Q&A with Matt Charney: A Look at Global Recruiting Challenges and the Future of HR Tech

October 23, 2019 at 11:00 pm

Matt Charney

Matt Charney is a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional” based in Dallas, Texas, who at the age of only 30 has worked with many of the world’s biggest brands including Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Twitter, NPR, and Applebees. Matt also heads up Recruiting Daily including RecruitingBlogs, the world’s largest social network and content-sharing platform for recruiting professionals. Narish International sat down with Matt to ask him some questions about his experiences. 

Tell us how you went from screenwriting and film to recruiting? Are there connections between the two that inform your methods?

After college I was working at Comedy Central and looking at jobs in entertainment that all offered terrible hours and low pay, wondering if that’s what I really wanted long-term. I went on Craigslist and found a job for a talent scout. I had done talent packaging as part of my internships during college and it didn’t seem to be all that much different. Plus, it paid good money and only required me to work eight hours a day. I got started recruiting for a studio, and then the writers’ strike happened and I ended up blacklisted. The only writing I can do now is blogging for recruiters.

The screenwriting and recruiting don’t dovetail perfectly, but there are a few connections. Films never get made on script, and all the changes and adjustments helped as I worked on employer branding, pitching on demand, etc. When they shoot down all your ideas, you’d better have something else.

I understand you are producing a major motion picture. What has that been like?

I guess I should update my “about” page. The film has been in turnaround for a decade, but I’m still getting a paycheck from it, so that’s good. Every few years they send me a check for a few thousand dollars to hold onto the rights. Maybe one day . . .

How is recruiting in Texas different from recruiting in Los Angeles or London, for example?

I don’t know on a ground level because I’ve never actually recruited in Texas, but I am aware of some of the differences from the work I have done. California is very different from any other state as far as labor laws and compliance. The requirements involved in employing people are much more numerous and strict than anywhere else in the country—possibly in the world. SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management) doesn’t exist there, for example; they have their own organization under a different name. There are also not as many people to recruit in California, at least not for the skilled jobs employers really need there since the visa program was changed.

On the other hand, Texas is business-friendly, is an at-will employment state, has forced arbitration, and is an area undergoing great change right now. One and one-half million people have moved to Texas from California in just a few years, so you can see how that would have changed the recruiting landscape. There are many advantages to living in Texas. It’s in the middle of the East and West coasts, so you can fly to one of the coasts in as little as two hours. To go from California to the East coast takes much longer.

As far as England, that’s an entirely different thing. They’re losing a lot of their foreign labor over Brexit, and it’s just an environment where a lot of things are changing right now.

What is the biggest recruiting challenge companies face today, and how should they look to meet that challenge?

I see lots of companies that have invested a lot of money in technology–just maxed out on tech–but not made end-users better on the fundamentals needed to do their jobs. In the field of recruiting, the average tenure of a recruiter is 4.8 years. That means many of today’s recruiters only know growth mode. They’ve never seen a recession. So when today’s recruiters push the relentless adoption of technology and begin to rely on it heavily for their recruiting success, they have unknowingly created great risk by augmenting skills with technology to the point that recruiters will be first to go if there is a recession because companies will think they don’t need people to be involved.

When this happens, it will be a mistake on the part of companies, by the way. High-touch will always win in the recruiting world.

How has the rise of the global marketplace changed recruiting? 

On a fundamental level, I don’t know that it has changed recruiting yet for most companies. Enterprise can outsource more functions so that may be a different situation. But the impact of the global marketplace is going to be felt more in the years to come. Only about 50 percent of local populations around the world are online right now—a lot of those who aren’t online come from developing countries. As they come online, though, and they will in the near future, they are going to change the gig economy and add far more labor to the market at lower prices.

The global marketplace of future generations will be much more mobile and much less Western. Remote work where bidding happens mostly on price will shift a lot of the remote work to these locations because the workers will be able to produce quality work at a much lower price. I see a model emerging that will offer every employee a results-only working environment rather than the office and culture that many are used to right now.

What is one thing every company needs to do to capitalize on HR technologies?

The thing they can do is to understand that HR technology doesn’t exist, not really, and certainly not looking ahead at the evolution of HR. All technology that is now geared toward HR professionals will be rolled into consumer technologies that will be enterprise-lite versions of what we have now. This is already happening with Indeed, Monster, and the like. Standalone HR tech can’t compete with this. What companies need to do is get to know other tech so that they see what’s out there and can adapt to these new ways of doing things.

What are some recruiting challenges unique to startups and VC firms? 

Startups and VC firms have intense hiring challenges. For one thing, they don’t have the brand name recognition of larger, more established companies, but they are competing for the exact same talent, which means they need to make a name for themselves. Because they can’t compensate employees as much as the big names, they give employees equity instead, but that requires a long-term commitment and risk. Even giving equity over three years is a huge risk for startups and VC firms, but it’s necessary to attract the talent they need to build themselves up and become profitable. For these firms, it’s crucially important to excite people about the firm’s vision and “sell” them on what’s ahead. In short, recruiting is much harder.

How can talent assessments help meet companies’ recruiting needs? 

Assessments are one of the most exciting technologies because they are experiential. There are even VR assessments now that can immerse people in a given work environment and see how people respond and interact. It becomes possible to validate behavior and get a sense of what work is actually like. Assessments can save both parties a lot of work and headaches in the hiring process and prevent a lot of mistakes.

(This interview was edited and condensed.)

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