Storytelling about iCIMS Video Studio with Alykhan Rehmatullah

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 81. This week we have storytelling about iCIMS Video Studio with Alykhan Rehmatullah. During this episode, Alykhan and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing iCIMS Video Studio.

Alykhan is an expert in all things talent attraction and candidate engagement. His passion to utilize video to enhance communication and build relationships really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 30 minutes


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William 0:26
Ladies and gentlemen, you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we’re talking to a good friend of mine, Alykhan, and we’re talking specifically about iCIMS Video Studio. He can explain kind of the background of that, and more importantly, what it does and how it impacts their clients, etc. So Alykhan, do us a favor, introduce both yourself and iCIMS Video Studio.

Alykhan 0:51
Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, thanks for having me. Tincup, great to great to connect with you, as always, missed you a lot. So with the video, so if you take a step back, I was the co-founder and CEO of Altru Labs, an employee-generated video technology, and we were acquired by iCIMS in December of 2020. So we’re now part of the iCIMS family and super excited to be here. And we’ve effectively rebranded as the iCIMS Video Studio.

Really what we, what we wanted to accomplish with this specific product and technology is, is twofold, I think, first was how do we enable companies in the era of 2021 that we live in? How do we enable companies to put their people first with regards to how they market their company, their career opportunities, right? We’re in the business of people, of hiring people, so who better than our people in order to, to market what it’s like to work here.

Secondly, what we wanted to do is we wanted to enable really the distribution of when you when you’re able to create employee-generated video content, can you moderate that content as a company? Can you maintain parental oversight and ensure that you still retain ownership of your brand strategy? And also, when I distribute that content?

Well, can we ensure that we can distribute that content on not just my career site, but also my job descriptions also, within my CRM, also within email campaigns, and even social media as well. So that was a big part is how do you create, edit, and distribute content in a really scalable way that comes from your most prized asset as a company, which is your people in order to better engage with candidates?

William 2:39
So again, the acquisition was a wonderful acquisition on both parts, and it brought to bear things that they needed. And so what have you, what have you learned with Video Studio, you’ve obviously when you were running your separate company, you were Swiss, you work with a lot of different players. Now that you’re with iCIMS, you’re really trying to extend into the client base, which thousands of thousands of clients. So, so so you know, you know, how’s that experience been different? And then let’s start digging into the video studio itself. So how was that experience for you just personally, going from being Swiss to now being really deep into the iCIMS ecosystem? Let’s do that first.

Alykhan 3:30
Yeah, absolutely. So from kind of a synergy standpoint are what made this compelling for both organizations is you’re right, you know, we partnered with many career sites and CRM players out there. Almost all of them to be honest, pre-acquisition, we still partner with many of them too. Today, we’re actually what we call platform-agnostic still as a Video Studio Team.

But what I really saw was the scalability. Right? So pre-acquisition, we worked with about 120 enterprise companies that worked with the video studio product, right? Well, iCIMS, to your point has over 4500 companies and clients that they work with today, right? So I saw the ability to really allow us to scale and then allow us to just broaden our impact in a really significant way, in a short, short timeframe. So I thought that was huge.

Secondly, as you’re probably aware, you know, the iCIMS team has a number of different products, right, that they have both created organically and also, you know, as have brought in through M&A as well, right. So you think about products like textRecruit, easyRecrue, you know, there’s a number of different additional technologies that we can now integrate with to further our impact. So that was something that was really compelling for me as well as just how do we broaden our impact within our industry and to serve a larger base of employers and in turn, candidates.

William 5:05
So thanks for that. So for folks that aren’t telling their story, or maybe not using video in the way that they can really, really leverage it. Where do they start so that they are telling their own story, their unique story through video, where do the kind of we’ll do the beginner, intermediate and advanced deal here. But so for beginners, where do they start? Where do you usually suggest that they start?

Alykhan 5:33
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think, you know, even if we take one step back from there, I think it’s important to understand for beginners, right? Why this is important. Right? Why is video so important? So I always point back, I remind my team of this all the time, but Brian Chesky, who’s the founder of Airbnb, has a notion of what he calls the 11-star experience, right? So Airbnb, right? They, when you go into rent an Airbnb, the five-star experience is that you go to the Airbnb, and the door unlocks, and the house is clean, right? And then you leave the Airbnb after a few days, you give five stars, right?

But when you think about that, that five-star experience is a pretty mediocre experience, right? What I just what I just explained. So what Brian challenged his team to do was really look at Okay, what does the six-star experience look like? Okay, well, a six-star experience is you go to the Airbnb. And there’s a note with your name on the table saying, hey, William, super excited to have you. Hope you have a good time, right?

And we’d look at it seven-star experience, well, seven-star experiences, you go to Airbnb, there’s a note on the table, and then the fridge is stocked with your favorite food and drinks, right? And then you kind of keep going into, you know, eight, nine, and he kind of ultimately goes to the 11-star experience. The 11-star experience Airbnb is you go to the Airbnb, or you land in the city. There’s a limo that takes you from the airport to the Airbnb, and, and then there’s a parade with everyone chanting your name welcoming you to the city. And the host has actually booked reservations at the most exclusive restaurants in the city for you and your wife. Right? That is the 11-star experience right.

Now, now what Brian said was, you can’t get to that 11-star experience. But when you kind of project out what six and seven and eight nine looks like? Well, now, the five-star experience doesn’t feel like it’s enough. And you can actually feel like that the seven-star and eight-star experience actually feels like it’s attainable, right? So the reason I bring that up is that when we think about talent acquisition and talent attraction, right? The, quote-unquote, five-star experience as a candidate finds a job and applies to the job, right and gets the application. Well, that’s pretty mundane, right?

The 11-star experience in our space is the candidate actually gets to connect with an employee, one on one, take an office tour one on one with an employee that went to their school that came from the same town as they did has a lot of like related abilities, characteristics to them to make the candidate feel like okay, this is the place for me. Right? But that 11-star experience isn’t very attainable, right? So when we think about the seven and eight-star experience from a candidate perspective, it’s how do we enable our people to get in front of our candidates, albeit asynchronously.

But so the candidates actually have this human connection on where they’re going to spend most of their waking days. Right. So that’s why we really felt it was important. And I think that’s kind of the narrative that you want to craft as a beginner, for your TA teams and your leadership teams to really understand why this is important.

William 8:48
So then let’s move to intermediate, the next, so they got that. They got that they understand that and they’re doing it and probably even thriving at doing it. Then what’s the next layer of advice from the video studio?

Alykhan 9:01
Yeah, so from an intermediate standpoint, right. Let’s say for example, you have a number of employees that have adopted the solution, right, and created videos for you to be able to distribute, well, then you have a, now what moment and a now what moment is actually the inflection point on. Okay, we’ve invested in this, we deployed it across our employee base, they liked it, they created videos, now they’re distributed.

So then what you want to start looking at is okay, when we look at the candidate funnel, right? It’s important to have videos not just on your career site, but also within your job descriptions, right. Then when I applied to the company, the company is going to start communicating with me through email, and the company can create videos based on interview advice to really guide my candidates, the interview process, give them advice, and what happens there is increase the quality of your candidates as they go through that process. Right.

Well then when I go through the interview process, you And I, I get the offer. Well, now the company has to onboard me. And you think about what COVID did with us. So almost a little over a year ago, well COVID made it so that William and I didn’t sit next to each other at work on a daily basis, right. So I didn’t get to come to the office and meet William in person. So now William on my team can create a welcome video. Well, from team members to the candidate, and the business unit vice president can welcome the candidate to the, to the company to the company as well, right.

So when you are able to invoke this human connection at every stage of the process from a candidate becoming aware of your company, to interviewing, to then being onboarded? Well, now, when that employee that candidate turns into an employee, it’s a lot easier for them, and natural for them, to now share their experience with new candidates, new employees, so they are more receptive to creating videos, which then allows companies to scale over time. So we think about, you know, all of the different ways of not just the candidate perspective, but even from a future of work standpoint. How can you book more human connection that allows for both consumption but also creation and collaboration between your employees too?

William 11:10
So now let’s move to advanced and these are the clients that you know, either through Altru, or the video studio, they’re doing groundbreaking stuff. They’re really, they’re on the edge, they got all this? Everything you said on beginner? That’s table stakes, they got that? Sure. Now they’re, now they’re really, really doing some cutting-edge stuff. Give us some examples of what they’re doing on the advanced level.

Alykhan 11:38
Yeah, absolutely. So from an advanced standpoint, there’s a few. There’s a few really interesting tidbits here, right? So we actually have a, we have a feed of content that shows every video that’s created on a minute-by-minute basis, right? So we see all these videos coming in throughout the day. It’s almost like an Instagram-style feed that only sits internally to us right? Now, what happens there is we’re able to see these examples.

And, you know, one example is, you know, when a candidate joins the company becomes an employee, the company will actually reach out to the emergency contacts of that employee. So whether that’s the parents, the siblings, or even the significant other, right husband or wife, and we’ll have them create a video to congratulate the new employee on their new job and wish them luck, right. So now imagine this William, like you come to the office in your first day, and there’s a feed of videos from your children and from your spouse, and maybe from one of your siblings, just talking about how proud they are of you and to wish you luck, right? So we’ve seen like, these new employees, like have tears in their eyes, right? Because it’s the first time that they’re really getting congratulated by their, by their family from a work standpoint. So so that was something that was really, really intriguing.

Another one that was intriguing was, you know, during COVID, many of our clients came to us and said, Okay, well, you know, the same technology that we use today for talent attraction, and for the candidate experience. Well, now that COVID is hit, and everyone is remote, I now have a dual mandate to not just attract my candidates, but also engage my employees, right, they’re missing that form of social connection at work. So one of our clients actually had a virtual talent show that they hosted. So the employees would quite literally record a video of their talent. And they would submit that into the feed. And then all the other employees could vote on who, you know, had some of the top talents, right.

Another example, I think Dick’s Sporting Goods had, was actually I think a consumer marketing campaign they ended up doing, but it was a trick-shot contest, right? Dick’s Sporting Goods obviously, has a number of different athletic products, right, that they say that they sell in person. So they had a basketball trick shot contest, where you would see people throwing footballs into the hoop or springing one of their employees to dunk on the hoop. And it was a national campaign that they ran throughout their employees and I think they ended up turning it into a commercial or something like that as well.

So still a lot of different creative elements from the advanced perspective after you get this going. Once clients understand that you know, video is a form of media, it’s a form of communication, right? So we’re, video is is an asset that is subject matter agnostic, right? And when you kind of really realize that the opportunities are almost endless on how you engage your employees, how you get creative with them, and it’s important to do that now more so than ever because everyone’s remote.

William 14:51
Dude, I could talk to you forever. I got four questions, though. So we went through beginning, intermediate and advanced and you gave us all kinds of great advice. So Let’s start with one question, I know that you’re getting asked and you’ve been asked this for a while now. How does the intersection of diversity and inclusion in video? How do? How do we, how do we navigate that? How do we, how do we use video to open up our funnel?

Alykhan 15:18
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think the biggest thing in how we can help here and where our clients have, have utilized us from a diversity perspective, is quite literally the showcasing right of the diversity within the organization. So it’s one thing to have a landing page and then talk about all your D&I efforts and talk about the employee resource groups that you have that that almost come table stakes now for companies, right, but when you can actually show those employees and when they can volunteer, their perspectives and their stories on how companies have supported them. Right. As diverse employees.

Right, I think too, the Black Lives Matter campaign that happened around this time last year, right? With the George Floyd protests, and we had a number of employees, at our clients and our companies that we work with volunteers to share their story, right and share how they’ve been impacted. And, you know, first, it was an awareness element for other employees, right, that that weren’t necessarily African American, to just better understand and empathize what people were going through at that time. But then secondly, it was also a form of a branding attraction, right to attract those types of candidates to understand that, look, you’re not just accepted here, but you’re encouraged here.

And you are, your ideas are acknowledged, and you’re encouraged, you’re encouraged to invoke change, and ensure that our company lives to the standards that we promised you during the interview process. So those were elements that were you know, not just you know, touching and heartwarming, but just very tangible, right, as you see those stories, and you see how authentic they were, too. To shed some light on really, you know, what companies were just talking about for diversity initiatives, and what companies were actually going the extra mile and acting on them and, and helping them evolve during a really difficult time period for our whole country quite frankly.

William 17:17
It’s something for the audience, it’s something I want to validate from, that I’m hearing from candidates, they want to see people like them in the candidate experience. So somewhere in that experience, whether or not as an Alykhan already kind of said, using video, they want to see people like them. And again, you can cut that any way that you’d like to cut it. But the point is, they want to see people like them. I was talking to some Gen Z folks, did a kind of round table with them and like what do you what are you looking for in a company, you know, that type stuff? And they’re like, yeah, we need I want to see people that are my age. I guess the first that’s the first cut, like I wanna see people my age because if I don’t see people my age, it’s not that I don’t trust it. It’s just, you know, I don’t trust it. But yeah, so for the audience, that is video is just another lever and a way to think of that.

Alykhan 18:12
Yeah, one thing I add to that, too, is, to your point, just echoing that is, you know, when we started the company, we looked at Okay, what are companies creating right now? What types of videos are they creating? What’s the subject matter? And who’s in them. And what we saw that we saw the professional video production, right. And we saw basically the CEO talking about the company. And what I saw was, I saw a TV commercial with the CEO as the main actor in that commercial, right, and while the CEO is great, right? I was a CEO, but look at it, no one that, like your candidates are not going to relate to, you know, a white male man in his 40s with perfect hair and perfect stature. Because that’s not who they are. Right? And they need not just someone that’s young, but just like you said someone that they might be working with, or might be working for, to validate the authenticity of what their experience is going to be like at the company.

William 19:10
Right. So personalization, so yet another topic that I know that you deal with, with folks with video studio, how do you with candidates, and creating kind of personal journeys and personal experiences, they navigate career pages and things like that? How are you starting to kind of think about personalization and or some of your clients are they thinking about personalization?

Alykhan 19:34
Yeah, absolutely. This is a great one. This is very underrated. Right? So and this almost goes back to that beginner intermediate advanced topic that you talked about right? So this is kind of in the beginners will think about Okay, how do we create video, right? And the intermediate people will be like, Okay, well, where else, where can we distribute video? Oh, the advanced companies are saying how do we personalize the distribution and the communication strategy around are candidates, right? So, as we were challenged to do that, with some of our, you know, the companies that we work with, what we started to do was really take in granular data from the videos that were created. So we started to closed caption and transcribe all the contents. So we can index it, right, we started to create tags off of those closed captions and transcriptions right. And having those, you know, primarily basic AI and ML products, allowed us to then personalize where these videos lived within your career site within your job description. So a good example was that if William was an engineer at the company, then he was tagged as an engineer. And his video would then tag into an engineering job description, right. So, our technology would quite literally scan the host site right through the career side of the CRM, and serve up the most relevant video based on all of the texts that appeared in the site and how that matched with all of the tagging in the transcription and closed captions that were established stated in the video, right? So that allowed for just kind of hyper-personalization from a, from a candidate perspective, then what we do is we take that a step further, and we say, Well, now you can AB test these videos, right? You can say, Okay, well, if this is an engineering job description, and Alykhan and William are both engineers, but I want 50% of my candidates to see Williams content, and I want 50% of my candidates to see Alykhan’s content, right. And now, clients, we’re able to AB test the effectiveness of these videos as well, right. And what happens there is, you know, historically, clients have been limited to say, Okay, this person is good looking, and they are dividing, and therefore, that’s a high-quality video, when inherently that’s actually a bias decision, right, based on someone’s perception. So now our clients can actually use data to understand like who wins, quite frankly, from a data from an engagement and conversion standpoint, to give them further validation on what types of videos they should be using, the length of those videos, right, the, whether it should be portrait or landscape, and even how long the video should be as well. So they make these data-driven decisions that are based on all of the analytics that we take in, and the information that we give them as feedback as well.

William 22:22
I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. So we haven’t talked about, and I know that you have this in your brain because you’ve done this for so long. But what are three or four of the things that your clients should avoid with video?

Alykhan 22:41
Yeah, so I think the first element is you want to avoid perfection, right? Perfection, I would say, and I wouldn’t say this, I think I saw or read some, somebody far more intelligent than me, perfection is the enemy of progress, right. And when we think about historically, what our clients have been limited by is professional video production, right? And professional video production is okay, we can we take 15 takes of the video, and we have 15 edits, front and back. And only after six to eight months do we have this video asset for our campaign?

And it’s like, oh, by the way, that campaign, you know, was needed six to eight months ago, right. That campaign is over, quite frankly. So I think what we see is consistency over perfection allows for higher output for our clients, right? Can I put Can I drip a video out every single week on our social channels, instead of dripping the one perfect video out every six months or every eight months? Secondly, the other element that we think about is, especially for these global enterprise companies, you want to ensure you get more diversity of videos from a geographical standpoint. So historically, when you think about the talent acquisition or employer brand teams, right, they might be sitting at HQ, right in, in, let’s say, Detroit, Michigan, right.

But this is a global company that has offices in 30 to 40 countries across the world. And again, historically, clients were limited by professional video production. So you’d like you bring the production team into the office, and they’d film our employees in Detroit, Michigan. Well, now, with the videos, the iCIMS Video Studio, as long as you have a phone or computer, you can participate in this, right. And we also translate all of our content as well from a foreign language perspective, too. So I think just ensuring that you are not limiting yourself to employees from HQ, and allowing to show your global perspective is really really important as well. And then I think the last one I would point to is just ensuring that the narrative is right and your team is bought in on the vision of this right we’re in the first inning quite literally of user-generated video in talent acquisition.

And I like to think that, you know, talent acquisition and talent attraction specifically follows, you know, the trends of marketing in three to five-year lag, right. So this is what I would equate to like influencer marketing, right, which was, which was really, really hot, it’s still in place, but really three to five years ago in consumer marketing. So we really have to show the parallels of how this parallels with a company’s marketing strategy, and the vast opportunity that clients have. Not just externally to candidates, but also internally and the future of work, and what this could, what this could become in the future as well.

William 25:42
I think the one thing I’d tag on and you’ve said it in a way is, is make sure that when you’re creating video that you’re authentic, in the sense that it’s an alignment with your brand. So you create a video and you know, you’re wearing, you know, jeans and a T-shirt, it’s kind of relaxed, it’s a bit, and then all of a sudden, the candidate shows up for the job, and everyone’s in suits. That’s, that’s a pretty easy example of like, not being aligned, like it should be. Any video that you create should just it should be aligned with who the company is. And again, doesn’t matter what it is. I mean, if if, if it’s a Wall Street firm, and we’re, you know, we’re gonna work 120 hours a week, and there is no such thing as work-life balance, and, you know, we’re going to this is this is the bit Well, that’s fine. Like, that’s okay, but then portray it that way.

Alykhan 26:39
Love it. Good. Instead of better.

William 26:40
Last question. You and I are sitting somewhere in January of 2023.

Alykhan 26:49

William 26:50
And it’ll be somewhere fun like Fiji. Yeah.

Alykhan 26:52
Love it. Let’s do it.

William 26:54
Video. What? What is transpired with a video studio between here and then? Where are you taking it?

Alykhan 27:02
Yeah, this is a good one. We’ve got a full product roadmap of many elements that we’re you know, we’re covering. I’ll highlight a few things, right? I think you know, to date, we focused a lot on talent attraction, and candidate engagement, right. And what we saw last year, opportunistically was with everyone remote. Well, we were, we had to replace a lot of in-person meetings, right. And those meetings turned into Zoom meetings. But Zoom meetings are a lot, right? We have to carve out 30 to 45 minutes on each of our calendars in order to have a one on one or you know, in order to discuss anything, right?

But, but in reality, if you think about let’s call, let’s say a one on one, right, which almost everyone has with your manager, instead of us having to carve out 30 to 45 minutes, well, what I could do is I could record my screen asynchronously, and talk you through updates on let’s say, the clients that I’m servicing, or the sales that I’m closing, or the products that I’m fixing, from a bug standpoint, from an engineering standpoint, right. And I can put that into a two-minute video where my screen is being recorded. And my face is in the bottom left or bottom right of the screen, kind of explaining that.

So now what we’re doing is we’re not necessarily moving away from but we’re amplifying what was initially talent attraction and marketing, to communication and collaboration at work, and now impacting the future of work and how people communicate. Right? So not only is it a time savings, but it also allows for you to build the relationship with your employees and your teammates and colleagues in a more effective way. And, you know, I would argue it, it allows for you to then innovate further from a company perspective as well. So I think we’re certainly building tools right now. I can’t share all of them. To think about Yeah, in order to think about how do we impact the future of work as a whole and not just, you know, top of funnel talent attraction?

William 29:05
Well, I love that because it’s also iCIMS vision to help throughout the kind of the talent management lifecycle, and help engage and retain employees and video can then be used in learning. It can be used in performance as you talked about, like, you can see video now, in much broader ways. So, brother, I said a second ago, I could talk to you for hours.

Alykhan 29:32
And then we can just turn that we can turn the videos into NFT’s and call it a day.

William 29:36
Exactly. Yeah, right. I appreciate your time. I know you’re busy. So thank you for carving out time for the audience. And thanks to everyone for listening to the Use Case Podcast.

The Use Case 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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