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Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Director of Talent Acquisition at Amplify People Talks Best-Practice Hiring & Retention Strategies

Automation Unplugged #268 features Samantha Hodz, Director of Talent Acquisition Services at Amplify People. Join us for an exciting show that dives into Sam’s experience in the hiring space, the talent challenges she sees in the AV industry, and more!

This week's episode of Automation Unplugged features Samantha Hodz, Director of Talent Acquisition Services at Amplify People.

About Samantha Hodz:

Samantha Hodz joins Amplify People as a Talent professional with more than 15 years of progressive industry experience. After almost a decade in Higher Education, she transitioned to the talent world and then into recruiting for IT, Finance, and Healthcare. Samantha has led global teams, helping them grow through learning and development initiatives customized to fit individual needs. At Amplify People, she works with integrators to fill their talent needs and ensure business health and longevity.

Interview Recap

  • Why One Firefly created Amplify People and the skills Sam brings as the Director of Talent Acquisition Services.
  • The talent challenges she sees in the AV/Integrator industry and how to solve them.
  • The importance of defining who you are and why people should join your company in order to attract the best-fit talent.

SEE ALSO: Show #267: President of Future Home Shares Insights Into Doing Business at the Highest End of the Luxury Market

Transcript

Ron:

Hello, hello there. Ron Callis with another episode of Automation Unplugged. Today is Friday, June 21st. I believe this is, I don't know, Sam will probably have the answers, but I think today's the first day of summer. Maybe it's the second day of summer. I don't know. Maybe that was yesterday. Maybe it's today. But it's summer here, which is pretty fantastic.

Ron:

My boy has been off of school for a week or two. I say that he really hasn't been off school because he went right into summer school. He wasn't very happy about that, but such is life. We have to get things done. So we are here on a special day with Automation Unplugged, a special time. It is 12 o'clock. And we have a special guest.

Ron:

And we wanted to make this show happen. And my schedule has been a little bit wacky as has been our team's. But nonetheless, this is an important show. Show number 268. And we've got a lot of super fun and exciting things happening here at One Firefly. And actually this individual joined our team in the last few months and I wanted to get her introduced to all of you.

Ron:

So thus, she's joining me here on Show 268 of Automation Unplugged. And this is our very own Samantha Hodz. And she is our Director of Talent Acquisition Services of Amplify People, which is a division of One Firefly. And she will tell you all about Amplify People.

Ron:

And we're gonna go into her background and a lot of topics relating to talent and in particular sourcing of talent. I've been hearing, my team and I have been hearing from our clients and our integrators for many years now about a lot of the challenges relating to finding talent for many businesses in our industry.

Ron:

People, whether it's finding the right people, retaining the right people, kind of all of the work that goes into getting the people side of business correct. It's been a challenge for many. I could go as far as to say most people in this industry. And I've been serving this industry now for 25 years.

Ron:

And it got to the point where One Firefly was looking at areas where we could grow our business and something that's near and dear to our heart and mind, which is helping businesses grow. And it's hard for a business to grow if you haven't got the people part of your business right or solved. And we've been practicing a lot of different methodologies at One Firefly over many years. This is our 17th year in business.

Ron:

And we decided to take some of those lessons we've learned and methodologies that we practice around talent sourcing, ultimately talent onboarding and the management and maintenance of your teams through talent management that we created Amplify People. And we launched Amplify People officially last September after the better part of a year of development and ideation and brainstorming.

Ron:

And the business has been serving many dozens of integrators across North America since September 2023. And a number of months ago, back in the spring, we decided it was time to take that business to the next level. And that was to bring in a senior member, a senior professional around HR and staffing that would have the entrepreneurial spirit to help us take this business to the next level.

Ron:

And that is Sam. And so Sam is gonna join me right now. And we're gonna get to meet Sam and learn about her background, as well as we're gonna start to dive into some of the topics in particular around talent sourcing, which is how do you go out there and define the right type of job, the right type of person?

Ron:

Then, how do you cast that net as wide as possible into the marketplace so that you and your business have a good probability of pulling in that right type of talent? So those are some of the themes that we're going to talk to Sam about. Let's go ahead and bring her in and say hello. Sam, how are you?

Sam:

I'm good. How are you?

Ron:

You are officially on Automation Unplugged. Very excited. Sam, where are you coming to us from?

Sam:

I am coming just north of Atlanta in a town called Woodstock down in Georgia.

Ron:

I didn't know there was a Woodstock, Georgia. So it's not the Woodstock. There's a Woodstock up in New York, right?

Sam:

Not that Woodstock, not the one that there's been a number of videos and documentaries on. No, we are a small town just north of the city, for those that are familiar with the Atlanta area, just outside of the perimeter. So just outside of that 285 circle, kind of northwest of the city.

Ron:

Awesome. And Sam, we already have some One Fireflies that have jumped into LinkedIn and they're saying hello, there's Taylor. He's our fearless CFO and leader here at One Firefly. And he is saying hello, thanks. And then you have, you actually have Paige. Paige is on your team and she's saying go, yay, Sam.

Sam:

Hey, everyone!

Ron:

So appreciate you folks tuned in. And if you're out there, whether you're watching live or on replay, certainly make sure you post your questions, whether you're on Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn. And Dan, our producer, will make sure that those get in front of me so that I could even pose them to you, Sam. But Sam, just for everyone's knowledge, maybe in your own words, what is Amplify People? And what's your role within that business?

Sam:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I know you kind of teed it up, Ron, in your intro, but Amplify People is really the talent solution for the custom integration space. So Ron and his team before I arrived had this idea to go out and find what problems were in the industry. And overwhelmingly, the response was one of the big challenges in the space was around talent and people hiring the right people, retaining the right people.

Sam:

And so the idea for Amplify People was born. And it really is a one-stop talent solution and a talent partner for integrators. And it's something that we've been really proud to keep working on and keep getting feedback on. We've got some success stories already that we're really, really proud and willing to share.

Sam:

But I was brought on board about two months ago, and it's been an exciting time, just learning the industry, growing, Amplify People to help the needs of integrators and to really, you know, expand One Firefly's mission of helping technology businesses grow.

Ron:

Now, Sam, and you're always honest, so I hate when someone says now, be honest now. What are your first impressions of joining this custom integration industry or space?

Ron:

You know, I've spent my whole career in this bubble. And, you know, sometimes people say you're in an echo chamber, you're in a space, and maybe you don't realize what's going on outside of that. So I'm willing to say my professional career has all been spent inside of this bubble. You've operated in some different spaces, and we'll go through some of those experiences. What are some of your first impressions about entering this space? Did you even know it existed? Let me start there.

Sam:

I'll be honest and say, no, I did not have a name for this space prior to kind of engaging on this journey.

Ron:

All right, so tell us, you did just go to InfoComm. You were out, where was that? Was that in Vegas?

Sam:

It was in Vegas.

Ron:

So what did you think?

Sam:

It was great, actually. I did not know what to expect. Again, I've had conversations with people in the industry, and over these last two months, I've gone through trainings and met with people, but kind of being in a space like that, surrounded by integrators, manufacturers, just people that are really entrenched in this industry day in and day out. It blew me away what the industry kind of covers, what I was able to learn in just those kind of three days on site.

Sam:

I've been, again, interviewing candidates and having conversations with people and got kind of a good sense as to what was important, what they were looking for. But being there, something as simple as seeing like a rack building demo really helped me kind of understand the nuances of why that's important, what's different about this one versus that one. So it was a really just fascinating experience and really a wealth of knowledge.

Ron:

So you mentioned that rack building demo, and I think that, well, I'm curious your perspective. Like all rack builders or all technicians are not the same, right? People can approach that craft with tremendous craftsmanship and care. And they can load the gear into the right places. They can lace the wires beautifully in an organized way.

Ron:

They can do that at varying degrees of speed and efficiency and accuracy. And that, you know, when you get into this idea of labor shortages in our industry, and I don't think it's any surprise for anyone watching or listening, there's a lot of demand around getting qualified technicians.

Ron:

Is it more clear to you, maybe post-attending InfoComm, how there could be differentiation of junior techs versus senior techs or people that, whether it's experience or just the care they take in their craft, how there is differentiation at that, what just might be defined as a technician role?

Sam:

100%. I mean, that's not something that's very unique to this industry. I mean, having, you know, different levels of commitment and skill is something that's kind of across the board. I think what was really fascinating for me to uncover is, to your point, how much care somebody placed in something as simple as rack building, like things I wouldn't have known were a problem until they pointed it out and how to solve that problem and the pride that they took in that work.

Sam:

And comparing that to some other dialogues I've had, it was evident, you know, how impactful something so simple in each phase of the process can be on the kind of totality of the product that's produced. And so that was, I think, really, really helpful for me.

Ron:

Was there... I know you were there with Steven from our team and you guys were the dynamic duo there representing One Firefly and Amplify People. Were there any demos or any kind of tech that caught your eye that was particularly memorable? Maybe you would have come home and talked to friends or family about?

Sam:

I would say there was a couple of things that Steven and I kind of talked about. There were a couple of manufacturers that blew me away with the simplicity of their projects and what they were producing.

Sam:

There were some projection demos that were really just how crystal clear things have become and the size that they're able to get. And all of those things when I think just you know prior to entering this role, just as a consumer, you know you're looking at like TV sizes, what you can see at the big box stores and things like that. But knowing there's a whole world of possibilities out there and being introduced to that was really remarkable. No, that's awesome. And we have CEDIA right around the corner and we're going to blink and CEDIA is going to be here. So at InfoComm, you got to see the commercial side. And although there are some resi integrators that go to InfoComm for sure, I know we saw a bunch of our clients there, but at CEDIA, that's going to be right around the corner. And you'll get to see the kind of the other side of the coin, which will be, I think, a lot of fun.

Sam:

I know it'll be a lot of fun. Everybody's been hyping it up. I can't wait. I'm really excited.

Ron:

Yeah, it's gonna be, it's gonna be great. Sam, take us back in time. What's your, a little bit about your background? How did you maybe get into this whole hiring business?

Sam:

Yeah, so, you know, there's a running joke in the industry, people that do staffing, that nobody kind of sets out to do staffing. And I can say that was my path as well. I did not know it was something I was going to fall into. I knew about the industry growing up. My mother was in staffing.

Sam:

So around the dinner table, I'd hear all the adventures and stories of people that she got to interact with. So I was familiar with it, but it wasn't ever kind of my path. Right after college, I went into grad school and I got a job with an international nonprofit, really working with youth. So people in that middle school, high school age, and really kind of partnering with them, figuring out you know their life and what they wanted to do and everything like that.

Sam:

And it was great. I loved my time there. I loved working with kind of that demographic, that age bracket. And it was a lot of fun, but I was impacted by kind of external factors and had to make a choice overnight as to where I was going to go next. And so I got a call from a friend of mine that was out in California. I was in Chicago at the time.

Sam:

And she said, "Hey, you've been working with kind of these teenagers, helping them figure out kind of what they want to do with their life. How about you help them do it by getting into college?".

Sam:

And I thought, huh, that's an interesting way to kind of evolve through this kind of life cycle. So I interviewed for that role, wound up getting that. So I wound up getting into the higher education space as an Assistant Director of Admissions for creative art college. And I did that for almost a decade. And it was great. I loved working. We were doing everything from interior design to culinary arts, film, graphic design, and really having conversations.

Sam:

And one of the most rewarding parts of that was having conversations with families that maybe didn't know that these career paths were legitimate. And there were places they could go to learn this skill set and go out in the world and be successful. So I loved having those conversations with the families. And after about 10 years of doing that, I realized that the larger industry had really caught up with the larger higher education space had caught up with these creative fields and realized that there was something there.

Sam:

So no longer were these kind of private institutions the only solution. There were junior colleges and vocational schools that were offering these options. And so it was time for me to decide kind of where to go next. And in that theme of kind of following this life cycle, the next phase was, okay, I help people know what they want to do, then help them get the skills to do it. Well, let me help them actually go out there and find the place to do it. And so I got into staffing, just kind of followed that evolution.

Sam:

And my first kind of foray into staffing was actually on the account side. It was in business development and sales and realized really quickly that while it was something that I could do, match companies with people, I really loved the people aspect of it. So transition to recruiting, I focused mainly on kind of the IT space at that point with some finance and admin kind of mixed in and did that for a few years.

Sam:

Then when the pandemic hit, obviously technology kind of came to a halt in a lot of cases. Nobody knew where to go next. And so I had to figure out my next phase. And there was a big need in healthcare during the pandemic. So I went over to the healthcare.

Ron:

There's a lot of nurses that were in demand. I was just talking to a friend this week, Sam, and she said that her fiance was making like $10,000 a week as a nurse.

Sam:

I knew nurses that, you know, they were 10 to 15 years out from retiring and during the pandemic made what they would make in those 15 years and went ahead and retired early. Yeah.

Ron:

Where was that? Was that all government money that was funding that?

Sam:

It was a variety in a lot of cases, yes. But yeah, it depends on the institution, some private funding and built out a necessity. Yeah.

Ron:

But that's got to be hard on that profession. If in a sprint, they made ridiculous sums of money, well earned. No challenge on the volume of money, but that was obviously, we all thought it was the zombie apocalypse. So it's, you know, you're gonna go out and serve people, get paid for it. But that, has that, I'm just curious, has nothing to do with recruiting. But has that been harmful to the nurse profession post pandemic?

Sam:

Yeah. Telling somebody to go back to making what they were making before the pandemic and asking them to still do the same amount of work with the same risk. Absolutely. People have left the profession in droves and there is still kind of some critical shortages in that space. So there was a sprint, as you put it, and people were willing to pay to get the staff that they needed. And now that that's over, trying to stabilize has been a challenge.

Ron:

Got it. That makes sense. I'm curious in that period where there were, I mean, I mean, I know very little about this other than what I would've watched on the news, but that was at least a period in time where I did on occasion turn on the news. I try to not turn on the news now. Anyone watching or listening knows that. But what I think I heard is that there generally were nursing shortages all over the country.

Ron:

If you were on the staffing side of that equation, how did you, I mean, was that good? Was it hard? Was it fun? Like, what was that like?

Sam:

All of the above. Yes, it was a challenge, but the challenge was fun. I mean, you had people that were leaving the profession because they were nervous. They didn't want to bring anything home to their families. You had people that had just graduated nursing school that were probably, in any normal time period, eight to 10 years out from being put into any of these environments that they're now being put into because of the critical need.

Sam:

And so it was an interesting time. It was, you know, a scary time. It was challenging. There was a shortage and that shortage kind of made us get creative with how do you go about finding these people? How do you source these people? How do you build up a strong network of people so that you can fill these needs quickly and move on to the next? Because for the one you're working on now, there's 40 right behind it.

Sam:

And so I think that for me taught me a lot about kind of prioritization, time management, getting creative. And it's kind of a foundation that I've been able to carry through my career since.

Ron:

Yeah, I think anyone listening could see some parallels to some of the demands maybe around some of the harder to find roles in the custom integration industry, and that is around technicians, for sure. And I promised everyone listening, I will transition there.

Ron:

But I am curious in that period of where did all the nurses come from? I mean, were there enough, if they are the product that needed to be placed, was there enough of them, or did they have to be rapidly created? Like, did nursing programs spin up and try to turn out the trained nurse?

Ron:

Or was it the supply and demand curve was such that there was such a limited supply, they could charge whatever they wanted to charge? Is that why they were making the money that they were able to demand?

Sam:

All of the above. I mean, nobody went out there that wasn't licensed and there was no way to really speed up that process. So there was a limited supply. Where it got creative is hospitals had to run. There was no, there's no way around that. Hospitals had to run. So nurses that weren't working in hospital environments, maybe they were at schools or day centers or community programs had to be transitioned into these environments that they had never been put into before.

Sam:

And nurses across the country had to relocate for travel nurse programs. So 13-week contracts that weren't in their typical area. So some of the larger hospitals were able to stay really well staffed because they could bring people in from all over. But if you're thinking of some of the more kind of rural areas, they really struggled.

Sam:

And maybe that community hospital that was only 15 miles away from another one, they had to split staff and they had to get creative because there are some federal regulations on the number of staff you need to operate in any specific environment. But it was really a challenge. And again, with schools closing down, community programs closing down, it opened up people that were licensed that maybe weren't in those environments previously.

Sam:

So there was a learning curve, there was a training curve, and it was about kind of moving resources around the country to make sure everybody had at least what they needed to keep the doors open to serve the public.

Ron:

Got it. Makes sense. I appreciate you and everyone listening letting me digress into the COVID-19 nurse talent sourcing issue. I was curious how that was managed. Did you go, I mean, was that the last position, Sam, or the last role? Or what did you do after that?

Sam:

After that, when things started to settle down, I actually got a call from a previous organization I had worked for, and it was the technology staffing company. And the owner called up and said, hey, you know, I'm getting ready to retire here soon. And I want to make this thing kind of marketable for sale out there. And we've got some challenges on the recruiting side and overall just kind of process optimization workflow.

Sam:

We kind of need somebody to come in and take a look at everything and see if we can get everything together. And so I agreed to come back. It was a great organization. I came back. We were able to achieve that goal within nine months of me returning. And then I landed here.

Ron:

What were some of the, I'm just curious, at a high level, you entering and helping "clean up some processes?" What are, without disclosing anything proprietary or secret, what are some of the things maybe that were not ideal that you were able to organize so they were in a better place on the other side of that?

Sam:

It's actually very similar to some of the things you talk about, Ron, putting the right people in the right place to succeed. It was putting metrics in place, holding people accountable, getting kind of some standard operating procedures across the board, getting some workflows together so people knew the steps that they needed to take to achieve those goals. And then having those individual conversations, those meetings, and really getting everybody steering the ship in the same direction.

Ron:

Got it. Understood. You joined One Firefly to run our Amplify People business around talent sourcing and little tease to everyone listening. There'll be more than talent sourcing in the future from us. What, what interested you? What, what got you excited about that opportunity?

Sam:

I was excited about the challenge that was presented, that there was a need in this industry. And for me, it was an industry I wasn't familiar with, but the challenges were those that I could recognize and felt like I could help be a solution for. So that was really exciting.

Sam:

Also, I loved the process of learning One Firefly, getting to know people and the time that you all took to get to know me, how I arrived, where I was, the choices I had made in my life that kind of led me to this potential. And so for me, it was the process and the opportunity combined with the great people that made it a no-brainer.

Ron:

I believe and we believe that a company achieves greatness or mediocrity because of the people. And the people are the most important critical element. I believe that. We practice that.

Ron:

We put a great deal of time and attention into being very clear about who we're going to hire. When I say who, like, what's the job, with clarity? How will the job function be measured with clarity? And what are the type of people that we would want doing that job that we would want to spend time with every day, and that we'd want our clients to spend time with every day?

Ron:

And as we've slowed down and gotten really focused on getting that right, we've been able at One Firefly to attract amazing talent. And we've been able to retain that talent. It's really hard for a business. If you think about business as a flywheel, and if you can keep your people, keep really talented people, then you ultimately aren't wasting energy by trying to hire them and then replace them, and then hire them and replace them.

Ron:

But you get to hire them. And now, if you retain them, I see that as like injecting energy into the flywheel. And you're able to get that flywheel turning faster and faster, and go solve those really hard problems that we all face every day in our business. It's easier to do that when you have fantastic people and those people stay.

Ron:

So switching gears to some of the folks that will be listening or watching to this interview, Sam, when you think about that technology contracting business that we call an integrator, first of all, what are some of the things that they could or should be doing to be an attractive place to work?

Ron:

So if you think about they need to hire a project manager or a CAD technician or a salesperson or maybe a GM or maybe a technician. Well, those people that are considering them have options.

Sam:

Yes.

Ron:

Most people are hiring. And if people say, "Ron, but the economy's tough right now," okay. The economy goes up and down. But still many companies in our industry are short labor. And if they aren't short labor right this minute, they will be short labor as soon as the next pivot in the economy and things get hot again. And that will happen. What goes down, goes up, what goes up, goes down.

Ron:

It's a tale as old as time. So Sam, bringing it back to the question. In your opinion, what are things that these businesses could or should be doing to simply be attractive to a potential candidate? And then I'd love to kind of go into some of the details around sourcing.

Sam:

Absolutely. Some of the first things are be really clear about who you are as an organization. So be clear about what you stand for, what you do, what type of customer you are working with.

Sam:

Really understand your business because again, when candidates come in to interview, you're interviewing them, but they're also interviewing you. And if you can't answer some of those basic questions about who you are, why you're doing what you do, what types of customers they would interact with, they're going to move on to the next opportunity. So I think before you start anything, before you start sourcing and going out and putting anything out there, know who you are is the first key to success.

Sam:

And that goes beyond just kind of the organization structure, but the culture of your organization. What do you stand for? What's the mission you're trying to accomplish? And once you've figured all of that out, figure out why you're bringing somebody into this role. Is it because of growth? Is it because you need to fill because somebody else left? Do you understand why that person left? Understand your why and who you are before you embark on any part of this journey. Because that's going to really make you attractive if you're able to answer those questions without having to think about it.

Sam:

And the other thing is make sure everybody in the organization that this person would interact with during the interview process has the same answers to those questions. Because the easiest way to shut somebody down or turn them off from taking your opportunity is they talk to person A and get one answer and then they talk to person B and get a completely different perspective.

Sam:

If your organization isn't on the same page, it is not ready to welcome in anybody long term to grow with you. So that's one of the first things you can do to make yourself attractive as an organization. Once you understand that, then be able to clearly state in a job description what it is that you're looking for, not just the roles and the responsibilities, but those soft skills that would attract somebody to you. And that will help the right people find you.

Sam:

So if you're looking for a technician, I know we've talked about that as an example many times in this kind of conversation, not just can you do the basics of a technician job, but are you able to interact with clients that may be demanding in some cases? Are you able to have conversations with a variety of people? Are you able to interact and work on a team? Or are you looking for somebody that can work independently?

Sam:

Make sure to clearly highlight all of those soft skills in your job description and get that out there. Now the one thing that I will say that most organizations and companies miss that I kind of with every organization we partner with here at Amplify People talk about is the Why Join Us section on a job post. And the Why Join Us section is really you're selling yourself to a candidate.

Sam:

And I advise everybody go beyond the basics. And what I mean by that is if the basics in this industry are health insurance and PTO, sure, put those down, but don't highlight those as the why join us. Those are just the basics. If you've got something special, like they can take a company van home or we value work-life balance. So we let you take this company vehicle home.

Sam:

And you know we have special family retreats every quarter or once a year where we get to kind of come together as a company. Those are the things that will attract people that want to grow with you and should be included in a job description. A job description isn't just trying to get somebody to come to you. It's to try to get the right people to come to you for the right reasons long term. And so I think that's a section that a lot of people miss. So the Why Join Us is something I highly recommend adding in.

Ron:

The why join us specifically on the job description that's being posted.

Sam:

Exactly.

Ron:

How often or common would you say that that section is on job posts that are out there? Is it common?

Sam:

Less than 10%.

Ron:

Wow. So simply if you do that, you're already standing out from the crowd.

Sam:

Yeah.

Ron:

That's fascinating. A couple of different just along this idea, Sam, of being an attractive workplace. And I'll share, you know, I'll experience share from One Firefly.

Ron:

In 2019, we started practicing EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. And in that, we redefined, went through a process of redefining our mission, vision, and values, and then went as far as putting that information on our website, putting that information, incorporating it into a lot of different ways that we call out and acknowledge our team, reward our team, we hire around those values, we manage in our quarterly reviews and annual reviews around those values, so on and so forth.

Ron:

When I look around the industry that we serve, I don't see that content very often on their website. Or if it is there, and I'll be very honest, and if you disagree with me, drop it down in the notes, the comments. I don't know that it feels terribly authentic or original or unique. And is this important from your point of view as it relates to hiring?

Ron:

I mean, because you also could go into the ongoing building your culture within your business. But just saying on this talent sourcing piece, is it important? And do you, from your point of view, do you see that as something for the folks in our industry that they could be working on? And like in the level of importance, how important, I don't want to overstate its importance. So I'm just like, what do you think?

Sam:

I think it's definitely important. And I think it's important to remember, if it's not easily accessible, like on your website, then people will go to other avenues to find out that information. They're going to start talking to people that may know who you are and what is your reputation. They're going to go online and look at reviews, and they're going to seek that information out for themselves. So having it on your website is important.

Sam:

But I think to your point, Ron, authenticity is key. Nothing is worse or will drive a good employee away faster than if they saw on your website that you've got work-life balance and you're a team environment and you're all of these things. And then they get in there and it's the complete opposite. It's 18 hour days. You know, no balance at all. On call 24/7, they feel like the mask has been ripped off and they've been sold a bill of goods.

Sam:

And so they are going to run and each person that runs will tell at least three other people why they ran. And so in an industry this small, in a market this niche, living up to what you say you're going to do is the thing that will set you apart from everybody else. So make sure it's on your website. Make sure it's easily accessible. Make sure everybody that's walking away after an interaction with you walks away positively, even if you don't hire that person 'cause they're gonna tell somebody that you may hire and make sure you live up to what you put out there.

Ron:

Okay, so go deeper there, as I am often quoted as saying, let's pull a thread on that topic. What do you mean if you don't hire them? What should you do to have effective communication with? I can imagine right now a lot of people listening to this, I'm not gonna hire them. What do I need? I don't need to do anything. What should they be doing? What would be considered best practice?

Sam:

Best practice, number one, is don't ghost anybody. Don't leave them wondering if they got the job. Let them know that they're not the right fit for you and go beyond just saying you're not the right fit. Give them a why.

Sam:

That why, even if it's difficult and it challenges them, will let them go out there and target the right opportunity. And you'd be surprised. Just by doing that, let's say the why is you don't have enough years of experience in whatever category it is. They go out there, they get that experience, they will come back to you, even if it's not for a job, just to show you, look, I listened, I went out there, these are the things I've been able to accomplish since that conversation.

Sam:

Again, this industry is small. You're going to see each other at networking events, at trade shows, at things like that. So leaving people with a good taste in their mouth from your experience with them will go a long way and will help you build up a network of potential people, especially if you're kind of interacting with them early in their career that could come back and serve you a lot more later down the road. So do not ghost anybody and give each individual a why.

Ron:

So a business that is listening or watching has an open role in their business and they create a job description. They may have gone out to ChatGPT and gotten a little assistance. They may have gone and scoured Indeed and gotten a little assistance. They have a job description.

Ron:

What is the difference in where you, if you're a business that's hiring, or in our case, we're assisting with hiring, what's the difference between a job description and what we would call a job ad? Is there a difference and where would one go versus the other?

Sam:

In most cases, the answer is no, because people are just putting their job descriptions out there. And that's why they're missing a lot of those key elements, like the "Why Join Us" section.

Sam:

A job description is really just a list of roles and responsibilities associated with any particular position. Where a job ad goes beyond that is it doesn't just state the roles and responsibilities and qualifications. It states the benefits, the why join us, the larger organization that this role would fit into.

Sam:

And so a lot of people are using just a job description as a job ad. And there's a huge opportunity there to expand, to attract talent.

Ron:

So I've created that job ad that you just described. Where do I put it to ultimately help me get that person that's going to join my team?

Sam:

There's a variety of places that you can utilize that job ad. One is going to be in traditional kind of job board. So think about the Indeed's, the Monsters, the Career Builders of the world. You can happily pay and sponsor that post on there. And they've got entire resume databases and engines that have been built up since kind of their inception. So a lot of people still go to Indeed, specifically. You've got kind of your professional networking sites like a LinkedIn that you can also do paid ads in.

Sam:

Then you've got some kind of local, whether it's a Facebook group or some local advertising that you can do. Craigslist I've heard has been good for some people in the industry. So these are all places you can post your ad. You can also utilize social media. And a great resource on social media is to not just post the ad, link it back to where they can find that on your website. So let's see here.

Sam:

So you go into a conversation with somebody, you say, check out my website. You'll see the job description on there. Make sure that job description matches the job ad so that people can see the Why Join Us, all of those extras, not just what qualifies them for the role.

Sam:

So social media, job boards, professional networking sites, local advertising. And that's all if you're trying to do it yourself. That's not if you're partnering with a talent partner. Those are all of your options.

Ron:

I know at One Firefly, when we are hiring and we put the communication out into the universe that we're looking for talent, we do not have candidates. Now I'm talking about when Firefly's done hiring, we do not have candidates fill out a contact form and attach their resume, right? For many of our roles, it would be too many people coming in.

Ron:

And what we have them do is we have them ultimately go to a job application, which I want to say at One Firefly, we tie that into our CRM and Zoho. I think we use Zoho Recruit. And we have them fill out a job application so that a candidate at the bottom of a job ad sees, hey, do you want to apply here? And they click a button and they can fill out that job ad, or they can fill out that job application. And we have seen that up until now.

Ron:

My point of view, if you said, Ron, why do you do that? I would say I like it as an extra filter. I want to know that someone can read the job ad and see the instruction at the bottom that says apply here. And I want to know they can follow instructions. And then they can fill out that job application, which then at least puts, quote, everybody into the system that we can then run through our filters.

Ron:

I want to say, I think many people listening or watching in our industry do not do that. And is that good or bad? What's your opinion? Is it good or bad or is it just is? Should they do something like that?

Sam:

It just is, and it depends on the time that you have to dedicate to hiring. So there are really simple features like easy apply and one click apply on Indeed and LinkedIn, where it can just take something that's already pre-populated.

Sam:

The candidate just has to click one button and it goes off to you. That gives you a lot of options to screen through the time, and especially on things like Indeed, where you're paying per kind of application in some cases, it has you paying a lot of money for things that you don't need. The extra step is a good filter, redirecting candidates to a specific site that you control. You don't have to pay for the extra clicks, all of those. So there are a lot of benefits in that.

Sam:

You just want to make sure that it is easy for the end user. So for the candidate, especially in a category such as this, when we're talking about the integration space, think about technicians, they could go anywhere. So if there is too many roadblocks, too many clicks to get through to fill out your application, and they can just make one click for the guy next to you, oftentimes you may lose what's a great candidate just because of the ease of the process.

Sam:

So it's a calculated risk. If you can make your application almost as easy as that one click, just upload here and it'll auto populate everything. I say go for it. But if you're going to put a lot of hoops in front of people to jump through in a market pool that really has the power, it's something you want to really navigate and be cautious with.

Ron:

I'm going to make this about all roles. Is everybody right for every company? And if not, what would dictate whether somebody's right for a company or not?

Sam:

Everybody is not right for every company. And it really goes back to, again, this is the people business. And when dealing with people, there are so many variables.

Sam:

I think if we polled 100 people, 99 of them would have a story about working with somebody they did not mesh well with. They considered them a cancer in the organization. They really brought the team down. They were the every reason why we can accomplish something instead of let's figure out a solutions guy. And those have an impact on the organization.

Sam:

Now, if you are a person that likes to go in and work with the team, have camaraderie, you get your energy from feeding off of people around you, you need to be in an environment where you're working with somebody else every day. Otherwise, you're going to be on the job alone, sluggish, upset, frustrated, you don't have anybody to talk to. There's nobody to get your energy from.

Sam:

On the flip side, if you're somebody who likes to work independently, be in control of your own day, be in control of your own processes and success, and not rely or have to count on anybody else, a role where you get to go out on your own every day, get the job done, and kind of be in command and control of yourself sounds ideal for you.

Sam:

So no, not every person is right for every company. And you need to know that about yourself when you are a candidate. And you need to know that about your company when you are a hiring manager.

Ron:

When a candidate fills out, whether it's a job application or a submission and they attach their resume, how effective, from your point of view is it, quote, "reviewing resumes" and then calling people into an interview versus another step.

Ron:

And I'm going to lead the witness and I'm going to say a phone screen of sorts. Like what role or function does that step have in a business, in the hiring, you know the talent sourcing space?

Sam:

So for me, the phone screen is an integral part of the process. Setting somebody up just based off of a resume for an hour, an hour and a half long interview, you don't know if you're wasting their time and you don't know if they're wasting yours.

Sam:

Whereas putting in that little 15-minute phone screen to kind of test somebody, kind of a conversation before a first date, if you will, lets you know at least there's enough there there to have an extended conversation.

Sam:

For me, a general rule of thumb is if you look at the resume and at least 80% of it speaks to you, it's worth at least a 10 to 15-minute conversation. That 10 to 15-minute conversation will let you know if there's another 20% there to have an hour-long plus conversation. But skipping that 10 to 15 minutes is setting both sides up for disappointment.

Ron:

For folks that want to incorporate a phone screen into their process, how do they standardize that process? Do they score it? How do you, if you have Johnny and Jill and Susie on your team conducting phone screens, how do you make sure the feedback or the filter that is that phone screen is consistent?

Sam:

Standardized set of questions for the phone screen. You want to go into that phone screen understanding what your goal is. What outcome are you trying to achieve?

Sam:

So for me, I want to know, does this person match their resume just kind of high level? Can they speak to a couple of different things that I may throw at them at their resume? I want to know what attracted them to apply to this position. Did they even know who they're speaking with is what I'm hoping to gain from that? And what kind of role are they really looking for? And does that match up with the role that I have to provide?

Sam:

If you can get through those three things, then it's worth taking a deeper dive into their person's background, their history, where they're trying to go, and getting a sense.

Sam:

You get an initial sense on that phone screen personality wise. But again, it's much harder for somebody to put on a show for an hour than it is for 10 minutes. So every step in the process is key. But really, that phone screen is designed to get those basics. Does this person match up to what I'm reading?

Ron:

You bring them in. You decide to bring them in for an interview. What should be accomplished?

Ron:

And I know there's a lot of different schools of thought, a lot of different methodologies. I'm not asking you what's the right answer. But what is some of your beliefs or practices around, and really speaking to our audience here, which is, you know, these are business owners or operators that are trying to run these processes within their business.

Ron:

They may not engage in Amplify People. They may not utilize any recruiters or hiring services. They just do this themselves. What are maybe some ideas or best practices for how to conduct, or... and I like to standardize, to standardize some of that interview function?

Sam:

Absolutely. So you want to understand a person's background, first and foremost. So you want to do a deep dive into their resume. Why did they accept a position that they've accepted previously? Why did they leave a position that they've left previously? And how did they arrive here? And that'll give you a good kind of indication as to are they a job hopper?

Sam:

Are they somebody that, for instance, chases the dollar? So if somebody comes to them, if you hire them and somebody gives them $0.50 more, they're going to jump ship. You're going to get a really good indication as to how this person kind of arrived at this conversation today.

Sam:

But beyond just understanding their background, you want to understand how were they measured in their previous positions? Are they used to being held accountable? How big of a team have they worked with before? How did they interact with different members of the team?

Sam:

Some of the questions that I love asking, again, go beyond skill. Can you pull wire? Can you build a rack? It goes beyond that. It goes to how do you prioritize your day? If you're dealing with difficult clients, how do you prioritize what comes first in your day? I want to know how do you stay organized? I want to know about a time that you've had a challenging experience working with a colleague in your past. How did you overcome that?

Sam:

And then depending on kind of the level of this role, you want to understand kind of from a leadership and collaboration standpoint, tell me about a time you maybe pitched an idea or a new way to do things. How was that received? Was it welcomed? What were the results of that? You want to understand how creative they are, how flexible they are, because especially when you're talking about a lot of these organizations in this space, going to be on that smaller scale, you know 10 employees, 15 employees, every single person is a crucial member of that team.

Sam:

So understanding how they operate and are able to not only do their job, but do it well, do it in collaboration and connection with others and be flexible when things change are going to be the key to success. So you want to understand that from their history perspective.

Sam:

Another part of standardizing is understanding where the candidate is trying to go with their career. A lot of times you'll talk to candidates and they won't be upfront with that information. They're waiting for somebody to ask.

Sam:

And that is the candidate's sign from you as the hiring manager that you are investing in people in your team. You have a vested interest in their success beyond what they can do for you. And again, going back to what makes you attractive to candidates, that is one of those things in the interview process that can make you attractive to candidates. Asking what their goals are, you know they may say their goal is to get certified in a certain thing and you'd be able to offer that certification.

Sam:

They may say their goal is to gain more industry experience and move up into a project manager role. Or they may say their ultimate goal is to get into sales. You don't know if you don't ask the questions. So it's equally important to understand somebody's background, how they dealt with that background, what in their background led them to this conversation today, as it is to understand why they wanted to have the conversation and what they want to do beyond just the role you're hiring them for.

Sam:

Because somebody may say, I want to be, I want to be a tech the rest of my life. I love this. And that's great, but you need to know that's what you're getting. And you know that's their goal. They're at their end goal. But if somebody's still climbing, it's important to know where that climb could take them. And is there a path within your organization that could help them along that journey?

Ron:

Let's say you've made the hire. What is the key to those people ultimately staying? You know, the game is not just bring them in the door. The real game is, how do you have them there five years from now? And I know that's probably the subject matter of what could be hours of discussion. So maybe what are some just very high level themes around that? What comes to mind?

Sam:

Live up to what you promised in the interview. If you promised a certain culture, you promised a certain environment, you promised certain benefits, make sure that you maintain that.

Sam:

Keep an open mind and continue to have open dialogue with the individual. Make sure that they know that they're a welcome member of the team. Make sure you've got a path to onboard them so they feel like they're a welcome member of the team. They have a voice. They understand their role. They've got clear expectations and they know how their success is being measured. So that's going to be really, really important.

Sam:

You'll hear me say this a lot if I have conversations with you: be flexible. Understand that people change and be open to that change. A great idea can come from anywhere. So be flexible and open-minded.

Sam:

And another big piece of retention is making sure, again, it starts at that interview. You understood where they wanted to go, making sure you give them a path to get there. If people see you're investing in them and where they told you they wanted to go, they've got no reason to look elsewhere.

Ron:

Sam, I'm going to put you on a soapbox and let you give a 30-second pitch around what are the right types of businesses that are good fits for Amplify People? So if anyone's tuned in and they think some of this dialogue is interesting and they might simply want to learn more or maybe at some point they might want to do something with Amplify People. Where is that right Amplify People integrator fit? What does that look like?

Sam:

Absolutely. For us, the right kind of fit for Amplify People is somebody that's looking for a true partner in the talent space. I say it over and over. And what do I mean by true partner? I mean somebody that wants to come in, be a good communicator, be flexible, be willing to hear out market insights that we may be able to provide and make adjustments to find that right person for them.

Sam:

Amplify People's goal is to be your one-stop talent solution and talent partner. So you will hear me say that over and over again. Those integrators out there that are tired of dealing with kind of the status quo, putting an ad out there and scouring through countless resumes that aren't a fit or working with maybe other recruiters that don't understand the industry.

Sam:

We at Amplify People, this is the only space we work in. We have a vested interest in providing a valuable service to people and doing a really good job. And those that want to take advantage of that, we welcome to have a conversation.

Ron:

Awesome. Sam, I didn't remember to do it as we were going, but I'll do it really quickly here. We had a number of folks. Some of these are Fireflies that ultimately jumped in and said hello. Sheri said hello. And Pal said, "Hi, Sam." She did that on LinkedIn. And let's see here. I'm going to try to call up one or two more.

Ron:

Rebecca says, "Welcome, Sam. So happy to have you here." Allison says, "excited to have you on the show. Great conversation." I have an anonymous person says, "I love that, Sam, some great point that you were making." And here, Paige, actually, she's a member of the Amplified People team. She said, "The Why Join Us has been a huge success since we began using it. Candidates have mentioned that was the reason they applied to the job.".

Ron:

There you go, folks. If you get one actionable nugget from this conversation, add that. There we go, we got one more. Keith says, "I'm here too. Welcome aboard, Sam. So happy to have you on the team.".

Ron:

Sam, for those that are listening, they wanna get in touch with you directly, where would you send them?

Sam:

I would send them, email me directly. So SHodz, S-H-O-D-Z, at OneFirefly.com. You can always get more information from our website as well. If you want to go to onefirefly.com, go to recruiting services and you'll see all about Amplify People. But again, to reach me directly, that's SHodz at OneFirefly.com.

Ron:

Here, I'm going to, I'm going to add, let's see if I can get my technology to behave, Sam. Look at that. Did I get it right? There it is. SHodz at onefirefly.com. And again, folks can visit the One Firefly website.

Ron:

And you know what I'm gonna do, Sam? I'll do this right now here. I'll just share. You mentioned the webpage. Soon, we will have a dedicated Amplify People website later in the fall. At the moment, folks can visit recruiting services. It's at the main menu at OneFirefly.com and they can learn about that.

Ron:

Also, once folks have engaged in a conversation with a member of our team about Amplify People, over here under How, there is a filling out the hiring discovery form. Sam, do you maybe want to describe when someone fills that out, what happens next?

Sam:

Absolutely. So when you fill out the hiring discovery form, that kind of triggers our team to get in touch with the team at One Firefly to get in touch with Amplify People. We review that form. It's going to give us insights into who you're looking to hire, how fast you're looking to hire them, what kind of benefits you have.

Sam:

And then our team goes out and does a little bit of market research about your area, what is standard in your market from kind of a salary perspective, everything like that. And then we set up a call where we can kind of dive deeper in and decide if we're going to partner together. So that form is step one.

Ron:

Awesome. Well, Sam, great job here on Show 268. It went by in a blink.

Sam:

I know!

Ron:

You were a ton of fun. We're so happy to have you on our team here. And it's great to have you on the show. So we'll have to have you back soon. We're going to do a webinar series this summer. Maybe you want to put a couple of words in about that for folks that might want more of these themes, but might want to go deeper. You want to give a tease on that subject?

Sam:

Absolutely. We're really looking forward to kind of that webinar. We're going to talk about some of the things that we talked about today, kind of how to attract talent, where to go to find that talent, and how to evaluate talent. So diving deep into each of those topics. So if you want to kind of continue the conversation we started here today, stay tuned.

Ron:

Awesome. Sam, thank you so much. And of course I'll be talking to you soon. All right, I'm gonna pull you off here.

Ron:

Thanks, Sam. All right, folks, there you have it. Sam Hodz, our Director of Talent Acquisition Services at Amplify People.

Ron:

This topic of people and sourcing, you know, people have found that a bit curious that One Firefly has gotten into that space. And, you know, the short version is that we believe we've been practicing it quite effectively here at One Firefly. Many of the methods we didn't create, we've simply read some of the great books out there around how to do great talent sourcing and ultimately talent management.

Ron:

Some of those books, by the way, are "Top Grading" by Brad Smart and the book "Who", which goes through something called "The A Method of Hiring" by Jeff Smart. Those are a couple of the many books around this subject that we really love and appreciate.

Ron:

And here, I'm gonna pull off the banner with Sam's email address. And, you know, we know that we can be part of the solution for the space. We're not the answer, but we could be part of the answer. And we're going to be of tremendous value to some folks that really want to add that level of professionalism and consistency to their hiring needs.

Ron:

So if you want to know who's that partner that you can go to to help, and/or if you want to know more about the service, exactly all the mechanics and pricing and all those sort of details, just reach out to us. You actually can go to the page on our website. Much of that information is right there. And if you wanna talk to a member of our sales team or if you wanna talk to Sam, don't hesitate to reach out. They love to talk to all of you.

Ron:

So on that note, I'm gonna sign off. Thank you all so much for tuning in here to show 268, and we'll see you all very soon. Thanks, everybody.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview: