The Full Desk Experience

On this episode, host Kortney Harmon and guest Jay Brunetti dive deep into the intricacies of the staffing industry with a specific focus on the power of a niche market. Jay Brunetti, founder of Hire Alliance—a consultancy serving staffing companies, talent acquisition departments, and HR teams—shares invaluable insights from his extensive experience in the industry.

In this episode, we'll explore the importance of staying disciplined within your niche to maximize success and the pitfalls of trying to be a jack of all trades. Jay also provides strategic advice for geographically expanding your client base.

We'll discuss why chasing the next "hot" industry might not be as beneficial as focusing on your core strengths and existing clients, and emphasize the significance of meaningful conversations and the value of verbal communication in building strong relationships. Jay also highlights the alarming trend of over-reliance on AI and automation, urging staffing firms to bring back the human touch that adds genuine value to candidates and clients alike.

Get ready for actionable strategies and thought-provoking discussions on empowering your team, effective leadership, and the future of the recruiting process. Tune in for a wealth of knowledge that could transform how your firm operates in today’s competitive landscape.
 Follow Jay Brunetti on LinkedIn:
Follow Crelate on LinkedIn:
Subscribe to our newsletter:

What is The Full Desk Experience?

Welcome to The Full Desk Experience, a podcast for leaders in the staffing and recruiting industry. Hosted by Kortney Harmon, Director of Industry Relations at Crelate, this show is designed to provide insights and tips from a highly knowledgeable consultant in the field.

Join us live (or catch the replay) in our Workshop series, where Kortney delivers expert advice and actionable tips for you to take to your firms immediately.

In the Industry Spotlight series, Kortney interviews industry experts and leaders, highlighting their journeys to success and key insights into the staffing and recruiting industry.

Don't have an hour to dedicate to a podcast? Listen in to our FDE Express - where you'll get quick-hit insights and tips in 10 minutes or less.

With new episodes dropping weekly, this is the perfect opportunity to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the industry. Don't miss out - join us for The Full Desk Experience today! If you'd like to attend the live session, be sure to visit our website for more information.

Jay Brunetti [00:00:00]:
And I think, interestingly enough, I think it's getting back to the phone call. It seems archaic, right? And you're like, oh, I mean, I'm not going to cold call people like, that's so 1995. And it's like, yeah, but guess what? If no one's doing it and you're the only one doing it now, as your competitive differentiators, you're actually having conversations with more people. And so I think those firms that stick to monitoring conversations, because that's really what matters to me, is how many conversations do we have today and who were they with and what were those conversations about? It's not just having the conversation. There has to be a value proposition in there somewhere.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:37]:
Hi, I'm Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. This is the industry spotlight, a series of the full desk experience, a curlate original podcast. In this series, we will talk with top leaders and influencers who are shaping the talent industry, shining a light on popular trends, the latest news, and the stories that laid the groundwork for their success. Welcome back to another episode of the full Desk experience. Industry spotlight. Welcome to another episode of the full Desk experience. I'm your host, Kortney Harmon, and we are here to explore the world of talent acquisition, recruiting, staffing. And today I have the pleasure of hosting Jay Brunetti.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:26]:
He is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in our industry. Jay is the founder of Higher Alliance, a consultancy dedicated to serving staffing companies, talent acquisition departments, human resource teams, and professionals in the talent industry. So with his background and really the deep understanding of our industry and the challenges faced by recruiting firms, Jay's really well positioned to share his insights and advice. And in this episode, we're going to be exploring the ever evolving landscape of recruiting industry and strategies firms can adopt to thrive in today's competitive job market. Jay, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so excited to have your insights for this episode. So tell us a little bit more about what I didn't cover, how you got to where you are today, and a little bit more about hire alliance.

Jay Brunetti [00:02:16]:
Sure, no problem. Thanks for having me. And thanks for saying seasoned and not old as dirt, because that's the nicer way to say old, but yeah. So I started higher alliance in 2000, the end of 2003, beginning of 2004, and I have a partner, Dave Kamel. The two of us have been at it for 20 years, you know, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. And you haven't killed each other, which is also amazing. But the idea came from just a quick history of higher alliance. I grew up in staffing.

Jay Brunetti [00:02:43]:
I was a recruiter placing tech people in the nineties. And I just remembered, like, a year into the job, I was like, I don't even know if I like this job, but I don't have anyone really to talk to about it. Like, here I was giving advice to tech people all day, which I really wasn't qualified to do, you know, as a 24 year old giving advice to 34 year olds about what they're supposed to do with their lives. But it occurred to me, I was like, I just, where's my recruiter? You know, like, if I have questions, my boss is just going to tell me to shut up and make more calls. My peers didn't really know anything more than I did, so that's when it started in my brain, like, hmm, maybe there's something here. And then at my firm, they created a role, and this is in the nineties. So it was kind of a unique and really a visionary move by the owners where they wanted me to move off the desk and hire everybody internally. So I became kind of like a talent acquisition person for a staffing firm, which, again, in the nineties wasn't a thing, but very popular now.

Jay Brunetti [00:03:35]:
But back then, you didn't see that. So I was excited because it was an opportunity to put my mark on something and create and help the company grow in different ways than just placing tech folks. So then I also started doing that. I realized, well, this is really, it's hard finding good people. So I had that first thought of, where do I go to get my advice as a staffing professional? So the recruiting side of the desk and then trying to hire people, I'm like, this is hard. And if I'm dedicated to do it, what are these other staffing firms? How are they finding their people? Right? Because typically, staffing firms don't have robust HR departments, and they just find people by falling into them. You know, it just, they bump into somebody like, hey, you'd be good at staffing. Come on in.

Jay Brunetti [00:04:16]:
And that's how they would hire. So those ideas put them together. And then in 2003, went off on my own and joined up with Dave, and we started staffing the staffing industry. And it was, again, at the time, very novel. Most people were like, I'd have to spend a lot of time explaining it, right? They're like, so wait a minute, you're calling to help us find people? Like, you know, you're not looking for a job? Are we placing you? What's going on here? And I'm like, look, it's like the landscaper that doesn't do their own lawn because they're busy doing everyone else's lawn. I'm going to come in and help you find your people. And so that's how it started. And it grew into staffing the staffing industry, but also bled into the talent acquisition world where we place corporate recruiters and internal ta folks and stuff like that.

Jay Brunetti [00:04:53]:
So that's kind of how it started. And we've kind of had this business now, like I said, for 20 years. And we are primarily in New England. We do a little bit up and down the east coast. We've got some clients in Raleigh, Charlotte, Miami, and stuff like that. But the 75, 80% of what we do is in, really, Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, Rhode island is where our focus is.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:14]:
I love that. And it's as we're in the business, either working on the business or in the business, and as we're in these staffing and recruiting roles, we often forget to put the emphasis on that internal audience, whether it's fostering our own people internally for career growth or staffing around people, like, it's that audience that often gets left back on the back burner. We're doing that for our clients daily, but we forget about doing that for ourselves. I love that.

Jay Brunetti [00:05:39]:

Kortney Harmon [00:05:40]:
So from your perspective, let's just dive in. You've seen a lot of recruiting firms and staffing firms. What are the biggest mistakes or missteps that you're seeing people make in today's current job market? Let's dive right in.

Jay Brunetti [00:05:54]:
Yeah. You know, it's. I think what I see a lot, and it's going to sound simple, but it's. Is complicated, is I think firms have got a little lost, especially nowadays, in AI and technology and automation. Right. It's definitely taking over. And then the human element has kind of taken a backseat. And I think at the end of the day, we're still a people.

Jay Brunetti [00:06:16]:
You know, we're a business where a human being has to talk to another human being about another human being. Right. I mean, there's three human beings involved, ideally, and, and all these setups. There's the candidate, there's the client, and then there's us in the middle. So I think what I've seen is that especially over the last four years, from 2020 to now, is the level of value on both sides, the value that we're giving to the candidates, and the value that we're giving to the clients has really suffered. I think it's just, we're not. Think about this. If you've got four years or less of experience, and four years is a good number, that's not like a rookie.

Jay Brunetti [00:06:53]:
You're not seasoned back to old guys. But four years is a good amount of experience to be in any industry, and you're considered to be certainly mid tier on your way to be senior. But if you've got four years, the last four years, it's been wacky town in staffing. 2020 was crazy for everybody. 21 and 22 were some of the most robust years staffing has ever seen. But what happened there was skills eroded because you didn't really need to try that hard to get openings. I mean, they were falling out of the sky. And I know a lot of candidates that I've worked with over years, they had their best years in 21 and 22.

Jay Brunetti [00:07:29]:
Some people that have got 15 years of experience had their best years in 21 and 22, and then 23 came back down to earth. But it took a lot of firms a whole year to realize how bad 23 was. Right. And then they wake up now in 2024, and they're like, oh, boy. Yeah, this is really hard, you know, in this business, and a lot of. So if you've got that four years of experience, you may be in a situation where you've never really been taught, trained, coached on how to really add value in the business. You could pick up a phone and guys like, I need seven engineers. Okay, no problem.

Jay Brunetti [00:08:00]:
And then that's the end of the client call. And then you find seven engineers, and they were hiring these folks. So I think the misstep that I see is the focus on real high level training for recruiters and salespeople on how to add value. What is it that you're bringing to the table that can help the candidate from an advice standpoint, whatever niche you're in. And the same thing on the client side, that's a void, I think, that needs to be filled, or people are just going to struggle. Right. They're not going to be able to really make the inroads they need to make to develop relationships on the client side or Canada side, that you need to have to be able to do this.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:34]:
Okay, you talked about COVID Obviously, we're all remote. We all figured out how to work remotely at some point in time. Do you think it's a result of the training in the past was come sit and listen to our top performer in the bullpen, and you see that and that's kind of dissipated. Now, don't get me wrong. You can hear calls, record calls, but it's not like learning through osmosis, hearing those things. Or do you think it's beyond that? Do you think it's more?

Jay Brunetti [00:08:56]:
I think that's a big part of it, 100%. Because, you know, a lot of that learning by osmosis is not part of a training program. It's just you learn because you're sitting next to a 15 year person and you're like, oh, wow, that sounds great. Like, I'm going to use that the next time I talk to someone. And you're right, that has definitely gone away. I mean, we're 100% remote company right now, and I don't love it because of what we're talking about. I can't coach in the moment. I can't hear you, Kortney, on the phone.

Jay Brunetti [00:09:24]:
And the minute you get off, we can dive right in when it's fresh in your brain, because I think what you really miss is those coaching opportunities where I'm listening to your call, you're having a conversation, you think you heard a, b, and c, right? But what you really heard was a, c and f. And I can talk you through that and go, well, we're missing b here. And you thought you heard it because, you know, we communicate and we connect these dots that sometimes aren't there. So that coaching in the moment has definitely been a challenge. I mean, we've seen a big push. A lot of my staffing clients are trying to get back in the office, and for this very reason, I think if they're trying to get them back in the office so they can watch them and make sure they're working, that's not the right reason. Right. But from a coaching perspective and a management, you know, and training perspective, it's a huge challenge to not have that ability to do it.

Jay Brunetti [00:10:14]:
You know, we get together, I try to make it a point. Every four to six weeks, we all get in, we rent a space, we get in one room, and we just kind of keep that connection. But it's not the same. I mean, it's one day out of every four weeks. There's still not a big coaching opportunity there. So I definitely think it's that, but it's not the only thing. I do think that training in general among staffing firms has historically not been great. It's usually been, hey, come in.

Jay Brunetti [00:10:39]:
Here's our system. Here's how you log in. There's a phone book. See you later. You know, start calling people. And I've got clients that some have robust training programs. I've got clients that don't have any training programs at all. So there's a wide range of training kind of scale, if you will, right from zero to ten.

Jay Brunetti [00:10:59]:
And so it's not a consistent thing where like you get the same training everywhere you go. So depending on the firm you go to, you may get some robust training where they really are focused on communication skills and not just how to like talk about a rate or what tech is. Yeah, you need, if you're selling tech, you need to understand it. If you're selling accounting, you need to understand it. Important. But the communication training, like how to talk to another human being and really listen in that, that's where I think there's a void where people don't spend as much time talking about that. And then without the coaching, you put those two things together and you got a bunch of people running around, no one knows what they're talking about, you know what I mean? It's like the wild, wild west.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:37]:
How do you think AI is going to impact that? Because you say, you know, we have a problem of not knowing how to communicate. Well, now we have the easy button, or there's many easy buttons and people are pushing them. How do you think that's going to impact our industry?

Jay Brunetti [00:11:49]:
Yeah, I think, you know, again, like anything, I think it'll increase productivity in certain areas, but it will also, if you're not paying attention, you can lose that ability to communicate because we still need to talk to people. I don't think we're there yet where a machine is going to do the whole process. If we are, then we all better get ready to do something else. AI is a great supplemental tool and automation is great, just the sheer volume of things you can do. But I think unfortunately, what's happened is people start relying on that as the communication, they rely on LinkedIn messages, then what happens is you're only talking to people who are giving you permission to talk to them. And so you're kind of limiting your audience because a lot of times those people, they want to talk to you for a reason. They just got let go, they just got laid off, they're looking for another job, and that's fine. But if that's your only candidate pool, then where's the value of the client? If we're showing them people they could find on their own, I think people can easily spend a day, I mean, think about this.

Jay Brunetti [00:12:45]:
And this is the kind of stuff that, again, being seasoned you know, I grew up and the Internet was just becoming a thing. It was phone, that's all we had. But there are people that will go a day or two and not talk to another human being. I mean, think about that. Their whole day may be emails out, emails back. Maybe they're setting up a couple interviews that are already in play and that's an email back and forth. And when the day's done, have they actually communicated with another person verbally? And the answer is no. You know, they sent out 100 emails.

Jay Brunetti [00:13:12]:
Wonderful. But that can't be the only piece of the process. I think that's where AI can be dangerous. Like, great. It's a good tool. There's a lot that, you know, the easy button, as you say, I can whip up a great candidate write up pretty quick, you know, or a job description pretty quick, but I still can't lose the communication aspect of what we're doing.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:31]:
I love that. So obviously with AI, we're going to be able to do things faster. Yes, productivity. But I'm. We're probably also going to. You said, like, send out an email. I sent 100 emails a day. We don't necessarily want to spam more people.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:44]:
Right, right. So talk to me about strategies that maybe you're recommending to some recruiting firms, maybe to help out, you know, stand out, create the value. How do they differentiate themselves in this crowded and competitive market that it's really trying to be first in line to their customers? So what strategies do you recommend to your clients?

Jay Brunetti [00:14:05]:
Yeah, I mean, I think, interestingly enough, I think it's getting back to the phone call. It seems archaic. Right? And you're like, oh, I mean, I'm not going to cold call people. Like, that's so 1995. And it's like, yeah, but guess what? If no one's doing it and you're the only one doing it now, as your competitive differentiators, you're actually having conversations with more people. And so I think those firms that stick to monitoring conversations because that's really what matters to me, is how many conversations do we have today and who were they with and what were those conversations about? But it's not just having the conversation. There has to be a value proposition in there somewhere.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:42]:
Can I ask a question about something you just said that just stuck in my mind? Are you measuring the number of calls they're making or the number of phone time they have?

Jay Brunetti [00:14:50]:
Do you have a. Yeah, neither one of those. I care about the actual conversations. Right. So we don't count calls. We don't count dials or any of that kind of stuff. Right. If someone's struggling, we'll talk about their touch outreach.

Jay Brunetti [00:15:03]:
Like how many people are you reaching out to and what does that look like? There's an email touch, there's a voicemail touch, or a text or whatever. So there's a couple different ways you can reach out to someone. But what we really focus on internally is conversations. We call them screens on the candidate side, client discoveries. On the client side, we spend all day talking about how many of those have you had? And let's talk about what went on in those calls. It's one thing to have the volume, but what are we talking about when we're having that conversation? Because you hear me say value. I'm going to say it a thousand more times, but I've boiled down our r strategy, right, to a math formula. And I know this is geeky, I'm a geek now, but I'm the math guy.

Jay Brunetti [00:15:42]:
And I think if I was to boil down what higher alliance strategy is in a math formula, it would be v times and then in parentheses there'd be another v plus t and then in parentheses. Right. And the first v is volume, and the second v is value. So my thing is you need to have value. You need to build trust. For me, those two words are really important. You could put other words in there, right. But for me, if I define a relationship, I think if you have a real relationship, those two things are at the center of that relationship.

Jay Brunetti [00:16:09]:
There has to be value. The other person you're in the relationship with needs to get some value out of this, and they're going to trust you. We spend a lot of time talking about that value and trust piece, which is how we communicate and what we're saying. And then the volume is the actual output and the numbers that you need to be able to have those conversations. If the equation's out of balance, if someone's not doing one side or the other, theyre not going to be successful here. Theres firms where the volume can be enough, especially if its a high volume, light industrial kind of thing or whatever it is, where youre just throwing the numbers out. But in what were doing, we need to be able to create relationships with clients in Canada. We need to be able to do that.

Jay Brunetti [00:16:47]:
And thats where the value and trust comes in. But you cant just get on the phone and say, hey, value, and trust me, that comes with how you communicate, with what you say, doing what you say youre going to do, and its earned trust and values kind of earned and learned over time. That volume piece is important because you need to have a certain number of outreach and touches and calls to get enough conversations to move the needle. So I think from a differentiator back to the original question is, I do think it's as simple as having more conversations. Those people that can actually communicate with another human being, they're going to differentiate themselves just based on the fact that their competitors aren't doing it. They're emailing and waiting for permission. And I think you can differentiate yourself by not waiting.

Kortney Harmon [00:17:28]:
I'm going to dive into this more because I love this topic and, you know, in our industry, and I'm sure you've seen this and in working with many firms, I'm not necessarily saying yours, because you seem to have your math equation dialed in. We have the propensity to have like this do more mentality and really a fixation based on activity based KPI's like calls sent, emails sent, rather than getting those meaningful business moving, impactful conversations. So from your experience at higher alliance and maybe what could your thoughts be around what you've seen for outside organizations in that, like maybe KPI hamster wheel, like the trap that so many of us fall into in this industry, maybe. How would you advise firms to really combat that mentality? Because you seem to nail that down with value. Anything that you can maybe suggest for realigning their performance management towards maybe outcome driven process.

Jay Brunetti [00:18:20]:
Yeah, it's a great question because, you know, our industry's always been heavy metrics driven, right? It's calls. You know, your standard firm will measure calls, measure emails, phone time, that sort of thing. And I've always got a kick on it, right? Like they'd be like, hey, you're going to make 300 calls a week or 100 calls a day. And I'm like, why is it 300? How come it's not like 313 or 290? Like, why is it 300, you know, and has someone figured out like some ratio that 300 turns into x? Because for me, what I do internally is I do have ratios around conversations and how many screens it takes to get someone to interview and how many interviews to get a hire right on the candidate side. And for me that's valuable because I can look and everyone's got their individual ratio. You know, my 13 year person's ratio is going to be tighter than the rookie because they get more referrals and the conversations are more targeted and they get more out of them. And so I'm always looking at the ratios and seeing is there something that's off? Are you having a lot of conversations? And none of them are turning into interviews. Let's talk about why that is.

Jay Brunetti [00:19:24]:
You know, the math suggests, and we've got ratios around screens. My company averages, every five screens turns into an interview. Every four interviews turns into a placement. So when someone's ratio is way out of whack, there's something going on. Either we're calling the wrong people, or we're calling the right people and having the wrong conversation. So I don't want to sit here and say, look, metrics are silly and don't have them. I think you need to have. You need to be measuring.

Jay Brunetti [00:19:49]:
You need to have some idea of what your game plan is. But it's how we talk about them that is really what's important. I think when people are frustrated and they use the micromanagement term, we hear this all the time. I micromanage this guy's. It's not that they have the metrics, it's how they're managed. To them, they just had the best week they've ever had. They had four interviews. They had two hires.

Jay Brunetti [00:20:10]:
And the manager's like, yeah, but, you know, you only had 290 phone calls. You didn't get to the 300. You know, that would make me want to strangle somebody because you're just, you know, like, why are we talking about the phone calls when I just had my best week here? So I think you need to have the metrics. You need to be measuring stuff. But it's how we're communicating that with the staff about why it's important and what we need to get out of that. And that's why for me, it still is conversations because, right. I mean, if they get the number of screens they need, but they're calling chefs and cooks, that's not going to work. We don't place those people.

Jay Brunetti [00:20:40]:
So we do need to make sure that they're focused on calling the right people. And then when they do get the right people, we're having the right conversation with them to connect the dots and create a relationship there. That's more than just, hey, you fit this job. Let me send you.

Kortney Harmon [00:20:53]:
But I think that really goes back, Jay, to one of the first comments you made here. It was really staffing and recruiting firms. Training's lacking, but right here it's very structured in how you're talking to your people and how they're setting their goals and how they're improving on the daily. And it seems like you really have that dialed in at your organization and really put a focus on internal value as well as external and when you share those. So I love that as an L and D person myself, that makes my learning and development heart happy. So you obviously whenever you started this journey, you realized that it was important for a niche, right? So your niche is servicing staffing firms. The staffing world, as I've coached people over the years and people that are learning to grow and scale, oftentimes they think of things like, well, someone needs their yard mode, I'm going to do that. Or hey, we got to the point where sales wasn't something that we had to focus on, so we forgot how to sell and say, oh, there's a job, I'm going to do it.

Kortney Harmon [00:21:51]:
So talk to me about what advice you may give recruiting firms looking to expand, whether it's industries or geography. We have so many people that sometimes they just want to focus on being a generalist, doing all things for all people. Would you advise against that? Talk to me about your thoughts behind it all.

Jay Brunetti [00:22:09]:
Yeah, again, a really good question. And firms have had success both ways. I mean, I would say the bulk of my clients that have multiple niches, they stay focused within that niche, on that team. So they've got their it team and that's all they do. And they've got their accounting and finance team and that's all they do. But I've also had some clients that have been very successful where they kind of let their people do whatever they want. It's kind of weird. It sounds like they're all over the place.

Jay Brunetti [00:22:34]:
But they will have an accounting job one day, an it job the next, and whatever the client has open, they will try to do. It's like, I'm going to do that lawn thing. I don't love that as much. I do think there, there's a value prop that gets lost there when you're like the jack of all trades, master of none kind of thing. I find scale, those clients that are very focused on the niche they're in, the scale is easier because think about it, if you are going to go national, you don't want to just be all over the place and calling Minneapolis with one engineer. And then what do you do if you've got one client and that's it, and then that one engineer can't go anywhere else. I think scale happens for staffing firms and they've got multiple clients that look for the same skillset, then you're able to kind of replicate and you don't have to worry about just, I've only got one client in Minnesota. And then what happens if this person doesn't fit there? So if you are going to expand geographically, I do think you want to kind of create that niche focus and stay there so that your people are not all over the place trying to recruit ten different skill sets.

Jay Brunetti [00:23:32]:
Right. You can create your candidate database much quicker if they're just staying focused in that particular niche. I do see the clients that I have that have probably had the most success from a growth standpoint, they're very disciplined in that niche and they stay in that niche. And if they're calling someone for an IT job and that person says, well, I don't have that, but I've got an accounting job, they're disciplined enough to hand it over to the accounting side and then the accounting side runs with it, as opposed to trying to fill this job and not tell anybody, you know what I mean? So the ones that do that, again, the scale gets tougher. But if they're very good at staying in their lanes and then they respect the other divisions in the company and they referral back and forth, that's where the synergy really happens. Right. Because then you notice that the ANF team broke into an account that the IT team has been trying to break into for years. And maybe there's a soft intro that can happen here across the divisions.

Kortney Harmon [00:24:22]:
I love that. Talk to me about geographic wise on that right now with the economy the way it is, people are looking. Okay, do I expand vertical? Do I expand national? Do I go beyond where I am today? Do you have any advice if someone's looking to expand their geographic region on what they're doing and how to do that?

Jay Brunetti [00:24:41]:
I'll just tell you what we've done when we have gone national. We've focused around a couple of our key accounts, so we go where we already know they have locations, and then we can add other companies as we get into that market. But we've already got a built in client that has a location there. So I'd start first with, okay, what's my client base and where are their locations? And do we have some that are multiple locations in a certain city? I'd start there because now you've already got your client base or the beginning of a client base, and you don't have to just start from scratch. It's like really hard. Okay, I'm going to call into New York City because it's a really big city, and then you're just like, okay, now what? Okay, great. Who are you going to call. I would certainly do some research around that, but I would start with your existing clients and where they have locations.

Jay Brunetti [00:25:25]:
And if you're going to grow nationally, bolt onto them and then create more opportunities and then have a focus to it. Think about, okay, you're going to do person a, you're going to cover this part of the country person b here so that there's at least some sort of a focus so that people are just not randomly calling cities all over the place because that's when you get in trouble and then you can have. Because I don't think you want to have seven different clients in seven different cities that have seven different openings. That's hard to manage. And then when that opening is closed, you now have a network of candidates you can't do anything else with. I would look at the internal client base, follow where they are first, and then have a focus to it so that someone's responsible for that area and then they can start building up new clients as they get into it.

Kortney Harmon [00:26:12]:
Great words of advice. And that's what we're seeing people do right now. Just because we're in uncharted territory and people like to figure out what's next for them.

Jay Brunetti [00:26:21]:
Well, that's the thing. Everyone's looking for the magic niche. That's the call I do get a lot, right? People will call and they're like, so what are you seeing out there? I love that call. Like, I never get the what are you seeing call when, like 21 and 22. Nobody cared what I was seeing because they were too busy, you know, all of a sudden, the end of last year, the beginning of this year. So what are you seeing out there? And they want to know, like, are we the only one slow? Or is everyone slow or is there a particular niche that is hot? And again, that's very dangerous. Right? Because people are looking for the next magic bullet in 2020 was temperature checkers. Great.

Jay Brunetti [00:26:53]:
But how many of those have been placed in the last two years? None, because it doesn't exist anymore. So there is that, hey, I'm just going to keep going after the next hot thing. And the challenge with that is I don't, again, back to value. I don't know that you are good enough in any one of those things to create that value. Just chasing the hot industry and right now, none of it's exactly hot. Right. So you've got, it's not like, hey, life science is growing like mad and nothing else is moving. Everyone's kind of trying to figure out what's happening and I think for me, that's where you want to get to your core strength and create your separation by adding value to your clients that no one else is adding right now because maybe they're too busy trying to find the next hot niche and they're forgetting their existing clients.

Jay Brunetti [00:27:36]:
And this is an opportunity to go in. So I think some of my better clients right now on the agency side are gaining market share because their other competitors are taking their eye off the ball and they're spending all this time spinning themselves up into what do I think is going to be hot? And they're forgetting this five year client I used to have is now gone because they're using somebody else.

Kortney Harmon [00:27:56]:
That's actually a talk that I did at Massachusetts, and it was really focusing on your accounts that you've just put on the back burner. It's, you've already established, you have all the contracts, you have all the things, but you're too busy going to find a new logo.

Jay Brunetti [00:28:08]:

Kortney Harmon [00:28:09]:
And is that where you should be? Should you focus on expansion talk? I mean, you have more influence when you have trust and you've already built the trust, you've already established it, but you've put it on the back burner and you've not thought it was important. And in reality, that might be your easy button, and we're not putting any emphasis on it.

Jay Brunetti [00:28:26]:
And that's where I think, again, the relationship. So we're staffing staffing companies. And you'd think, well, geez, I mean, staffing companies hiring anybody. Well, they are in the reality is the companies that we're doing business with, I've been doing business with a lot of them for over ten years, and that's why we're doing business with them. Right. If I was sitting here and starting my business today and I had to cold call a bunch of staffing companies, that'd be tough, right? Because they don't know where I'm. So we've been able to create opportunities, hiring and placement opportunities, because that value and trust is already there. And when we're, we've been working with them for a long time.

Jay Brunetti [00:28:58]:
And when we call, they take the call and they listen what we have to say, and we may have a candidate that's a good fit for something that they're doing that they can't find on their own, and boom, there's a hire there. But none of that happens if I'm like, okay, staffing isn't hiring, so I'm going to forget about all my staffing clients. I'm going to go see if I can place mechanics and then my staffing clients will disappear. Someone's going to come in and take them. So I do think that the sticking with and continuing just because your clients not hiring today. Okay. So let's not forget there's still a relationship there. There's probably still a lunch that you can have.

Jay Brunetti [00:29:31]:
And guess what? Clients that are treated that way when there isn't an immediate need respect that because they know you're not going to make a dollar on that conversation. But they're like, well you're talking to me for a reason and you genuinely are interested and care about them and what they're doing. They'll remember that when the business comes back, you'll probably be the first call.

Kortney Harmon [00:29:49]:
I don't want to say such an easy thing, but something that we just don't have forefront of our brains.

Jay Brunetti [00:29:53]:
It's crazy. It's an easy thing not to do. That's what's easy about it, you know, it's crazy.

Kortney Harmon [00:29:57]:
It is. Absolutely. Because we're so busy, honestly, we're all stuck in this reactive state. We're trying to fight fires. We're trying to make sure people show up and all the things. And it's really, you go back to the old adage of proactive versus reactive in our industry and in reality we get stuck in the reactive more than anything.

Jay Brunetti [00:30:15]:
Yeah, absolutely.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:17]:
Talk to me about job seekers are different. That is no different for the clients that we serve than the recruiting and salespeople that we're looking to place today. So how can recruiting firms maybe better align their processes and practices? Maybe with the evolution of the modern job seeker? Right. Things are different. We don't recruit the same people we did or the same way that we did five years ago or two years ago or ten years ago. So what are you seeing, I guess from the modern job seeker and how are you adapting and maybe what do you recommend to staffing in recruiting agencies?

Jay Brunetti [00:30:54]:
This is another one of those topics that I spent a lot of time talking to my clients about. Right? Because this is, I can sound like the grumpy old man, get off my lawn. But the kids today are different than the kids of when I got in the business. The analogy I use is back when I was 20 something in the nineties, you could take 100 people like me and you put us in a room and say, okay, here's the deal, guys. See that thing in the middle of the room? It's a phone. I want you to pick it up. I want you to dial it 100 times a day, 500 times a week, and at the end of the year, you're going to make 150 grand. Immediately, 80 of us would just go grab the phone and start calling people right away.

Jay Brunetti [00:31:30]:
All I got to do is dial that thing 100 times. Okay, I'm in. Boom. And then maybe there's 20. That'll be like, oh, I don't know if this is for me or whatever, but 80% of that room would pick up the phone, no questions asked, start dialing and chase the money, right? Today, you put 100 people in a room and say the same thing. 80 people, right off the bat, will question, well, they'll be like, well, wait a minute. You know, why do I have to dial it 100 times? What if I dialed it 50 times and said 50 emails, there wouldn't be an immediate rush to it. They would just question the whole process.

Jay Brunetti [00:32:00]:
And by the time they were done answering the questions, like, yeah, I'm not doing that. And then there'd be 20 that would actually pick up the phone, start calling. So what does that mean? It means that there are less people that are going to be successful in what we do, because they're just not as wired to do this type of staffing or the values not. They're not going to get the value out of it. So from a recruiting standpoint, that means your volume has to go up. You've got to talk to a lot of people and ask the right questions to find the ones. Cause you can't rewire them. I can't make someone who doesn't wanna add value and build trust be successful in my firm.

Jay Brunetti [00:32:33]:
I just need to find the ones who already have that and then bring them in. So that's where the volume is really important, because there just isn't as many people that are naturally wired to do cold call sales, which is we in the nineties, we were coming out of the. My dad worked in a manufacturing plant. I watched him for 30 years with his boots and go and come home, and I was like, that's looks really hard, and I'd prefer not to do that. You just like, you're swinging a hammer every day. I don't know about that, but the phone thing, that I can do. But now, 20 years later, that's not enough for a lot of folks. So I think you can't rewire them.

Jay Brunetti [00:33:08]:
You've just got to keep going until you find the ones who are already wired to do it. It's not like nobody in this generation is willing to do this type of work. It's just there's a smaller percentage. I don't think the staffing firm is going to come in and change how we do it. I got a kick. I was it maybe five, five or seven years ago. A lot of my. Not a lot.

Jay Brunetti [00:33:27]:
I'd say a handful of my clients got very much focused on millennial friendly offices. Right. All of a sudden, there was, like, pool tables at offices and there was beer taps and there was, like, video games, and it was their attempt to kind of be. But the thing that they were missing was. Yeah, but the job is still the same job. It's just because there's a pool table back there doesn't change the actual job. And guess what? Those offices, now the pool tables are broken because no one uses them. And all this effort and money that goes in.

Jay Brunetti [00:33:56]:
Everyone wanted their office space to look like Google. But look, we're not hiring the same people Google's hiring. It's a different thing. And so if you take your eye off that ball, I think you're in trouble. So it's just a recognize that not everyone you interview is going to be a fit to do this job from a wiring standpoint and then increase that candidate flow. So you're talking to enough people that you can't find the ones that are.

Kortney Harmon [00:34:17]:
I love it. Do you feel like that's a lesson you have to work with your clients to teach, too, because they're speaking to different industries and different audience as well? Do you think that's something that they're thinking of, too? Because I feel like sometimes they don't look at the job seeker.

Jay Brunetti [00:34:30]:
I know internally, no offense to my staffing clients, but staffing companies are notoriously, very bad at interviewing for internal roles. And I've got a theory on this. And the theory is that when you are placing people, like when you're a recruiter and your job is to place people, you're kind of in a lot of environments, you're taught to bury the flags, accentuate the positives, and sell your candidate into the opportunity. Right. I mean, that's how a lot of people are trained in this business. Murder, no problem. Let's just not talk about that in the interview and then boom. But the thing is, is when you are interviewing for yourself, I think they continue to do that.

Jay Brunetti [00:35:06]:
Like, they mentally bury the flags, fall in love with the things they want to fall in love with, and then hire someone and mitigate a disaster because they didn't really interview. They just kind of talked to them like they were placing them and then they were burying the flags and then they were accentuated deposits. And again, a lot of times, especially when you're hiring salespeople that are going to focus on client development companies fall in love with the accounts the person has, but not how they actually got them. And they just think, oh, you've got Google, Microsoft and Apple as clients, come on in and you'll bring them with you. That's never the case. It never works like that. And then they find, oh, so you never actually broke those accounts. They were handed to you and, oh, that's great.

Jay Brunetti [00:35:47]:
Well, why didn't we figure that out in the interview? So I do think from an internal process, I think staffing companies, when they're hiring, they really have to focus with the end in mind. Like what does success look like if you hire someone and they've had a phenomenal first year, what exactly did they do? And then interview to those skills. Sounds simple, but you'd be amazed at how many firms don't do that. And they just, oh, you build three hundred k at your last job. That means you'll bill 300k here, come on in. And it's just you're rolling the dice at that point.

Kortney Harmon [00:36:17]:
Rose colored glasses. Yeah, I love it. So in today's market we kind of talked about some of these things, but I just want to make sure, I ask for sure what are the most critical skills or competencies that recruiters need to develop in order to be successful in today's market for recruiters?

Jay Brunetti [00:36:34]:
Right. I do think communication skill has to be at the forefront. You need to be able to communicate and I believe you need to have a genuine interest in people that has to already be there. Right. It's tough to take that person that like, I've got three friends, I don't want four. I don't know that they're ever really going to be great as a staffing professional. Right. Because unless again, they go maybe in that high volume market where you don't need to develop the relationship, but if we're talking about relation selling, I think you need people who are kind of wired to be genuinely interested in people because, you know, you can't train that.

Jay Brunetti [00:37:07]:
That's like an innate thing. They care about folks. You get someone that's like that, you can teach them how to do the nuts and bolts of the job, but you can't teach them how to care. So I think it's important for people if they are going to try to create value with clients or candidates or both, it has to be genuine. People can feel when you're not being real, you need to have that real skill. And then, look, this is a tough job. There's lots of tough jobs out there, but this is a tough job. I mean, this is one of those jobs because think about it, it's one of the few, maybe real estate, that has two human sides.

Jay Brunetti [00:37:39]:
Your clients human, your candidates human. So in theory, like, our product is a human being and our client a human being. In most sales, you just got one. You get the client, and I sell you the iPhone. I don't have to worry about the iPhone turning the sale down. The diphone goes to wherever it's been bought. So I think the two human side piece makes it tough, makes it harder, because now there's more human beings involved in every deal, and it's a tough job. So they definitely need to have a fight.

Jay Brunetti [00:38:05]:
You need to have a stick to itiveness, and you can take a couple punches and keep going. It's not an industry for the faint of heart. You can't just give it a good old college try. I did it for a couple days, and I just tell you I didn't have any success. You got to be ready to grind it out. And that's one of those things. Back to that. 80 people, 100 people in a room, 80 of us.

Jay Brunetti [00:38:23]:
Back in the nineties, we had that kind of natural grind. Now there's just fewer people that have it. You just got to go find the ones that do. So I think if you've got someone that's genuinely interested in people and they have a stick to itiveness to them, they have a fight. They've got experiences where they've had to overcome some very big challenges. Those are questions I always want to ask my internal people when I'm hiring is I want to hear this stuff, like, what did they have to overcome? And that helps me understand the fight and then that we all want competitive people. When we first talked, you talked about being very competitive, and I just, again, if that's a natural trait for someone, you combine competitive with a genuine interest in people, and they're. They've got a grit to them.

Jay Brunetti [00:39:01]:
I'll hire that person all day, and they will be very successful in this business.

Kortney Harmon [00:39:05]:
I love that. Yeah. Competitiveness is in my blood and honestly, in my bruised body. Today, I'll tell you a quick story, personal story. I went out to my cousin softball practice. I was a d one pitcher. He's like, hey, could you come talk to my pitchers? I'm like, sure. I just had a birthday.

Kortney Harmon [00:39:21]:
I just turned 41. And of course they said, well, could you go through batting practice to my pitchers? And my body should, in my mind, should say no at this age. But my brain exited the building when they said competition against 16 and 17 year old kids. And I, of course, went and pitch batting practice last night, and my body is feeling the pain today.

Jay Brunetti [00:39:43]:
Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. But I mean, look, I do the same thing when I'm playing basketball with my kids. I feel like I'm 22 year old Jay and 54 year old Jay limps into the house after, like 25 minutes after I'm trying to, like, do Michael Jordan moves in the driveway. In my mind, I'm flying through the air, but really, I'm, like, almost tripping. It's kind of scary.

Kortney Harmon [00:40:03]:
But these are the people that make our world go round, because when you're served no so many times in a day, you have to be able to overcome that. So I do. I love that piece of advice. So we talked about recruiters. I'm going to switch it. Talk to me about executives, C levels, operations leaders, and the staffing and recruiting industry when it comes to moving into the last half of 2024 and shifts they should be making. Where do you think their focus should be paying attention to? Looking at, researching. What do you think?

Jay Brunetti [00:40:33]:
I think the first thing that executives need to understand is that companies growth and sales success is a leadership issue. It's not a sales issue. It's starts with leadership. And all the stuff we've been talking about on this podcast here is about how are people being led? Are they focused on the right things? How are they being coached, how are they being trained? But it has to start with, if you've got an executive team that's blaming sales for the lack of revenue, that's wrong. It's leadership. Growth is a leadership issue. It's not a sales issue. Those executives need to first understand that and then figure out the things they need to do to get out of the way.

Jay Brunetti [00:41:10]:
How do we create the engine? Is everyone ready to roll the boat and let's get out of the way? I do find that sometimes if you do have the appropriate coaching, the appropriate training, you got a vision, you know where you're going. Sometimes executives still want to stay in the mix, get in. They give. They muddy the waters. They get in there because I think sometimes if they feel like they're not doing that, looking at a number or over managing, then they're not doing the right stuff. But that just really hurts productivity, especially if there's an executive, a manager, staff, and if this executive constantly is going to the staff over the manager, then why is the manager there? And that happens a lot, especially when staffing struggles. So what have we seen in the last six to twelve months? Everyone's back involved for like two years, owners weren't even showing up. Playing golf every day.

Jay Brunetti [00:41:59]:
They just look at the monthly reports, oh, revenue's up again. Four, they're not even coming in. And then all of a sudden, revenue goes down. It's like, oh, hey, here's mister owner. I haven't seen that guy in 18 months. And now he's sitting talking to me about my account plan. What are we doing? And I think it's that everyone does this. The business and the owners will be like, I need to get my arms around it because they think they're going to be able to come in and because they're going to tell Jimmy to make more calls.

Jay Brunetti [00:42:24]:
It just gets out of control. And that's the complete opposite thing. So I think if you're an executive, a first, understand that anything that's in sales, that's not going well, it's a leadership issue. And let's focus on what the training looks like. And is your staff prepared to have value driven conversations? Like, what are those conversations sound like when they're on the phone with a director of it or a director of accounting or whatever? The conversation is like, do you know what they're saying? Do you know what that conversation is? And are they adding value there, or are they just taking orders? They're just taking orders. There's no separation there. There's no differentiation. And you're going to struggle, right? Because clients are sophisticated buyers.

Jay Brunetti [00:43:01]:
They don't want order takers. They need someone that can come in and add some value above and beyond. Just writing down a job description.

Kortney Harmon [00:43:07]:
I love it. Any other focuses they should have in the last half of 2024, besides getting.

Jay Brunetti [00:43:12]:
Out of the way again, I think they really need to focus on their staff. And are they prepared and armed for the battle that is this business right now? I mean, we're kind of like, it's 2018. There's jobs, there's opportunity, but you got to go get it. And so do we have the right people on the bus? That whole analogy before, like, I mean, are you, we spending too much time trying to rewire people? If that's the case, move on and find the people that have the right wiring. Make sure you're coaching and training them. Make sure they have a vision and they have a strategy. On what they're executing. And you know what those conversations sound like when they're talking to clients in Canada.

Jay Brunetti [00:43:48]:
And then get out of the way and start focusing on the other initiatives that you want to hit and your growth plans. But don't start talking to your people about account planning and micromanaging. Just make sure that they've got the tools, but don't go there and start using the tools for, you know what I mean? Don't hammer the nail for them. Make sure they have a hammer and they know what they're doing and then let them go build and do their thing. And if you do that, I think you'll see growth. And it's scary for people because again, a lot of executives want to grab that. They want to know everything that everybody's doing. And if you're doing that, you really will shrink kind of everyone's ability to be creative in the moment and be productive and all that kind of stuff will kind of go out the window.

Jay Brunetti [00:44:25]:
So I think as executives, just make sure your folks are trained and they really know how to have consultative conversations. Make sure they know where they're going and then get out of the way.

Kortney Harmon [00:44:34]:
Great words of advice. Jay. This is amazing. Thank you so much for the awesome conversation. From standing out in crowded markets to being strategic to the human element, to AI, to the do more propensity in our industry, I love your guidance and navigating how our agencies and staffing organizations should be thinking about the last half of 2024. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and being with me today.

Jay Brunetti [00:45:03]:
Yeah, thanks for having me. It was great.

Kortney Harmon [00:45:04]:
Absolutely. For our listeners, Jay, I'll include your website and your LinkedIn profile in the show notes for anybody who may be interested in more. And thank you all of our listeners for joining us and tune in next time. For our next FDE full desk experience, industry spotlight and until then, see you next time. I'm Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Industry Spotlight, a new series from the full Desk experience. New episodes will be dropping monthly. Be sure you're subscribed to our podcast so you can catch the next industry spotlight episode and all episodes of the full desk experience here or wherever you listen.