Carin Van Vuuren
Carin van Vuuren is CMO of Greenhouse Software. Carin has deep experience growing businesses by creating distinguished brands and leading high-performing revenue marketing teams. At Greenhouse she is the executive sponsor of WomenGrow, the ERG advocating for the growth and development of women at work. She is an advisor on Marketing to startup tech founders and a member of Chief, a private membership network focused on women executive leaders.
On today’s TAKEOVER episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Carin from Greenhouse about Greenhouse Open, their wonderful hybrid event in-person at the Javits Center in New York, as well as virtually.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 32 minutes
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Music: This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Carin on from Greenhouse. We’ll be talking about their recruiting conference that they have coming up called Open, it’s Greenhouse Open. I’ve been to it and I love it.
They’re doing a wonderful hybrid event where it’s in-person at the Javits Center in New York, as well as virtual. I can’t wait to talk to Carin about the event, so we’ll just jump right in. Carin, would you introduce yourself and Greenhouse to the audience?
Carin: Absolutely. William, thank you. It’s so great to be with you. I’m Carin Van Vuuren, chief marketing officer of Greenhouse Software. For those who don’t know Greenhouse, we’re a hiring software company.
We work with about, I would say, almost 7,000 customers now, who’ve all chosen Greenhouse to help make them better at hiring, and to use our technology to help make hiring more fair and equitable.
William Tincup: So one of the things I love about Open, and the different types of Opens that they’ve historically done. The last one I went to I think was in ’19. What I love about it is it’s not a user conference. A lot of times when you have software companies, it’s needed. I’ve been to Ultimate, Paychex, and some of these large payroll companies, they really do need user conferences, but this is always been treated as a recruiting conference.
This is a training, and learning and development related conference, just basically put on by Greenhouse and some other folks, but it’s a recruiting conference first. Could you tell us a little bit, you could easily have a user conference with 7,000 customers. You can easily have a user conference, but you’ve chosen purposely to have a recruiting conference.
Carin: Yeah. That’s such a great point that you’re making, and I appreciate you for calling that out. Open is a recruiting conference because it is one of the ways in which we believe we can actually deliver on our mission. Our mission is basically, we want to advance the entire industry and help companies become great at hiring. And to become great at hiring, it’s not just the block and tackle of recruiting.
It’s also about knowing about the issues and the topics that affect hiring in general, whether you are a recruiter, whether you are a recruiting operations person, whether you are a hiring manager, whether you’re a business executive. And so we think about putting on this event and we structure the program in such a way, that we create these layers of learning. So first and foremost, what’s happening around us? What are the big issues, big trends that we’re seeing? Things that affect how hiring gets done.
And second thing, what’s happening in the technology? We have a track in this program that’s really about the successes that companies are seeing using different kinds of hiring technology. Then there’s a skills’ orientation. We have two workshop tracks that are really about the art and science of actually doing hiring. And so the combination of thought leadership, highly interactive, hands-on key workshops and the technology perspective, makes it a very rounded event.
William Tincup: I love that. Well, it’s giving back in a way of no one wants to take off time to learn something new. Yet if we don’t learn something new, as sourcers, recruiters, hiring managers, anyone in the hiring process, we run the risk of being outdated with what’s going on. One of the things I’ve loved about previous Opens, is there’s practitioners on stage forward-thinking, showing here’s some of the things we’ve tried, here’s things that we’ve done, et cetera.
I can’t understate the learning and training part of that for everybody listening to the show. It’s just no one has time. I get it, no one has time. However, if you don’t take time out to redip and learn something new, then it’ll catch up to you. What feedback have you gotten from attendees, and speakers and things like that around this is continuous improvement, continuous learning?
Carin: Absolutely. One of the things that year-over-year when we’ve done Open, whether we’ve done it in this in-person, large conference format, or even when we’ve done it as Open forum, the virtual, the thing that is most valued is really actionable information. Yes, we are wanting to learn thought leadership. We want to understand context, but every person wants to walk away from something that they can go to the office and implement as soon as they get back. So that very actionable and accessible information.
Second criteria, make it very practical. In other words, we all know the challenges that recruiters are facing: Sourcing, interviewing decision-making, reporting, all of these things. Don’t just talk about it in broad strokes, actually get right into it. Talk about the workflows. Talk about the steps that you actually need to take. Talk about the metrics that you need to look out for. The third dimension, and actually let me just back up.
And in that context, don’t just give me the Greenhouse perspective. Actually, I’d like to hear what others are doing. That’s one of the reasons why, I think, of the 40 plus speakers that we have on the program, well now three-quarters of those are all customers actually telling their stories, and sharing how they have dealt with a particular problem, and the solutions that work for them. The third piece of the learning that is so valued around the perpetual learning mindset is peer-to-peer networking.
We try to create a lot of opportunity in the program for being able to have a problem framed, and turning to your left and turning to your right, and listening to the peers that you have around the table for how they are coming at that problem, what they would do. I think that this mix of instruction and peer-to-peer learning is one of the reasons why Greenhouse Open has always been such a success. I know we are all from a pandemic perspective.
We’ve slightly forgotten how to network, but we don’t forget how to learn. We are intentionally creating a program that is going to maximize learning.
William Tincup: So it’s socially awkward. I’ll tell you, because I went to SHRM Talent, it was a couple weeks ago in Denver. It’s like being back in middle school.
William Tincup: Because you don’t know if you shake hands, do you hug, do you wear masks? Do you not wear a mask? Everyone’s doing something different. But that aside, the awkwardness wears off really quickly because you go back to like, “Okay. Yeah, we’ve done this before,” or ridden the bike.
William Tincup: It’s being able to have conversations with people. You can have a conversation over Zoom, which is great, but there’s nothing like being able to just go have a conversation, walk and go have a coffee, go outside, talk and get real.
Again, it’s just great learning because with your peers, they’re doing things that you’d like to do, or you’re doing things that they’d like to do, or you failed at something.
William Tincup: And you want them to avoid that failure. It’s just wonderful to put peers in a room. I think one of the things that I love for both prospects and customers, anybody that’s thinking about looking at a different ATS solution, is the expo hall. You’ve got folks in any expo hall itself, you’ve got folks that are already integrated with Greenhouse. What I love about that is these are solutions to problems that you’re not even thinking about. Or you’re trying to figure out, “Okay, we’ll use this assessment, or this background check, or whatever it is.”
This is a different thing and now you can see how it works in the context of Greenhouse or how it could work, if you’re a prospect in the way it could work. What feedback have you gotten from attendees about the expo seeing demos, and being able to look at technology and go, “Well, we’re not leveraging Greenhouse. We’re not leveraging our ATS in the way that we should because we don’t have these other tools.”
Carin: It’s a great question. Actually, you made two comments. I’d love to go back to the social awkwardness point, but I’ll speak about that in a minute. As it relates to your question around the feedback, as it relates to technology, we’ve certainly heard the value of demos. And we’ve heard the benefits of being able to discover new technologies. But the thing that actually gets the most consistent feedback is, “I’d like to hear more of how other customers like me have used a particular technology.”
So what we’ve done and designed into this program this time around is we’ve created a tech stack workshop track, if I can put it that way, where we have George LaRocque from WorkTech is actually going to be our anchor and lead for that particular track. And in that we are going to have six partners, who are not only going to talk about their product, but mostly going to be actually doing a case study with a Greenhouse customer, that shares some of their learnings and successes of using a particular technology.
So CrossCheck is going to talk with eBay around quality of hire. Checkr is actually going to speak about fair chance hiring and specifically around their individualized assessments, and how that actually gives talent that have typically not been able to access the corporate world a second chance. LinkedIn is going to be talking with Warby Parker. And so of all of the partners, our requirement of them was, “Please make your conversations not just about the product, but make it about the practice, your product in action.”
I think that’s going to be super valuable for people. In that same track, we’re also going to have a couple of conversations from Greenhouse customers, focusing on the actual integration and the implementation of a new ATS, because we all know that we have to deal with those challenges. Some are more complex than others. We’re also building into this program this time around, a little bit more of an emphasis on how should you be thinking about services?
How can you set up not only your team for success, but also the larger organization, once you’ve decided to bring onboard a new ATS?
William Tincup: So you’ve talked about experience. Oh, you wanted to get back to the socially awkward.
Carin: I do. Do you mind?
William Tincup: No, no, no.
Carin: So one of the things that triggered for me, aside from this we all have to learn again to network, is just the notion of safety. We’re all a little bit apprehensive. We’re both eager to be in an in-person environment, but we’re also a little bit apprehensive. Then how do you communicate your preference to others? And so I just want to take a moment to talk about the extra steps that we’re taking around safety. We are in the new part of the Jacob Javits in New York City. And if any of your listeners have not yet been there, it is so impressive.
It’s pretty cool to have big, open space, definitely filters, air conditioning, hand sanitizers, all the things that you would expect from a big venue, but we’re also going to do a couple of other things. We are going to require vaccinations or at least proof of. We’re going to make masks optional, but if anyone wants to wear a mask, we’ll even have some on hand. And we are creating enough space for people to feel like others are not sitting right on top of them. We’re going to have little pins and things available that you could put on and like, “Yeah, I’m a hugger,” or “No, I would prefer you to keep your distance.”
Those are some of the unspoken things that make life a little safer and little easier in this post-COVID way. And then the last thing I would say, is we have thought a lot about things like food, and so prepackaged food, grab-and-go options. And also, terrace areas where you could step out and have your lunch outside or anytime you feel like you need fresh air. So these are really basic things, but I think they’re going to go a long way to helping us remember how good it is to be in-person, but also to feel safe while we are in-person.
William Tincup: That’s just smart. That’s just really, really smart. The vaccination, I got the fourth vaccination a couple weeks ago.
Carin: Oh, did you?
William Tincup: Yeah, it was nothing. It was super easy. Just went by CVS and just got stuck, super easy. I liked that. I also the wayfinding of getting past some of that social awkwardness.
Again, shaking hands it’s like, “Okay, is it a fist bump? Are we elbowing? What are we doing?” So I love just helping people navigate some of that awkwardness, because it will be awkward, but it’ll be awkward for five minutes. Then it won’t be awkward.
William Tincup: Tell us a little bit about the experiences because you’re bifurcating with in-person and virtual. And so this is I believe a Tuesday, Wednesday event, and so what does it look like? We’ll go through in-person, what does it look like for the in-person? Then we’ll take a look at the virtual.
Carin: Okay. So at the high-level, I’m just going to describe the program because that will give us the structure for this. So we’re doing four tracks. We’re doing main stage, which is where most of the thought leadership conversations, all of the keynotes will unfold there. This track will obviously be in-person and it’s going to be fantastic. In a minute, I will talk more about some of the speakers in this track, but this is the track that also will be live broadcast.
So this is the track that folks, who are not able to join us in-person, will be able to watch online and have the full offering from Tuesday morning, all the way through Wednesday, end of day. The second track is our technology track, thinking about our tech stack. This is a slightly more workshop format. We are recording this track, and for everyone attending the conference in-person, they’ll obviously be able to exercise some choice which of these sessions they want to attend.
We’re recording them all, but we are not direct livestreaming them. This particular track will actually be made available to everyone who signs up for the virtual event right after the conclusion of Open. And so somebody saying, “Okay, I’d like to do this virtually,” will have access to all main stage and all of the technology track. And then we have two critical tracks, which is our workshop, in-person workshop tracks. This is not available to the folks who are signing in virtually. It’s only available to those individuals attending Open in-person.
This is also the track where all of that in-person networking actually occurs. And as you might imagine, this is where if you’re thinking about an effective workshop, you want to make it very, very engaging, very pragmatic. Somebody looking over your shoulders say, “Do it like this. Don’t do it like that.” Not exactly effective from a livestream perspective. And so we’ve decided to not muddy the waters too much. We are encouraging people to come to Open, because the benefit of those two workshop tracks is not only the content, but also the peer networking.
William Tincup: I love it. I believe for the folks that are in-person, there’s a social on Tuesday night.
Carin: Well, William, no event is complete without a really good party so yes. And Open is also known for having a really good party, so we are absolutely planning for that. The fun thing about it is that it’s going to be on the terrace rooftop, which is a farm rooftop at Jacob Javits.
So you can see there’s an amazing view of the city. It’s indoors and outdoors so you can choose your preference. There’s entertainment, there’s music, there’s open bar, there’s food. There’s obviously all of the great people who would be attending. I’m so psyched for that. I’m really looking forward to that.
William Tincup: I’m already looking forward to that. So two things, one is how do you model an agenda for something like this? When you’re going into this, folks that have never planned a conference like this, it’s months if not a year in advance, and then you’re thinking about things.
And, of course, you could pick anything out of thin air as an agenda, an agenda topic, and what’s important, what’s not important, et cetera. What was your process, without giving away any secret sauce or any of that stuff? But just what was your process to get to the agenda you wanted to get to?
Carin: You’re not wrong by saying it’s more than a year long effort. It definitely is that, and it’s also about doing two things. I think we study the feedback from every Open, as well as all the other customer events that we put on during the year, because what we’re trying to understand is what is topical? What is really fundamental and important, if the mindset of the person attending, the recruiters. Like, “I would like to get better at hiring. And I would to make sure that not only for my company, but also I have professional benefit.”
So you think about in the architecture of the program becomes what’s happening around us. So what are some of the thought leadership pieces? That’s why we have keynotes that are ranging from the future of work and strategies that recruiters can deploy to actually create flywheels of productivity for themselves. All the way across D, E and I, the impact of machine learning on hiring, what’s up on the horizon, think about programmatic advertising. And learning from others in the form of panels and conversations, where we have sessions with recruiters that are like what are the best practices?
And as I mentioned, make sure that it is very grounded in what companies and customers are actually experiencing. On the workshop side, we look at some of the core skills and we recognize that. Yeah, basically just saying recognizing that recruiters will fall into two camps. Those who feel that they are still very much starting out and learning in a foundational way. And then those recruiters that feel that they are a little bit more advanced, and are interested in slightly more strategic or complex skill sets. And so the workshops are structured in that way.
On the foundational side, we have the workshop is collaborative hiring, and inside of collaborative hiring we’ll touch on those skills that I mentioned earlier. We’ll start at sourcing. We’ll go into what you need to think about from an interviewing perspective. We’ll touch on the best issues and the real challenges inside of decision-making, especially collaborative decision-making, and we’ll think about metrics and reporting. And then on the inclusive hiring side, we’ll do the exact same structure, sourcing, interviewing, decision-making and reporting.
But here the emphasis is on how do you design a process that will not be riddled with bias? How do you address fairness and equity inside of that process? What are some of the workflows? What are some of the watch outs? Again, each one of those things always illustrated by a customer story. And you asked about what goes into program design. You have to also reward people for their investment in time. And so at Open, we are actually launching something that we’ve never done before, which is we are going to have Greenhouse badging for the first time.
So we are launching badges for educational sessions that you’ve participated in, a level of interaction and completion. And we structured the program in such a way that for these two workshops, they basically run on both days. And so that any individual attending the program, can actually have the time to earn a badge for the four workshops inside of either collaborative, or inclusive or both, if that’s what they desire. And then I know that my answer is going on very long, but just the last piece around technology.
If you think about technology, one of the things that we do is we do look at where are the integrations that a lot of our customers ask about, or where some of our customer preferred partner integrations are. And so we try to steer an interesting path between what we know is in high demand, and also what we would like our audience to learn about. And so when you put those three things together, you get more than 40 sessions. You get two days of bumper to bumper, a crop full of content.
And you just get a collection of sessions where when you scan your finger down the program, you’re like, “Oh my God, my choices. How am I going to make these choices?” And that, in my opinion, is a first problem.
William Tincup: There’s always a postmortem. So after these events, what’s success for you? Or maybe even you do this before, where you define goals and things like that. What’s success for you?
Carin: In this post-COVID world, success is not how many people, how many days. Success is did we facilitate learning? And in the feedback on Open, would people tell us, by virtue of an NPS score, that this was a valuable way to spend their time? We are deeply aware of the fact that recruiters are probably the busiest people in the world.
There is no problem that hiring cannot solve, but oftentimes, the recruiters are standing in the fire. And so making sure that our feedback and our metrics is about the value of the program, and the quality of the interactions that people had while they were at Open. That is what success is about, so learning and interaction.
William Tincup: I love that. You mentioned something about learning and especially recruiters being in the fire, but I don’t want that to be a cop out for folks that are listening to this for not learning. We’re busy, stated and covered. Everyone’s busy, sourcers are busy, hiring managers busy, recruiters busy. It doesn’t matter if they’re in staffing, or corporate, or executive search or wherever they might lie, everyone’s busy but you’re never too busy to learn.
I just want to make sure that’s clear. When we talk about, “Oh, we’re busy.” We had an event March that was predicated on recruiters recruiting recruiters. We had an entire event, almost 6,000 people at the event, where it was just about how do you recruit sourcers, and how do you recruit recruiters.
William Tincup: And so stated and covered. Busy, got it. But you’re never too busy to learn.
Carin: Absolutely. I want to echo that so hard. I would say if you don’t learn, you can be busy but you will not be effective. One of the things that an event like Open does, it helps you fill your bucket. It helps you replenish your skill sets. And also, it inspires you because you’re learning from people that you might not come across in your every day. You’re learning from people who are in companies like you, so you have a sense of almost a guarantee that this information is implementable. And you’re learning from your peers.
And you’re finding ways to actually see that you are doing a good job, and that you’re able to identify those areas in which you might be able to do a better job in the future. I find these events, it’s always a bit of a hassle before you plan to go, “Oh God, it’s going to be two days. What am I going to do?” But I really believe that when you come away from it, you recognize how worthwhile it was. I am absolutely confident that is going to be the case with Open this year.
William Tincup: I love it. So if you can say if you’re launching something. And again, if it’s a surprise, then don’t say anything. I signed a bunch of NDAs and I don’t want to get in any trouble, but are you launching anything at Open that you can talk about?
Carin: William, we are launching something at Open and it’s going to be great.
William Tincup: Dramatic foreshadowing. All right, good.
Carin: There’s no drum roll here, but you and I can talk about this after the fact then, yes.
William Tincup: No, no, fair enough. The other thing is a while back, y’all wrote a wonderful book, Talent Makers. I’m not sure because of everything that happened in the last two plus years, I’m not sure people got the book or read the book, or had the opportunity to consume it.
It was wonderful. I read it cover-to-cover and it was just great information, and great learning, great stories, et cetera. We’ll have access to the book at the conference?
Carin: Thank you for reading the book and for those kind words.
William Tincup: Sure.
Carin: Really appreciate that. Talent Makers was a big deal. And actually the power of learning in this way is something that a lot of people do. So we have got something very special that we’re doing for Open this year. We’ve actually got a Talent Makers Book Club that’s going to take place every day. So during the lunch hour, 1:00 to 2:00 every day, we are going to run the Talent Makers Book Club. And we’ve invited a handful of books and authors to actually join us. So on day one, we’re going to have Stacey Gordon whose book, UNBIAS.
Laurie Ruettimann, whose book is called Betting on You, and really focuses on burnout and how to ensure that recruiters are able to renew themselves. And Tim Sackett with his book, The Talent Fix. They’re going to be our authors on the first book club on the Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, our book club is going to have Dan and John, who as you know and as you mentioned, wrote Talent Makers. We’ll have Lars Schmidt, who wrote Redefining HR, and we’ll also have Stela Lupushor. Her book literally just came out called Humans at Work.
And it’s all about how work has changed, and how we think about work needs to change appropriately. That will be the second batch of authors. I think we will have book copies available. We will have time for interesting conversation. I think in terms of program design, it just adds another layer of really topical and relevant content for our attendees to engage with.
William Tincup: I love it. I can’t wait. Thank you so much. I know you’re crazy busy. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast and talking a little bit about Open.
Carin: Thank you for having me, William. I really appreciate it. I didn’t even tell the audience that you are going to do the coolest session. Just a little plug here for everyone listening, William is going to do a role play in collaboration.
You are going to absolutely want to make sure that you don’t miss this, because the goal of that session is how to strengthen collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers, which as we all know, is the partnership in business. So thank you for that, William.
William Tincup: Absolutely, absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the podcast, until next time.
The RecruitingDaily Podcast
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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