The Podcast for Employers Who Are Hiring At Scale

Are you involved in the hiring of dozens or even hundreds of employees a year? If so, you'll know that the typical sourcing tools, tactics, and strategies just don't scale. This podcast features news, tips, case studies, and interviews with the world's leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high-volume hiring.

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Why Learning and Development are so Critical to Employers Hiring at Scale with Elena Agaragimova

Today's episode of the High Volume Hiring Podcast brings us Elena Agaragimova, Host of the SHIFT podcast, Founder of Bloom Youth, Co-Founder of Bessern, and Head of Talent Acquisition and Development for Horizon Industries.

Host Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter and Elena discuss the reality that one of the primary reasons that some organizations need to hire at scale is because their retention of existing employees is so low. If those employers can reduce their turnover, they can reduce their hiring needs. Steven and Elena agree that one of the best ways to improve retention is to invest in learning and development. By spending more on current employees, employers can spend less recruiting new employees.

We also learn about Elena's background including growing up in Russia, moving to the United States when she was 13 years old, why she wasn't accepted into any four-year college or university when she applied during high school, and the choices -- some deliberate and some not -- that she then made to continue her education and build her career. In short, we learn how Elena is the epitome of why more organizations should embrace the hiring of non-traditional candidates and how that inevitably leads to a more diverse and therefore productive workforce.

Speaker 1 (00:12):

Welcome to the high volume hiring podcast. I'm Stephen Rothberg, the founder of college recruiter job search site at college recruiter. We believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. This podcast features news tips, case studies and interviews with the world's leading experts about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to high volume hiring. Thanks for joining us. Today's guest is Elena ergo. Mova host of the shift podcast, founder of bloom youth co-founder of Besser and head of talent, acquisition and development for horizon industries, Elena, welcome to the show.

Speaker 2 (00:50):

Thank you. It's great to be here.

Speaker 1 (00:51):

So other than the 48,372 jobs, that you're that I just kind of like listed that you're currently doing, which is okay because, you know, typical day has 60 hours and sleep is for the week. Tell us a little bit about yourself and, and what you're up to.

Speaker 2 (01:07):

Sure. So started my career actually in higher education learning quickly realized that it's things that are moving a little bit too slow for me and the higher education side with no shade on higher education at all, loved my experience there. And then I kind of decided to go into corporate learning and really kind of found my passion within adult learners talent and development, talent management, and naturally kind of also a big part of what I do is talent acquisition, because I feel like it's all under one umbrella of just the learning and development. So I always say it was a hobby that turned into a career and a business for me. Mm

Speaker 1 (01:42):

Yeah. So, so you're one of those people who do what you like.

Speaker 2 (01:46):

Absolutely. I'm one of those annoying people that loves her job, you know, it's not all day, but it is most of my days, every day, I'm excited to get up. I'm excited to continue to create different things within the different realms where that I work in. And, and I love it so much that I have a podcast about these things, as you know. So

Speaker 1 (02:05):

I, I love the passion since the fir very first time that you and I connected that is just something that just, it just comes through and it's, and it's so authentic. Some people pretend to have the passion and, and you can smell that BS from a mile away. Absolutely. you're definitely not one of those. So question, one of the reasons what so many organizations need to hire so many people is that the retention of those people is solo. I think that shifting resources from recruitment to learning and development should help with retention and therefore reduced recruiting costs, increased productivity. Is that something you'd agree with?

Speaker 2 (02:43):

Yeah, so I think that just for context, I think that there's companies that do mass recruitment, that those that are kind of like hourly opportunities, right? Well, you need to hire for like high volume for, let's say seasons, right? Amazon does this huge hiring of thousands before prime date, etcetera, but then on the regular kind of corporate side of the world where you're just kind of having your you know, those salaries jobs, those kind of really clear careers, essentially there it's a little bit different and there, I agree. This is where employers really need to focus more on a couple of things. Number one, employer branding number two, talent mobility, and number three, that internal learning and development investment in internal existing talent.

Speaker 1 (03:28):

Hmm. And talent mobility is an area that I think a lot of people in talent acquisition don't see as being part of their wheelhouse. Like it's, it's owned by HR, or it's not owned by anybody, but maybe you can speak to that a little bit. Like what sorts of, why should organizations care about talent mobility? What kinds of tools and tactics would you recommend for that? Sure.

Speaker 2 (03:55):

So talent mobility, I think, is kind of really picking up popularity more and more with organizations and they're trying to find space for it because you're right. It's like, you don't know like where is the house? Like who's actually taking care of it. Right. And sadly, a lot of, a lot of companies today have that HR function, which is administrative, but a lot of them, especially the small to medium size companies, lack the talent development structure, talent development like department. And so here's where talent, acquisition and talent development, talent, acquisition professionals, and talent development need to work together because when we're hiring for talent today, we are need to look beyond the experience and skills. They have to do the job today and look at the potential and the overall holistic approach of what does that individual bring to the table. Right?

And so one way to do this is to use tech. So many companies right now are trying a different way of recruitment in terms of they're hiring for potential fit. They're not hiring for any particular job roles, let's say, but they have a, you know, AI and different in video interviewing and assessments like video assessments in place where an, an individual is identified by various skill sets, not just for a particular role, but more of this is what I'm good at. This is what I'm interested in. This is where I can add value. And then that is being then transitioned to the company and they make a decision based on, Hey, this person actually could be really great in these areas. And the importance of doing that is that it opens up opportunities for you for this employee in the future, in terms of you are not only hiring for specific skill, you're hiring this person on various other things that they can potentially use in different roles within your company that will help that talent mobility. It's just right now, still, we are very much focused on like having people hit the ground running, but we need to invest more in saying, okay, this person can actually be really great on this role. They might not be a hundred percent qualified, but we can get them up to speed by having a really great onboarding internal training program to make sure that they succeed in this particular area of

Speaker 1 (06:03):

Work. Yeah. It drives me nuts. How often I hear about organizations taking 6, 9, 12 months to find somebody where if they were a little bit more flexible and said, you know, she's got 80% of what we want. And if we just train her for two weeks, she's gonna have a hundred percent of what we want rather than waiting 6, 9, 12 months for that elusive ideal candidate that purple squirrel

Speaker 2 (06:29):

Mm-Hmm . And what's interesting is that one way to also be proactive about it. This goes back to employer branding, and I feel like it's all connected. So it's not only the company's responsibilities, but it's also the individual responsibility, right? So on the individual, the, the, the, the, you know, the job seeker, it's important for them to be able to sell themselves in a way that makes sense. So that's where, you know, as an individual, you know, we also have to take responsibility and say, okay, how do I actually pitch myself? What am I looking for, et cetera. But from a company side, what they can do is really have resources and content around their company, around the company culture that will help an individual imagine themselves working there instead of having job descriptions, for example, right? Those are valid in particular areas. And certain roles require us to hit specific boxes when we're hiring, but a mass majority of jobs today don't necessarily need to go by that check in of the box.

So what companies can do an example ups does they have this, you know, a series of day in the life day in the life, like a two minute video of what life is like at ups in different positions. And so when you're watching that as a candidate versus reading a job description, you might be able to relate a lot more like, Hey, this is, I can do that. I might not know how to, you know, kind of go down the box of items that I need to take to get the job, but actually what that person's describing. Yeah. I can do that because I've done this in previous situations whether, you know, whether it was at university, whether it was in some internships, or if you're an experienced person, perhaps in previous jobs, it makes it much easier for people to say, Hey, that might be actually a great way for me to, you know, a great great opportunity for me. And I think that probably is a a good way to not only reduce the time of bringing on candidates that might not be the great fit, right? So it will kind of filter out those that a might not even access this information because they don't wanna invest the time or B it might just cross out candidates and say, you know, that's not what I'm looking for. So, and it gives them like real life kind of experience of that job.

Speaker 1 (08:34):

Interesting. So Elena, the work that Besser does for its clients is, is this the kind of stuff that you're doing with them? Do they, are they coming to you with sort of a, Hey, we know we need to get better at learning and development. And do they start off from square one? Are they mostly clients that already have a learning and development program? And they're just looking to get better or formalize it, but sort of like what's, what's the typical conversation? Sure.

Speaker 2 (09:07):

So I think some of the biggest needs lately that we've had from companies is two different things. One managers that are now having to manage teams remotely and not being sure how to actually do that because connecting with your team members, having those regular check-ins virtually is a lot more effort versus in person because those happen. So naturally when we're in one space versus when we're online and our people are spread out, maybe across different time zones. So that's number one, number two we work with a lot of kind of techies and analytical teams. So in terms of future pipeline planning, what companies struggle with is actually having those really great technical people, really great analytical people that are becoming future leaders, and they need those soft skills. Those people skills, those kind of creativity and ability to connect with others even client management skills, right, to get them to that senior level.

So there's that gap between your great technically, but then to be a people manager or a client facing individual it's a different ballgame. So these are the two, two kind of areas for managers to be kind of just kind of more, more in, you know, inclusive and just better managers with the way that we work today. And also juniors that are techies and analytical that are your future talent. These are the two areas because essentially if you are not able to address those two, it's very difficult to have your company grow because you need great managers, you need people development and you need to make sure that people are continuously growing.

Speaker 1 (10:52):

I love that approach where you're not just training the incoming employees, but you're also training people who may have been at that company for years and years and how to be better managers. We, our company has been fully remote since 1997 and when COVID hit and we saw so many organizations struggling to adapt with, you know, not just do they have an appropriate place to work if they were, if they're working from home, but, and, and the computers and all of that, but just how do you manage people and what we saw over and over and over again, is it, it generally was not a deficiency with the employee, with the, you know, person who had been with the company for maybe three months or six months or a year or two. But the deficiencies, what we saw were that usually the managers were ill-equipped to manage by outcomes.

They managed by process. Does she show up on time? Does she leave early? Does it look like she's working hard you know, sort of proxies for productivity instead of looking at what the actual productivity is, you know, if she did X, Y, and Z, did that help us reach our revenue goals or reduce our expenses or reduce our time to land that new account? You know, some kind of objective measurement where both the manager and the employee know every minute of every day, what the priorities are, what work should be done first, second, third, and, and other work that it's just busy work it's there, it can be done. It's, it's, it's, it's related to your company, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really add value. And so it should be rare when you get to that. And I think a lot of employees tr they, they, they just absolutely want to do what's best for the employer, but they just often don't know it.

and so it's great that it's great that you, that Bester, and I'm sure other organizations as well are, are focused on that aspect from the getting the managers to manage better. So switching gears a little bit, you, you know, from a previous conversation that we had on, on the shift podcast that I had watched your, your TEDx Dubai talk from a few years ago, and I was struck at your history, your, your background, the hurdles you had to overcome in your teenage years, the, the excellent choices you made regarding college impact that all of that made on your career and, and other life decisions. But for employers who don't know how to handle non-traditional candidates, what advice would you give them?

Speaker 2 (13:39):

I think this is where they have to really invest in their recruiters, right? So great recruiters are gonna recruit great people. And what do I mean by that is really selecting individuals who are very future focused when it comes to recruitment, who understand the tools that are available, who understand assessments that are available, that could help them see beyond the person's, you know education only, or experience only, right? And this is where you have to be really specific. So recruiters today need to be a big part of, you know, just business drivers in terms of what does the business need, what does the, you know, what does the future look like today? We see a lot of companies being reactive, and so they're not spending as much time actually identifying what talent they're gonna need and they're being so they're, they're being reactive versus proactive.

So by, by having a very close relationship with hiring managers, understanding business needs, right? Not just going down, tick the boxes, understanding how you can utilize technology understanding kind of just, you know, beyond the basic psychology of a person, but how can you use data to get information you need about a person that goes, you know beyond again, the ticking of the boxes, right? So I think investing in recruiters that, or, you know, just making sure that they understand what's out there. And even if you are using technology, it's not as simple as just, you know, hiring, you know, an AI to do things for you or a company that's that does that. It's more of just understanding when you are sitting down with a, with a hiring manager, what are specific what are specific competencies, what are specific skills you want this person to have so that you can translate it into the tech?

Because the input that we get from the tech based on the things that we put in there. So an example, video assessments, right? In order for the match for the AI to recognize the best match, you need to have a very specific set of competencies. You want soft skills as well, that you want this tech to pick up in order to match that individual, right? So usually the way it goes is you, you sit in front of a camera, the, the, the AI asks you several questions. They are all over. That could be all over the place and essentially the value, your body movement, your tone of voice, the answers that you give your eye contact, a lot of different things. Are you FID? Are you not fidgeting? So it's, there's a lot of really great tools that help you identify the person beyond just ticking the boxes, but actually, how are they presenting?

How are they speaking, et cetera, of course, on the flip side, it's not beneficial to candidates who don't feel comfortable doing this on camera. So again, I think there's two responsible parties, right? As an individual, you need to be prepared because that's the future. You're probably gonna be talking to you know, some kind of tech or an avatar or something like this in order for you to get that next job. But also from a, from a recruiter perspective, you just have a really clear data input of what that AI should be looking for. And even that's not gonna be of course, a hundred percent, but that's a great way to kind of be proactive, essentially. Excuse me, essentially. So that's one part of it, but I think connecting human touch with tech, that's where, that's, where it's really at. That is how you make sure you have great talent. And that starts with having great recruiters.

Speaker 1 (16:48):

Yeah, absolutely. And, and I, and I loved how you talked both in terms of the recruiters, working with their man with the hiring managers, as, as well as the tech, their, you know, if I can just kind of encapsulate it maybe is, is they shouldn't just be order takers. They need to be managing up with the managers and they need to be able to have influence over what tools they're using and, and how they're using it. The one thing that I've seen in, in the college and university recruiting space forever is that the hiring managers are used to saying that this position requires a bachelor's degree and such and such a GPA and whatever. And the organizations that seem to be having the most success with recruiting are those that are pushing back on that and, and really questioning from the ground up.

Does this role actually require a bachelor's degree? And if the recruiters can go to the hiring managers and say, Hey, you know, if we were to drop that and maybe only require a two year degree or add in, or equivalent work experience, military service or whatever, that would increase our applicant pool, you know, 400% in other organizations that have done that have seen time to hire reduced from, you know, 127 days to 34, you know, or something along those lines, that's gonna resonate with a hiring manager. So another question for you, if, if you were hired tomorrow to lead talent acquisition by a large organization that hired at scale, what would be the first three things that you'd wanna make sure they're doing

Speaker 2 (18:25):

Well? Number one and anything related to talent is making sure that the senior managers, that the leadership of the organization is open to creativity is open to experimentation, is open to doing, you know, doing what needs to be done to try innovation, right? Like just innovative things. And I think a lot of senior, you know, a lot of leadership tends to take a very traditional approach. I've literally was recently talking to somebody who thinks that leadership is innate. It's a skill you either have, or you don't have, so why should we train our managers unless because it's just, it should be innate and everything is fine, and they'll just learn as they go. So I think just leadership buy-in and investment of resources in that, in that is number one part of that is of course being able to use the technology.

So I think, again, just goes back to resources because it's very difficult today to, to do things, to try to innovate without proper resources being allocated to talent acquisition. Also again, like you said, having a great relationship with the hiring managers and the, and the hiring managers being open to the fact that they might not necessarily know what they're looking for. They, they might have an idea, but being willing to open, to have a conversation and create something together, essentially versus just giving out orders of what they need and usually what they need are unicorns purple unicorns. . So

Speaker 1 (19:50):

With glitter,

Speaker 2 (19:51):

With glitter and a number of other things. Yes. So I think just those two things are probably very important. And having, I mean, a company culture that supports supports creativity. I, I think that's probably one like as a talent acquisition professional, one of the things that matters to me is leadership ability to innovate experiment. Of course cost effectively as much as possible. I'm not saying to go in and spend a bunch of money or trying different things, but there are a lot of cost effective ways to, to try things. And I think a lot of people are missing out on that, because again, we're very reactive versus proactive. So having the right kind of team around you, who understands that and willing to kind of suffer the short term pain for long term gains is probably one of the best things we can have in an organization.

Speaker 1 (20:40):

Hell yeah. Well, Elena, this has been great listeners that want to connect with you to get more information. How, what would you, where, where should they reach you?

Speaker 2 (20:49):

I'm my, my main platform is LinkedIn. So it's just Elena Ava, you can look me up, you can Google me. You will have all the information about me and it's I'm reachable many different platforms, but LinkedIn is my main one.

Speaker 1 (21:01):

Awesome. And as somebody whose last name can be hard to spell, I'll go ahead and I'll spell it. Yours for the listeners, a G a R a G I M O V as in Victor, a thanks for joining us today on the high volume hiring podcast, a co-production of evergreen podcasts and college recruiter, please subscribe for free on your favorite app, review it. Five stars are always nice and recommended to a couple people. You know, who might wanna learn more about how best to hire dozens or even hundreds of people, a special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas, I'm your host, Stephen Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year, we help more than 7 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach [email protected] Cheers.

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