You forget that somehow, life can pass you by if you let it. And even though this business has become my life, it’s still hard for me to take a step back and realize that it’s really been five years – that’s an eternity, in internet time.
It’s been 5 years since what seemed at the time to be a simple, interesting idea has not only become a reality, but evolved from a true passion project into a real business that I’m truly passionate about.
While I’m excited at where we’re going and proud of what we’ve managed to do, I think it’s only apropos to take a moment and take a look back at what, the hell, exactly, happened over the blink of an eye that was the first half a decade in the life of RecruitingDaily.
The Dayz of Wayback: The Birth of A Blog.
It all started with an idea I had to write a training blog. You see, I had launched Novo Medical Careers, which at the time was a startup recruiting firm specializing in healthcare; this was a pretty big step for me after spending 10 years inside of a major agency.
By that point, I knew I knew how to recruit, and was damn good at it, too. But after working a desk for years, then running a small team, and then the most productive team in the firm with 2 million dollar billers, I wanted more.
I wanted to focus on bringing new strategies and the cutting edge of tools, technology, and services to a space badly in need of innovation. Enter 2007.
Looking back, here’s some advice: if you’re smart enough to see an economic downturn coming, at least short the damn thing first. Then, you’d better hold the hell on and hope that you survive the ride.
The recession hit me hard, like it did for most recruiters. But I soon found myself with a new and unfamiliar luxury – an open schedule. This meant for the first time in a long time, I actually had time to slow down and learn, instead of simply speeding through another search.
This downtime led me to partner up and get more involved in our family business, and dedicated myself to learning everything I could about direct marketing. I found ways to bring direct marketing to recruiting teams and enjoyed the work. Even as I dove in deep, though, I found myself really missing the days of working with, training and developing teams of recruiters.
One of my colleagues (and close friends), Tim Spagnola, who recruited with me at Novo Medical, heard me lamenting how badly I missed the talent trenches, and it turned out that I had a kindred spirit. Eventually, together, we developed an idea. It was pretty simple, really.
We both longed for the days where we’d grow the skills – and careers – of our respective recruiting teams. So if we couldn’t actually roll up our sleeves and do the sort of hands on recruiter training we’d become so adept at over the years, well, the least we could do is write about it.
So, we made a decision. We were going to create a blog.
Approach To Danger: If You’re Not, They Are.
I don’t know that we knew exactly what that entailed, at the time, only that we had a vision to create a spot where everyone who’s somehow connected to recruiting, from in-house practitioner to agency recruiter to hiring manager – really anyone who recruits in some way – could find relevant content with actionable action items and tangible takeaways that would somehow feed their success.
That could be personally, or professionally. The only thing that mattered to us is that we provided the most value we could through the best content we were capable of.
So, we created RecruitingDaily.com.
Fast forward one year. We’d done a ton of writing and a hell of a lot of social promotion, more or less with mixed results, before somehow stumbling onto a site called RecruitingBlogs.com and Jason Davis.
It was, at the time, one of the most vibrant and engaged communities we’d seen on the internet, recruiting or otherwise – and we fell in love with that energy.
It was like they’d pretty much already accomplished much of what we’d set out to do. The site was full of real recruiters working on real reqs exchanging real shop talk and real war stories, sharing best practices – and, in many cases, developing fairly impressive followings.
Many of the most active practitioners during the early days of Recruiting Blogs eventually graduated to their own sites, their own brands, and their own communities – the result of becoming what can only be referred to as “internet famous,” which for some reason wasn’t really all that hard for many of Recruiting Blogs’ top contributors and most popular community members.
Many of the biggest “influencers” out there today got their start writing for Recruiting Blogs, and I’m damn proud of what our alumni have gone on to do – and what our still active membership continues to contribute.
What was unique about Recruiting Blogs back then (and even more so now) is that this was one community where everyone felt a shared ownership and responsibility for more or less keeping the site running.
Recruiting Blogs, for Tim and myself and so many others, was something whose success really mattered to us, and that we truly felt belonged to us – and where we truly belonged, too.
Something Like That.
This was all well and good, of course, until I was sitting on vacation in St. Kitts, where I just happened to notice that the site’s then owners had listed the property for sale.
I knew immediately, at that exact moment, that this was something that I needed to do.
It wasn’t a question of if. Somehow, at that moment, for reasons I still don’t completely understand, I’d already decided on jumping in.
Looking back, it seems kind of crazy. On what was little more than a whim, Tim and I basically pooled together our cash savings and purchased the domain and its assets from Jason Davis in 2011.
We were the proud owners of the coolest online property in recruiting, even if we were broke – and had no idea what in the hell we were doing.
Overnight, we went from running RecruitingDaily, where we were lucky to log a thousand views a month (on a good month) to operating a site with thousands of views every day, with literally thousands of contributors and tens of thousands of active commentators and community members. It was like drinking from a firehose and the learning curve of playing in the proverbial big leagues proved steep, to say the very least.
We found ourselves headfirst in stuff like banner ads, social media sharing, SEO and tagging, editing and formatting blog posts – yeah.
Let’s just say we were a bit out of our element. Recruiting, sourcing, interviewing? Simple.
But when it came to digital marketing, we were really just figuring it out as we went along, and somehow, we figured it out. We busted our asses, but it was worth it. We loved sitting at what felt like the very heart of the recruiting industry.
It was like somehow, we were making a difference – and we could make sure the site stayed true to its roots and original spirit as a site for recruiters, by recruiters.
We didn’t want to change the stuff that made Recruiting Blogs special. But we eventually got to the point where we realized that we could actually do more, step up our game and take our community, our content and its collective reach to another level.
It was, at the time, one of the hottest markets for HR technology and recruiting tools ever, with exponential growth and a booming ecosystem throughout what was emerging as one of the most important topics for talent professionals today.
Coming out of specializing in healthcare recruiting for a niche agency, we pretty much used our proprietary database, the email, and a phone.
The possibilities these new tools represented were exciting to us, but frankly, we had no idea how to figure out the staggering amount of technology out there.
We kept making hundreds of calls a day, knowing there was a better way out there, and knowing our limitations in terms of being able to cover what then was a much less mature and much more nascent industry.
That’s why I consider ourselves so lucky that right at that exact period in our company’s growth, RecruitingTools.com and its repository of world class sourcing content and recruiter training became available, right at about the exact same time Ryan Leary mentioned his interest in working with us.
Ryan had already developed a reputation as one of the most gifted sourcers and creative thinkers in recruiting, so when he said he was interested in becoming part of the team, we did what we could to get him onboard.
In fact, we stayed up all night putting together a deal that would work. Eventually, it did, but not without a whole lot of work. Ryan and I spent the next months getting the sites up to date, the brands aligned, and developing our content and contributors .
We rebuilt our properties and created something that was clearly the next generation of RecruitingDaily, but one that nevertheless remained completely true to the original vision Tim and I had when we first started the site.
I had happened to be in Vegas for the 2012 HR Technology Conference, coincidentally the same week as the bachelor party of the buddy of mine – and since I was already going to be out there, I figured I’d check out the conference and see what the buzz was about.
What I saw, turned out, looked a lot like a big, big opportunity for growing our business and our brand.
We were ready to take the next step. By some slight chance, as well a rave recommendation (obviously, I was lied to), I reached out to Matt Charney. We all knew him to be the up-and-coming talent writing in our space, and, pretty clearly to us, at least, one of the thought leaders who would be helping shape our space for a very, very long time.
That next year, for the 2013 HR Technology Conference, I was trying to really raise our presence and profile there. So, I called Matt up and asked if he’d cover HR Tech for us – write a few articles, cover which tools and tech looked cool, live tweet from sessions, you know – that sort of standard thing.
From the time Matt joined us as the editor, RecruitingBlogs.com and RecruitingDaily.com took off in terms of both traffic and influence – and with smart content challenging the status quo, we quickly became among the industry’s top brands and most trusted resources.
100 Miles and Running.
We’ve stuck with our original aim, the one Tim and I agreed on all those years back, to create a differentiated, honest voice that’s not afraid to talk about the real issues that really matter in talent, recruiting, sourcing and HR. And in remaining true to that mission, even as we’ve evolved, something pretty special has taken shape.
We’ve grown from a blog into a business, from a content site into a true global community – both online, and offline, through partnership with Bill Boorman and the #TRU events to the upcoming #HRTX series of events we’re hosting all over the world, through our advisory work with some of the industry’s hottest startups and coolest technology to our commitment to comprehensive coverage of the trends, tech and topics that matter most in talent today – and tomorrow.
It’s been five years this month since we first started RecruitingDaily. We’ve got a world class team helping lead us every day. I am so lucky to have partners like Matt and Ryan, and a family of all stars like Katrina Kibben, Bill Boorman, Jackye Clayton, Alexis Gingerella, Blake McCammon and, if that wasn’t big enough, say hello to Joel friggin’ Cheesman and William f-ing Tincup.
We’re confident that we have the best lineup of talent in the industry, but we continue to look for new names and fresh voices to add to the RecruitingDaily lineup – and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow, and evolve, our company. We’re lucky enough to get to do what we love every day, and I feel fortunate that risk we took to buy this business has reaped so many rewards.
Looking back, there have been a lot of challenges and failures along the way, but with hustle and a positive attitude, we’ve succeeded – and as a business owner, I’ve got to credit that to the fact that we’ve got a team of people who care about this industry – and each other – very, very deeply.
We’re a family, connected by a passion and a purpose, and we can’t thank you enough for caring enough to keep coming back to support our work, our vision and our commitment to always adding value for our readers, and helping be an integral part of their recruiting success. Over the years, you’ve consistently been the biggest reason for ours.
That’s why I want to say to say, simply, after 5 years: “thank you.”
We can’t do this without you. So thanks for being a part of RecruitingDaily. We appreciate it more than you can know.
To that end, I’m going to leave you with a quote that’s been running through my head that I think sums up RecruitingDaily pretty well.
“You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge…”
– N.W.A., Straight Out of Compton.
That’s what’s up.
Here’s to five amazing years so far – and I can genuinely say to you, as proud as I am of what we’ve accomplished here at RecruitingDaily, the best truly is yet to come – and we hope you can come with us and see why I’m so damned excited about the future.
About the Author: Noel Cocca oversees the business end of Recruiting Daily as CEO, using his powers as a master negotiator and his entrepreneurial experience from years spent running an executive search and staffing firm focused on healthcare recruitment to oversee budgeting, billing and the bottom line.
Noel is a huge recruiting and technology geek who splits his time between hitting the slopes as an avid skier and raising the two best kids in the world.