As the CEO of Workshape.io and curator of Recruiting Brainfood, Hung Lee is a well-known influencer in the recruitment industry. Join us to learn more about the most powerful learning resources for recruiters and the best sources of industry news. Just hit play to get started!
Tell us about the value that Recruiting Brainfood currently offers to recruiters all around the globe.
Recruiting Brainfood started as a personal project because I as a recruiter in the industry encountered a serious problem which was that the Internet just got too big for us. You know there's so much content so much information everyone is getting overwhelmed by it.
I was getting overwhelmed by it and I realized that there was some great stuff out there but it was so difficult to find in amongst all of that noise. So I started just collecting stuff that I discovered bookmarking it and archiving it way essentially as a little kind of things myself so I had a decent reference material on content that I enjoyed. And then about three years ago I realized you know what I've saved all this stuff why am I keeping it all to myself maybe other people had the same problem and if I was able to share that publicly and I'll make that available.
Recruiting Brainfood started as a weekly curated newsletter for the recruiting and HR industry. The idea is I want to try and make sure that you only get some amazing content once a week in your inbox on a Sunday to give you inspiration for the week ahead because we know recruiting is a hard job and how we know that this is not easy no matter what people from the outside say.
Recruiting is one of the toughest jobs and I wanted to just provide a little bit of time and space for busy recruiters to get inspired get motivated maybe pick up some tips and tricks and get better.
Let's do that once a week in small doses and give people a bit of a boost. And that's basically what Recruiting Brainfood is.
We heard you talk about how recruiters today need to look at developing and nurturing a new set of skills.
Why do you believe this is happening and which are the topics that recruiters find in your newsletter the most valuable for them to develop business skills?
I think the diversification of the skill sets that recruiters have is critical. At a slightly higher level, it's super important for companies to have multidisciplinary teams within their talent acquisition functions. The reason why I think this is important is simply we need to be very sensitive to the technology trends that are happening. A lot of the things that recruiters are currently doing is what would be described as low cognitive skills.
So, in other words, repetitive stuff that doesn't take a lot of mental intelligence shall we say, however it takes a lot of time and we're spending time doing it. And if anybody audits what you currently do in a day, what kind of tasks are you spending time on, I think recruiters are spending way too much time on low cognitive stuff and that's the stuff that's going to get automated away.
Simply put we need to be sensitive to the transformative impact that artificial intelligence and automation are going to have in the world of work, we should know this we're recruiters and we're recruiting engineers that help to build this type of technology so we have no excuses not to know this. And yet we're spending a huge amount of time doing things like sourcing for candidates.
That's a mechanical job, automatable. Always scheduling for interviews or coordinating feedback, that is a low cognitive skill, essential and we spend time doing it, but you know what that's going to be automated. So I think it's very important for recruiters to be cognizant of that and proactively think about how they can move up the value chain. I think this needs to come from the individual recruiter. And he also needs to come from the heads of the department if they had the foresight to see it. But neither either one of those can rely on the other, I think we have to be self-activated in this.
Answering your second question, you mentioned the topics that recruiters tend to click on. I do try to provide a breadth of content there so everyone gets a different kind of angle on the industry.
The truth is you know a lot of recruiters are still clicking on the operational how to stuff which is valuable on the day-to-day, but it tells me that they are still a little bit too tactically focused and they're not thinking as strategically as perhaps we need to. That's not a commentary on their character or the maturity, it's simply a commentary on the lack of time that recruiters have.
One of the challenges I think we have internally is to try and argue for more time. More time to think, more time to experiment, more time to upskill and not always be locked away into operational delivery. Is a huge red flag for us as an industry as a group of people if we are unable to find time to learn the new skills that we need in the near future.
So besides these challenges is there anything else in particular that stands out from your daily conversations with recruiters? What you think recruiters should be doing and also what are their biggest needs?
There is no question that sourcing candidates or candidate discovery is still the preeminent concern for recruiters.
That is as far as I see it from the behaviour of the readers of Recruiting Brainfood. With 18.000 people on the subscriber list, I can see what types of content tends to be more heavily consumed and it still is "how do I find the candidates". That tells me that a lot of recruiters still feel the operational pressure, can't find the candidates, we can argue whether there is such a thing as a talent shortage. I happen to believe that there is a talent shortage and they can't find the candidates to fill their pipelines, therefore, they're clicking on content that I share and it will help them do that.
Now I would argue that recruiters have a very tough choice to make. They either continue to focus on the sourcing side, sourcing as an activity is human beings going into the Internet accessing what is in an efficient online system and bringing back some information.
That could give them a clue whether that's a candidate or not. That's typically what sourcing is. We can continue to do that or we can shift the paradigm and think about how to attract information to us rather than go out and scraping it and grabbing it.
How do you draw information to you voluntarily? And this is the audience building community building stuff that I tend to talk about because I think that ultimately is a more future proof way to solve the problem of finding candidates. It's a different way of thinking about it. It's not trying to do clever hacks and it's not trying to identify people and then hit them with a clever email.
It's trying to build sort of an audience getting people to voluntarily pay attention to the message you have and if you can achieve that and then you're actually in a much stronger position compared to your competition because that individual will open your e-mail. That person will respond to your message because they've already trusted you with their attention.
Now, this is kind of a medium to long term play compared to sourcing which is a short term play and part of the problem I think we have as a group of people is that we're often given very short timeframes in terms of deliverables. And we often are unable because of internal pressures to go ahead and build your network value or build an audience or build a community because the payoff for all of that stuff is six-twelve months or even a couple years down the line. So there's a big tension between the operational needs today and the essential needs for us tomorrow.
I would simply encourage recruiters, talent acquisition folks to think a little bit more selfishly perhaps and think OK what is my world look like in 12-18 months. Am I still going to be doing the same old sourcing stuff or do I want to be in a position where I can communicate to a large audience from which I may recruit and kind of take steps to get in that direction because I do believe that it's much more future-proofed against the competition but also automation and AI.
You also run Workshape.io, is this something that you have also implemented with this Workshape when it comes to helping companies find the right candidates?
Now that I reflect on all of these projects I realize that I'm trying to solve the same problem in different ways. Workshape.io was also a signal to noise problem. You know the issue there was simply that software engineers, in particular, that's the target audience for a Workshape, they were overwhelmed by recruitment messaging. They were overwhelmed by recruiters trying to get their attention and so much so that it became impossible for them to identify what was a relevant message or not.
It was simply just a wall of marketing coming at them. And the response that they had was understandably to just withdraw. You know if you go on LinkedIn now and just type in the phrase "recruiters please don't call me" and you're going to get like pages upon pages of mainly software people saying please don't contact me. You got to think what is causing this person to do that? Of course, if the person is getting 5, 10, 15 messages per day, he can't use that system anymore.
What Workshape is designed to do is to try and reduce or even eliminate the noise and the way we do that is to create a private marketplace where software engineers can enter. We don't allow search engines to crawl so it can't be scraped and it can't be aggregated as a result of not being on a search engine. The concept is if you're a software engineer you can trust us with your information, we're just going to collect information about what it is that you aspire to do, we'll visualize that using the workshape - a visual description based on time over tasks. How much time you want to spend doing these this activity compared to that activity and what we're going to do is simply match you to an employer that has a job that is compatible with that. And it's only if that employer satisfies your aspirations do we make the match and allow communication to take place.
So in some respects in many respects, it's again dealing with the noise issue. The Internet's getting too big too noisy. How do we solve it? People still care about the signal. You know software engineers do care about job discovery. They do care about their careers. They are just so afraid to signal it publicly because they know what will happen if they did that. They'll just get an avalanche of recruitment messaging.
So what Workshape is trying to do is to solve that particular problem. Can we take the signal and can we make sure it goes to the right organizations? And then you might transform the sort of relationship and conversations those two parties might have.
Tell us a bit about your new year's resolution, do you have any big plans with Recruiting Brainfood or Workshape.io?
I think the mission is clear. With things like Recruiting Brainfood, I can see there's a huge appetite for the idea of getting more curation in there. So one thing I see that is true is that this kind of rise is this curator class of people if you like you know individuals that don't necessarily create content you know I'm not creating any original content.
All I'm doing is aggregating stuff. But then you're manually choosing it and not algorithmically choosing it. And I think there's a lot of value to that.
So the mission of Recruiting Brainfood is exactly that. Let's keep going with it. I want to make sure that there are more people from different parts of the world are aware of. That's part of the reason why it's fantastic to come onto your show as well because you know overwhelmingly because I'm based in the UK, people in the UK are more familiar with it than other parts of the world. But one of the things I've learned through visiting different places is that some universal challenges confront all of us in recruiting.
There's so much talent and capability in all of these different places that I think would be great if they knew that and they knew that there were other places on the planet that also had these types of challenges. So you know one of the best things that happened to me the year was travelling to places I'd never thought I'd go to. You know I was in Armenia for three days earlier this year. I went to Kyiv for four days. I went to places like Perth, Australia and I never thought about Western Australia, all of those places have recruiter communities, all of those places have got great talented people. They've also got fantastic stories of great recruitment projects.
There are pockets of excellence everywhere, in the same way, there are pockets of mediocrity everywhere but certain places tend to have a lack of confidence because they always perceive New York or San Francisco's or London is always ahead. I can say that's generally not the case and part of my responsibility is to take those stories internationally and say you know what, you should be proud of what you do here, what you have done here because you've got talent and you do some fantastic stuff. And there's no reason to think that you're behind anybody.
I think that message needs to be it needs to be embedded in a lot of places but especially the ones that people might not typically think of as you know a place where great recruitment stuff can happen.
Could you share with our listeners one thing that you think they should remember and get from this podcast?
I would say that it is super important to learn from podcasts like this, not only on the content but what the podcast is trying to do.
It's trying to create an audience, if you're listening to this podcast now you have donated your attention to this podcast. As a recruiter, you have to think about that. If you're fighting for attention from candidates if they're not responding to you they're not getting back to you. You're getting kind of spam reports and the rest in your messaging, think as to how you as an individual are allocating your attention and can you adopt some of those ideas into how you interact with candidates.
For more insights on recruitment marketing automation, join the SmartDreamers Academy.