We were at HR Tech 2022 and got a chance to sit down with Paul Phillips, the global head of talent acquisition and onboarding at Avanade: a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft.

What do we need to differently to level up our HR game? Talent acquisition is important, but what about talent creation? You don’t need to hunt for talent when you have the resources to up-skill your employees. Find out what Paul Phillips has to say about bringing out the talent from within your own organization.

Quotes from Paul Phillips:

The inclusion piece is the most important, because the attraction of the diversity and the hiring of the diversity is a challenge. But if we’re not creating an inclusive culture, obviously that’s wasted effort.”

We say everyone is in charge of their own career path, but looking for the opportunities where we can use some of our matching techniques that we’re using on the TA side, in terms of applicants applying for roles internally.

This HR Tech ’22 series is sponsored and made possible by our friends at Gem!

Paul Phillips
Global Head of Talent Acquisition Avanade

I came to Avanade because it was a hybrid company with strong backing but without all the answers. Avanade continues to work on figuring new and better ways to do things. We want to bring in people with ideas and motivation to innovate for our clients and our business. Here, you can shape and create the future with great people. I saw the opportunity half a decade ago, and now I get to live it on a daily basis.

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Mike “Batman” Cohen (00:28):
Welcome to this episode of Sourcing School. We are still here, HR Tech, day two. I’m actually here with somebody. Paul, I didn’t know you before this, Paul Phillips at Avanade.

(00:39) I’ll let you introduce yourself and I’ll give a little bit of the backstory for the episode. I’m obviously really excited.

Paul Phillips (00:44):
Sure. No, I feel like you’re a magician saying, “I didn’t know you beforehand, so I’m going to share some magic tricks.” But Paul Phillips, I am the global head of talent acquisition and onboarding at Avanade.

(00:56) Avanade is a joint V between Accenture and Microsoft. Been in play now for 22 plus years, double-digit growth year-on-year.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:03):
Since you were 10, wow.

Paul Phillips (01:05):
I was actually 11. Yeah. No, it’s a phenomenal journey from a company perspective. Typically, what we’re doing is we’re supporting businesses with our technology needs, focused on the Microsoft stack. However, we’ve evolved as an organization going beyond looking at how being innovative with technology.

(01:25) And passionate around how that can impact businesses, and really focus on the genuine human impact that we can have through our work. What we’ve seen is we’ve seen two years of 30% plus growth in the last two years since we’ve changed our mission around from just focusing on realizing results, actually focusing on the outcomes that we can have on our people.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:42):
Wait. Sorry, I’m confused. You guys changed the mission and didn’t just talk about how everyone should be candidate? It sounds like that came from the top-down. That’s very confusing to me.

Paul Phillips (01:55):
Yeah. No, it did. We got a new CEO, Pam Maynard in.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (02:02):
Nice job, Pam.

Paul Phillips (02:02):
Yeah. Pam’s been excellent and we’re experiencing the highest growth we ever have, 2X the market. The market in the Microsoft world’s growing about 15% and we’re growing at 30% plus. So far so good.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (02:15):
I love that. I was about to share and I was getting ahead of myself, so we just met. We have the New York thing in common, which is awesome. You can tell by your accent you’re from New York. We basically recorded a podcast verbally before jumping on this podcast because of everything that we seem to really share in common as well. You’re witty, and funny and quick, so this will be a super enjoyable, fun experience if you’re listening.

(02:42) Get ready to learn, get ready to laugh. What we’re talking about is something I’m deeply passionate about. And based on everything I’ve heard in the last 15, 20 minutes, you are also deeply passionate about and doing at scale. It’s easier on my side. I’m a six person company. At Avanade, how many employees do you guys have?

Paul Phillips (02:59):
Yeah. We’re approaching 60,000 now and we’ve grown, I would say, 35% in the last 12 months in terms of headcount.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (03:08):
I almost dropped an F-bomb. Okay. Wow, I’ll say instead that is insane. One of the things we were talking about, you mentioned being human focused. That obviously has to start before people joined the company, because it’s brand, it’s finding the right people.

(03:29) Tell me a little bit about what we were talking about before, around how that impact and change has trickled down and you’ve brought that into the TA space.

Paul Phillips (03:40):
Sure. Absolutely fine. I think it’s obvious we’ve been experiencing super high growth. And as the head of talent acquisition, I’ve got a big part to play in helping us drive that from an organic perspective. Being in the technology space, it’s clear that there’s a scarcity of skills and also the skills that we require is ever-changing.

(03:59) Therefore, as we look to seek out, how do we meet this challenge and doing it in the right way as well? I think that’s really important, is it’s not just about finding the first available talent at Avanade. We have a mission around our diversity. As an example, our hiring last year, despite being 27% higher than the previous year, was 41% female in the tech space. The average market is 17% to 22%.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:30):

Paul Phillips (04:32):
Yeah. Our mission is to get to parity. That’s what I’m driving towards, is to get to 50/50 hiring.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:38):
In tech.

Paul Phillips (04:40):
In tech.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:42):
Let that sink in, everyone.

Paul Phillips (04:43):
Sure. I’m responsible for hiring all of our onshore talent as well. This is not at talent and development centers, this is client-facing consultants, so it’s certainly a challenge. As I said, within the market, it’s 17% to 22%. It was clear that we had to do something different. We couldn’t just rely on extrapolating all of that from the current market space.

(05:05) We sort out looking at our HR life cycle, which is typically attract, develop and retain. Reimagine what do we need to do differently to level up our game, in terms of our aspirations? We actually created a fourth tier of HR, which is create. Therefore, not only do we just attract talent to Avanade, now we create talent for Avanade, and ultimately for the market as well.

(05:29) We recognize the fact that as we continue to invest and become an educator, not necessarily everyone will land at Avanade. We recognize that. That’s cool, we’re fine with that. If we give opportunity for others to better their lives, and ultimately realize that they could have a life, a career in the world of tech that they probably hadn’t imagined before, then there’s goodness for everyone from that perspective.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:54):
I think this is where we’re going to spend our time. Yelp, if you didn’t pick up on that, which is getting away from the idea of skills and experience-based hiring, moving into potential. I think this is a topic when people talk about DEI. Comes up all the time, particularly with women in tech because you’ll hear, “Well, there just aren’t as many women in tech. How can you ever have parity?” You’re a 50 person company, fine. Yeah. Of course, you can have parity.

(06:20) You can have five and five. You’re not a 50 person company. You’re actually not even a 50,000 person company. You’re at 60,000 people and you’re still shooting for parity. I think that first off, warms my heart and soul. If you’re listening to this, I hope you’ve got a huge smile on your face knowing that’s a thing. But realizing that talent can be made, but it takes the effort on the organizational side. I’m sure it takes time and money to do that.

Paul Phillips (06:49):
Sure. No, it certainly does. I often have conversations with my CFO. They’re very understandable to the fact that obviously, we could do recruiting or acquisition cheaper than what we do it today, but we care. Doing what matters is important at Avanade. Therefore, as a result, my cost per joiner is higher than the market.

But we’re fine with that because we’ve got bigger, bolder ambitions. Ultimately, I talk about maybe one of our case studies, and this is an interesting one. This is where the story began and it was in Brazil. Brazil’s probably one of our highest growth market areas. It’s our largest region now from a headcount perspective.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (07:34):

Paul Phillips (07:35):
Yeah. Ultimately, it was clear that from a female hiring perspective, we were languishing around 18% female hiring, which is where the market is but we’re upset, we’re disappointed with that. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not going to help us get to our mission.

(07:51) Therefore, we created an academy where we hired 200 female talents from the Brazilian marketplace that hadn’t previously had a role in technology or had been a consultant. That showed potential, ambition to change their lives and ultimately do something more.

(08:13) As a result, we hired these 200 female talents into Brazil. That changed our hiring in Brazil from 18% female hiring, to 30% female hiring overnight for that fiscal year, which is great in itself, but actually the story doesn’t stop there, Batman.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:33):
Can I dig in on this for just a few seconds?

Paul Phillips (08:34):
Of course.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:35):
I’m taking notes on the side, you see me taking notes. I had a good time in college. I don’t have a great memory now. You hired 200 women in Brazil with no tech background. I’ve got three questions on this, ready?

(08:48) What differentiated how you found those 200? Because if they had no tech background, my recruiter or lizard brain goes to, “What did you search for when you hired them?” Can you talk to that?

Paul Phillips (09:00):
Sure. Yeah. No, absolutely fine. Actually, how we searched them out is quite cool as well. We actually used influencers, like social media influencers, to talk about our offering.

(09:12) Rather than a product, we leveraged four or five huge influencers in Brazil in the Sao Paulo and Recife markets, which is where our two main offices are. They were plugging the opportunity to come and become part of this new life.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:29):
Tech influencers?

Paul Phillips (09:31):

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:31):
Recruitment influencers?

Paul Phillips (09:33):

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:34):
Social influencers on Insta or Twitter, et cetera?

Paul Phillips (09:39):
Yeah. Yeah. On Insta, yes.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:42):
Y’all can’t see me right now, my eyebrows are touching my scalp. Holy smokes, that’s cool. Okay, love that.

Paul Phillips (09:49):
In terms of what we look for, going back to that is it is harder to ascertain looking at someone, does this individual have the potential? So then we’re looking at competencies and behaviors, as well as the authenticity of the individual. Is there a passion and desire to want to change their lives? Honestly, I’m sat across here from Batman and we just joked about the chap that wants to take photos of us.

(10:18) He has to take them from the chin up, because we’ve been overindulging over the last few days in Vegas. But ultimately, if I want to change my weight, I have to be personally invested in it, no matter who tells me. The doctor tells me, “Paul, you need to get your BMI down,” which may be true and probably is factually correct. Unless I personally want to invest in that and invest in that journey.

(10:41) And being it not just for two weeks, it has to be a life-changing decision that I need to make, it’s not going to happen. Ultimately, that’s what we were focused on, is making sure that there was the commitment, and that there was at least a set of universal skills that they created through different career paths. For instance, I started my working life as a shoe salesman, okay?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:08):

Paul Phillips (11:09):
Yes. I was 16.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:13):
We’ve now broached an entirely different subject that I love.

Paul Phillips (11:16):
Yeah. But in terms of what did I learn as a shoe salesman? I learned how to deal with customers. I also became very quickly the sales lead within the shoe store, and I was the youngest person working there. Therefore, I had to work out how do I bridge that generational gap? There’s skills I learned when I was 16 years old, which are highly transferable into the work that I do today.

(11:44) Ultimately, that’s what we looked for in terms of the talent, and just looking beyond what it said on the piece of paper. I think that’s really important. How many of us just dismiss profiles just because they have some of the catch words or the sound bites that we typically look for aren’t present? Or that person didn’t go to that school, or that person maybe didn’t even have a degree? Shock, horror.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:09):
I have this conversation all the time when talking to folks hiring, looking for senior sourcing leaders. They’re like, “Oh, we’d love someone with your background, bachelor’s degree.” I’m like, “I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree until seven or eight years ago, so why is that required?”

Paul Phillips (12:25):
Did you buy it off eBay?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:26):
What’s that?

Paul Phillips (12:28):
Did you buy your bachelor’s degree off eBay?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:28):
No, I did Groupon. I got a twofer. Okay. I’m going to speak the mind of what I imagine some of our listeners are saying right now, and would love to hear how this has unfolded for you. Because this isn’t like, “We just implemented this last month, it’s going great.”

(12:48) You have 35% growth and you’re a 60,000 person company, guys. Okay. I’m thinking and I’m like, “Wow. Yeah, Paul, that sounds super cool, man. But I don’t have two years to train someone. We’re already at task or overtasked for what we’re doing. If we hire in this methodology, we’re now losing efficacy, because we have to train all of these folks up.”

(13:16) Then how actually effective are they going to be, compared to trying to find a software engineer or a tech professional in some way, who’s already done similar work? So ramp up and actual efficacy.

Paul Phillips (13:32):
Sure. I think that’s a fair question. I think firstly what you need to recognize, this wasn’t our only hiring vehicle. We still hired those that had experienced backgrounds, and therefore, they were able to keep the lights on and keep the work on. If we don’t look around the corner as an organization, in terms of what we need in the medium term, guess what guys? We’re all going to be in trouble.

(13:52) Therefore, this is about making a play, not just for today, this is a play for tomorrow. What we envisage ultimately, was typically the learning journey was around eight to 12 weeks for each of these individuals, depending on the specialty that they focused on. Then we’d put them into shadow project work. Give them the ability to see a project at no cost to our client. And guess what? They love them.

(14:18) Then suddenly, they want them to stay, and then they end up paying. It worked out really well. What was really interesting, is the fact that as I shared before, we were 18% female hiring before we did this program. We actually didn’t do this program this fiscal year. Just gone on purpose, it was in Brazil because we wanted to see now how many of those 200 talents stay? Was there high retention?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (14:45):

Paul Phillips (14:45):
Were they successful? What do we need to tweak if we do this again? You know what we found? We found that this year, we hit a nearly 40% female hiring in Brazil with no academy program, because guess what?

(14:59) The business woke up to the fact that females can be successful in technology, and they can do a damn good job. Just as good as men, even better.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:07):
They read instructions, so that’s a plus.

Paul Phillips (15:11):
From that perspective, we ended up culturally changing behavior as a result of this program. Brazil was where this began and we did 200 in that fiscal year. Last year, we did over 1,000 going through the academies.

We’re going to grow it 20% plus year-on-year. What’s really interesting as well, is we’ve evolved our thinking now. I’m sure you’ve spoken to a lot of people about internal mobility.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:38):
My wife does that for Mercer actually.

Paul Phillips (15:39):

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:40):
Funny enough.

Paul Phillips (15:40):
Okay. I thought she was trying to move you to a new role within your family.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:43):
That’s right. You are now primary caregiver for all things.

Paul Phillips (15:47):

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:48):

Paul Phillips (15:49):
But we’re also now looking at how can we use the academy model for talent that’s already at Avanade as well? Therefore, using it to reskill people. So if someone has maybe a skill set that is becoming a bit more industrialized, we’re looking at the opportunity not to say, “Oh sorry, Batman. No more work for you. Thank you very much for your hard work. I suggest you find employment elsewhere.”

(16:15) We’re reinvesting in the talent that’s already here and giving opportunity for them to relearn. What’s cool is we’re actually blending those pools, so we’re not keeping them separate. You could be coming into the academy, never working for Avanade. You’re ultimately getting an in-house network, in the academy process of talent that’s already been at Avanade and loves Avanade. It helps with that kind of engagement and swift mobility perspective.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (16:36):
I am literally geeking out. You’re looking at me and I’m just geeking out right now, at this wildly, human-centric approach at a company that is at scale. Seemingly on paper, if I told them what you’re doing right now, people would use words like utopia and sure, that sounds great. I have so many questions, and comments and thoughts on this. Okay, let’s stick on internal mobility for one second. This is something my wife has in the past struggled with. She’s brilliant, she’s driven.

(17:11) She’s always been the top performer, and she just does sales strategy RevOps. She finally landed at Mercer, which is a fantastic fit. But in the past, she winds up getting to a point in her role where she’s super proficient. She’s doing her job at excellence and working 24 hours a week. She’ll say, “Hey, I’m forward. I want to learn a new skill.” I imagine this happens a lot with folks, who’ve either been doing the same thing for 10 years.

(17:38) They’re like, “Hey, I’m bored. I don’t know if this is what I want to do.” Or people have been doing it for two years and realize, “I don’t know that I like this.” What does that look like in Avanade? Does that model still work and apply to folks who are like, “Hey, I maybe want to switch career focuses or adjust my career focus”?

Paul Phillips (17:59):
Sure. I think it works in both instances. I think that we’ve heard it, I think, several times throughout this conference, that they expect everyone to have a minimum of 12 different jobs throughout their careers now. We, as an organization, have a responsibility to enable that at Avanade. Certainly, when I talk to my global leadership team, which I get the honor of doing on a regular basis given my role.

(18:25) They always say to me, “Paul, please tell me the number one thing I can do to help you?” I said, “Once I get the talent here, we have to keep them here.” Because as a professional services firm, there’s a strong correlation between the number of people we have, our revenue, our profit, and our growth. Therefore, how do we do that? You can always leave a job for more money. I think if you want to earn more money, there’s another job around the corner that can pay you more.

(18:53) I said, “But however, if you’re a true technologist, if you are passionate about doing the right thing. I think if you’re able to create that opportunity in-house, my expectation is you are going to reinvest in an individual on a continuous basis. They’re going to pay you back from an engagement and productivity perspective, and also you get more loyalty.”

(19:14) It’s no difference to a brand or a product. What we’re currently working on now is, this is the difficult part, is how do we serve these opportunities up to our talent? Looking at ways in which we can not only expect people to forge their own career paths. We say everyone is in charge of their own career path, but looking for the opportunities where we can use some of our matching techniques that we’re using on the TA side, in terms of applicants applying for roles at Avanade internally.

(19:47) And look at how ultimately we can then serve up in the flow of work, because we’re a Microsoft shop for you teams. But send to someone in teams, have you thought about these three or four opportunities? That individual may be ready for those opportunities now. Or you may say, “Actually, this is a great opportunity. We’re growing this part of the business and we’re going to invest in your learning. You can step into this six to eight-week course.”

(20:15) That’s the next step on our journey. So rather than people having to find it themselves or being reliable on your career advisor actually doing a good job, rather than just doing your end of year review. That’s our next step on our journey and it is super exciting.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (20:30):
Yeah, that resonates with me. I think one of the things that you spent a bunch of time talking about is this idea of growth, and create is what you guys are calling it. I learned something through, and a bunch of people don’t know this. I’m a very active Christian. I’m in seminary to be a pastor part-time. My wife and I helped plant a church. The reason I’m sharing this is we had to do a bunch of training.

(20:58) One of the things we learned that is true for churches, is the same for business, which is really funny. The two top reasons why people stay at any church/ business, number one reason, community. Number two, growth. It’s interesting because you’re talking about growth and it’s insanely cool. You guys also in doing this, are establishing communities. There’s no way all these people starting at the same time and coming in fresh, aren’t now meeting other people in the same boat.

(21:35) You mix the current employees at Avanade, so now this network and community extends beyond just the walls of your organization. Those are things that lead to massive retention, because that extra 20K a year to leave a place where you’re growing and where you enjoy the people that you spend the most time in your life with, not worth it anymore.

Paul Phillips (21:58):
Yeah. No, I agree. I think I should get paid to spend time with my wife. I hope she’s not listening.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:03):

Paul Phillips (22:05):
No, kidding aside, I think it’s really important. What we found is, in fact, I’ve got my next QBR with Glassdoor on Monday. They asked me in the last session is, “Are you guys doing anything to drive up your Glassdoor rating?” We’re like, “No.”

(22:23) But ultimately, because of who we are, the position we’re taking, how we’re investing in people, our people are willingly going onto Glassdoor and sharing their feelings. Our rating has continued to skyrocket and has gone up to Best in Class, 4.2, 4.3, which is pretty impressive for a company our size.

(22:46) It’s gone up about 20% in the last 18 months without us asking. We’re not there writing emails to our employees, “Can you please go on Glassdoor and tell us how wonderful we are?” It’s just happening organically, which is awesome.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:58):
Love this. I have two more topics. One will be quick, one maybe a little bit longer. One is talking about this idea of the experience concept. We talked about this beforehand, and you can go into as much depth or as little as you want about this.

(23:11) But it’s realizing that companies that have an excellent candidate experience, didn’t necessarily always have an excellent candidate experience. But this isn’t a 10-year project to undertake to get that NPS score, your candidate experience rating up. You open to talking about it?

Paul Phillips (23:31):
Yeah. No, happy to share.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (23:32):

Paul Phillips (23:33):
Happy to share now. 12 months ago, I might have been a bit more reluctant, but no. Obviously, as head of talent acquisition, I think we’re all very clear on the importance of the candidate experience. We’ve spoken at length today, about the fact that there’s a scarcity of skill, and therefore, our candidates have choice.

(23:49) Therefore, when they’re choosing whether they go to company A or company B, the experience they have going through that application process, engaging with the organization is going to be critical not only to whether or not they join the organization today. Are they an ambassador or positive net promoter of that company externally?

(24:08) And/or maybe the right opportunity comes in the future, but if they’ve had a poor experience in the first round, the likelihood is they’re unlikely to want to engage with you again. We worked with a company called the Talent Board, and did the CandE Awards where they actually [inaudible 00:24:24].

Mike “Batman” Cohen (24:24):
Kevin Grossman shout out.

Paul Phillips (24:26):
Which is where it’s over 150 companies are involved in this and they send out surveys. I think over 200,000 surveys were completed by successful candidates, by unsuccessful candidates, by hiring managers, by recruiters.

(24:41) It’s a really in-depth process, which let’s be clear. Some of these awards that people win, you’re paying for the award and you can fill it in accordingly.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (24:54):
What? No way.

Paul Phillips (24:56):
This is not one of those awards.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (24:58):
No, it’s not. It isn’t at all. It is all solely based on the data.

Paul Phillips (25:02):
Yeah. It’s something that we were passionate about. Our first year was last year, and our scores were woeful, like derisory. I was embarrassed looking at the scores.

(25:13) As the head of talent acquisition, I was in front of the business saying, “We’ve hired 20% more people this year than last year. We’re making progress on a diversity perspective.”

(25:21) But there were a lot of unhappy people out there, in terms of our scores, so what do we do? Do we just say, “Okay. We don’t really care because we’re still hiring”?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:33):
We’ll work harder.

Paul Phillips (25:35):
Yeah. What we did is actually I employed, well, redeployed Corrine Long. If you’re listening, Corrine, here’s your shout out to be my head of candidate experience at Avanade. We invested in looking at how do we differentiate the role that the recruiter plays, as well as other key stakeholders in the candidate experience as one step? We foundationally changed how we can support candidates through leveraging tech.

(26:08) One of the biggest issues that we found and why our scores were so bad, it was so simple. It drove me mad when I found out, that the majority of why our scores were so bad, is because we have a quarter of a million applicants a year, and so many of our applicants never heard back. They went into this black hole of nothingness. Now everyone uses contractors at their house, odd jobs.

(26:32) I can’t do anything label-wise. Apart from changing the light bulb and luckily now, they mostly last for 10 years, so even that skill set’s died.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (26:39):
You and I are the same.

Paul Phillips (26:40):
Okay. We all have contractors at our house. What’s most frustrating for me, is when you phone a contractor and they don’t answer or they don’t come back to you. Ultimately, as a result, you’re frustrated. Why are you frustrated? A, because we’re so used to having high levels of communication. And B, you know when the contractors at your house, all they’re doing is looking at their phone every time it rings, and they’re deciding whether or not they answer it or not.

(27:10) For me, it’s no difference from a candidate experience. The candidate expects that you’ve seen their application. They’ve received the automated email saying, “Thank you very much for your application. You’ll be considered and we’ll get back to you in a certain amount of time.” If you don’t get back to them in that amount of time that you’ve stated, they’re going to be frustrated. They’re going to be annoyed.

(27:26) The Talent Board gives the opportunity for them to have their voice heard, which is great. We actually deployed a new technology for Avanade called HiredScore. And HiredScore, one of their key benefits is they have it’s called Spotlight, which is where ultimately, every application that comes through Avanade’s window, so to speak, is graded A, B, C, or D. That enables us to prioritize our stack, in terms of how we work with those candidates.

(27:56) It doesn’t mean that the Cs and Ds will not get the right opportunity at Avanade. They typically get invited to become part of our candidate community, and we give them advice about where their next step could be. Something around the corner that I want to do, is where we find out that they may not have the technical skill for the role that they applied, but I’d love to invite them to an academy. This is where we’re going to get creative.

(28:17) Then we send them into the create rather than the attract stream. But ultimately what this does, is it enables us to do mass upload disposition, so at least everyone hears back, even if they are unsuccessful. What we’ve found is we just redid the CandE Awards. And yesterday, I’m allowed to share now, that we won two CandE Awards.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:42):
That’s deserved, because just remind people how long ago was it where your scores were less than awesome?

Paul Phillips (28:50):
12 months.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:52):
12 months from embarrassed about your scores, stated by you, to winning two CandE Awards.

Paul Phillips (29:00):
Yeah. It’s four categories, so we won in 50% of the categories so it’s truly incredible. Look, I’m here talking about it, taking all the plaudits, but there’s a team of bright people under me that are making this happen.

(29:14) Ultimately, it goes back to what we talked about is we can all turn up to work. But if we care, if we focus, if we have intent, you can change it. The big point here is you touched on is this isn’t a five year, this isn’t a 10-year vision. You can do this in 12 months and I’ve shown you can.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:34):

Paul Phillips (29:35):
Other people can say you can’t, but you can.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:38):
Yeah. But Paul, we’re a really large organization. That sounds great if you’re a mid-size company. But wait, 60,000 employees, 12-month turnaround from not great by any stretch, to literally winning 50% of the awards globally.

(29:56) Anybody listening, take a deep breath, it’s totally possible but it takes intentionality, right? You guys literally from the top-down, became intentional about what you were doing.

Paul Phillips (30:08):
Sure. We actually ran a number of initiatives and games. We incentivized our recruiters to get involved in dispositioning their candidates. We set up this whole ladder of activity over a period of time, and incentivized people to try to change their behavior.

(30:23) But once behaviors changed, it becomes second nature. It’s not something you have to continually reinvent every year. You need to keep a focus on it. One of the things I did do, is I promised the team that if we did do well, that I would dress up as the Candy Land king on one of our calls.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:39):
Oh yes.

Paul Phillips (30:43):
Honestly, I think that was the thing that changed.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:44):
Has that happened already?

Paul Phillips (30:46):
It has happened already. What I expected to do, was actually buy the costume off Amazon. One of my team members made me a head-to-toe, full Candy Land costume, crown with candies on it, a stick.

(31:03) I had a robe and it was bright orange because we’re Avanade and our color is orange. It had a fur collar. It looks the business. You’ll be seeing me on Halloween, for sure.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (31:13):
I was about to be like, “Pictures or it didn’t happen.” There may be a chance associated with this when it gets posted, guys.

Paul Phillips (31:21):
Yeah. I can share a picture if you want to share it.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (31:24):
This is so awesome. Okay, I know we said two topics. We are well over time on this. I’m doing this because it’s putting you on the spot intentionally and it’s wildly selfish for me. I want to talk to you about inclusion. Ultimately, I think it’s the topic that gets missed when people talk about DEI because it’s very focused on the front end, which is great. We still need to talk about diversity, and who we’re going after in the underserved communities.

(31:53) But I think for me, the inclusion piece is the most important, because the attraction of the diversity and the hiring of the diversity is a challenge. But if we’re not creating an inclusive culture, obviously that’s wasted effort, in my opinion. We don’t have time right now to go through that. Would you be willing to do another podcast episode in the next few weeks at some point?

Paul Phillips (32:16):
Absolutely fine. Would love to. Something that we’re passionate about and we invest in it as well. As you can probably imagine, your point is really accurate. It’s no difference to, we talked about the academy hiring.

(32:31) You have to have differentiated expectations of what that talent needs to be successful. It’s no difference from an inclusive perspective as well.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:38):

Paul Phillips (32:38):
If you want everyone to be different and then you treat everybody the same, then guess what? You’re going to see higher attrition. You’re going to see not people being productive.

(32:49) You’re going to see a lack of engagement and you’re going to see frustration. Certainly, it’s an area that we’ve invested in focusing on it. I’d be happy to come back and talk about it.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:59):
Love that. That is awesome. What a marvelous way to state that, which is you want everybody to be different, but then treat everyone the same. It’s something we touched on that I’m deeply passionate about, which is our space in general isn’t rocket science, when you’re starting out in the space. Obviously, when you get to a role like yours, it’s wildly complex. But starting out in the space as a recruiter or a sourcer, isn’t rocket science.

(33:31) The degree requirements and the stipulations around who we’re hiring, in my opinion, I know yours based on what you’ve implemented, are far less important than your attitude, and what you bring to the table as a human. I always share with folks about the degree, and the experience and everything. I’m like, “I don’t care. In recruiting, I literally don’t care. I think degrees are mostly irrelevant.” Now that being said, my cardiologist better have a degree. That’s going to be pretty important for me.

(34:05) Again, this is a topic for our next conversation. I like to end all podcasts, and so good luck because you’re going to have to do this again next time we talk also, with asking you to share one thing that you want to leave our listeners with that doesn’t have to be about what we talked about. It doesn’t have to be about even just business. But one thing that is going to hit people in the head, or the heart, or the soul and leave them impressioned upon leaving.

Paul Phillips (34:32):
Sure. I think what I would share, is the time is never right to change. We’re all busy people with personal lives, with our business lives.

(34:42) There’s always opportunities to spend the money in other areas. When your CFO turns up and says to me, “Paul, what’s the return on investment?” I just say to them, “What’s the risk of inaction?”

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:55):
Please repeat.

Paul Phillips (34:57):
When the CFO asked me, “What is the return on investment?” I ask, “What is the risk of inaction?” The worst decision is indecision in this market.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (35:07):
What is the risk of inaction? I would drop these microphones, but they’re very expensive and not mine. Holy crap, I don’t even know what to say. Well, thank you. This was really super enjoyable.

(35:20) I could keep doing this, but our video editing crew would have an absolute you know what show. Thank you, man. I know you’re busy, listening to everything you’re doing. Thanks for taking the time and we’ll absolutely set up round two for this.

Paul Phillips (35:33):
Smashing. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (35:34):

You’ve been listening to the Sourcing School podcast live at HR Tech in Vegas, sponsored by our friends at Gem. For other HR, recruiting and sourcing news, check out RecruitingDaily.com.

Sourcing School Podcast

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.

Michael Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Sourcing-on-Demand and Recruitment Training Organization. Wayne Technologies On-Demand Sourcing is a revolutionary approach that provides the most actionable data available, is based on deliverables – not time, and is based on access to more recruitment tooling than any organization worldwide.

Shally Steckerl

One of the pioneers of the sourcing discipline, Shally is the Founder and former President of The Sourcing Institute, where he has helped numerous F500 and mid-market organizations train and develop their talent sourcing capabilities for nearly 20 years. When it comes to innovative approaches to candidate search, Shally literally wrote the book. He is the author of the industry-standard textbook “The Talent Sourcing and Recruitment Handbook” as well as “The Sourcing Method: Tactics to Find Unfindable Talent.”


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