Credly – Breaking Down The Characteristics Of A COVID-Era Recruiting Strategy With Jarin Schmidt

Welcome to the RecruitingDaily Podcast – we have a great show for you today, with a really fun topic. We have Jarin Schmidt here from Credly breaking down the characteristics of a COVID-era recruiting strategy. This one is gonna go fast.

Jarin is the Chief Experience Officer at Credly, leading their product and customer success teams. He has a background in roles that spanned across customer support, graphic design, digital marketing, and product development. 

Listening time: 27 minutes


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William  00:02

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Jarin on from Credly, and we’re actually going to be talking about — the topic of the show is breaking down the characteristics of a COVID era, recruiting strategy. So we’re gonna be talking about a lot of different things. But this is gonna be a really fun topic, and it’s gonna go fast. So Jarin, introduce yourself and also introduce Credly to the audience.


Jarin  01:01

Yeah, absolutely. William, I appreciate you having me on here. I oversee the experience at Credly. So I have a super fancy title of chief experience officer. And really what that means is, I oversee anything that our customers are touching. And so that primarily rolls up under products, as well as customer success. But it can come in, in a variety different ways, even when you look at like training and development and educating the market about our solution. As far as Credly is concerned, Credly is the world’s largest network, or marketplace of verified digital credentials. And so it’s a lot of words, but what it means is that we work with the world’s most recognized brands to document learning outcomes, achievements, anything that you do, that an employer might care about, in a way that is structured, it has context, and it has verification built right into it. You can promote those credentials, anywhere you see fit online without sacrificing that context. So like, what does it mean to get certified in project management or as an HR professional, and you can basically promote that online with a single click, go back to a credential where you can see all the criteria and things that went into earning a credential.


William  02:13

Oh, that’s cool. I love that. And it’s just an easy way for both employees and candidates to be able to keep track of those things. You know, and put them in places maybe leaving LinkedIn, but outside of LinkedIn, and other – other places, I love that. All right, let’s jump right into this because this is a meaty topic. And – and I can’t wait to hear kind of your, your take, because you’re also, you know, dealing with all the customers yourself. And so you got a lot of different inputs here. So let’s just start with the characteristics of a COVID-era recruiting strategy. Well, what are those? Kind of, I want to say the legs of the stool, but what are those characteristics that you’re seeing?


Jarin  02:53

You know, it’s funny, because everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed. As far as I’m concerned. You know, like, our objectives are still the same, trying to identify the top talent, the best culture fit, but also hard skills, soft skill fit. And whether you’re doing that in a COVID era or not, there are certain you know, steps that go to in there, you have to know who to know when to know them in time, it just right in terms of where they’re at in their career. And so when we look at both pre-and post- COVID era, a lot of times that means networking, it means making sure that you have a dialogue or conversation going with groups, it’s just that so happens that now you’re going to see if it wasn’t enough activity out on things like LinkedIn before, a lot more of that, right that, that what are the ways in which you can virtually stay connected or abreast with what someone is up to? And ultimately find that right, you know, who is the connection that you should have? Or timing the connection that you already have? Does that make sense? Like those two pieces?


William  03:53

Totally, totally. So the right time, the right message? To the right person, right. So it sounds simple, never simple. Some companies do this better than others. And again, whether or not someone’s active or whether or not they’re passive doesn’t necessarily matter, because it still comes down to the timing on both parties. And ultimately, I think your – probably next thing is, is you’re getting the fit, you’re getting to the right or the most appropriate fit for both sides.


Jarin  04:24

Yep. And I think what’s probably the biggest change that if you look at that, because I think that was true before and after, what I’ve noticed, or what we’ve seen some of our customers recognizing is that those informal interactions, you know, those are those things where you’re maybe at an industry event or a conference, you know, like the in-person gatherings that we had, where you could kind of serendipitously build out your network and better understand people, those aren’t around right now. And so, that brings up kind of my point of like, what are the places where you can be networking in a more virtual fashion and start to, you know, find those connections that you once often had in, in face-to-face settings.


William  05:05

I love that, by the way. So on Tuesday, in the middle of March, we all had to go home. And we had to learn how to hire from her. As candidates, we had to learn how to interview from home as hiring managers, we had to learn how to do that whole process. And then we also had to deal with while whilst simultaneously dealing with remote work ourselves, but also remote workers. So of all of that stuff for you. What – What changed? You know, again, kind of the arrows in the quiver are the tools in the toolbox. Like what changed for candidates, recruiters hiring managers evolve when faced with that much change?


Jarin  05:55

Yeah, I mean, I think what we’ve observed within Credly is that people are at home, and they have a little bit more time on their hand, hands. And so we’ve actually been seeing a significant increase in learning and development, that remote training and development, the ability, to jump in and find a new skill, or maybe expand an existing skill has started to really skyrocket. And what that means is that now what we’re using as signals within the marketplace, there are, you know, different ways in which you can tell your professional story. It’s not reliant 100% on the bullet points in the self-reported data, but there’s a lot more like, you can say, I’ve taken this many courses versus I have two years of experience doing something like this. So what I’ve seen is a big shift. And what our customers have seen as a big shift is more granularity, but more signals related to training and development versus experience. And what we’ve often used as academic degree is the proxies.


William  06:58

Right? So I love this, by the way, especially the learning and development, training and development, skills, development, etc. You know, it was important pre-COVID people candidates, were asking, you know, how are you going to? How are you gonna make me better? How are you going to foster my development, etc? And now the questions are probably, you know, they’re still there, they’re still important, especially to, you know, millennials and Gen Z. But now we have to do it a bit differently. So what have you seen kind of experiences both for yourself or for Credly, but also some of your customers where they’ve embraced? You know, maybe the person doesn’t have the perfect skill set? You know, but we know that they have the desire to learn, and we can and we can try? 


Jarin  07:46

Yeah, I think, you know, it’s trying to find that that thing, that special, it’s that someone has–whether that’s grit–determination, but, you know, it is I think, wholeheartedly true people, especially with the knowledge working fields, we need to be about an inch deep and a mile wide these days, right? Like, they have to have a very broad set, I call it the plus one itis I need you to have a finance degree plus, I need you to be good at data wrangling plus storytelling. Plus, if you can do a little programming, that’d be great, right? It’s just the candidate that we have in our mind, and the candidates of the world don’t often match up. And so I think you are seeing a little bit more of a weighting system. When doing that recruiting. Can we really like when at the end of the day, let’s prioritize some of these things? What are the things that we could live without? or more importantly, what are the things that if the candidates and have it on day one, we can develop over time, which I think is a totally different mindset than we’ve had in the past where you’re expecting 10 years of experience and all those plus ones that I said the plus one is already arriving to you or your doorstep. So I think the shift is really around, knowing what you can be – have compromises on and embracing the idea that someone can upskill pretty quickly, especially with all the new tools and technologies that are out there.


William  08:59

I love that. So what have you seen let’s, let’s talk a little tactics. When we think about the characteristics of a COVID era recruiting schedule, tactically, what have you seen people, you know, again, try and fail, but just, you know, some of the things that they’ve tried differently than maybe they would have January of last year?


Jarin  09:19

I think, you know, you’re interviewing on a screen, a lot of times, which it’s a big shift. But I think that’s that’s a positive as well, is that I mean, you can start to look at, you know, we always talk about removing biases, during the hiring process, and, and using remote technologies, I think is impacted, both positive negative, but I do think that it’s putting us in a position to remove even more biases from the recruiting and that hiring process. It depends on the industry and the employer, obviously, but I do believe that having more of a focus on remote and the remote technologies that go along with it actually, you prove the way in which we can remove some of the biases that we have when going through the recruiting process. So that one steps out or jumps out at me the most, I would say the other is trying to take a little bit more of a data-driven approach. So in other words, trying to understand what are the candidates that you maybe have passed over in the past, but you know, might be a better fit for you based on what we’re just talking about, about being able to upskill and rescale someone and then replicating that, if you can demonstrate it once bringing data into the equation so that you can replicate it more. So the two big ones, I think, are the technologies? How are they reducing biases, or, by frankly, introducing new ones that we didn’t see before, because that’s gonna be a part of it. But then the other is the data-driven approach to it, really having to rely more on that than that kind of gut feel face to face sort of interactions that you’ve had in the past?


William  10:48

So what are you seeing? And what do you think about the employer brand, part of recruiting and recruiting strategy where, you know, here, we were January of last year, and it was a candidate-driven market. And there were a lot of discussions around the candidate experience, or the experience. And we were talking a whole lot about employer brand. And then all sudden, COVID in a recession here, and all the other things that happened in 2020, murder hornets, whatever. What have you – What have you seen with your with yourself with Credly, and also your customers from an employer brand perspective?


Jarin  11:28

You know, it’s funny that you mentioned that because one of the fastest-growing segments for Credly is organizations that want to credential their own employees. And I think a big driver behind that is because they want to influence that brand. And basically, say, you know, the day and age where you get educated in an academic setting, and then you go and get on the job training experience from your employer, kind of, I would argue ending and we’re actually seeing that employers are a significant source of training and development, they are kind of like the academic institution of the future. And so when we talk about brand, being able to make sure that if you are upskilling, rescaling reshaping your workforce, that you’re documenting that, and then you’re turning your employees into brand ambassadors, so these groups that are coming to us to issue credentials to their employees. Part of it is you know, it generates amazing marketing value for them to not have you know, paid for brand impressions online, but to all of a sudden log into Twitter and see, you know, Jarin just got in upskilled, from Credly. When it comes to his skills, taxonomy mappings awesome like Credly invests in their employees, that’s a place that I want to work, what else does Credly give credentials for – training people for – and using that as a way to recruit, but also retain talent?


William  12:44

I love that. Within the, you know, within the title of the show, it’s – I do – I’m curious about credentials, and where in the recruiting process is that supposed to be work? When do we put that further out in the funnel? And we make sure that for a position that we know, we need the credentials that we screen in and screen out, way out? Or is it something that like reference checking, it’s something that maybe we do further into the process? Like, what do you what have you seen? And what do you when you talk to customers? Where do you typically think credentialing is important for them to do were in the process?


Jarin  13:23

Yeah. So I mean, historically speaking, I can say it was a compliance check. And it was, you know, at the end of the process, okay, we go through the screening, does this person really have maybe their PMP, their project management certification out there, and it was really checking the box, they said they haven’t, let’s just make sure that they are. And really, I think that those credentialing a disservice. credentialing, you know, is really, in my opinion, helping you identify who’s the talent pool that’s baseline competent, it’s not going to tell you whether or not you can tolerate Jarin as an individual or whether or not Jarin is a culture fit, but it should, it should actually signal who’s the person that can be proficient or, you know, leverage tools efficiently or understand the landscape of the role that we’re asking them to take on. And so, you know, a strong belief Credly Our goal is to connect individuals who have credentials to opportunities. In other words, based on those signals or credentials you have, what are the opportunities we can put in front of you. And I do believe that’s going to create a shift in where credentials fit in that recruiting process. You know, it should be you should be starting with who has the project management certification for my project management role. And then within there now is when I have to start to use more inefficient tools to suss out whether or not we can, like I said, tolerate journey’s good cultural fit, he’s going to be able to bring other things to the table to help our organization grow. Does that distinction make sense?


William  14:40

No, it totally makes sense. It – are there certain industries or jobs where credentialing is more appropriate? That’s not the right language is more that you see more in a particular job or industry?


Jarin  14:54

You know, it’s hard to answer that one because of the different flavors of credentialing that are out there because you have to employ like licensure, right, which is you have to have this in order to be in that profession. You think of it from like a public safety standpoint, whether it’s a real estate license, a cosmetologist, a nurse, a doctor, so forth. And so, you know, those would be very credential-heavy industries, I would argue, and it’s very relevant. But when we look at I mean, the vast majority of credentials in our network are voluntary. So it’s like, I want to learn something about blockchain or a new technology that’s out there. So we have a lot of traction within technology. But I believe that’s because that’s where the pace of change is really impacting us right now, tools and technologies are changing so rapidly, that you need some level of signal. And that’s not going to be working its way all the way into like an academic setting or a course where oftentimes you need an industry credential to bridge that gap between the changing technology and the skills needed to be efficient on the job. So, you know, the credentialing, like I said, very much in the healthcare space and financial industry, but where we see a bigger emphasis on it is within technology. That’s a little bit of an unfair statement, because technology, we’re seeing weaves its way into just about every other industry now as well. That’s a good point.


William  16:11

It’s – ever – it’s ubiquitous, it’s everywhere. For the audience, what’s the difference between credentialing and skills testing?


Jarin  16:22

You know, credentialing, the definition of a credential is a third party claim about someone. And so yes, you could use a skills assessment to credential someone, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to. In other words, I can we have groups that are giving out credentials for subject matter expertise, for contributing to say, a hackathon, things that you know, send a signal to an employer, like you participate in a hackathon. Cool, I don’t know what the output was. But that shows that maybe you’re a self-starter, that you’re interested in seeking out new opportunities that you’re okay operating in a state of uncertainty, like you can credential something that doesn’t have a skills assessment and still get a signal out of it, if it’s a nuance, but I think it’s a big difference their skills is ideally credentialing would be in place that you’d have skill validation within that, but the two aren’t one and the same.


William  17:12

So for a number of years, I was off in wandering the desert of user adoption. And one of the things he learned when you study that is user adoption, mostly comes down to training, and communications and change management, a couple other things. But one of the things that I did during that period is I would help people build certifications for their users. So software, you know, if you’re using, you know, pick your favorite ATS, if you’re using that, then getting people over the hump of of certifying their users to understand how to use – leverage best leverage the technology. Do you see that more? Or do first of all A do you agree with that line of thinking, and B, if so, do you see? Or do you think that more software companies should do that for their users or do that with their users?


Jarin  18:11

So yes, absolutely. User certifications to the big part of it kind of emerged, you know, I would say all the way back to Novell in the 80s. And it certifications where they recognize that they were their sales were going down because there weren’t enough trained people in the market to run it. So grew, enterprises would be spending millions of dollars on their software technology, and then not be able to implement it, which created a huge issue for them, and their sales team. And so enter, you know, user adoption, or, you know, user certifications to help bridge that gap, especially when academic institutions at the time were lagging in their ability to train on the newest software, because quite frankly, it was being invented on the spot. And that’s nothing against academic institutions, it was just the reality of where things were at. So I am a huge believer in that we have a lot of groups that do that on our platform. But I believe in that for two reasons. One is because it helps them the right signal to the market about, you know, again, you can efficiently use the software. I’m not saying you’re good at it, but you know where the buttons are and when to push them. But the second is, if I put on like the customer success hat that we get to where if the purpose of the software is to solve a business objective, and the users don’t know how to efficiently leverage it, you aren’t going to get to that end state of solving business problems. And so we’re seeing training and development, especially user training, as like a form of marketing, but also customer success, and really making sure that groups are getting an ROI in the software that they’re purchasing. So big fan of it and part of probably why we’re seeing the amount of growth that we’ve seen over the last year or so.


William  19:45

I love that. So for me, recruiting kinda comes under the three P’s of people, you know the way teams organize, the processes, the thousands of little micro processes that under underneath recruiting. And also the product, the tech stack. Again, can break it down to characteristics of a COVID-era recruiting strategy. What have you, what have you seen in terms of frame and people products? And process? Where have you seen kind of the changes are the most change during COVID?


Jarin  20:22

Well, I would say, I mean, when you’re in the people business, you always got to start with people. Right? So I think people has been one, because you have, you know, industries that overnight almost kind of disappeared to a certain degree or changed, fundamentally changed significantly where the skill makeup changed. And then you have, you know, people that were hesitant, really to make any sort of move for a new career or a different career, given what was going on. I mean, there was a lot of survival and a lot of trying to survive in that thrive, I guess, last year. And so from my observation, people were just much less likely to jump in to the talent pool and test the waters with a new employer. And I think coming out of this, now you have the people side of it with the remote workforce, like, this is the often debated thing, but like, what is it going to look like the office after all this is said and done? And that, you know, like the cats out of the bay, people can be productive companies can still survive with an at home workforce. What does that mean? And even if it’s not the best thing for them? How does that play out? So for me, I look at the people side of it, where you have, you know, new skills are required or industries that were shifted dramatically during it, you have the willingness to take on a new role in the state of uncertainty that everyone was experiencing. And then you have last but certainly not least, like these work from home, and what does that do to the global economy and where I want to work or what employers I want to pursue?


William  21:50

I love that. So the learns of COVID. So let’s go into Credly and into customers. What do you think we’ve learned from a recruiting strategy perspective? Again, we’ve been we’re still in COVID. So technically, we are still learning. So it’s not done yet. But what do you think that we’ve learned? That’ll inform post-COVID?


Jarin  22:17

I think we’ve learned that there can be there’s been undertones of this for a while. But I think we’ve learned that location can be removed as the driving force behind it, right? Like, is location required to they have to be local or not. I think we were seeing that trending in this direction, but it accelerated significantly. So that’s a big lesson learned. I think another one that comes to mind would just be, like I said, missing that face to face those serendipity, you have to be much more intentional about your networking now when you don’t have those opportunities to let it happen for you through events and face to face meetings. And so I would say what we’re finding is that top of funnel is even harder. And you have to be much more intentional about it, which boils down to what we already touched on, which was branding, and how you brand yourself and what are the differentiators if you can’t you know, leverage the free coffee anymore as a selling point for your organization, what are going to be the things and learning and development certainly seems to be a trend that we’re seeing on how to differentiate your organization during that recruiting process.


William  23:20

You know, two questions last. The one is just as you touched on it as culture. We’ve often thought of culture as the office, we’re probably going to be rethinking some of that as we go forward. What do you think, you know, as recruiters sell, I mean, that’s one of the things we’re doing. We’re listening, and we’re, obviously, we’re talking to candidates, we want to want to make sure that there’s a right match and the fit, but we are selling on some level and we’ve sold culture and the way that we’ve defined culture in the past. How do you think that again, during COVID? How do you think that we’ve learned how to sell culture differently? And also, what do you think that that looks like in the future? 


Jarin  24:06

Oh, man, this is one that’s near and dear to my heart. I mean, it is. The culture is hard when you can be in the same physical space, right. And you can use a bunch of the physical space to help drive and reinforce what you’re looking for. I mean, so let’s just kind of take a step back and say it was it was hard before and it’s so much harder now. And trying to understand work-life balance and when our office hours when or not having those boundaries set up in place, but then also finding ways honestly to connect with people outside of a work meeting. In other words, one of the things that I’ve told my team and the thing that I struggle with during all of this is how transactional it’s become with our co-workers. You know, you’re always hopping on a call with the agenda that in mind and an outcome in mind and you don’t have the watercooler the get to know each other on a more personal level, you again have to be much more intentional about finding those ways to have informal meetings and gatherings our team right before the Thanksgiving holiday here, we just kind of had like a get together informal and did breakout rooms and was, you know, probably one of the highlights the second half of last year was having that informal no agenda chance just to connect with each other as humans, and you know, to get any established trust with one another and other things. So I’m getting a little long-winded on this one. But I think, you know, culture is always hard, it always will be hard. Now again, kind of like with some of the other stuff I was saying, you got to be more intentional. And I think we just got to find ways to really bring the humaneness back to the workplace in finding those things with the right boundaries in place. You know, you don’t want to have the other thing that you heard, perhaps, which is I have yet another zoom happy hour. That’s the last thing I need right now or want right now. Trying to try to find that balance with boundaries and also reading the room but I don’t have a great answer on that one. Cuz I just think culture is so hard to get right. And this has only made it harder. Oh, yeah.


William  26:02

Oh, and we’re rethinking everybody’s rethinking the employees, candidates, the executives, everybody’s rethinking kind of what is culture. And that’s, that dates back to what you mentioned about remote work in the future of remote the hybrid workforce, though hybrid workplace, all those things become a bit interesting. Brother, this was fantastic. Thank you so much for carving out time. And it was really interesting to learn a little bit, obviously about Credly. But also, there’s just getting into the weeds of this topic. So thank you so much.


Jarin  26:36

I appreciate the time and I really look forward to maybe chatting again soon.


William  26:40

Absolutely. And thanks to everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

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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