HR Vision Podcast #42 – Hire faster, develop better and retain longer with Phenom ft. Joe Pierce

Phenom is one of our oldest partners for talent acquisition that helps companies hire faster, develop better, and retain longer.

On the last episode we gave you the side of one of our consultants working with the platform. This week we got an insider!

Joe Pierce is a Principal of Elevated Experience at Phenom, and he’s there almost since its beginning. He saw the company growth and grew with it!

He joined us on this episode to tell us more about Phenom, its main value proposition, game-changing features like automated interview scheduling and to share what the future looks like at this exciting partner of ours.


More information about Phenom:

Hello there, welcome to episode 42 of the HR Vision podcast. We have a very special guest slash partner today, so let me say hi to Joe Pierce. Hi Joe, how are you doing?

Hello hello Ivo. Great to meet you.

Well great to meet you too. Thank you for being here and when I said Joe is a guest partners because he's a principal of elevated experience at Phenom and he's been working for this partner of ours for the past five years. So today's here. To give us a better idea of what Phenom is doing for recruiters globally and how their platform can help you hire faster, develop better, and retain longer.

So Joe, you ready?

Let's start. Do it.

All right. Let's start a bit with you from the beginning. Give us a small introduction about yourself, your professional background. You know what you've been doing at Phenom.

Certainly, certainly yeah. So I'm sitting right now in Philadelphia, which is Phenoms headquarters. I'm from Pennsylvania. Grew up here, went to school here, believe it or not. I've only worked at Phenom, so I graduated and joined Phenom right out of university. Very interesting to join a startup at that point because, you know, we're a company now of 1700 or so people and I was. Probably joined it was employee #130 so the company has really grown quite a bit in five years and I've seen a number of different roles here and grown a lot. So yeah, it's great and the other interesting thing from a FourVision partner perspective.

For our audience that may or may not know when we say that we're a partner. FourVision is one of our first partners in the service. Is space at all. We've been really working with FourVision for a number of years now in Phenom deployments globally in places. Like obviously the Netherlands. Of course, places in the United States, you know, as far afield as South Africa. With the FourVision team. So we've had a lot of success. And thanks for having me.

Alright, great, let me just ask you what what attracted you in Phenom to to join the company was like. It sounded great. There was something about it that. Maybe your eyes I don't know get brighter or something.

Sure, sure. Well, like many university students in the United States, I graduated with a degree and then I went into a completely different field than what my my studies were in.

So it's quite common. I studied advertising and I had some family members in the Philadelphia area and one of the things you have to know about our industry, which is the talent acquisition and the recruitment industry, is that it really starts with the advertising industry from a newspaper. Perspective right? Yes. So everyone now thinks of recruiting in terms of talent acquisition software, whether it's SaaS software, whether it's an ATS that's part of a larger stack, it could be your advertising and recruitment spend in job aggregators or in large job boards or social media advertising.

That it really starts with the newspapers jobs in the back of the local newspaper, the National Newspaper. And so I had some relatives in the newspaper sort of space advertising space and they became online job boards right around the sort of era right early 2000s. Before 911 there were these big big behemoths like Monster like career builder names that are still around, maybe not as prevalent today, but really large job boards. And they collected jobs from all over the United States and all over the world. And they were an aggregator and a search engine for these jobs.

And so that really, that that background informed the beginning of Phenom. And so when I heard about Phenom in 2017, I was quite interested of course. Software is really interesting for an undergrad coming out of school in general, right? Everyone sort of dreams of going to Silicon Valley, becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or the next. The next you know, Tim Tim Cook or something like that. So yeah, that's what interested me all right, all right?

OK, let's move over to what is what it does. Let's start with some general thoughts on your. General thoughts on HR tech. Of course with special focus on talent acquisition and talent experience. So what do you think? It's the impact that that talent acquisition, talent, experience technology can have on companies growth and business success? from your experience.

Yeah, so I'd like to start by discussing first sort of where I see this space, and then I'll sort of address where I believe Phenom fits into that. That that works for our audience so. The way I see the space now is. Over the last two decades, we've seen the entire job ad the apply the hiring process move from obviously on paper. To on premise and now moving to the cloud and so that leaves us with a number of large ERP derived HCM players that really dominate the landscape today. So work day as SAP SuccessFactors. Microsoft has several products that are in that space as well, Oracle Cornerstone. And so. These organizations have developed unbelievably robust processes for managing applicant and eventually employee data and relating it to specific line of business applications like recruiting or payroll or time off benefits. Things like that. But at the same time, technology is actually moved faster than those core processes, and so you found companies adding bolt on solutions to your core stack.

So you have companies bolting on interview management tools, assessment providers, job distribution tools, right sourcing tools, and So what you're left with as an enterprise is this core sort of data layer. A bunch of your own sort of line of business applications on top of it, and then a bunch of bolt ONS right of my various recruiting tools, or my. It's employee engagement tools or talent management tools or learning and development tools. And it becomes extremely difficult with that setup. To pivot as an organization to respond to change in the market. Because you're you're managing a huge process, you're managing a number of integrations with varying degrees of resilience built into them, right? Not all vendors the same, and not all data models are the same, and so there's always a certain amount of translation and a certain amount of interpretation. And so where I see Phenom that sort of brings me to Phenom.

So where does Phenom fit into it? So Phenom provides an experience layer. Over a company, sort of. Poor business processes and your core data right so? We always, you know, use the example of a huge HCM like an like a work day. Work Day is developed an unbelievable process and a way to manage candidates. And Phenom's goal is really to complement. That robust process and providing a ecommerce style experience for candidates. So if you think of applying for a job right, you go to a sort of a traditional ATS and apply for a job. It can be sort of a painful experience. It can almost be like filling and doing filling out your tax forms or something and at the same time as you're applying for a job and having this sort of.

Maybe legacy experience you can pick up your phone. You could, you know, get in a car and on the way you could order an Uber to the airport and on the way to the airport you could buy a ticket with the American Airlines app, order Grubhub and have it dropped off. You know, download a movie on your on your Amazon Prime Video to watch on the airplane. By the time you get to the airport, you're all set up and so consumer expectations. Consumer technologies have far surpassed what what you know. The experiences we deliver in HR. The Venom only goal is just to close that gap for candidates, right? Because candidates are consumers. So the same people that's looking for a job is also the same person that's ordering the Uber. That's getting the Grubhub, getting the food delivered right. They're the same people. So that's really our goal is just delighting our user groups, right?

Yeah, whether those are candidates that are using our front end tools, whether those are recruiters that are using our back end tools and managers and their employees as well, right? So just just because you're hired and now you're through the front door doesn't mean that you immediately just become satisfied. If you're like all of us, you likely want to grow within your organization. You want to find a mentor? You wanna find? You wanna make more money? You want a better title? You wanna know what learnings you need to take, right? The course is what mentorship opportunities, what gigs there are to pick up? So that's where Phenom really. That's the space that we play in

OK, a lot of information to unpack here. let me ask you. To put it simply, and you correct me if I'm wrong, what you're trying to do is to simplify. Or make the recruitment processes both for recruiters and for applicants as simple and as close to P2C, let's call it. As close to that as possible, is that correct? Is that the main value proposition that you guys are trying to to achieve is making recruiters and applicants their job easier? As to a normal. Need to see process would be. You know what I mean?

Yeah, exactly no, you're exactly right. And and we would also add to that why? Why not? Why can't it be right? Everything else in your life when it comes to technology is easy. So it is looking at applying for a job or as a recruiter managing candidates. Why does it have to feel like it's stuck in a previous? Era perhaps right? There's no. There's no real reason for that.

Yeah I get that. But I'll do you then. Because. I think that's great that he needs to, and it needs to be done. But then there's also the devaluation part, right? Like the assessment of the candidate. You know how? How do you simplify that part? You know, because I guess we've been talking about this, but for our audience to understand, how do you use automation? For example, to help recruiters? Sort through the, the resumes and and and the skills that you are needing for a certain position. Because that's also an important part that you. The assessment is important. It's not only. Like applying needs to be easier, sure, but how do you assess if a candidate is correct? It's the right talent for the company or not. You know what you know. What I'm asking here I do I do and there's I'm gonna go into a few items here.

OK, because I think you're actually bringing up like two or three different problems, and we're sort of grouping them into one. And the reason I say different problems is because recruiting for a role is different depending on the type of role, right? So if you're looking for a doctor at a big hospital? It's very different than looking for a frontline worker at a fast food establishment, right? The problems may be different. One may be a a situation of you have quantity but not quality. And maybe the other may be a situation where you have quality but you don't have quantity right? Yes, yeah, and so there's a few different ways to address it, and so we'll go into some examples. We'll start with. We'll start with a high volume position where you get a lot of applicants and you have to do a lot of screening. So the first question. from a Phenom perspective, is how do I manage a job with quite a few candidates? Let's say I have a job open and I have literally 10,000 applications for it. And there's varying quality in the candidate profiles. My first goal is A is a recruiter is to determine a who are my best fit candidates and Phenom is a bit different.

We're not just looking at applicants here, we're looking at any candidates that have interacted with your job right Phenom. We're not going to get into it in detail today, but Phenom has a number of capabilities to identify and attribute candidate profiles. What we call leads. Beyond just people that explicitly apply the same way that Amazon's the same way that Facebook or Instagram tracks your behavior to provide you a more personalized experience and learn more about you, we do the same thing for candidate profiles. So to start with your talent pool for a job, let's call it a barista at a cook coffees chain. We have more candidate. We have more barista candidates for you than your traditional TS will by a large margin, generally by a large margin. So we're going to start with more candidates now when you have more candidates. You can do the traditional sorting activities, filters, criteria, spotlight criteria, but the example I'd like to share is our AI discovery and our AI fit scoring. So with the first thing that the Phenom system will do is actually ingest your job description. Things like the job location, the required skills, the years of education required, the years of previous experience required. It'll take that framework and it'll apply it to your talent pool, and it'll actually sort your talent pool by fit, so it'll actually put your a fits your best fit candidates to the top of your talent pool. If you choose to look at your Afib, and of course ranked by your, your A and then your B and so on.

And so the first thing that you should do is focus on the best fit candidates for your role. Right now that's a quality problem, right? That's where you have a bunch of candidates. And you need to go ahead and fill the roles with the best fit candidates. Now what about the reverse that you mentioned? What if you are getting a few candidates and there's some good candidates in there, but your quantity is very low, right? So you're getting a few, but you would love a much larger talent pool. That's where the Phenom recruiter experience, RX, is actually going to. To help you expand. So you could start with a list you can go into your list tab. You go into your candidates tab and you can actually sort in the Phenom tool by filter criteria that are very wide-ranging.

We're integrated directly with your ATS, so you could bring in candidates hiring status and actually sort by candidate hiring status and bring in candidates for other jobs that are silver medalists, for example that we're very close to getting that other job. But never got it, and so they're still in your system and there's no reason we shouldn't resurface them to you. We also have the same AI discovery capability that we use to determine fit. We can also use that to find fit elsewhere so you can go into the AI Discovery tab of your job and actually get recommendations for candidates that could be a good fit.

Maybe in the doctor example, I cannot find any doctors that applied for this job. Well, let's see if they're good fit doctors that live elsewhere within your CRM, right? We can recommend you the best fit Doctor candidates that are already in your CRM. You may not be aware of, so I know that was a long and pedantic answer.

Not at all. But a lot of value. I think you explained it well. There's a lot of capabilities indeed in the in the system. Another feature that I think can solve a lot of problems with for recruiters is for example, the interview scheduling automation, right? How important do you think is this is this feature? Because I think it can save a lot of time for recruiters when you can grab a calendar of someone and book a meeting with them. Right?

Yes, the it's funn how annoying interview scheduling is for recruiters because you have to keep in mind from a recruiter perspective you have two stakeholders right? Yeah no, just have your your candidate. You have your actual your panel team that's interviewing on the your your side as as a company or you have your single interview or you have a screening group that's doing some screening, yeah, and so you're at the mercy of a bunch of people and it's a huge time suck. So if we're talking about the measurement criteria used to determine. Success, you're right on. Even with time, that's where the savings are, right? And so imagine per candidate you're going back and forth with them on their calendar. They're sending their availability.

You have your team that you're looking at, their availability, and you're adding invites to them. Some of them are declining and say hey, I'm out of office today or I'm on vacation. Or can you move this for me? I have to leave office early, whatever. We want to remove all of that. And so I'm really happy actually. You brought up interview scheduling because it's one of my favorite features. It's certainly the most, in my opinion. One of the most popular features that Phenom right now just in terms of implementations I'm seeing.

I'm seeing almost every customer right now that's undergoing the implementation including it. Yeah, and so I want to talk a little bit about how it works. It's pretty simple. So you have a role as a recruiter or as an interview scheduler that you're working on. You simply move the. The job you click on the job and you click schedule interview. You select your interview template, obviously for different types of roles in your organization, there might be director or manager roles or entry level roles, or they might be different. Different hiring types based on departments. Things like that. You select your template for your type of interview or your type of interview, sort of progression. You go ahead and add the people from your organization that are going to be attending you. Click schedule and literally that's it, sort of. The feed on virtual assistant goes out to the candidate it interacts with them over. e-mail understands their answers, so if a candidate gives a text based answer saying yes, I'm free at 2:00 PM.

The Phenom AI actually understands the candidates response. If a candidate emails the AI scheduler and says hey, we have to reschedule, the AI actually has natural language. Processing and can process that the candidate wants to reschedule. It's also integrated with your calendar system as an organization, so it's looking at all of your panel interviewers or whoever your interviewees are. Your hiring managers and it's ensuring that.

The slot selected fit into their calendars as well. It's also integrated with your scheduling and your virtual meeting software, so if you're using Microsoft Teams, you're using zoom. Yeah, it actually provisions the link and it puts it in the invite for you, so there's no additional work on the invite. You don't have to go in and add copy a zoom link and add in the zoom link, and so I have a customer right now. Very large software customer right now that's scheduling, I think 44,000 interviews a year as of this year on final. Yeah, final interview scheduling. You can imagine the time savings per recruiter. The amount of time it takes him to schedule an interview right now is 3 minutes per interview and before it was something like 41 minutes. If you include every time they had to go back in and check check in, refresh your inbox. Oh to this candidate, get back to me. Oh, we have to reschedule. I think it averaged out to be like 41 minutes per interview and now it's three. So significant.

Wow, that's a big reduction. Yeah, and as you can imagine, for large organizations they've had to also rely on so much. So many literally just physical people to do interview scheduling like so many of our largest customers have little interview scheduling teams, right? So these are resources that are just working on calling candidates, confirming doing phone screening and scheduling, helping out with executive recruiting. All of this are large parts of this can be automated. There you go, people. Yeah, enough said I think. Great feature. Let's move on.

I would like to to get a bit of your take on the adoption of talent experience platforms from everything that you see you guys also get out - some reports to the market about these this area. What is your take on the adoption of talent experience platforms and the common challenges that you that you're seeing?

Sure, let's look at the different experiences right? Because they vary, right? So our community experience our career platform where candidates are coming, applying for jobs, interacting with our chat bots. That's obviously, you know, universally adopted quickly because it's that's the face of your company, right? So that's where all candidates interact with your brand, so there's really 100% adoption across that product. The recruiter experience product is our CRM and it has our AI discovery it. As a virtual interview scheduler, all that stuff.

That's all extremely high adoption today where we're growing an adoption is our employee experience and what we found is when we deploy employee experience, which is a place again for employees to interact with jobs, find mentors, build a career path. What we found is it requires. Of shift in customer culture. Right, so if you're an organization that really is serious about retaining and promoting your top talent, it doesn't. it's not just fixed by buying a new piece of software, right? There's a huge amount of change management that goes into building a culture that's collaborative. A place where you encourage your employees to grow and grow beyond just what they're doing today, right?

It's where it is a corporate culture where leadership is not bartering and arguing over resources, right? They want the best for all their team members, even if that means, hey, I'm gonna lose. You know, Ivo. And my team is getting promoted. I'm gonna lose him. I want to keep him on my team. That type of. Sort of 0 sum game mindset. Hmm, it's really important, and so a lot of Phenom and. Employee experience. Deployments these days are including more of those change management, right? So we're doing a lot more coaching with our customers and and that's really key to success because if you buy a product and you believe hey, this is now, I'm going to retain everybody. But then you don't actually engage with your employees and you don't coach them, you don't actually, you give them a mentorship tool, but you don't encourage them to get mentors.

Yeah, right. If you're not a mentorship culture, it doesn't matter what you give your employees, you have to build that culture from the ground up so we've seen some some great success in that one of the reasons employee experience is also really starting to rock it. Is because even though it's a newer product of ours, it's newer than the recruiter and the candidate product. Yeah, it's starting to Rocket also because when we're entering uncertain economic times. Right where a company may have entered the year with, you know, specific growth projections and and earnings estimates that they provided to their to their board. If they're a publicly traded company, right?

If they're a big enterprise when those earnings projections are revised. What's the first thing that happens boards think? How do we become more efficient, right? So if you're a huge enterprise that uses Phenom, you're now using Phenom to try to repurpose your talent internally for efficiency. Optimize for efficiency. That means upskilling. That means training LMS, that does mean mentorship. That means gigs, that means. You know all sorts of corporate restructuring activities, right? So when there's uncertain economic times, you have to invest in the quality talent you have for the long term because you don't know your ability to grow and how that might change quarter by quarter, right?

Yeah, so all right. Just one thing here. I think part of the candidate product and the recruited product is also what what we call employer branding. Do you get some adoption there? Do. You know from your experience are our companies realizing more and more the importance of put your name out there as an employer, not only like the product that you sell, but how you deal with people how much you care about your talents are you seeing? Are you guys seeing a lot of steel? Some pushback on that or it's something that yeah, people are just realizing?

Yeah, we really need to put our word out there. As an employer. It's a great question, so from the very beginning, Phenom tools have been designed for customers to be able to manage their own employer brand self-service system. People think of their career site this way, but it's not just their career site, it's managing the employer brand that's delivered within even their chat bot or their mobile experience employer brand that's delivered for their events. Whether these are on site events or virtual events, university campus hiring, job advertising, custom landing page.

For specific locations or, you know, hey, I'm opening up a new office in Rotterdam is an example I need to create a Rotterdam landing page and drive traffic from the good news about adoption. Actually from a Phenom perspective is that from the day one of the Phenom sort of organization, we've always been focused on self-service employer branding. So our adoption across our any of our content type or content management system. All of that is sky highs. It's in fact in my opinion, one of the biggest selling points of the Phenom product. Now. Where I see growth is is making. More of those products, easier for users that don't have maybe an agency mind or a creative mind, right? Yeah, some of the largest organizations in the world. They don't just work themselves on a brand right? They're going to have consultants. They're going to have agencies, creative marketing agencies, right recruitment, marketing, advertising agencies also to push their brand externally on social media and things.

And so for the companies that have that, that's great. You know the agencies know Phenom. They get in they know the system. What if you're a small intern at a small organization that just got Phenom and someone just gave you the login and said hey I need you to go in and build our brand right? Yeah return and everyone else is too busy. The system is self-service and the system is easy to use, but I'm envisioning a world in the future where it's even easier where where you have 0 experience in any website design, because that's the way our CMS is moving.

Because I mentioned in the beginning of the podcast today that we like to think of ourselves as focused on the consumer experience, the B2C and the B2C CMS. These days the WordPress, the Wix. They're unbelievably simple. They're unbelievably easy, right? So that's, I guess, how I addressed the employer brain question.

All right. Good two more things, and I'll let you go. The first one is about integration with other HR tools, of course, or HR platforms. Let's say big platforms like work day, Oracle. You know the platforms we discussed that at the beginning and Microsoft how important. Or is it a focus of Phenom to have a platform? Your own platforms to be able to integrate with these other HR tools as an extension was that a focus from the beginning or it's something that you just realized? As we as you, as you went by, that it would be important to integrate with these platforms.

It was a focus from the beginning, and there's a really simple reason for that, right so? Phenom has never been or will never be in a ATS. An applicant tracking system. Because we believe that's part of core HCM functionality, like the Workdays. The SAP you mentioned. And so from the very beginning. We've always known and believe that your system of record, your system of compliance will always remain your HCM that hub. And for that reason we we've integrations have always been huge. That's right, that's been the center of our product. Is the free flow of data. A few different types of data in and out of the Phenom platform.

The Phenom platform cannot survive without jobs. Jobs are are the sort of the products. Those are the pairs of shoes or those are the bananas or apples that you would buy online at the gross online, Instacart, are our jobs. Applicants candidates coming into Phenomena into the ATS, right? Your applicants and then your candidates. Yeah, and then your candidate status is right. Moving candidate statuses in and out of the Phenom product as well have always been huge, so that's the beginning.

So we've always had a focus on it. Where are we today? Phenom has a product called IX Integration experience. It's sort of the underpinning of Phenoms. Sort of user experiences because it provides that that free flow of data that I mentioned. Between your system of record.

Yeah, and Phenom, which we call sort of the system of engagement because that's where you're engaging with jobs. That's where you're engaging with candidates. Across the largest enterprise, ETS and HCM providers you mentioned, we have a number of productized integrations, so consider them off the shelf connectors. And I think the future for Phenom is how do we expand that across just the larger a TS, but into the more niche, right? The HCM providers, right? Maybe you have a hiring product just for hiring healthcare workers, nurses, doctors and things like that. And so maybe it's not an enterprise grade large tool like that. But how do we expand across horizontally sort of across market sectors?

The last thing is, how do you ensure reliability, stability and scale across time? Because all of these providers you mentioned, they're also doing their own product releases quarterly, and they're updating their integration. So how do we make sure we stay on top of that build and resiliency too? When I say resiliency and when I say scalability, I mean, what if you're deploying, not with Phenom in one country? What if you're deploying in 20 countries?

We have a client right now that's in 29. We have a client right now that's in 29 countries. How do we support their job? Pushing in 29 languages and support their applications that come in in 29 languages. That's not really one integration. Is it sort of like 29?

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's sort of how I think of it. And thankfully we have. Across the market, we have sort of the largest percentage of any of our competitors of our employees that are engineers, if that makes sense. So the majority of Phenom 2/3 of our 2/3 of Phenom are engineers out of our 1700 employees. That's given us an unbelievable sort of amount of maneuverability.

So all right, yeah, you just you. You touched a bit on the on my last question which is a look into the future. I would like to understand trends that you see coming on new developments that we can expect from Phenom. I think, of course those integrations with niche platforms that that could be something. But is there anything that new trends or or new developments that you see? Something that you think are gonna break the bank. I don't know.

That's a great question. There's first is automation. There's certain commonalities across recruiting. There's certain tasks that recruiters do. There's certain tasks that hiring managers that introduce schedulers do that are really common across. You know, much of our customer base. And when we find those trends, when we find those examples, the thought is why don't we just? You know, automate this entire process, right? So you think about interview scheduling as an automation, but interview scheduling is a series of processes, so how do we also add more functionality around automating the screening process around automating the evaluation process around the interview feedback process around the hiring manager? Approval or declination process? Hiring managers in general, and managers that are our frontline managers.

If you're in a McDonald's or you're out or whatever, Arby's and you're you're, you're a store manager, and you're also on the side doing hiring. You likely don't have. You're not sitting in freedom all day because you're under feet managing a restaurant. So how do we give a productize a small experience where a hiring manager can step out of the kitchen for a moment, see their candidates see their upcoming interviews, see their evaluations for their interviews they've already done? Submit them back into the system, then go get back out into the kitchen, right? Because they're not interested in becoming certified Phenom Power users. They're interested in running the restaurant or franchise, so that's I think the future is more of those productized. Sort of, you know, micro experiences, maybe even on a phone for some of these user groups that enable them to get Phenom information in the flow of their work, if that makes sense.

Yeah, it does. It does again very aligned with the what we started on the conversation. Getting it closer to the BTC experience. So yeah, exciting times I think, and the work never stops I guess.

It doesn't. That's one of the great things about being in a, you know, young growing software company is is seeing this the innovation, the reckless based innovation. It's awesome.

Absolutely all right, Joe. I'm gonna I'm gonna let you go. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. I think it was very insightful. I think people can get a a great understanding of Phenom; of what Phenom does. I really enjoy the conversation. I hope you did too.

Absolutely, if anyone has any questions it's a pretty easy URL.

There you go, or you can reach Joe Pierce. Imagine now the thousands of people that are going to reach out to you on LinkedIn, Joe Pierce on LinkedIn. Alright, Joe, thank you so much. Have a have a great week. People are listening out there. We'll see you next time.

HR Vision Podcast Episode 42 ft. Joe Pierce

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