Home >> Speakers >> Leadership Forum & Town Hall Takeaways from the "Winning the New Talent Acquisition Game: An 'Ask Anything' Leadership Forum & Town Hall" A fully engaged group gathered on Friday to participate in a town hall session and to hear from five fresh voices, some of whom have more than a little skin in the game. Moderator Dana Shaw-Arimoto, founder of Phoenix5, led the discussion with our panel of experts: JoAnne Estrada: Global Head, Contingent Workforce Solutions, Randstad Sourceright Doug Leeby: CEO, Beeline Katrina Leslie: Chairman & Co-founder, Swipejobs Johnny Reinsch: CEO, Qwil Shashank Saxena: Co-Founder & CEO, VNDLY Inc. Dana warned us that the group would get right down to business: “I don’t have to say disruption’s coming, get ready. You already know that.” She commented that the discussion about technology and talent acquisition was brought to us by equal parts intrigue and indigestion. The format consisted of a brief conversation with each panelist, followed by an audience Q&A. Here are some highlights from those exchanges, which were designed to keep both the panelists and the audience on their toes. JoAnne Estrada, Randstad Sourceright JoAnne’s done it all: buy side, sell side, solutions side. You name it, she’s been there, done that. It’s still exciting: “I love my job,” she said. “There’s so much happening with innovation and automation in the last two to five years that it’s always challenging our value proposition.” As an MSP provider, JoAnne’s motivated to improve the user experience not just for clients, but also for suppliers. She’s constantly asking, “How can we embrace new technologies and help our suppliers speed up time-to-fill?” Randstad is looking at—and investing in—tools to do just that, including digital interviewing and machine learning applications. Q: How would you recommend staffing companies change their mindset? A: You have to understand the next few years are all about innovation. Nontraditional opportunities are going to cause disruption. We’re feeling it. Why is talent going to sign up with you as a supplier vs. one that offers immediate access to jobs? What makes you different? Doug Leeby, Beeline Beeline works with a large portion TechServe Alliance firms, but the company’s not resting on its laurels. “I’m always out there thinking about digital disruption,” Doug said. However, “AI is just massive computational ability, it’s not necessarily replacing the human element.” As an example, he shared his recent experience of cultural calibration with an adept executive search firm. Doug fully understands that hiring managers have a role to play in creating disconnects between clients and suppliers. He knows job descriptions are terrible, and Beeline is advocating for more transparency of client manager KPIs. But it’s a gradual process: “You can still have communication and calibration, but you can’t jerk the car too far off the road.” Q: What suggestions do you have for staffing firms to compete in this environment? A: No one has a corner on the market. It’s disingenuous to think a handful of firms can do everything. I think what you need to focus on is the niche. Shashank Saxena, VNDLY Inc. He may represent the “best VMS you’ve never heard of,” but as an industry outsider, Shashank has an unusual perspective. He understands that humans are fallible: “I can focus on getting the job description right, or I can build a matching process based on what you’ve actually hired.” Which hiring vectors are most important to the manager? He suggested starting your scoring models with that. He contends that most people think of high touch and high tech as two ends of a spectrum. Instead, he suggests that we think of a quadrant with an x and y axis with those functions sitting on the top right. With tech disruption, we need to challenge ourselves to move into a more efficient, higher value position. Q. As a newer entrant to the industry, what has surprised you? A: In any business, if you ask the customer what they want, they don’t know. It’s not a staffing thing; what humans say and do are two different things. Do I respond based on what they say or what they do? Katrina Leslie, Swipejobs Can recruiting be done without recruiters? According to Katrina, yes. No recruiters are involved in their “match to dispatch” business model, which is rapidly growing on a base of opted-in candidates. She understands how hard it is to recruit: “Most recruiters do a heroic job, but they can only work in standard business hours. Most orders come in outside of those hours. Placements can’t happen as quickly unless you have a full automation digital platform.” She also understands that there’s a balance between fully automated and fully human models. With the help of automated algorithm-based matching, she suggests that recruiters can spend their valuable time on more value-added activities. With high opt-in rates, recruiters should experience “dramatically less workload.” Q: What misconceptions exist about automated recruiting? A: You have to think broader than digital tools. They don’t work all the time. They’re putting more noise and volume into what is already a time-pressured model. Johnny Reinsch, Qwil To start the conversation, Johnny shared an authentic story about the inspiration behind Qwil’s mission to empower freelancers with access to cash flow. As a freelancer, he came perilously close to defaulting on his mortgage one time due to a lack of payment. “By sheer force of will, I sat across from the VP of Finance while the money was wired,” he shared. That made him wonder who else was having the same problem. Fast forward, and Qwil’s business has experienced quadruple-digit growth rates. It won’t be long before half of the workforce can be classified as freelance he noted. It just goes to show the benefits and risks of working freelance: “More people are understanding the benefits of working with whom you want as a freelancer, but it comes at a cost.” He concluded with this advice, “If you think of freelancers less as vendors and more as people, you’ll have a leg up on attracting and retaining the best talent.” Q: Are you seeing any trends in client reactions to freelancers? A: We’re seeing an ease in restrictions. It makes sense as tech and engineering talent want to move from gig to gig to make more talent and increase their skills. The needs of individuals in the talent pool are paramount; if they’re not met, they’ll simply go somewhere else. Thank you to Dana Shaw-Arimoto for her deft handling of these eye-opening conversations and to our panelists for their honest and helpful contributions! 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