The best part of building TalentBoost has been the notes we get from candidates – thanking us for the opportunity, making suggestions on how to make it work better, and heartfelt stories about their families, career aspirations and hopes for the future.
So, I had coffee with a guy the other day to talk about his career aspirations, which is often how I start my day. Cyrus shared his job search strategy with me – target companies, ideal role, perfect boss, etc. He described how he wanted to contribute to an organization, work for a great company, and be recognized for doing a great job. He had a very good interview the day before and was very excited that he might be getting an offer. As is typical, he walked me through the interview questions and recited back his well-considered answers in excruciating detail. He made sure he looked the interviewer squarely in the eye, gave a firm handshake, and made sure he answered the questions honestly, succinctly and positively.
All good advice. Cyrus had his act together. His search strategy was tight, his research was solid, and his approach was sound. There was nothing I could tell him that would help his prospects. It’s kind of rare that I don’t have any job search suggestions, but that wasn’t the thing that was most different about this career discussion. What was different what we were talking at 4:30 on a cold Chicago morning (my staff HATES how early they get emails from me…), and I had just met Cyrus outside a Dunkin Donuts on Michigan Avenue. He asked me if I had a couple of bucks for a cup of coffee. My immediate reaction was “I have 5 kids, of course, I don’t have any cash…”, but I held my tongue. Instead, I said I’d be happy to buy him a cup. It was clear that Cyrus hadn’t eaten in a while, so we threw in a couple of donuts for good measure and sat down to chat.
Cyrus was 10 years younger than me but easily looked 10 years older. Life hadn’t been good to Cyrus, but it was often the things that we take totally for granted that had slipped him up. He lost a job when the hotel he was working for closed. Then he lost his apartment, and without an address, how could he apply for a job? He slept in his car for a while, but it broke down and was towed away. He wanted to apply for jobs in other parts of the city but couldn’t risk spending money on bus fare if the job was little more than a hope. As I pressed him for his story, his positive outlook and goal-orientation were as infectious as any newly minted MBA I had ever worked with. Cyrus taught me a ton in that half-hour, and it made me wonder how many other half-hours of education I may have missed by looking past people like Cyrus as I raced off to work every day.
After I met Cyrus, a couple of things fell into place. We’ve spent the last two years and a lot of money building TalentBoost, a high-velocity, AI-driven platform for finding and engaging talented hourly workers. We built it for one of our clients, and the initial launch was successful – we now work with more than 150 of their independent dealers across the US and Canada. A funny thing happened though when we tried something different with the platform. We had a client who needed 200 production employees fast. They were getting 2-3 applicants a week at each of their production facilities, and that just wasn’t cutting it. When we lit up the TalentBoost platform for them, we had 1,400 candidates in 5 days, and with an Alexa-based screening tool, we were interviewing and moving 500 candidates through the selection process every day. Here’s what we learned:
These candidates might not have LinkedIn profiles, but they’re digitally savvy. 83% have smartphones and social media accounts;
When you have a low-paying job, looking for a job is expensive and risky. You’re not going to risk losing an afternoon’s pay or even losing your job to drive across town on the possibility of finding a better one. You’ve been down that disappointment road too many times.
Like Cyrus, you want to succeed as much as anybody. Take away the barriers and watch how hard they’ll work to build a career.
So far, the best part of building TalentBoost has been the notes we get from candidates – thanking us for the opportunity, making suggestions on how to make it work better, and heartfelt stories about their families, career aspirations and hopes for the future.