Sourcing School by RecruitingDaily

The Evolution of HR Technology with Jonathan Prothero President of TalentNet

October 27, 2023 Brian Fink, Ryan Leary, and Shally Steckerl
Sourcing School by RecruitingDaily
The Evolution of HR Technology with Jonathan Prothero President of TalentNet
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, Shally Steckerl and Ryan Leary chat with Jonathan Prothero, President of TalentNet. They delve into the role of AI in HR technology, complexities of diverse systems integration, shifts in talent acquisition, and the concept of building talent communities.

Jonathan shares his insights on how talent communities can improve employee engagement and offer fresh, exciting opportunities within organizations. The discussion also touches on the evolving face of HR space over the decades and the necessity for future platforms to be adaptable and versatile.

It's a deep dive into the future of HR technology and the role AI will play.

Special mini series recorded with Oleeo at HR Tech 2023 with hosts Ryan Leary, Brian Fink, and Shally Steckerl.


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Speaker 1:

All right party people. This is Shali's Deckerle filling in for Brian Fink. He's usually the one that's doing the openers. We are live on the floor of the HR Tech Expo Exposition Exposition.

Speaker 2:

All things technology.

Speaker 1:

We are guests of the Olio people in their booth manning their podcast station. And with us today.

Speaker 3:

well, I have Ryan, you do have Ryan, I've been here all day. Ryan Leary, I'll be here all day tomorrow, recruiting daily.

Speaker 1:

And Jonathan.

Speaker 2:

Prothero, prothero, close enough. Yeah, not bad Prothero.

Speaker 1:

Does a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I've been in HR space since 1998. Don't hold that against me 1988.

Speaker 3:

1988. 98.

Speaker 1:

That's two years after I got. So you know I got two years on it. Okay, don't hold that against me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Ryan, this is his first week. Oh well done. Welcome to the industry.

Speaker 1:

I wish Sorry to hear that Started recruiting.

Speaker 2:

So back in the day, on the phone, smalan and Dylan Started a staff informant in 2004. Live and well, today, big one in Canada. I'm from Toronto.

Speaker 1:

We won't hold that against you for sure, thank you. Thank you, go, leafs.

Speaker 2:

Stepped away from that organization Part-time in 2013. Full-time in 2017 to found Talentnet. We're a talent acquisition platform focused originally in the contingent labor space, but now full-time as well, and we can get into the gory details of what that means and sounds like Maybe too gory, I think, for this audience. Right. So yeah, this is our second year here at HR Tech. It's been good, good couple days.

Speaker 1:

What's it like on the floor? Tell us what you've been experiencing walking around. What do you see? A?

Speaker 2:

lot of it's interesting. The big thing I see this year more than anything is equity people Interesting Growth equity. I guess there's money out there that's not been put to work yet, so we're running into a few of those people. But yeah, it's good. Tech is moving in the right direction. A little slower than I kind of thought. I've sat through some of the presentations and not as much discussion about AI and some of the disruption as I thought was going to be here these last couple days, but good otherwise.

Speaker 3:

So now I haven't gotten to sit in any sessions. I haven't even walked the floor yet. Have you walked the floor? I have walked the floor several times. I have not. I've been sitting here all day talking. What are you seeing? That's on the floor? Companies, technology, what's really caught your eye?

Speaker 2:

Well, the ones that are jumping out, obviously, with things like chat, gpt and what's happening with AI and AI platforms, how these especially the older sort of the big beasts within HR, how they're starting to incorporate them slowly, but I think it's going to make big changes in the space that we work in.

Speaker 1:

I'm afraid it's going to blend everything.

Speaker 2:

It. Might, you know, listen from a talent acquisition seat, which is where I spend all my time. It's going to make the lives of people looking for resources a lot easier. You know we're working on something right now in our labs with GPT. We work with Google with their large language model, bert, but also with GPT, and we use 4.0. The stuff that you can do in terms of having a live conversation with a database sounds like a weird thing, but you know you can go in and say, hey, show me the top three Java developers I have in the Las Vegas area and you know real live conversation have come up and said here they are okay, well, give me the person who's most active in the database that applies the most job spin, give me somebody that we've spoken to in the last 30 days. Just that sort of conversational discussion. Yeah, it's remarkable to see you know, basically, a software, respond to queries like that and if you're a recruiter, you know you think about what comes after that. So sure I can have this sort of real life conversation with an AI model. Now, what happens when I can automate that and say, hey, if this type of person comes along, apply them to these types of roles. That's going to make a recruiter's life completely different.

Speaker 3:

Where do you see so, with the inflection of all the AI, all the tools that we're seeing out here, solutions out here this week, where do you think this is going to come in and impact HR as a whole?

Speaker 2:

Well, again, the seat that I sit in is talent acquisition, so finding talent. If your platforms aren't these companies we're talking to if their platforms aren't already looking at AI models to help augment what they're doing, they will be in the near future. So I think that's a big one that's going to affect it quickly. We focus in the area of building talent communities, branded talent communities for Fortune 1000s, and if I'm a brand like a Meta or an Amazon or a Pfizer and I've got two, three, four, 500,000 people coming to my career page every month, having the ability to use AI to keep those people interacting with my brand, that's going to be a huge benefit.

Speaker 3:

So I got a question. You mentioned talent communities. That's something Jolly that we've been talking about probably for the last two decades.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the concept of talent community has been misappropriated so many different ways.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I'm curious. So I know what your definition. I want you to share that with everybody. But Jonathan, when you say you're building talent communities, what exactly are you doing, and where does tech come into that Sure?

Speaker 2:

so, if you think of the space that we live in today HR and I grew up in contingent right, so I don't the platforms that are here are not necessarily the same platforms I grew up with. I grew up in that contract role type world where you're dealing with vendor management systems, not ATSs. But, to answer your question, around the space and specifically where it's starting to change and impact, you know, we see what your definition of talent community is changing as well and I'm curious to hear what your definition of a talent community is. For us it's any type of worker. So right now, roughly 30% and a Fortune 1000 is non-employee workforce. The other 70% are full-time workers.

Speaker 1:

Non-employee workforce.

Speaker 2:

Non-employee workforce. So they're Former employees? No, they're outsourced.

Speaker 1:

Future employees. So it's not source counter house, sow, g-e-a, whatever it is Non-direct employees got it Correct.

Speaker 2:

So for us, a talent community, takes that 30% and the 70% that work for you full-time, put them in one single source of truth so that you can interact with them, see what kind of skill sets they have, advertise jobs to them, advertise internal mobility, advertise new gigs, new opportunities. From our perspective, it shouldn't matter what a worker is looking to do full-time, contract, gig doesn't matter. If they're the right type of person and they're coming to my brand, I should have an ability to interact with them and it should all be in one place. The biggest challenge that we're trying to solve for is the fact, for decades now, every part of a large organization has been separated because of their technology. I'm in an ATS. I have a team that sits on top of my ATS. They're the talent acquisition team. I have an HRIS system or HCM system. I have a team that sits on top of that. I have a vendor management system. I have a team that sits on top of that. They all manage talent. None of them speak to each other. None of those teams work together. That's a system that's broken. That's a business that's built teams on top of technology, versus technology, solving for what the business needs to be able to do and we're trying to fix that.

Speaker 1:

That's not a community, though by building a community you are fixing it. Okay, so building the community, so I gotcha. Okay. So if I plug in Building a community on it fixes it.

Speaker 2:

That's the point we're trying to get to Right so I plug into your ATX, I plug into your HRIS system, I plug into your VMS.

Speaker 1:

You become a single source of truth and you build a community. Yeah, because here's the thing. Talent community is often the term. Talent community is often used for essentially a list, right, and that is not a community. Now if you are advertising to a group of people, whether that is non-employee workers or former employees or whatever. That is essentially called audience segmentation and that's still marketing. So if you're marketing to a specific audience segment, that's not a community. What makes a community is two things. Number one durability it's gotta be something that is persistent. Right, it can't be a temporary. There's no temporary community. And number two there has to be interactivity amongst the community. So if you're broadcasting to them, that's advertising and marketing. It's them talking to each other that makes it a community. And having a common interest that lasts beyond a single status. So, for example, what I mean by a single status is a job seeker is not a community, because they stop being a job seeker when they get a job.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So, therefore, what they're now banned from your community or because they found a job. So you see what I mean. Community has to have an interest that goes beyond a single status.

Speaker 3:

So what's the and I know this is one of those debates that can go on forever, and I love this conversation. How do you engage and communicate with those in your community or the new groups that you're trying to build?

Speaker 1:

Perpetitically, you have to be a native. So in our industry, one of the most, I would say, obvious examples of a talent community is SourceCon. You see people that go to the SourceCon website. They go to the conference, they have conversations, they respond to blogs, they write blogs. That is of type of community. I wouldn't need to build that community, I could simply participate in it, and that as a sourcer, and what I teach is people need to essentially become digital and aviatives or whatever that community is you can build. What you're doing is you're building a talent community and you certainly can build the talent community. But you can also exist in another talent community. So you could do it. You know you could build one for yourself, for your organization and your goals. You can also participate in one that already exists. That's two different techniques. One of them is, you know, going native, parapetitically, and one of them is building the community with a purpose and a shared interest of some, hopefully more than one shared interest, but Right, Right. So you could do it by, say, building a Facebook group Like Secret Sourcing Group. That's a community, Secret Sourcing.

Speaker 3:

Group. We have examples of that even with HRTX. We've got our virtual event. We've got companies RPO's at, constantly work with us.

Speaker 1:

Right, just to get access into the recruiter, that's the vendors, the participants the recruiter. That's a community. They have a common interest.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

Maybe two different perspectives, but a common interest A full-time workforce.

Speaker 2:

if I'm Pfizer and I have 50,000 full-time workers, that's a community Right when you can get them to engage.

Speaker 1:

Yes, of course Not when you broadcast to them.

Speaker 2:

No, that's just a channel. Yeah, and that's where we attempt to play is have those individuals build a profile, show off their skills, show what they're interested in, interact with each other and get matched to new opportunities. Our belief is, in the years to come, a nine to five, monday to Friday I'm a BA or I'm a Java, but whatever it is, isn't going to necessarily be the way people engage with talent. Yeah, I think so. They're going to say, yeah, we need you to do your job, for sure, but that might be 30 hours. The other 10 hours we want you to be a gig worker within the four walls of our space. Go, get involved in other projects, put your hand up, go and get into other areas of the business that you wouldn't otherwise know. And that does multiple things. Number one, it builds a thriving community. But number two, it allows a worker to touch and feel different areas of an organization that they otherwise would have been boxed out in. And if you look at some of these call them exit reports or why people quit their jobs one of the main ones is I was. All I did was my nine to five. I didn't have any other interaction. I didn't feel valued. If you're living in Japan. You can put your hand up and get involved in a project that's on the other side of the world. Are you? Do you feel valued? Of course you do so. We believe that that's kind of the direction where organizations are going to go. And if you combine that with the talent attraction side so who do I have today? Who can I have that's available, that's interested in my brand? Who have I worked with in the past? Who are my alumni? You put all those things into a single source of truth. Now you've got something pretty powerful.

Speaker 1:

That's a community. Yeah, so walking around here on the conference floor and the expo floor, really doesn't it strike you as a lot of these solutions want to be single plays. It's almost like we are the solution, we do everything for you, and it seems like really that's not to me. No company just has one solution. You were just talking about how you've got your ATS, you've got your CRM, you've got your HRA. So you walk around here. There's not going to be a single brand here that does all of it, but yet they all are pretending to be the one solution. So where's the dissonance there?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's interesting. I even look at some of the platforms I walk by with direct source contingent labor, very specific one area of HR and talent acquisition, and I see in their marketing material they say they're in the direct source space and I've never seen them in the direct source space. So, to your point, they're trying to be everything to everyone and I think they're doing themselves.

Speaker 3:

They also do diversity, talent, analytics, reporting, ai and, yeah, all of the above and I think that's where the tight integrations we spoke about this earlier with a number of people that's where the tight integrations come in the play. Amongst all of these players that are out there, the ATS doesn't need to be the CRM, CRM doesn't need to be the source in mind.

Speaker 1:

It's okay if you have three softwares, as long as they talk to each other. That's the problem, though most of them don't.

Speaker 2:

That's what I'm saying is walk around here.

Speaker 1:

They all want to be the solution, but they all don't want to play in the same playground.

Speaker 2:

There's some huge companies here that we've worked with and I'm obviously not going to name names but they don't have APIs. They just don't have them. They've got old XML stuff, but it's not interactive, it's not API first, it's not something that you could actually plug into and have an enterprise solution, and yet they're taking up a city block with a banner that says they do everything. It's kind of a disservice, I think, to that's kind of my point yeah, Yep, agreed, and they are taking up big city blocks.

Speaker 3:

You know there's their own massive booths. Yeah, better out of there.

Speaker 1:

And you know, this is just that. I'm just going to come out and say this is a huge criticism, but there are brands here that have their own user conferences and yet they come here. There are also brands here that have their own user conferences and are not here. Doesn't that speak very highly of something? For example, there's a brand that should be here and isn't, and to me it sticks out like a red thumb, like a big swollen red thumb, especially because this is an organization that is in three or four different areas that are represented here, and yet they're not here. Their reasoning for that is because, well, we have our own user conference. But so does you know.

Speaker 3:

I'll point to All of them I saw so Seridian. They all had the Greenhouse. Several of them have their own user conference.

Speaker 1:

Greenhouse has one right, so you know. This other one that I'm talking about is not here and it's almost kind of too obvious.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Who are they. Well. They're a company that has an API that doesn't work well with anybody else, all right, I'm not going.

Speaker 2:

They're probably a partner, so I'm just going to keep my.

Speaker 1:

You see what I'm saying, though that just speaks loudly about the problem, which is the lack of compatibility between these systems, and if you're looking to hire the best partners that you could possibly get, you definitely might select three or four different companies, and it would be in those companies' best interests to work nicely together in a community.

Speaker 2:

In a community right, A community of technologies how nice would that be. A community of?

Speaker 1:

technologies that are supporting the same hiring organization. Right.

Speaker 2:

I think it'll be interesting over the next few years as the market develops, as AI becomes more relevant and more embedded. There's firms that are going to be here, that are going to have city block booths set up that don't even exist yet, that are going to pop up and do a great job at what some of these old garb have been doing for a long time and do far better, and are going to be monsters in no time. So I think there's going to be a lot of disruption over the few years to come here.

Speaker 1:

Do you feel like there's a huge application for AI in the ETL extract, transform and load space?

Speaker 2:

I think there is what.

Speaker 1:

I'm seeing with AI.

Speaker 3:

That's a huge lift, oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, the amazing thing about AI these days is it's doing some pretty huge lifts.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's what I'm saying so ETL might be something that, hey, transfer what we need out of this data bucket into this other, because they don't talk to each other. Right, there could be a layer in between that talks to both and becomes the middleware. Oh my God, that's an old word.

Speaker 2:

That you know. It's like, hey, I'm going to translate.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to extract from A translate to B so that B can use the little, the 10% of data it needs from A, making A and B compatible where they normally wouldn't be. To me, that's a natural extension of what these language models should be able to do, because they can understand things like first name, last name, middle name, nickname and translate them. I was working on this huge project for a very, very large financial services company that had three well, they had a lot more, but they had three very disparate systems and the name of an individual in one system was last first and the other one it was middle initial, last first or last middle initial, and in the other one it involved their email address, which was sometimes not the same as last first. So I had to actually match up first, last, middle nickname and email across three systems just to be able to get one record from all three, in other words, to query Ryan in three databases. I had to transform Ryan into Ryan this, this, ryan Ryan that this, and you know, manually.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's nuts. I think the short answer is it's gonna help fix those areas. The problem is you still need to have platforms that have accessibility to the database. You still need that. And that's not necessarily the case unfortunately, so that's the missing link. Well, we'll see. It's gonna be a change or die type situation for some of these platforms in the near future, and there's some big, big platforms some of them here, some of them not that are gonna need to make some significant changes in order to survive.

Speaker 3:

So now, you were speaking at the event this year. What are you talking on?

Speaker 2:

A client of ours is coming in and we're talking about the one doorway approach. So, you know, put the talent acquisition hat on the ability for workers to come and choose their own adventure. Right now, everyone talks about this war for talent and then you go to a career page and it's like the worst experience you've ever had. You know, scrolling through these terrible pages and to your data versus the approach that we try to do is a great experience for workers, where they can come in, showcase their skills and get matched on going. So I'm interested in full-time, I'm interested in contract, I'm interested in freelance, I'm interested in all of the above. Send me everything, build a profile once, kind of set it and forget it until I find a new role or a new gig, but with the brands that I'm interested in. That's the generation today. They want to work for brands that they believe in, that they're passionate about, and if you can go and interact with all of their jobs, not just their full-time jobs, that's the fix we're trying to provide and that's what we're talking about tomorrow.

Speaker 3:

So sad story on this topic, not really sad but sad.

Speaker 1:

That's the introvert show.

Speaker 3:

We were applying to jobs. Right, we were just testing a bunch of stuff. Apply with your LinkedIn profile, which, okay, click the button. Do your thing. The next step is upload your resume or enter your experience.

Speaker 1:

That's because the LinkedIn profile application doesn't transfer your experience. It doesn't make any sense it doesn't transfer it. Also, you know what else? It doesn't provide the email address.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Okay, I can see putting in contact information.

Speaker 2:

But if you're asking me for my profile, it's there, right, it's there, like whatever I want you to have is there. Well, if you think of it from a LinkedIn's perspective, you're asking to transfer data off of their platform. That is their bread and butter, right? They don't want to do that. That's why they lock it down. I think you can get first name, last name and maybe last title, maybe your picture. That's about it. That's all you're getting from LinkedIn. You know they don't want to give away their data.

Speaker 1:

Ironically, it's not their data. Oh, I know right, but anyway.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so it says you. So it says you.

Speaker 1:

Well, no, if it's if you have the right to delete your information, then yeah, If you don't have the right to delete information, that's a different story.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's a whole different topic. You know what's going to happen here with new privacy rules. We're seeing them pop up in New York, california.

Speaker 1:

We've been Right to delete, right to delete.

Speaker 2:

We've been held to the GDPR high water standard for well since we our inception, really. So we've kind of been living in that world for a while, but in North America it hasn't really been that large of a thing and that's changing in a hurry. So again, you look at some of these platforms that don't necessarily operate in what I would call a GDPR compliant way. They've got some changes coming as well.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so the ground event. Has been a pleasure having you on.

Speaker 2:

Thank, you Appreciate the time.

Speaker 3:

And hopefully you enjoy the rest of your show you as well.

Speaker 2:

Enjoy it. Thank you very much. Thanks, folks, thank you.

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