evolve episode with Evan Sohn of

evolve | eps 34 | Evan Sohn, CEO |

Evan Sohn, CEO of | evolve | eps 34 | Evan Sohn, CEO

Kim Ford, SIOR: Hi everybody. Welcome to Evolve where we focus on the evolution of leadership.

And I am really excited today to have a very, very special guest. Evan, do you mind taking a moment to introduce yourself and your company?

Evan Sohn: Sure. And again, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. My name is Evan Stone and I have the honor and pleasure of being the CEO of Recruiter Dot.Com

Kim Ford, SIOR: I don’t think you need to explain what is, but there you go. Can you give a just a tad bit of history on the company so that people understand? Yeah, sure. It’s important today, but obviously didn’t start during the pandemic.

Evan Sohn: Yeah, no. So goes back about a decade ago, really as an online media company. started off as a destination site for recruiters, HR professionals, and a monthly magazine. I always think about it from a sales perspective. What are you selling? And the company really was selling advertising to companies that were trying to get their stuff, their wares, in front of recruiters and HR professionals.

I got involved about three years ago. There was a little bit of staffing business too, that the company was doing, and we really wanted to figure out how to capitalize on this network of recruiters and HR professionals. So instead of actually them being the customer, we wanted to figure out how to really create this as a marketplace. To really drive talent acquisition.

We started down this path of doing on-demand recruiting really at the end of 2019, beginning at 2020. And then in June of 2020, really at the height of the pandemic, I became the CEO, really recognizing that the company – that the world – was really in a tizzy with the pandemic and, when it was over, the job market would really be in complete disarray.

Clearly, I didn’t think it would be this crazy. I really started on this path of leveraging the network of recruiters to deliver both on-demand recruiting services, as well as software, to help find candidates. So, we are an on-demand platform of software and services, helping companies of all sizes with what is their biggest problem today, which is finding talent.

Kim Ford, SIOR: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we represent from startups to Fortune 50 companies, on their commercial real estate and corporate real estate needs. So, what we’re hearing more than ever, and we hear this from leaders, from CEOs, CFOs, CEOs across the board, is that they are really struggling to recruit and retain talent right now.

Why do you think that is? 

Evan Sohn: Yeah. So, and by the way, send them all our way. I’ll give you a referral commission across the board there. But that’s really what we do. And we do this for companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 100 companies. 

The reason is really that there are three trends going on in the market today – three macro trends. Two of them are episodic, and one is systemic. So, let’s go through those pretty quickly. So, the first macro trend really is the labor shortage – hourly worker labor shortage. Unemployment is down to like below three and a half percent and we have 11 million open jobs.

The “I can’t find anyone to work.” Restaurants can’t be open. The full-time airlines are canceling flights, and all these other things. Now that’s probably happening and that’ll get rectified probably within the next year to 18 months through either wage inflation or looser immigration laws.

Now you see Amazon hiring – I think it was Amazon that reported it. They’re. hiring high schoolers now to work in warehouses. And what I think is one of the reasons this is happening (we have a couple of clients in the manufacturing space,); I really believe that people are not able to track the growth of the gig economy as it relates to the hourly worker. 

So, let’s go pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic. I worked in a factory. I did a shift at two separate factories. So, I worked at one factory Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I worked at another factory Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and I took off Sunday. The pandemic comes and I’m getting unemployment.

The pandemic ends. And you know what? During the pandemic, I actually started driving for Door Dash or for Uber. And so instead of actually working at that second factory, I’m working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and getting all my health benefits, et cetera, from the first factory.

But you know what, maybe I’m working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at the first place. And Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I’m actually driving for Door Dash or Uber. We’ve really not been able to track other than anecdotally, your clients are saying, “Yeah, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is easy. It’s the weekend shift is you’re really seeing that happen. “

The second reality is the great resignation. And, you know, we all hear great resignation. I actually refer to it as the greater resignation. What most people don’t recognize – and look, the numbers are 4.3 million, 4.5 million people are quitting every month.

What most people don’t know is that in 2019, there was on average 3.5 million people quitting a month. Not quit; let’s call it attrition. For whatever reason. So, when you’re seeing 4.3 million or 4.5 million, it’s a greater resignation. There always was a resignation. It’s just more.

Now, obviously that’s a lot. That’s happening for a variety of reasons. It’s happening because I moved to Florida, but my office was in New York. They want me to come back full time. I don’t want to come full time. All the sort of changing dynamics that we’ve seen in the work environment and that also we’re going to see. But what it’s being replaced with is what we started to call it back in October – I can’t believe it’s already six, seven months – the job hopper economy. 

I actually gave a talk in October called the emergence of the Job Hopper economy. And this was a trend that was starting before the pandemic. So, if you went out to Silicon Valley pre-pandemic and you saw a person’s resume and in 12 years, they worked at three or four companies. You would say, “Oh wow, that is a hot software engineer. That person must be amazing.” 

And you’re seeing that really at an accelerated level now. 25% of all people surveyed, in this one survey of Millennials and Gen Z’ers had no problem. They’re planning to leave their job in the next six months. Job hoppers have no problem leaving a job. Within the first six to 12 months, we started tracking from our monthly recruiter index and 50% of the candidates that were working with our recruiters, 50% of the candidates had at least two jobs in the last two years.

So, it’s really just an incredible accelerated rate. And the reason this is happen is that what’s actually changed is that it’s become incredibly easy to apply for a job, right? (So, you know, I’m an old guy Back in the early days, I started my first company at 21, so I never really sent out resumes, but we’ll deal with that some other time.)

But, you know, 30 something years ago, you printed up your resume; you found the really cool stock paper off white so that you had a little bit of a look to it. You typed up your cover letter and you sent out. You went to the post – you went to the mailbox – and you mailed 20 resumes out. If you actually mailed out 20 to 30 resumes, poh my God, you’re everywhere. I can’t believe how many resumes you’re sending out. Amazing, amazing, amazing. 

What’s it like applying for a job today? Applying for a job today is click, click, click, click, click, click, click. It is so simple to apply for a job today. Kim. Right? Interviewing 30 years ago, you had to bring a resume. And by the way, when I say 30 years ago, it’s probably five years ago or 10 years.

You know, you brought your business attire to work. You told your manager that you had to go to your uncle’s funeral or your uncle’s wife’s funeral. You made up a story that you’re out of the office and you know you were out, right? You had to take the afternoon off. 

In fact, the expression, “finding a job is a full-time job” was authored, actually authored years ago. That wouldn’t be authored in April of 2017 or 2020. It was actually authored years ago. “Finding a job is a full-time job.” And now, what’s interviewing? It’s a 15-minute zoom screen. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes a day to interview?

So, if it’s easy to apply for a job, it’s incredibly easy to interview for a job. And we’ve eliminated the stigma of leaving a company. And, you know, I blogged this morning about a person who had five jobs in the last two years and they’re talking about how I got to the company. I didn’t like it.

I read an article yesterday. Where millennials now would rather quit their job than be at a job they don’t like. So, the next expression to go out is “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job”. It’s also going to go out the door. It is. 

Okay. So, if we take these first two macro trends, tightness to the job market and the great resignation. And everyone in the country is now worth more than they were two years ago. Right? They’re more valuable because people need them. And yet I could apply for a job whenever I want. You’re just really fostering this incredible job hopper economy. What you’re starting to see now, we started to see about three months ago.

We started to notice the monthly job numbers really inching up, and it’s kind of weird. And what we started to see happen is companies stocking up on employees like they were stocking up on Purell during the pandemic. So, think about it. I need a business analyst. I actually need four business analysts.

Do I hire four knowing that now one’s going to quit after the first month, one’s going to quit after three months and one’s going to quit after six months. Or do I hire six? And the answer is I’m telling my manager is that I’m going to hire six. So hopefully I’ll have four within the first three months. And, then I’ll still have three at the end. 

And that’s also causing more tightness of the labor market, wage and salary increases, et cetera. And don’t get me started if we’re working remotely. Right? If we’re only working remotely, my office never changes. So, think about it, Kim. How many times you were reluctant to leave your last job or any job?

I like the people. I like the commute. I like the coffee. Everyone went out for drinks after work on Thursdays. But if this is my office, right? If my home is my office, the company is the one that’s changing. I’m not changing. I just get a different paycheck. So, I think these things start to compile on each other.

And this is what’s really making it so hard to find a job. And so, if the expression finding a job is a full-time job is no more; we believe it’s been replaced with finding people as a full-time job. My recommendation to you, your audience, and to all of your clients and et cetera, is that you’re going to have to allocate more resources than ever into talent acquisition and retention.

There you go. That was a very, very longwinded answer to your simple question. “Why is this all happening? “

Kim Ford, SIOR: How does a leader change their hiring strategy right now? Because obviously leaders are stuck. Knowing what they know, right? Knowing it’s in the past and every single company is having the exact same problem, right?

We are seeing it across the board. As a matter of fact, they’re tasking us to say, “How do we make our space work better for today’s people? How?” And I said, “Well, your space needs to enable you to recruit and retain talent. If you don’t have great space, nobody’s going to want to come to work.” And so, it’s this interesting dilemma.

Do they need to make these major changes on the strategy behind it?

Evan Sohn: Let’s break this down into, I think, three different areas or three different tactics. The first is prioritization. You know, one of the things that’s actually come out of this is you, as the company, get to decide what you want to be, And I think before it was, I need to be all things to all people.

Now I’m going to do what I want to do. Now if I say you have to come in the office five days a week, or four days a week, or three days a week, I’m not going to hire someone who doesn’t want to come in the office. Right? So that’s very different than someone who worked at the company now says, “I don’t want to come back.”

And I’m worried because, oh my God, I’m going to lose that talent. It’s almost, I don’t want to say a clean slate, but we get to rebuild our companies back in the manner which our priorities are. And we’re going to let the candidates find out what their priorities are. 

So, you know, we started calling the word (you have to use the word great in front of everything) the great realignment, right? I get to align my priorities to your priorities, and if there’s a match that’s it. If you’re seeing I want the work to be fun. I want the space to be appropriate. I want… In other words, that’s the environment that I want to create. If I’m making people come to the office, that lets me build a bench of entry level and post college people who may be doing their internships or even at the end of high school and college, that really creates this environment that makes it much, much, much easier. 

I think the next strategy is a really defined progression plan for everyone in the company. Waiting for Kim to call me up and say, “I’m not happy. I’m going to start looking elsewhere” doesn’t work anymore because it’s just so easy to leave. We used to look at candidates and say, you know, you’re either active or passive. Gee, is everybody active? Everybody is an active candidate. So, if everyone’s an active candidate, I need to look at every employee that I have and say, “what’s the plan and how do I keep this individual for the next cycle?” Whether your cycle is three months; whether it’s six months; whether it’s a year. I think mapping out a plan for each employee that says, “Look, here’s where you are today. Here’s where I want you to be at the end of the year.” You kind of know. I’ve already made that phone call for you, right? You don’t have to call me and say, “I need a raise.” I’ve told you what’s going to be your progression and hopefully, I’ll get you to stay a little bit longer. 

By the way, I’ve actually told the global heads of talent at some very, very large companies, and we are amusing around. And I’m not a talent acquisition guy, right? I’m a platform tech guy, So I said to them, “You should almost be marketing employee roles as being for 24-month. “Hey, Kim, this job is a 24-month job. I’m going to pay you a boatload of money to stay for 24 months and when that assignment is over, you could leave, take all your money with you, all your options, all that other stuff.” Or you could stay and there’ll be some perks if you stay, et cetera. But I have to be able to track the candidate, not by saying this is going to be a lifetime career. So really break it down that way. 

By the way, I told another company that has offices like Global, “You know, you guys should have like a junior or abroad program, right?” Tell your staff that if they stay at this company for three years, in the fourth year they could work at one of 50 clients that we have around the around the world. Because if I know that you like to travel, why not feed into that opportunity? 

One of the things that we’ve really been tracking is that compensation used to be the number one priority for candidate. It’s not. We were tracking that early on, and I remember when remote work surpassed compensation. It was like, “Wow! That’s crazy.” Now compensation is like 25 to 30% of our priority. Wow. There’s so many more things that are important now to candidates. 

So finally, the last item of this three-legged stool, right? The first really is to figure out what your priorities are and attract accordingly. The second is to develop a progression plan for your team. I think the third is recognizing that you’re going to be needing to spend money on talent acquisition and retention, more than you have, if you thought you could rely on your internal hiring manager and posting a job on LinkedIn.

To get the flow that you need is just not going to happen anymore. And if you have 10 recruiters, you need that. You probably even need 15 to 20. If you’re a small business, you’re going to be doing it all the time. So, think about what your company looks like if you have to hire 30% more. 

Because 15% more are quitting and the numbers are just really staggering. I really believe or we believe at that this is going to mirror the security industry. If I said to you, “What was security in the nineties?” It was the guard at the gate that checked your ID before letting you into the building.

And now everyone spends money on security. Whether it’s baked into your email system, your infrastructure, your hosting provider, your hosted VPN provider to a large company that has a security department, a chief security officer, IT, security network, security, and all these other things. This is no different. I think that every company of 20 or more, is going to be allocating budget to talent acquisition.

Kim, who does your taxes? Do you do your own taxes? Do you have an accountant? Do you have it done by a professional? Yes. You have a professional. You could do it yourself. You can go to Turbo Tax and you could do it. But hey, you know what? I don’t have the time. I want a professional. I want it done right. There’s complexity to it, et cetera, so I bring on a professional. I didn’t hire a full-time account to do my taxes. I have an account that I use quarterly. Then I check in with them. I have an account that I send money to on a regular basis in order for me to have my tax returns done.

If the lifeblood of a business is its people and the greatest asset that a company has is its people, then I think it’s about time we allocated resources to ensuring that we’re attracting and retaining. That’s amazing. And it’s once again, another long-winded answer to a very simple question of what should we do about it?

Kim Ford, SIOR: No, I love it. Now, what are your thoughts on the hybrid work format? Do you think that’s here to stay?

Evan Sohn: Yeah, completely. Ironically, five years ago we were talking about the efficacy of remote work. How crazy is that? And now it’s, can I get people to come back?

I think hybrid is probably the right way to do it. And by the way, hybrid for me doesn’t necessarily mean that I want everyone in three days a week. Right? Hybrid to me means that we come together on a regular basis to either collaborate and build community and culture. And so, once again, you as a company could decide. 

Does hybrid mean once a week? Does it mean twice a week? Does it mean three times a week or does it mean every other week? Every once a month? What does hybrid mean? I look at the goal. If the goal of the company is on the production side, let’s leave that aside. If the goal of coming together is to collaborate, how often do we do we need to get that collaboration done in order to ensure culture building? If you’re, relying heavily on entry level talent, they need to be mentored. Mentoring over video or Zoom is not easy. You really want to mentor live. So I think again, it comes back to what is the priority of the company itself.

But I, I love the hybrid model. I think that it’s a very serious permanent description for work environments now. 

Kim Ford, SIOR: Absolutely. Now please tell me about Tinderization. What, what does that mean?

Evan Sohn: Ok, let’s talk Tinder or “Tinderization”. So, pre-pandemic, it was really hard to find talent. It was really, really hard and everyone sort of looked the same. We’re really in a very candidate-centric market today. I don’t think you’re going to put other barriers in the way of the candidate flow, right? The flow of hiring hasn’t changed in 30 years.

A job is posted. You send your resume in. You collect the resumes, and you look at them. You screen the candidates. You interview the candidates. You hire the candidates. That has been the process since the dawn of time, that hasn’t changed and by the way, you know, we again, believe that recruiting or talent acquisition is a human interaction.

And no one is walking into your company without actually speaking to somebody. I don’t care if you’re the waiter or the chief product officer, you’re talking to somebody before walking into the company. There is a human interaction there.

The question is, when does that human interaction take place? I think that is the “tenderization” of resumes. The resume was invented by Leonardo DaVinci and, other than putting your email and mobile number on it, it probably hasn’t changed much. As things start to get a little bit more normal, I think that the way we look at candidates, certainly customer facing candidates, will evolve and be a video-first environment – in the future, again, not in 2020.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s assume you work at a nonprofit and you want to hire a comedian to perform at your event. You’re going to collect resumes. Are you going to read the resumes of 30 different comedians? No! You’re going to say, “Show me who’s available to perform in my event. Who’s not raunchy, because I’m running a nonprofit and here’s the audience.” You’re going to get, five people. And, by the way, and here’s the price tag I’m willing to pay. Right? And you’re going to get the five, 30-second, clips of the comedians that align with what you’re looking for. 

And once you have those, two comedians are really funny. Then you’re going to look at their paperwork and what do you know? They’ve both been on the Tonight Show. They’ve both have done stand up. They both have been on comedy, right?

Because everyone’s resume actually looks pretty similar in the customer facing role. Why, if you’re looking for a customer facing call center operator, customer service rep, or host or hostess at a restaurant, are you looking at a piece of paper that probably all says the exact same thing?

I think I’m not saying right. Here’s my job that’s available. Here’s what candidates are available. Here’s what I’m looking for Here’s the price I want to pay. So now I’ve now screened through, and here are the 20 people that have done a video resume. Let me look at those. These five people seem to align with what I’m looking for.

I need someone more diverse in the front. Whatever that is. Right? I’ll go look at the video resumes. I’ll see what it is, and then I’ll move that way, sort of bypassing those first two processes. Let’s actually jump right to screening right? 

You know what? Send me the people that align with what I’m looking for. Let me look. Let me see who’s going to be a fit. Those first five people, those are probably the people that I want to look at more closely and then move on from there. That’s probably going to happen first in customer facing roles, you know, and then we’ll see what actually happened there.

Obviously, that doesn’t work in back-office operations, but they’ll have to do something else that’s in there too. 

Kim Ford, SIOR: Right now, how is adapting to that? Are you working on software that is enabling those solutions?

Evan Sohn: Our platform is a very data centric platform. We have over 170 million profiles in the US alone in our database. We have phenomenal artificial intelligence tools that help us actually not just identify the target audience of those 170 million, but then campaign to them and get them interested in opportunities. Then we have a whole video resume.

They’re two separate systems now. They’re utilized by some and we’ll start interconnecting them sometime later on, either later this year or beginning the next year, in a more cohesive fashion. Because next year, the second half of next year when Kim is looking for someone for a specific role, she’s going to say the same way that today I only want to look at people who have a college degree, assuming that’s what you’re looking for, right?

I only want people that are local to my geographic area. I’m going to only want to look at people that actually have a video. I want to hear them and see them. And by the way, it’s the way you’re going to build it, right? Because then we could say to somebody, “Kim is interested. Kim looked at your profile. Or Kim’s looking at people like you, but you don’t have a video. Take a video resume because this way you can qualify, et cetera.” It’s like a skills-based testing. That’ll be the next evolution there that we see.

Kim Ford, SIOR: I’m excited. Well, our viewers are really focused on what’s next. What advice do you have for any owner of a company right now as they try to figure out how to move forward?

Evan Sohn: Talent acquisition, historically, there have been two ways to hire. You either did it yourself or you hired a headhunter and paid the headhunter 30% of the salary. No one wants to pay 30% of a salary for someone who’s going to leave in six months. That’s the issue. Let’s take that aside. 

And the other side is that no one has the time anymore to do it themselves. How do you bridge that gap? That is really what we do. We are reinventing talent acquisition for the post pandemic world, the new work economy, by providing on-demand recruiters.

We actually have our recruiters who are all available on demand. Think of it as Uber for talent acquisition. Got it? You want the right recruiter with the right specialty, with the right location, with the right skill set, with the right experience for a number of hours per week. You pay them by the hour – by the project by the hour, not on success. That’s what we’re doing. We do that all day long and we do that for very large companies that need to augment their in-house teams with an army of talent acquisition professionals – 1099 talent acquisition professionals. 

Then we work with small companies where they need someone 10 hours a week. By the way, you’d be surprised what you can do as a company, if you had someone who knows what they’re doing for 10 hours a week. And these are experienced folks that know what they’re doing. They’re at your beck and call. They could represent your company with an email address and really be your talent acquisition professional on an on-demand basis.

That’s what we’re doing. And then we arm these folks with our software to give them the proverbial superpower, so they can really find the people that you need to help grow your business. 

Kim Ford, SIOR: That’s awesome. Well, I can’t wait to check it out and I’m sure a lot of our viewers will as well. Our goal with evolve is to help leaders to learn, connect, and grow.

And I can’t thank you enough for being here and joining us and sharing such great, great ideas and suggestions. Thank you, Evan.

Evan Sohn: Well, what you do is so important because it’s really a great place for your audience to come and hear in a cohesive fashion, the various topics that are helping them drive their business.

Kim Ford, SIOR:  Absolutely. 

Evan Sohn: You know, it’s sometimes it’s lonely where you’re sitting and having a forum where you could hear good ideas is just incredible. We’re all thirsty for it. So thank you for providing this to us. 

Kim Ford, SIOR:  Absolutely. Thank you so much and I look forward to continued success and following you.

To see this or other evolve episodes, check out our evolve leadership evolution page here.

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