Storytelling about HamiltonDemo with Yvan Demosthenes
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 146. This week we have storytelling about HamiltonDemo with Yvan Demosthenes. During this episode, Yvan and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing HamiltonDemo.
Yvan is CEO of HamiltonDemo and an expert in all things human capital, recruiting, sourcing and talent acquisition. He has over 20 years of experience in sales, 16 of those within the TA and recruiting space. Yvan has helped companies of all sizes with online advertising, tech integration, DEI recruiting efforts and overall strategy. His passion to help companies source qualified, proven professionals who will propel a business forward really comes through during the podcast.
HamiltonDemo is a veteran-owned business built to help source talent that will move a company in the right direction. The organization offers multiple services, including executive search, diversity recruiting and project-based recruiting. In essence, their goals are to find the best people, build organizational capability, general value and embrace and promote diversity.
A few things we talk about today: What gap did Yvan recognize in the industry that drove the launch of HamiltonDemo? How does the ideal workflow and outcome look when using the platform? What probative questions does Yvan love to hear from potential clients?
There’s more, of course! Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 30 minutes
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Yvan Demosthenes is a Sales Professional with more than 20 years of experience, 16 years within Talent Acquisition and Recruiting. His career has covered various Sales and Management roles. During his career, he has attained several awards from GE, CareerBuilder, Monster.com, and others.Follow Follow
Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen, when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to The Use Case Podcast. Today we have Yvan on from HamiltonDemo. We’re going to be learning about the business and the use case that his prospects and customers make for buying HamiltonDemo. So we’re going to learn all about it. Yvan, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and HamiltonDemo?
Yeah. William, thank you so much. Pleasure to join you today. Again, my name is Yvan Demosthenes. Based here out of Cincinnati, Ohio. And I’ve been in the human capital space going on 18 years, approaching 20 years. Started dipping my toes into human capital, recruiting, talent acquisition, and all things included in that when I joined CareerBuilder. And I like to share with people that my time at CareerBuilder was shortly after the Y2K. Right?
So if you remember that, once the world didn’t end, people were excited and, “Hey, now the internet is a real thing and all these wonderful things that can come from it can happen.” So people started embracing it and people were using career sites for their website page. And they thought that that was going to be the answer to all of their recruiting needs and all of their problems. They were integrating applicant tracking systems for compliance and other reasons. And William, this played well for me because I began to build some really good relationships.
So I would literally come into these companies, which I’ll also add to this, the way that I used to get my appointments were a lot of these HR and talent acquisition people were new to Outlook. And many of them didn’t know how to use Outlook. They were actually really scared to ask for help because they didn’t want to be discriminated against. So the way that I would get a lot of my appointments is that I would promise them that I would come in and teach them and no one else would be the wiser. And in exchange, they’d let me have some of their time and share all the great things that CareerBuilder had to offer.
Oh, that’s genius. And CareerBuilder has historically been known for having a wonderful sales team, the actual team that supports the client, even today. It’s kind of crazy when you fast forward twenty-something years and they’re still known for that. They’re still great at that, that team approach. So fantastic.
And tell us a little about HamiltonDemo.
Well, William, I’m glad you said that because I’ve been in sales for 30 plus years and I will have to admit to anyone who asks me that CareerBuilder was literally the best sales environment that I’d ever been in. It’s everything that you read about sales and what you dream a sales environment would be like, that’s what it was. Every man and every woman in the company was responsible for closing deals. It wasn’t just you. If the receptionist got a call, it was her responsibility to close that deal. If you called customer support or customer service, and there was an opportunity, it was their responsibility to drop everything that they had to help you close a deal. It was magnificent. So that definitely rings true and resonates with me what you shared.
What a great environment to grow up in.
Yeah. So yeah, after CareerBuilder, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to go on to monster.com and then a company called Professional Diversity Network, which if you’re familiar with it, they started off as iHispano, which was one of the first professional networking platforms. They were created before LinkedIn came into existence and they focused on Spanish speaking and Latino professionals.
Yeah. Pretty magnificent stuff. So William, as you know, I’m a Black person living in America. I’m originally from Haiti. So diversity has always been a big part of my life. So as I approached these contacts and made relationships and traveled from company to company and working with enterprise organizations, everything from Macy’s to Amgen to Walmart and everything in between, people started trusting me and asking me for advice and insight on things, not only on best job postings or how to post a job, but also help with integrating their applicant tracking systems. Again, going back to Y2K, some of us remember when some of these companies were posting jobs on their career site, one of the questions that they would ask was, “What is your social security number?” Right?
So it took some time for organizations to realize maybe that was a little bit too much too quick, let’s get someone to express interest before you asked for their first born. Because that’s what it felt like at the time. You had a website and you were new to the internet, and the first thing that they wanted you to do before you applied to the job was include your social security number. Right? And then all these companies wondered why they weren’t getting any applications on their career sites. So some of the things that happened there continual opportunities to integrate onto their applicant tracking system, their other technology. I was asked for some insight and help with diversity recruiting and other things that had to do with diversity and inclusion. We call it diversity, equity and inclusion now. But yeah, back then, I was in a fascinating point in time where I was able to build relationships even deeper than what you might imagine would be the opportunity for others. So I was very grateful for that, was very successful.
And then one day it just played out that it was time for me to go out on my own, and created HamiltonDemo. And I created HamiltonDemo with my business partner, Shawn Hamilton, who is an Air Force veteran. And I like to boast that we are a certified veteran owned business through the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Oh that’s fantastic.
As a VBE, we always want to make sure we share that with others. And although we are primarily B2B, pretty much every day we have friends, family, contact, partners who forward and refer individuals to us to provide guidance and help. So that’s a nice little pipeline because depending on what jobs we have available and what we’re trying to place at the time, having that pipeline really, really helps us out because we not only like to help veterans, we like to help family members as well and active military. I shouldn’t minimize that because there are a lot of people in the military now who are with the National Guard, whose families are traveling with them, they need some assistance sometimes connecting with the right opportunities as well. So we’re happy to be there and help whether with resume writing, referring them to someone else, or just helping them on LinkedIn, how to promote themselves on that platform or anything else.
So when you looked at the market, when you first started, you and your partner, when y’all first started, what was the gap that you saw that you said, “You know what? We need to fix this? This is a problem. And we need to step in, services, technology, et cetera, we need to step in and help with this problem.”
Well, William, I’ve kind of alluded to that and it hasn’t really changed. If anything, the gap has gotten wider. And it’s automatization, right? Autotomizing this process has really hindered, I think, the entire talent and talent acquisition approach. And I remember in my mind, William, if you can go back in time with me again, I believe this was accelerated, it was inevitable, but it was accelerated around the banking crisis around ’08, ’09.
Because when I started, the philosophy and approach was that companies allocated, budgeted and spent whatever they had to spend to acquire talent, to attain talent. That meant posting on every single job board that was under the sky and tapping into as many resources to create pipeline and support their referral process, they were going to do it. It wasn’t even a question. And around the banking crisis, I personally saw a transition where people were trying to shoot more with an arrow, trying to hit a bullseye with one arrow rather than just casting a wide net. And in addition to that, they were trying to do it with fewer people, fewer hands on deck, and the way that they justified this is that they could use technology to automate much of the process, slash steps within that process, including rather than bringing and selling and promoting their brand, they were going to use the technology to match and identify candidates through that process.
So now you have one or two people doing what used to take 5, 6, 10 people. And so having such a reliance on automation, I have a philosophy that when you deal with people, you can’t get rid of people. Right? People need people to execute when it comes to human capital and people. And so with the gap there, we try to include as much of that personal interaction. And although we automate as well, we like to think that our automation has more of a human element to it. We’re actually touching and feeling the candidates and massaging them. We’re relying on more human intuition and perspective. William, it’s the good old eyeball test. Right?
Rather than just sending a pipeline of candidates through an ATS and having your recruiters or your hiring managers be hypnotized going through tons of resumes with scores beside them that either match or don’t match, I think we rely on that so much that that’s the opportunity that we saw. And we’ve been pretty successful in the past three and a half, four years in delivering to our clients.
I love that. So on the HR/TA budget, what category do folks either place you in or the line item that they put you under?
Yeah. So William, we really like to think that we can help organizations with anything and everything from hourly to the boardroom. And in addition, we’re open to project work, and we’ve done quite a lot of project work. And that approach is really because we’re still a new business, we’re still a startup. So we want to capture and execute on as many opportunities as we can handle. And as I shared with you before, the past three and a half years, four years have been very successful for us. But I will say, although my network and my sweet spot in my career has been with enterprise companies that I mentioned, our revenue has primarily come from small and medium sized companies.
Why do you think that is?
Oh, you know what? I don’t know. We’re trying to figure out. And actually, William, this is pretty recent where we identified that. The big boys want to want us to prove ourselves before they kick another provider out. They’ve already got their established vendors or those that they utilize. So there’s a lot more bureaucracy going on, even though they know me. But to bring me on, I’ve got to bump somebody out. And then once I bumped them out, or right before I do, there’s some trial periods and all that stuff. Which is great. We’re here for the end goal. But I will say this too, is when we started, we did not realize that the pandemic was going to fall upon us. And I can see from the activity on my end, small and medium-sized businesses has really kept this country afloat in the past year, year and a half.
100%. Seeing the same thing.
Yeah. And although everybody’s looking for talent, I think the small and medium sized companies are not set up for recruiting. So they’re willing to execute at a lot quicker pace. Something that might take several months to have a transaction where you can begin an engagement, it’s taking only a few weeks with these small and medium size companies, and you can get started right away.
Well, take us into, again, without naming names of course, but take us into your last or your most recent customer win and where you played and the workflow and who you worked with and kind of what are the outcomes.
Yeah. Well, there’s been a couple of them, right? So I’ll give you two really different stories where we were working with a financial company and they’re a player on the west coast, and they were doing some pretty good things. And we found a candidate that, to be quite honest, William, probably did not fit the persona that they were looking for. This individual that I identified was overqualified, but he is approaching 70 years old. And embracing diversity as we do, we include not just racial diversity, but, LGTBQ people, people with disabilities, socioeconomic, and people 55 and older, and all others as well. We want to embrace everybody. So this individual had a need because, unfortunately, he had a loss, he lost his wife and recently became a widower and he still had children he had to support and he had to reenter the workplace. And this opportunity not only was convenient, but he was way, way overqualified. But he was willing to do it because he just needed something to sustain himself since the situation had arisen in his personal life.
Well, long story short, after going back and forth with the organization whether they should interview him or not, they had their senior person interview this individual, and I’m happy to say they gave him an offer and hired him on. And life is great for everybody, right? So I love being the hero. I love when the opportunity to show what can happen when you fish in different ponds, when you look at different people. And I’m a huge, huge advocate of creative persona. But sometimes, as we all know, your persona can change, right? The person that you thought you were looking may still be that person, but there are others that can do the same job or even more than you had thought before.
100%. Well, and you’re opening up the minds of the recruiters that you work or hiring managers or the owners, in some cases, the people that are doing the hiring, you’re opening their minds. By opening their minds you’re saying, “Listen, inclusion isn’t just kind of a fad. It’s a way of looking at talent a little bit different way.”
“There’s all kinds of this talent that’s out there that we’re just not leveraging.”
And we’re going to need to, right?
William, I’ll share with you in addition to that, the recruiter never even got back to me. I had to ping them a couple of times. And they were like, “This person we’ll never interview because they’re way to qualified.” And I’m like, “I’ve already vetted and discussed this opportunity and they are looking forward to chatting with you. They are aware of the salary, the situation, the hours. They want to work for you. They admire your company that much.” And so if you don’t mind me getting off topic, yeah, I’ll go off topic for just a little bit because we all know about the brain drain going on in this country. I had lunch with someone from a university that we’re working on a project right now with, and he shared with us that there are not enough kids in high school that are approaching graduation to fill all the seats that colleges and universities in this country have available.
So something is going to happen. So what translates to me is that brain drain and finding people. There’s not enough people in this country at this point to fill all the roles and all the jobs that we have open. And what does that mean for our economy? Number one. And more importantly, as a recruiter, you can’t rely on the things that you’ve done the past five, 10, 20, 30 years. You’re really going to have to change your approach if you have any hope of even sustaining what you’re doing now.
So let me ask two questions real quick. One is questions that you love to hear from buyers or prospects. So when you’re talking to them, the probative questions that they ask you, what do you just love to hear? Just these are the questions that they should be asking. And pricing is always going to be relative, and I don’t want to get into the dollars and cents, but just give the audience a sense of pricing and your philosophy around pricing.
Yeah. So William, I’m a salesperson. So my favorite question is when they ask me, “When can you start?” That’s my favorite.
And equally as [crosstalk 00:22:48] here is, “When can you send the agreement over?”
Yes, yes, yes.
Those are my favorite. I will tell you that some of the things that they ask that are a tell sometimes that I may not be the right person, what resonates more, is when they’re really trying to dig in to my secret sauce.
And we all go through that and it is a balance. So I think with people that have more experience in this industry, they understand, and their ears are listening for certain things that you’re saying to know that you’re real, yeah, we’re in a space where there are lots of options and some are newer and better than others. There’s a full range of providers out there with varying degrees of success. And I think I try to share as much as possible without actually giving the recipe. Because if we were to give the recipe, in one sense, it’s taken us a long time to identify and cultivate the secret recipe, so all these networking events that I’ve been to, all these association meetings across the country that I’ve attended, all these diversity meetings and professional meetings, you pick up contacts, they have friends who have friends and networks and partners. And so you can’t replicate that.
I think you could almost give them the secret sauce and just go, “Here’s the secret sauce. You’re curious. Go ahead. Here it is. I have a fantastic network that I’ve built over 30 years. It’s not only huge, it’s also very engaged and I am a pay it forward type of guy. So I’ve done a lot of favors for people. And then I can ask for favors from people. So there you go. There’s the secret sauce. Done.”
Well, so William I’ll share what happens after that is nine times out of 10, they think they can replicate it [crosstalk 00:25:19]. Yeah, they think they can do it. They’ve got six months to a year to do it. And I think since they can’t do it, they relate it that it doesn’t work.
Uh-huh affirmative). No, it was built over time.
Built over time. And over time, these relationships are there and they’ve been identified and I can tap into whatever vein I need, depending on the opportunity.
Yeah, that’s right. Because again, I know you, you also do a lot of favors for folks. So when people ask you, you’re like, “Oh yeah, absolutely. You need to know Ashley. Happy to help.” Because that’s how you do networking. You can’t replicate that overnight. You can’t replicate that in six months. That’s actually the benefit of doing it and doing it correctly for 30 something years is that you get to a certain point where it’s zen-like. And if anybody thinks that they can do that overnight, that’s almost a tell that they-
Yeah, it really is. And you know what? There’s part of me that realizes too that maybe it’s a bit of a blessing because maybe that would not be a good fit.
100%. 100%. I used to look for the words, back when I owned an ad agency, in the sales process the words were fast, easy, and cheap. And if the prospect ever said fast, easy or cheap… No, I’m serious. I’m really being serious. If they ever said any combination or any of those words individually, I’d shut down the sale.
And I’d tell them like, “Hey, you said fast. So here’s the deal, you have no idea how long things take from the creative process to the final product. So when you say fast, you’re actually being disrespectful accidentally. You’re not doing it on purpose. You’re not trying to hurt my feelings. I get it.”
Not intentional. Yeah, it’s not intentional. Or William, are they? Are they trying to hurt your feelings?
Yeah, of course they are. “So here’s the deal, when you say fast, you’re already disrespecting me and I’m not going to push that boulder uphill. So you know what? Let’s part right now as friends and we’ll go in our separate directions and we’ll be friends and no worries. You’ll go find somebody that will listen to fast, easy, and cheap. But I won’t.”
And William, that’s full circle, right? Because they’re in an autotomized mindset, for the most part. And they’re many times ignoring an important element that you need to consider when making that recipe for the secret sauce. And that’s the candidate experience. I got to tell you, it blows my mind over and over again that even some of the more seasoned recruiters have totally forgotten or ignored the candidate experience. It blows my mind.
Oh yeah. Well, for years we’ve just taken it for granted.
It’s like, “Oh yeah, there’ll be enough candidates. There’ll be an abundance. We’ll put out the job, we’ll get 10,000 people to apply to a job.” Which is ethically and morally not the right thing to have done then when there were a surplus, but when there’s scarcity, it’s absolutely not the right thing. So if it’s not top of mind right now for everyone from sourcing all the way to hiring managers, you’re living with dinosaurs. But Yvan, I got to let you get back to your work.
Oh, no. William, I thought we were going to stay on this call and interview more for another three or four hours.
Brother, seriously, we could talk. Now we could get into it. We can get into some fun stories, but-
Yeah we could. I’ll tell you what, my friend, let’s do this again. Promise me. Whether it’s later this year, next year, I would love to pick up where we left off.
And I love having you on. And thank you so much for being on. And thanks for everyone listening to The Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
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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.