ophthalmic administrator trying to recruit whatever position it was. You had several different options. You can work with a headhunter, which is really expensive at the time. You can go with classified ads or Monster.com, CareerBuilder, that kind of thing, which wasn’t very targeted. And then a lot of folks might go through industry, trade groups, associations, any kind of organization, publishers that work within the eye care space that had connections with eye care professionals. A lot of these small associations were trying to drive revenue through job sites. I remember that probably our closest partner all these years is the organization ATPO, Allied Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology, and they represent ophthalmic techs. And at the time, their idea of the job board was the employer had to fill out a piece of paper and fax it into the association, and then the association would give the piece of paper to their web developer who would try to post that ad on the site within the next week or so.

0:08:01.6 BM: I thought, there’s obviously a better way, and I started thinking, what if we could knit together all of the, what I refer to as industry insiders, so as many associations as possible, publications, trade groups, and things like that. If we could be the job board technology, as well as the back end as far as sales and service is concerned, then we were proud to say that we were plugging into these industry connections in order to source good candidates. That was the whole thing, we wanted to be that, and we wanted to be the only job board that actually went to trade shows and exhibited in such a niche industry. So when you go to an ophthalmic trade show, clearly I was the only job board. So we really have always tried to present ourselves as industry insiders. We fund scholarships for opticians for getting state licensure. We fund scholarships for ophthalmic techs to get certified. So, yeah, that’s kinda been our thing.

0:09:01.6 JD: So I’m kind of curious about that in terms of the scholarships. How did that get started ’cause that’s pretty unusual? I don’t know many job boards that get involved on the training side the way that you’ve gotten involved.

0:09:15.4 BM: Yeah, it was just an idea I had, and that started with ophthalmic techs long time ago. And I was just always trying to think they were gonna talk about… Probably talk about Indeed. And so I just thought, if I’m gonna compete, I’m gonna have to really endear us to this niche community and make sure that they remember us when it comes time to look for a job and say, “This is part of how we started going about it.”

0:09:42.0 JD: There’s a couple of things. One of the reasons I invited you on is I think you do a number of things like the scholarship that are a little bit out of the ordinary. Now, if I remember correctly, you have some sort of an ATS system, is that right, for your clients to use?

0:09:56.9 BM: Yeah, and that’s an interesting question as well because I think that… I guess you guys will know better than me, but it seems like today, probably more job boards are using out-of-the-box software and custom building. And we’re on our third or fourth derivation of our site, and we’ve built it from scratch, which is something that’s I’m actually debating right now, but, anyway, to your question, it did enable us to build a back-end ATS that employers can use, and we’ve obviously built in a way that we think is appropriate for someone who’s a medical administrator.

0:10:35.7 JD: Well, so you kind of… You brought this up, so I wasn’t gonna actually ask you, but since you brought it up, I will ask you. How have you managed to compete against big sites like the Indeeds of the world? It must be a common occurrence for you to knock on one of the doors and say, “Hey, do you wanna post with us?” And they’re like, “Oh, we’re using Indeed. We don’t need you.”

0:10:56.0 BM: Yeah, yeah, but I have an interesting… And what I’m about to say is not really a knock on Indeed or something.

0:11:02.9 SR: It’s okay. It’s only the three of us. You can say anything you want.

[laughter]

0:11:08.7 JD: And our listeners.

0:11:11.4 SR: Jeff. [laughter]

0:11:13.3 BM: Yeah, it’s like myself and my inside reps, we’re fatigued from hearing someone buy a job posting with us not get as many candidates as they want, the response is always, “Well, with Indeed, I got dozens of candidates immediately,” and then always begs the question, “Why? Then why did you come to us?” And, again, this is not a knock on Indeed. It’s extremely difficult now, especially to source ophthalmic techs, opticians, optometrists. I would say that we competed very favorably against them, and the pandemic has really… I’m gonna be completely open with you guys, the pandemic has really hurt us, and we don’t have the same kind of cushion, if you will, of venture funding and those kind of things to continue to make the kinds of investments that we want to when revenue drops, and our revenue dropped dramatically from February to March of last year. And so we’ve recovered to some degree, but we’re not… We’re still not back to where we were, and so…

0:12:22.1 BM: That’s complicated by the fact that the pandemic is also, as you said, impacted the job seeker market so dramatically that it’s like… That’s our bread and butter, right? That’s what always… That’s what always made us stand out was that we were better at sourcing this very specific type of professional. And right now they’re just sparse. So we’re trying all sorts of new things.

0:12:44.1 SR: Brad, when you were saying a second ago that employer might say, in a way we’re getting dozens of applicants through Indeed, and my words not yours, but we got 50 applicants to this posting from Indeed and five from you. Why in your mind… And every employer is different, their motivations are different, their matrices of success are different. Why… If they’re getting a good response from Indeed and maybe they aren’t, maybe it’s quantity, not quality, why would they be coming to a niche site like Local Eye instead of just going all in on Indeed, if they say they’re happy with Indeed?

0:13:20.2 BM: I was hoping you could tell me the answer to that question.

[laughter]

0:13:27.1 JD: It’s because of your hat, Brad.

0:13:28.4 BM: Oh, yeah. There’s a story behind that hat.

[laughter]

0:13:35.6 BM: No, the only thing that I can imagine is that the responses aren’t… Because the logical follow-up question that we ask is well, have you hired anyone? And the answer is often, no. I think that one of the problems that our model creates for us is that we are so niche-focused that we’ve never been the kind of job board that’s gonna give you a 100 applicants. When someone’s looking for ophthalmic tech in Waterloo, if you’re getting a 100 applicants, you’re not getting qualified eye care professionals. That kind of volume doesn’t exist.

0:14:12.3 SR: Yeah, there aren’t that many people.

0:14:14.5 BM: There just aren’t. Yeah.

0:14:16.2 SR: That’s probably 200% of the market.

0:14:18.7 BM: Right.

0:14:22.3 SR: There’s just no way.

0:14:22.4 BM: Listen, I can’t tell you how many conversations… This boggles my mind, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had conversations with employers where we actually provided one or two candidates. They hired one of those candidates successfully, and Indeed gave them 50 candidates, none of which they could hire, and they felt like Indeed outperformed us.

0:14:42.7 JD: That’s bizarre. That sort of reasoning… ‘Cause I was thinking that you were gonna say something slightly different, and I was thinking that you have… Are sort of in that classic situation with a lot of niche sites that you have to educate employers on what to expect.

0:15:00.8 BM: Yeah.

0:15:00.9 JD: You have to educate them about the size, the labor market, and what they should expect to get from you as a smaller site that’s super, super focused on that particular type of candidate.

0:15:10.8 BM: Right.

0:15:11.2 JD: But yeah, it’s hard to reason with someone who says, well, I didn’t make any hires, but I had a lot of response, so I’m gonna keep using them.

0:15:19.6 BM: Yeah. Fairly… I don’t know if this is fair or not, but I sort of blame Monster.com for this, because…

0:15:27.0 SR: Yeah.

0:15:28.7 BM: A person that worked with me for a number of years, he’s not with me any longer, but he actually worked at Monster before working with us, and he was in sales, and he told me how they sold, and they always sold on volume, clicks, the kinds of things that just really weren’t completely relevant when you’re trying to find someone in a niche space. Educating the marketplace is definitely a huge part of it. Jeff, I hear you, and it’s just a conversation that we have a dozen times a day.

0:16:02.9 JD: Yeah, it’s… We’re starting to run out of time, but I wanted to ask you one other thing that you do, which is, again, a little bit unusual. Is you offer assessments? Isn’t that correct?

0:16:12.7 BM: Right.

0:16:14.3 JD: For the candidates. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how that came about?

0:16:17.8 BM: Yeah, that’s been really neat. It happened because I actually had a friend who was running this organization at a time that was… At the time called Optimize Hire. Optimize work… The testing was developed by someone who’s kind of a world leader in that evaluation testing space. And when this testing was being put together, they actually did all of the testing before they went to the market. They did in a chain of eye care clinics that no longer exists. Although, the testing was not at all specific to eye care, it’s more designed to be predictive of how someone will perform financially, emotionally, will they stick around, or would they quit. Is this person the kind of person that can drive a revenue? It’s that kind of testing. And so we just partnered with them, and we’ve just been white-labeling that testing. And so every candidate that comes to Local Eye Site, the first time they apply for a job, they’re prompted with the opportunity to take the testing. The testing takes about 15 minutes, and once they take it one time, they don’t have to ever do that again. But then a report is automatically prepared on that candidate that gives the feedback to the employer, and it also does a really neat thing where it actually supplies a list of questions that would be good questions to very specifically ask this person in a job interview.

0:17:41.5 JD: That’s really pretty cool. So do you have a reasonable number of employers that actually take you up and use that when they’re looking at candidates?

0:17:50.0 BM: Not as many as I would like.

[chuckle]

0:17:53.5 BM: I can tell you that I have used the testing to hire folks at Local Eye Site and that I have found it to be very good and effective. But I don’t know how… It seems to me that the market doesn’t necessarily completely buy into the idea that tests like that can be accurately predictive.

0:18:14.5 JD: Yeah, I find that really interesting because you spend a lot of time reading the HR blogs. You would think that everyone does it, that everyone is doing all this fancy stuff, and that in fact you can use these automated tools to predict candidate behavior and this sort of stuff, but I think out in the real world, there’s just millions and millions of employers that are not that sophisticated or that, like you said, they don’t buy in to the basic concept or they just don’t have time.

0:18:41.0 BM: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point, Jeff. The thing for us is that we aren’t typically working with HR professionals. We’re working with someone whose job is to run a medical practice. Staffing is one of the many responsibilities that that person has, but they’re not… Probably not kind of person that’s reading a lot of HR materials, because like you said, they just don’t have time. They’re worried about the clinic flow and marketing the practice to the community, and so it’s like we’re not dealing with a big company that’s gonna have an HR director that would be more knowledgeable about that stuff.

0:19:16.0 JD: Yeah, they’re juggling lots of balls. And the HR ball may not be the one that’s up in the air at that particular time so. Well, listen, Brad, I really appreciate you coming on.

0:19:27.3 BM: Thank you.

0:19:27.9 JD: It’s very, very interesting, what you’re doing there. It sounds like it’s a challenge right now, but hopefully it’ll keep getting better as the pandemic eases and you get more people trained. If people wanna get in touch with you. How do they do that?

0:19:42.0 BM: Probably the easiest way is I’m on LinkedIn, so you just go to my profile there, or you can just email me at brad.mccorkle@localeyesite.com, and just remember that site is spelled S-I-T-E Local Eye Site.

0:19:56.2 JD: Great, yes spelling assistance is always good for me and probably for our audience as well, so… Well, that’s great, thanks so much for coming on. Steven, if people wanna get in touch with you, how do they do that?

0:20:12.1 SR: Looking for… To partner on buying or selling entry level early career talent, then reach out to me Steven, S-T-E-V-E-N@collegerecruiter.com. Brad, it’s been a real pleasure.

0:20:26.5 BM: Thanks guys, it’s not often I get to talk to people about job boards, so this is… Well.

0:20:33.9 SR: If you’re gonna say it’s the highlight of your week, then it’s a bad week for you.

[laughter]

0:20:39.0 JD: You’re on the right show.

0:20:40.2 BM: Yeah. I may try to talk to them, but they just give me a blank stare, so it’s…

[laughter]

0:20:45.2 JD: Yeah, it’s not something you typically bring up at a party. People will think your mask is on wrong. So anyway, folks, that’s it for this week of JobBoardGeek. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to JobBoardGeek via our RSS feed or Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Deezer, Pandora. There’s just lots of different options. This is Jeff Dickey-Chasins. This is the podcast that about connecting candidates and employers. That’s it for this show. And we’ll see you again next time. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

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