Patrick: Dualta Doherty has built a career in recruiting. Not only is he incredibly passionate about the art of recruitment, he also has extensive experience from his around the world life, including starting his own business while living in Guatemala. A few years ago Dualta started a podcast called The Recruiter Startup podcast which has inspired the recruitment community with a differentiated recruitment model, focused on the power of media. Today, we discuss his perspectives on recruiting and what the future could look like with the right focus on attracting and retaining talent. Dualta, thank you so much for joining the conversation today.
Dualta: Thank you, Patrick. Great to be here.
Patrick: I was just saying, I always love when we have another podcast run. You have a very successful podcast focused on recruitment. I was watching a video earlier that said you had an extremely successful year of listeners. You had 155,000 listeners.
Dualta: Yes. I think we’re close to 200,000.
Patrick: That is amazing. We’re going to get to all of the ways how people can find out more about you. Let’s start with the audience understanding a bit more about you from your perspective. I always like to start with a bit of your journey and your passion. You’ve been working with recruitment for many years, and had a successful career. Tell us about your journey.
Dualta: I suppose I was a bit of a late bloomer with it. I’m from regional Ireland. When I got to my 20s, I did one of those degrees that didn’t really get you anywhere, like a business degree. Then I did a post-grad in marketing. It was like a lot of people do post-graduate, wondering what they’re going to do. Eventually, I got to a point where I moved to Australia and I met my wife and we both ended up working in recruitment. I was by 27 at this stage, which is pretty late for our industry to get in.
A lot of people come in 22, 23. I had a ton of jobs, tons of life experience at that stage, picking beans on a farm, running nightclubs, you name it. I would have tried different things in different countries. I got into the agency recruitment world. I got into it in a boom time in Perth, with the mining boom. It was really interesting because I was doing technology recruitment. It was when all the autonomous vehicles were coming in.
All automation for mining, all the gas, all of that stuff was going in. For the first time in my life, I was getting paid to have intelligent conversations. I couldn’t believe it. I sit in there listening to program managers about how they make all this happen. I just fell in love with it. I loved every benefit and finally I found something that I was really interested in. I did that, did quite well at it. I had some gaps in my skill set.
I was quite good at the sales and the recruitment piece, also good at the operations on that site. My wife actually is really good at that. She ended up working in talent acquisition for Chevron and for BHP. She went in that other direction and I went on the agency side. Somewhere along the line we met in the middle. We decided to set up our first business. We left Perth in 2015, just as the oil crash was happening and– Oh, it was the mining crash then, oil was still okay.
We traveled to SouthEast Asia. We did resume writing for people. We were trying to figure out where it was next. We’re planning on going to Canada. We went back, got engaged, and went to Central America. Had this wonderful experience, and got some entrepreneurial skills at that time. I read The 4-Hour Workweek and it started seeping into me. How to compartmentalize areas of business, how to give away stuff that you shouldn’t do in terms of low value stuff.
What your time should be spent, or how you can start working on your business and not get stuck in it. Then my wife Charlotte is operationally excellent. We got to a point where I was selling loads but she was having to do all the work and she hated me. We went, we got jobs, in Canada, but I lit this fire in her that we couldn’t put out. She went back to talent acquisition, but at this stage she just couldn’t focus on one job. She wanted to get back into it. The market, the next crash happened.
The oil and gas crash happened. I was running a team of recruiters in Canada and it was like the tap was just turned off. We took the last of our savings and we launched our company officially. We did it from Guatemala. We spent about six months there. Then we moved back to Europe. We got into a thing called house sitting. We were doing our business, traveling around France. My now wife got pregnant. I have this business which is recruiting recruiters at the time.
We do other things as well, but at the time it was that. She does all the work and she’s going to be out of this. She’s going to go have a baby and my business isn’t robust enough. Then we got to the process of, “Okay, we don’t have an office or a permanent base.” I know everybody is like, “Well, we have remote working.” but we didn’t in 2015, 2016. I was like, “I can’t do it. How do we manage somebody who can do it?”
We got some lessons learned, went back into The 4-Hour Workweek, studied Tim Ferriss advice on that. We came across this amazing lady called Andrea who’s still with us. She runs a large part of our operations in our different businesses now. She was so good. Charlotte was able to give away pieces and enough for us to keep that running. As things progressed, we built up that business. We added more Andrea’s, shall we say.
Then at every stage, we documented the processes, we learned, and we got into the media side of things a few years later. I would study who’s doing what in other industries. I would try and bring that into our practice. As I did that for a number of years, when the pandemic hit, I had this lovely business that was making nice money. We had a nice life. The kids were a bit bigger and my wife was back in it.
We were like, “Okay, I think we might move to America now.” We were in Santa Barbara. I had decent projected revenue and it all went. We had to pivot. We had to look really deep inside ourselves and figure out what we’re good at. We decided that we would build a community because everybody needed help. We built this community and out of that, we built a mastermind program. Then we became non-executive directors to 60 different companies.
Now, we help founders scale their practices through technology processes and not just provide people to them. We get to make real meaningful lasting differences from a commercial perspective. We get to keep recurring revenue in our business so we can now predict what happens. Also, we provide talent acquisition, we provide agency recruiters, but we’re really passionate about getting in and doing the consulting side.
Patrick: All of that, such an amazing journey and a very international journey. I can imagine that is– I’ve also lived in multiple countries and what you learn from the experience of being in different places is incredibly valuable in so many aspects of life. I can imagine particularly when it comes to recruitment. I’m sure that that has been a benefit to the growth of your business. You’ve founded multiple companies, as I said you have your podcast, you’ve had a lot of success when it comes to recruitment.
Today is an incredibly challenging time for many organizations, because they came off this phase of the pandemic. Everybody’s talking about people resigning, changing roles, more to come. One of the areas that there’s been a lot of talk about is, how can we hire the best people to hire those 20%, 30% of talent within an organization? I was excited to have you come on to give us your insights around what are the challenges that organizations have today.
Maybe, what are some things that organizations are doing wrong when they are looking at recruiting recruiters, specifically recruiting that talent acquisition talent?
Dualta: I think the answer lies more in what they are doing wrong with the recruitment in general. The world has changed since– Patrick, you’re not far off my age. What is your age?
Patrick: I’m 43.
Dualta: You’re 43? Oh, you’re a bit older. When we were graduating, the employer was in charge. It was so hard to get a start. It was so hard to move up the ranks. The world has changed. Now it’s about getting good at something and becoming an expert in something. You’re not reliant on a university to tell you. You’re not reliant on an employer to tell you. People are changing and the people are more valuable. The companies who are pipelining their people in general and pipelining who they’re after and engaging with those people.
Doing everything to work out like, “Are we telling our story correctly? Is our company good enough? What do we need to change? Are we moving with the times?” They are the companies that are doing it well like Microsoft, Google, all those companies. Let’s not even talk about them, because a recruiter who works for a premium brand, I don’t mind telling you, it’s easy. It’s a volume-based, administration heavy, process driven gig.
The finding of the talent and the persuading of the talent isn’t done, because those companies have the right value proposition. A lot of it comes down to how the companies know the next generation of companies who want to get to that unicorn status. What separates them? What makes them different? Why should somebody want to come and be part of that journey? The next generation of people aren’t as money-driven as they were before. There’s loads of data around that they’re value driven.
How do we tie in their long-term goals into the long-term goals of the employer? If we flip that into what it means for recruitment, there’s loads of things. Companies get lots of stuff wrong. Typically, they’ll let their sisters start to be in the recruiter or their third cousin, or they’ll say, “That’s the easy job.” It’s the hardest job there is. This is the front person for your organization. To get it right is super hard.
Then the other mistake that they make is when they do get somebody good, they make them be the HR person as well. Then they get drawn in administration, and then their teams become melded. Then the third thing they do is they don’t get the right tech, and then that becomes a mess. I think everything starts with getting good advisors. Now, we’re good in our lane, in our size, what we do. I’ve interviewed loads of some of the top HR tech advisors, recently.
There’s some amazing people out there who can go in, audit your business, get a body who work together, work out exactly where you’re at, where you want to get to, what’s needed to happen, what your story is, how you get your employer branding right, how you do all of that. Once you get all of that, then you get in the person to steer it from the recruiter perspective.
If you just get the person in, and they don’t have all of that experience, or that infrastructure, or the founder doesn’t have the vision to do that, that person just gets blamed. Then the job doesn’t get done. It’s like anything. You have to give the person the tools in order to be successful. You have to really value it. One of my observations was during the pandemic, the first people to get caught were the recruiters. Did companies think there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow?
Companies with massive cash reserves, like cutting everybody. Did they not think that they need to tell this story in six months time? Then in six months time they’re like, “No, no. We value our people. Except for all the recruiters we’ve sacked six months ago. Didn’t really value them. Didn’t believe that we’d still be around.” Short-sightedness is one of the biggest difficulties.
Patrick: I was just having a conversation yesterday. We were talking a bit about vulnerability and leadership, and being able to stand up and raise our hands and say, “You know what? I made a mistake. I need help.” That’s a place that is a bit uncomfortable for a lot of organizations, and also for leaders to say, “I need help. This is an unknown future for me. This is an unknown future for the organization. There is a lot of work that we need to do to be highly competitive in the marketplace.”
There’s so many organizations out there that are saying that. The conversation that I was having yesterday was around convincing. A colleague of mine, at another organization that I worked with a while ago, was saying, “I’m really trying to convince my CEO that we need to bring in help to really re-look at the entire way that we approach recruitment, because the expectations are different.” As you said money, the paycheck, is not what is driving decisions. How do people fit within an organization?
What is their growth potential? How do they personally connect with the values of the organization, the publicly presented values of the organization? How do those values relate to my personal values? All of that is becoming so much more relevant in the decision process. I think you bring up a good point. What I hear you saying is, it’s okay to say that you need help and to bring somebody in to help you with building what that structure looks like.
Dualta: Yes. The thing is, what you’ll find is, there will be loads of people who want to give you the strategy. It’s the actual doers, the people who can get onto the hood and knit it all together for you. That’s the person you really, really want. There are great people out there. I’ve interviewed so many now, I don’t want to throw out any names. I was super impressed, and I did research on the top people. They all had their own ideas of what went wrong. A lot of it is people getting sold stuff.
They sell technology. This is going to be your silver bullet, and nobody uses the tech, or it’s used wrongly, and then it’s just a mess. If you can get the right person to help create a plan, mentor the people from an operational standpoint, and make that happen, then you’re well on your way. You want your recruiter to be the tip of the sphere.
Patrick: You’ve had a very successful career and life working remotely for many years. As you said, you started your business in Central America. You were moving around for many parts of building your business. We all know that a big conversation today, and for the foreseeable future, is how we include flexible working. How we include looking at talent far outside the confines of the geographical location of our office. How are you seeing organizations successfully integrate and really sell?
I think this is a big part of being successful with a remote working policy or a flexible working policy. How do they position that in the most effective way? What do you think about the most effective ways of presenting the new aspects, potentially new aspects of the employee value proposition?
Dualta: Yes. It’s a big question. I suppose when we talk about geography I think we have to first recognize that the world doesn’t start in New York and end in California. People can do these jobs in other countries as well. If we break that down for recruitment, I like to think that there’s a real engine room in recruitment followed by the front of hosts as well. From outsourcing, or as I like to call it insourcing, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, unbelievable talent.
They’re hard working people, with lots of skills, and lots of companies have gone over there and set up. Today, there’s trained people. They’re people who want work. The cost of talent is so much less. The risk of them getting poached is significantly lower. I found that they’re more appreciative. When I talk about insourcing and outsourcing, I think the difference is if you can bring somebody from a different country into your organization, they’re going to be more aligned to your goals as opposed to somebody who works for a service provider in a different country.
They’re not going to be tied into your long-term vision. I don’t think that works as well as you investing in your own ecosystem, so you have control. They know that this is our culture. This is our way of doing things. We are at this and I’m part of this, and I feel good for that. Again, as we said, it’s not a USA thing. People aren’t as money-driven. I was listening to The Tropical MBA last night, and it’s one of my favorite podcasts. They’ve done remote working since the beginning.
They’ve sold really successful businesses. They were talking about how much money you need to make for it to change your life. They said the first bracket is, as soon as you get to $80,000 or $100,000 dollars a year, your life’s not going to be that different if you’re making $170,000. You’ll have a bit more disposable income, don’t get me wrong, but what you do on a daily basis won’t change really. Your values are going to be key.
If you take that up to the next step, if you’re making $350,000 a year, okay, your kids are in private school, you go on an extra holiday, you’ve got a few extra expenses, but again, values are going to come into it. It’s just time. Time is what really matters to people. I believe that that community piece is key. If you can form bonded teams of people that are brought into the practice, and they’re part of that practice, it’s super important.
Now, I’ve done loads of interviews with some platform owners that provide such a service where they can contribute more in terms of their ideas, where they try and figure out their happiness levels, their commitment levels. It’s not just about monitoring their outputs, but rather encouraging their inputs into making the whole thing better to get people to buy it. It’s teamwork’s key to teamwork.
Patrick: You also have a perspective and hopefully some suggestions on how to best utilize media when it comes to recruitment. This is a new area for many organizations where they need to tell their story more effectively. There’s a lot of stories being told because everybody is recruiting. Particularly, we look at engineering talent, product talent, all of these very competitive roles and teams.
Organizations are really stepping up their focus and their commitment, quite frankly, on how to tell their story more effectively. How do you help or how do you suggest for organizations to effectively use media to tell their story a bit more relevantly in the marketplace?
Dualta: My favorite way to find out about a company is to listen to The Founder on the podcast. That’s the first one. I would listen to This Week in Startups by Jason Calacanis. Whenever he gets on a founder, I’m paying attention, because he’s bringing them into deep water. He’s getting past their fluff. He’s getting past everything. Sometimes, he might have an agenda in the back of his head, but I find the interview process fascinating. The Founder needs to lead from the front.
They need to be able to tell the story, but their story has to resonate with people. For that to happen, they need to have their mission, vision, and values. These things have to be real. I think people can Google mission, vision, values. If it’s not real, and it doesn’t tie into their story and their way, then it’s not going to resonate with the next person. That story and their values should resonate with the company that they want to have, and those companies, that the lens that they’re bringing to the marketplace should really exude that.
I think that in terms of other ways of media, in terms of telling your story, I suppose, you want to document as much as possible. Document success stories, document diversity, video is obviously a great way of doing it. The GaryVee model that seems to be most prevalent right now. I don’t know if he invented it, but he’s put his name to it, right? That’s where you get a pillar piece of content. Could be a video podcast.
You then might put music to that and chop it off, then that becomes eight more pieces of content on different platforms. You might strip the audio, and that becomes another piece of content. You might then turn that into the written word, and then that goes out there. All that’s super important. I suppose when you’re talking about hiring, when you’ve created the story, what it means to the people, and got them bought in and got them excited, all of that stuff, how do you make sure that goes to the right people?
That’s where The Founder, and the hiring manager. They need to be embedded in the communities that they’re trying to target. It could be Facebook groups, or LinkedIn groups, or WhatsApp groups, or private member’s groups, or whatever it is, or it might be sponsoring podcasts. It might be doing all of these things, but they need to work out how they’re getting that story to the right people.
Then they need to be able to funnel value to those people, and then they need to track the data, then they need to target them, and then they need to engage them. Then hopefully, when the right job comes, the people are aware of them, they’ve heard them, they’re excited about it. When there’s a candidate short market, everybody’s like doing loads of interviews for one job. This company has the advantage because the media is out there. They’ve told their story.
They’ve already believed it, their vision, their values are aligned to what they are. They hear them on the podcast that they listen to. They see them on Facebook when they’re looking at their news feed. I think it’s a holistic approach from top-down. “No media companies that do recruitment,” and I think that’s a quote from a famous recruiter called John Wellings, who took this to the next stage. He runs a famous search practice in the US.
I flew over and I interviewed him. Actually, he’s fascinating. He has a whole sportscaster-type new setup. Half a spend of his recruitment firm, or even more of it, is on media. He goes like, they follow him to all the conferences. He’s the guy who’s speaking at the conference as the guest speaker. All that media is got, it’s chopped up, it’s put out there, the data is tracked, it’s retargeted. People are engaged, they know what they’re doing. Know, like, and trust. He did the best in our agency world at how that’s done.
Patrick: That’s a very good suggestion and point for the audience listening. That is not thinking about media, and how to turn the volume up on not a specific role, but literally, your organization and why somebody would want to be a part of your company moving forward. I think many companies are focused on, “I need to hire this specific role within this amount of time for this hiring manager.”
Gone are the days of, “Well, I’m going to post a job on my ATS system and let it post to the different job boards. We’ll just wait for people to apply.”
Dualta: Yes. You need to pipeline. If you’re looking at your [unintelligible 00:26:38] structure, and you’re talking to your investors, they’re going to say, like, “How are you going with that?” and you’re going to go, “Oh, I’ve hired a recruiter.” That’s not good enough. We need to pipeline who are the best product managers from this category to this category within this niche? Who are they? Let’s do an executive search profile on the top 200 of them.
Let’s work out how much money there is. Let’s work out how we can engage with them. Let’s find out what their happiness levels are, all the rest. Can they bring a team with them? What would that look like? What does it look like in this category? There’s lots of tools out there that you can use to do a lot of this stuff now. You have to start the pooling and the engagement now, because it’s like when I speak to a candidate, and then they say, “I want to move jobs because I want $20,000 more.”
That stops the conversation for me, because they’re not after the value, they’re not after the long. I’ll try and tie them into the long-term like, “Why do you need the money? What’s the story?” If you can get into their values and their long-term goals, and it aligns to the company’s, then fine, but it all starts with value. Values, long-term things, and what it means to the people we could potentially do. By the time the job comes, we want to be wooing them for a bit.
Patrick: Dualta, this is one season of the podcast, of our Be More podcast, where we’re focused on talent, acquiring new talent, retaining the talent that you have, but you have an entire podcast specifically around recruitment. First off, how can people hear more from you and more about all of the interviews of these amazing recruitment leaders that you’ve talked to? What is the easiest way for people to find you and your podcast?
Dualta: I’ve got a podcast called the Recruiter Startup podcast, it’s on all the major channels. I also set up a podcast recently called Tech for Good that has a lot of the talent acquisition leaders and thought leaders. I’ve done one season of that. Either of those, depending on which your interest levels are. If you’re looking for more advice on hiring talent acquisition people, you can find me on LinkedIn. I have the strangest name on LinkedIn, D-U-A-L-T-A, it’ll come out. I’m always up for chatting and being part of the community.
Patrick: Perfect. Dualta, thank you for spending some time with me today and for giving your perspective and some really tangible ideas and thoughts to those listening that maybe see a bit of a mountain in front of them, but hopefully are feeling a bit that they’re able to tackle it. Particularly, around that media side, focus on community, and building that relationship and focusing on values, I think is all very sound advice. Dualta, thank you so much for joining.
Dualta: Thank you, Patrick. Take care.
Patrick: That was Be More, a podcast by Peakon. Be sure to search for Be More in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, or anywhere else that you get your podcasts from. Go ahead and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any future conversations. On behalf of the team here at Peakon, thanks for listening.