Be More Podcast: Recruiting Diverse Talent with Torin Ellis

Torin Ellis, founder of Torin Ellis Bran and board advisor at Get-Optimal, joins us to discuss talent in the workplace with a focus on hiring and retention.


Be More is a weekly one-on-one podcast about how everyone can thrive in the new world of work, hosted by Workday's Patrick Cournoyer. This week we’re joined by Torin Ellis, Board Advisor at Get-Optimal.

Many of you listening may have heard Torin speak at a tech or HR event—such as UNLEASH, Workhuman, or HR Tech. And, if you have had the opportunity to hear him speak, you will remember his passion, honesty, and transparent approach to communication.

Torin Ellis is joining the conversation today to discuss talent in the workplace with a focus on hiring and retention. Torin is the founder of The Torin Ellis Brand. It is a boutique focused on helping organizations drive business performance. He has worked with companies like Nike and Redfin and shares his insights and perspective on the future.

If you want to discover more about recruiting diverse talent more effectively, check the episode audio, key takeaways, or the transcript below.

"The organizations we work with hire tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people a year. It’s a big part of our lives to make better hiring decisions and treat people more fairly and equitably”

Torin Ellis Board Advisor Get-Optimal

Key Takeaways

  • What has changed in the way people relate to work in the past eighteen months? Torin believes that organizations and employees don’t consider enough the negative impact of the pandemic on people’s lives or careers. Many leaders and managers focus solely on the numbers, failing at establishing a positive dialogue with their employees. Torin believes that organizations have shifted too far away from the stakeholders and are focused excessively on shareholders. 
  • Attracting diverse (underrepresented) talent: Torin highlights how businesses try to add some degree of complexity and difficulty to diversity and recruitment. But he points out that there should be no differences in hiring and attracting talent from different social and economic backgrounds. An organization must help people resonate with their stories. In telling stories, businesses have to look at five words: empathy, intentionality, relevancy, transparency, and proximity.
  • What will be the role of culture in hiring diverse talent in the future? Torin believes that organizations will need to invest a lot of effort in building a culture that considers their employees and takes care of them. He hopes that leaders and managers will spend more time finding out how to recalibrate and define culture and apply that to the individuals inside their workplace.


Patrick Cournoyer: Welcome to Be More, a podcast by Peakon. Johnny Campbell has worked in the world of recruiting for over 20 years. He has been a recruiter. He’s built recruitment and sourcing agencies, and most recently, he has built an incredibly successful company called Social Talent. This organization has grown and evolved over the past decade into a scaled platform that has empowered hundreds of thousands of sourcers, recruiters, and teams around the world. When I spoke to Johnny, one word kept coming to my mind, resilience.

Johnny’s passion is productivity. He constantly asks himself, “How can people be super productive, and at the same time really love what they do?” His goal is to help teams work really well. Johnny and I discussed his ideas on how to retain talent, and I am sure you are going to enjoy his perspective and personal stories over the next 30 minutes. Johnny, thank you for joining the conversation today.

Johnny Campbell: Thanks for having me, Patrick.

Patrick Cournoyer: Excited, we’re going to have a great conversation. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on you and there are many areas that I want to dive into today. As you know, this season is all about talent within organizations and acquiring talent, retaining talent.

We know that there’s a big shift in the workforce right now and many organizations, if not all organizations, are really focused on what they need to do to retain their talent and to attract new talent. You have built a career around helping organizations do this in many ways. Let’s start with a bit about you, your journey in your career, and a bit about your passion for the work that you’re doing right now.

Johnny Campbell: Sure thing, Patrick. What is to know about me? I’ll give you the points that might be relevant, then we can progress into crazy stuff later on, Patrick.

Patrick Cournoyer: Perfect.

Johnny Campbell: I started as a recruiter straight out at university. I went to work at a staffing agency in Dublin in the late ’90s. I was doing accountancy and finance recruitment for a decade. Then I had a call one day, the head hunter asked me would I move to the Cayman Islands to run a recruitment agency there? I quickly entered the firm on DVD, do you remember those? I checked it on the map to see where it was. Oh, it’s near Cuba. Where’s that near? Okay. It’s near the states, near Miami. Moves to the Cayman Islands, ran a recruiting agency there for two years.

Came back to Ireland, set up a recruiting agency in Ireland back in June 2008 with an Irish guy I had met over in Cayman. I convinced them that we’d take over the world through the world of staffing. Then three months later, Bear Stearns fell. There was a massive global recession. The world went to pot and got our first baby. Yay, good times. Quite quickly we just survive, to be honest, Patrick. Went from drinking champagne mojitos in the Ritz on a Friday night to figuring out which is the cheapest bread to buy because I was earning nothing.

Going through all my savings and trying to make the recruiting agency work when no one was hiring. At the time that was the world’s biggest recession. Fast forward a year or two, we turned things around and we turned things around because we discovered this new world of sourcing, which is, we didn’t know that word at the time, but a way of finding talent on the internet. As social media was exploding and because of the recession, people are always essentially willing to try new things and want to try new things. I started to work.

We realized that either we were going to be the only staffing firm in the world using the best techniques unlikely, or really we should teach the world how to use these techniques. We created SocialTalent back in late 2010 as a company that was going to train the world on the new way of recruiting as it was at the time. Using social media, being able to approach passive talent. LinkedIn was blowing up at the time, and Twitter was blowing up, Facebook blowing up, all these different things. Initially, that was an in-person training company.

As we scaled, and I got to, five days a week, traveling around most of Europe at the time, the Nordics, the UK, the Netherlands training teams of 12 people a day, five days a week on a plane every night with the young child at home, this didn’t scale. We went and put it all online, and created videos. I moved to online learning and then built a software platform to host it. It became an online learning platform for the recruiting industry. The curriculum developed, we solved that pain, we taught tens of thousands of people how to source. We then moved on to how do you hire, how do you recruit?

Then we started to say, “Our problem is a bigger problem than this. Hiring isn’t just done by recruiters, it’s done by the whole business, so who else is involved? We got to teach them about hiring.” Then when you start digging into that problem, as I’m sure you know, Patrick, you start going, “Well, you know what, it doesn’t end at hiring,” all of a sudden you need to think about how do we onboard folks? How do we make sure we’ve got good managers managing these people? What’s their role in that? It becomes more complex.

Eventually, all of a sudden, you’re looking at the entire business and saying, “How do we make sure that we’re not just helping an organization hire?” If I go back to what we’re trying to do today, Patrick, it’s how do we make sure that organizations have productive, inclusive, and engaged teams? Because that’s actually what organizations want. They don’t really care how you do it. Hire people, retain people, move people around, we don’t really care. What we want, our teams do amazing work, but gel together really well, come up with creative solutions in the best possible way, and they’re always engaged and motivated to do that.

I guess my passion has always been about productivity. How do you make sure that people are more productive? I saw in the recruiting world how there’s so much waste in how people are recruited 10, 15 years ago and really have a passion to try and remove that. Also at the same time, I realized work can be fun. It should be exciting. How do you balance that? How do you make sure that people are super productive, that they really love what they do? It’s more balanced in terms of they can never have a really rich full life by doing great work and being super productive.

Patrick Cournoyer: I love the fact that you have had this really impactful journey with understanding recruitment, particularly from the recession 2008, 2009 times. I was also doing recruiting at that time, and to see how there are very similar experiences right now that organizations are feeling to how they felt all that time ago because there’s a lot of stress on organizations. Different types of stress on organizations, but a lot of stress on organizations around recruiting new talent, retaining new talent, as you said, and making sure that there’s a long-term plan and path for their teams.

I really feel that there has never been more expectation in the workplace around what my future looks like at this company for the next two, three, five years, and individual tracks. That’s very much an expectation of the workforce today, which I think is amazing because the more that organizations focus on how am I going to individually develop this member of my team into being an incredible member of a larger team, as you said, a highly effective team, to drive my organization and my business forward?

I think there’s a great focus on that now, which encourages and excites me in many ways. Just before we move on, your organization has helped other organizations hire over a million people over the past 10 years. That’s incredibly impressive. That’s a big number.

Johnny Campbell: It’s probably 2 million people last year and a million people the year before. I have a bit of an obsession about impact, Patrick. When I was training 12 people at a time, I was going, “This is good fun, but how do I reach more?” I became an early YouTuber. I didn’t even know that phrase back then, by putting free videos online on how to do different things. To this day, I get folks to meet me at conferences in the US, and all over the place who go, “Hey, I watched your YouTube videos six years ago and I became a recruiter and I worked for Google and I work for Facebook.” I love that.

Did we make money out of that? No, it doesn’t matter, no. It’s that you have reached an impact. I love that. I always say, “I don’t recruit anymore.” My family still comes to me and goes, “Hey, can you get this guy a job? He’s a friend of mine. You do recruitment.” I’m going like, “I don’t do recruitment.” I used to, but I recruit vicariously through others, Patrick. That’s the way I see it. There are tens of thousands of people every day who learn on the SocialTalent platform how to hire better.

What I like to think is that they go into, whether it’s an assignment to go source talent, or it’s an interview with a bunch of folks, or they’re ready to onboard a new employee, or they’re having their first meeting with their new team, they’re going to be doing it better because of an insight tip or something that inspired them from one of the authors on our platform that made them think or gave them the tools to do it better because I do believe that everybody wants to do it better. Leaders want to lead better. Recruiters want to recruit better. HR folks want to do their job better. Some of them just don’t know how to do it. We genuinely don’t know. It’s inspiring when you see the impact, and this is what online allows you to do, Patrick, as you know, in your business. You can have such reach so fast in so many organizations. The organizations we work with, they hire tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people a year, and that’s where you have the real power. It’s when those individuals are doing an amazing job. Work is important, it’s a big part of all of our lives. If you can make better hiring decisions, hire better people, treat them more, fairly more equitably, to be able to be even a small part of that is just brilliant.

Patrick Cournoyer: Yes. I share that passion with you. Could you explain to the audience the retention equation?

Johnny Campbell: Sure. You mentioned at the top of the podcast, the importance of retention. I’ll just talk about that for a second. Organizations right now are seeing this great Exodus of talent. Post-pandemic, when attrition rates dropped, they’re seeing the great resignation as being called by many in the press lately, and we’re losing talent, losing talent to other careers, to other employers, all these things. That’s a massive, massive challenge in most times, but it’s particularly challenging now because there’s no one to replace them. The labor market hasn’t been this tight for nearly most skills in the UK.

Last week I read that most of the supermarkets have no stock on their shelves. Why? Not because of– Yes, a bit of Brexit, a bit of pandemic, but largely because they can’t hire lorry drivers in all the food companies. Who knew you can’t get a lorry driver? In the UK, apparently I was told yesterday, their prime minister is releasing people early from prison to allow them to drive lorries. They fix this problem. That’s never happened before. You have this challenge where you have more people leaving and you can’t replace them, so you have to focus on retaining them, you can’t just hire your way out of this.

When I think about retention, unfortunately, what most people do, they worry about retention when someone is about to leave or is just resigned. One of my good friends and one of our speakers, Beth. K. who’s written several books on this, she’s an inspiration. She talks about how rather than having an exit interview, you should do a stay interview. You should anticipate that people may exit, they’d exit your role, your department, whatever, and so, therefore, you should always be having these stay interviews to understand why they stay, and then make sure that you have the right brief.

If they’re not going to stay, you help them to move on. It’s thinking about retention much earlier. When I started thinking about this and looking at how our customers are solving for this, it hit me that there are three real components to retaining talent. Engagement, which is the last piece, is what most of us focus on. How do I retain people, make them more engaged, give them more opportunity, and so on and so forth, and that is really important, but actually, there’s two other components. The two other components are hiring and onboarding. How and who you hire, how they’re onboarded, and then how you engage them.

The three of them are multipliers to retention. If you hired the wrong person, fundamentally, I don’t mean that they’re bad at their job, but they’re mismatched for the skillset or the team or the values that you require in your organization. It doesn’t matter how well you onboard them or how much you try to engage them, they just weren’t right at the start, so you’re going to have a retention problem. If you are a great person, you’ve got it all right, you’ve got it nailed in the hiring process, but then you make a mess of onboarding them.

They arrive in their first week, nobody meets them and there’s no clear responsibilities, no clear targets, or requirements or outputs that they’ll be measured by, they’re left to wonder for a few months, which happens even more online, unfortunately, and then they eventually figure it out, and then you try and engage them. Well, they were a great talent, but you made a mess of it, and you can’t go back. It’s like the first date goes wrong, it’s hard to come back from that. You want the first date to go well. The onboarding is supercritical, and then of course engagement.

You’ve got the right person, you’ve onboard them, how do you basically keep them engaged? Engagement is really how do you keep them challenged in a way that you’re giving them the tools and resources, you’re showing them where they need to go, supporting them to get there, allowing them to flourish. If that means, of course, exiting your team to go somewhere else and do a new mission in your organization, then you got to support that, and it’s the three of them. Imagine you have a score of one on each, let’s say a score of two for the maths. Two by two by two, and you’re going to get this wonderful eight.

If one of those is a 1.5, it impacts everything. If it’s a 0.5, it reduces everything. That’s my point around not just the three factors, Patrick, but the fact that they’re multipliers. Therefore, if you really want to think about retention, you gotta start back with your hiring, do it really well, make sure your onboarding it’s really good, and make sure that you’re engaging your workforce all along as well.

Patrick Cournoyer: One of the challenges that I hear in speaking with our different guests on the podcast is this change in ownership of the experience between hiring and onboarding. One team, very responsible for the hiring process. You look at your talent acquisition, your recruitment teams, they really are focused on, how do I create the best candidate experience through the recruitment process? They’re really focused on getting the offer out, getting the background checks, or all of those processes that can be a bit sticky, and a bit time-consuming and stressful for the candidate, trying to keep that really smooth.

Then in most organizations, the recruitment team’s responsibility ends at the time where the offer is signed. They have agreed to come on board and join the team, and then they’re handed over to another team for “the onboarding experience.” That process in many organizations is a really big stress point and a struggle because an experience may be excellent in one of these three, those three processes that you’ve talked about, maybe the hiring process is not amazing, but the onboarding process is amazing or vice versa.

What do you think about your organization? You’re the CEO of your organization and you work with many organizations around the world. Do you think that there’s a solution for that? Do you have a suggestion on how we make that process, particularly the first two steps in that equation that you talked about, be more seamless, be more connected?

Johnny Campbell: Well, I start with the framing of it. I frame it in the context of the 2012 Olympic Games. In this 2012 Olympic Games, Usain Bolt won the gold medal for the fastest 100m, and he still holds that record, I believe to this day. In the same Games, the Jamaican team, consisting of Usain Bolt, won the relay race, the 300m relay race, and got gold. If you look at that, the time that Usain Bolt runs 100m versus the time Usain Bolt, plus two other non-Usain Bolt’s run 300m. If you ask anyone, “Well, what do you think? Let’s say, I told you Usain Bolt ran it in 10 seconds.”

If you say, “Well, Usain plus two other slower people ran the 300m relay, what time do you think that would be?” Most people are like, “Well, let’s say 30 seconds plus a bit.” In truth, they ran it faster on average than Usain Bolt running each of the three relay sections themselves. The reason why you can do that is because it’s not about the speed of each individual runner per se, of course, you’ve got to be a leash on the top of the world, it’s about the handoffs. It’s about how one team member hands off to the other.

Think of your point, Patrick. You could have three amazing processes. You could have an amazing hiring process, amazing onboarding process, and great employee engagement. What does the handoff look like? You’ll get so far, don’t get me wrong, with three great processes. You also have to think about the handoffs, and this is where I think it gets interesting. The pandemic tested a lot of organizations, but also led to a lot of experimentation, unintentional experimentation. I’ll give you one example. The customer we were with is Cisco. In Cisco, they’re on hiring, the HR was onboarding.

The hiring team always wants to make sure that the onboarding process was really good, particularly around making sure equipment is ready for day one, laptops were ordered all this kind of stuff, otherwise, that candidate would have a bad experience, but it wasn’t their job. The pandemic hit, hiring was frozen, and boarding. The HR team were underwater with so much work going on, and they said, “Somebody gotta help us with this.” The recruiting team said, “Well, we’re free.” They jumped in and they really helped them fix the virtual onboarding process.

The same happened in our IBM, we worked with the team at the same time and in many other organizations. Then when the dust settled or began to settle, the business stood back and said, “That worked,” and those people stood up and they could really do it. We’ve seen that the teams have become much more integrated.” You’ve seen recruiters responsible for much more of the onboarding process and then vice versa, and you see that the handoff was forced to happen fast and it’s got a lot smoother, and so they’re much more aligned.

You see, increasingly, folks in the recruiting area, let’s say in-house, it’s called talent acquisition, more and more they’re becoming talent professionals. In Cisco and in IBM, the heads of talent acquisition, the initial part of the pandemic, were both given global responsibility for onboarding. The senior HR went, “You know what? That worked. You own that now.” Increasingly you’re seeing talent acquisition professionals, who own hiring are being told, “You own a much longer experience. You’re going to oversee that. We’re going to merge the two teams.” Parts of the team’s talent, think of the three parts.

You’ve got leadership development, you’ve got onboarding, you’ve got LND, you’ve got diversity equity inclusion, you’ve got talent acquisition, starts to putting them in the same team under the same leader with the same budget saying, “Figure it out as a team, no longer will you be through these different silos. We’re going to try and make sure this works together.” I think that’s the starting point, Patrick to actually making this work.

Patrick Cournoyer: You just mentioned Usain Bolt, that was a great analogy as well. He was just a special guest at one of our Workday conferences a couple of weeks ago, and a really fascinating and really great analogy. We’re going to keep the sports analogy moving forward because you have previously said, a couple of times, I think you’re passionate about this that hiring is a team sport. Tell us a bit about how you see that and your perspective on how organizations should look at hiring as a team sport.

Johnny Campbell: The first day I really realized this, because I’ve been recruiting for a long time as an agent. I recruit on the outside and I work with some teams, but I was on site with the recruiters in Intel here in Ireland a few years ago. Ireland is the second-largest manufacturing location for Intel in the world, and [unintelligible 00:20:53] The team had been working on this 2020 goal, it was a five-year plan to get to par in terms of their hiring with gender diversity. They were nailing their goals. They were hiring 50% female hires.

At the time when I was bringing in my friend to meet the team, they were really frustrated because they were seeing these hires come into the business and exit just as quickly, the female talent. It wasn’t their job and they’d hit their metric and they were happy and should have been happy, but they weren’t understanding because they were like, the goal is to have more women in the business because that good life drives better innovation in terms of diversity and everything else and better business results. That’s what we want. We don’t want to just hit a metric and then forget about it.

That’s when I realized, “Ah, this is a bigger thing.” The same happened to me in the same year, I was brought in by a friend to meet the team in Microsoft in Ireland. It was actually not the recruiting team this time, there were a bunch of heads of departments. I’ve been brought in by a friend of mine who is an ex-Googler who got into the Microsoft team and said, “By the way, we never would hire someone from Google up until last year until [unintelligible 00:21:57] came in, you just didn’t touch Google people in Microsoft.”

He said, “We still have cultural issues where there’s a mixture of the old school thinking in the new school thinking let’s talk about hiring.” I realized there was a bit of work to be done there and we did some workshops with some hiring managers, but those two experiences in the same short period of time made me really realize that if you’re going to do hiring well, there are several stakeholders. From a candidate’s perspective, a potential employee’s perspective, they don’t care who’s who, they just met an asshole in the process. If you meet an asshole in the process, that’s it, you’re done.

The recruiters were really good, the HR person was an absolute asshole, but I still want to work for them because the recruiters were great. There was a horrible person in the process, or somebody did something that was offensive or maybe you felt uncomfortable or was just amateurish, and it might be a traditional negative thing. My good friend, John [unintelligible 00:22:50], who’s educated me a lot at his [unintelligible 00:22:53] on how to do a good interview. He opened my eyes to that. If you want to impress a great candidate, talking about the candidate’s experience, particularly someone technical, ask her difficult and relevant questions.

That’s a good candidate experience because it says they know their stuff about my area. They really get it and therefore you’d assume as a candidate, if I get this job, I’m going to end up working with smart people. I don’t mean the stupid questions about how do you get out of a box with two shovels? I don’t know. It’s the relevant question to my discipline, that’s you well thought out and really designed interestingly. It’s even the lack of that could be a poor experience, and that’s everyone involved. It’s the recruiters, of course, it’s the HR folk who come in, the HOBPs.

It’s the hiring manager and her team or the interviewers, everyone, they have to align. Now when you think about recruiting, the recruiter needs to know the most, they’re the expert, but in terms of the hygiene factors, everybody else has to have at least the hygiene factor level in there. If you take our earlier question to its full conclusion, that needs to follow through in how I get onboarded, all of these processes. It’s a consumer experience. I walk into the retail store, it feels fantastic. What’s my experience constantly dealing with this brand when it goes wrong? Does it continue to be great?

My loyalty depends on my entire experience, not just the experience with one part of the consumer business, the same goes with an employee experience, everybody has to feel like they’re part of this good experience. No point in just creating an upfront great experience, that when they joined, it’s like, “This is hell.” Recruiters are cool, but my God, everybody else is awful.

Patrick Cournoyer: I like that analogy to the consumer experience with the employee experience, because another thing that I’ve been seeing and in talking with colleagues in the space, marketing, and people operations have become so much more aligned. I think about 10 years ago when I was working and leading recruitment for an organization, we didn’t really work all that closely with marketing. We would definitely work with some of the values of the external mission statement and try to incorporate that. Now with the employee value proposition and how much marketing, what your organization has to offer to talent has become so much more important.

Also, how you market your offering to an employee, it’s advanced so much further than what your salary is or what your paycheck is going to look like. There’s so much more involved in that, in the employee value proposition, total pay packages. The idea here is that marketing, in general, I think is very good at looking at what is the consumer experience? What is the experience of the external customer for our product? There’s a lot that can be learned from internal recruitment processes, by studying and understanding and working with marketing teams within organizations, and really thinking about every step of the process.

That’s the world of a marketer, it’s to understand and create this experience. I’m also quite inspired to see these two teams that classically really have never worked as closely together as they are today because, to your point, looking at the consumer experience and the employee experience through the same lens, or through a similar lens can be incredibly beneficial for a company.

Johnny Campbell: Can add to that?

Patrick Cournoyer: Please.

Johnny Campbell: I don’t believe that recruiting is marketing, market is recruiting or sales is recruiting and sales is marketing. I believe recruiting is decision science. I believe marketing is decision science. I believe sales is decision science. If you go up a level and if you just look at decision science as a practice, that’s what they all have in common. People are kind of, “I make the mistake of saying, recruiting is marketing so we should just copy them and say, “Oh, hang on a second.” Best marketeers lean on decision science. Therefore, what are they leaning on? Let’s talk to them and let’s learn the same things.

You go back to Danny Conoman’s work on thinking fast and slow that he won the Nobel Prize for, I always say to anyone going into sales or marketing or recruiting, “Read that book, please. Your job depends on it.” If you’re a manager in a team, you should read that book because it’s about decision science. The commonality between all those things is the person. We are the same, how do we make decisions? How are we influenced? That’s what a marketeer is trying to control. It’s what a recruiter’s trying to control and what a sales person’s trying to influence. Therefore, you’ve gone to the root cause of understanding people, understanding decision science, and you can nail any of those jobs.

Patrick Cournoyer: Let’s talk a bit about internal mobility. A big focus area for organizations today, as you said, the importance of retaining talent within a company is top of mind for, I would venture to say every company right now because we all want to retain our talent. Internal mobility is a very important topic now, and recruiting for the idea of internal mobility or the future potential of internal mobility is quite important. How do you suggest incorporating skills or a thought process around let’s not just hire the person that’s going to be able to do the job today?

How do we look a year, two years, five years down the road, at this candidate now to really think about how we would focus internal mobility or provide internal mobility? How does recruitment fit into that process or do they?

Johnny Campbell: Of course, it’s more complicated even than that, Patrick. You look at some very evolved recruiting processes, and the ones that are most examples are Goggles and Amazons, where utility moves towards hiring committees, and the hiring committees approve somebody for a hire. It’s not the hiring manager who has to make the final decision, the hiring committee has the business’ interest at heart. I’m sure the manager does too but the manager is primarily looking at someone to fill the job on her team, so she’s going to look at that.

The hiring committee will say, “We’ll tell you if it’s right for the business. Then from the people we say are okay, you can go hire who we want for your role, but we need to look at the business in a wider context.”

That’s brilliant and I welcome that move towards skills-based hiring, which has actually been driven more in the last year and a half by the lack of availability of people with experience. We’re all having to do skills-based hiring because the experience isn’t out there anymore, or it’s not there on the bottom where we want, which is a good thing really. I think it’s a really good thing.

Even though you do that, and companies will pride themselves on this, and they go, in theory, we’re bringing people in that are going to be future talent for the organization. That is a great idea. The reality, Patrick, is that when you look at all organizations, most organizations, when you get to two, three years in an organization, you’re probably looking to move on, maybe even 18 months. You want a new challenge. If your own team is not giving you a challenge, you’ll look maybe elsewhere in the organization, and you’ll look externally for an opportunity.

If you do find an internal job to go for, what happens when you apply for an internal job in most companies today, Patrick. I know this from talking to them, it’s one, your boss has the right to veto you, right? Your boss gets the job. “Hey, Patrick applied for this job, are you okay with being employed?” “No, I’m not. I need him. “Okay, I’ll throw his resume in the bin.” Worst still, you’re not even told about this job, somebody else is told about it. Let’s say your boss says it’s okay or maybe your boss isn’t asked and the privacy is maintained.

When your resume is handed to that hiring manager, she is not given your resume alongside the external candidates. The external accountants have been prepped, vested, and lost by a recruiter who summarized the five best candidates, standardized the presentation of those with summary details. The internal resumes usually get a big pile of, “Oh yes, these are the 26 internal applicants.” You’re a busy hiring manager, which list do you look at? Process-wise, there’s a load of things broken in internal mobility that’s preventing people from moving.

I spoke with a good friend of mine who works at a big tech company recently, who runs executive recruiting. He’s out the door with an exec hiring at the moment. He’s only in the company recently. He said, ” You know what, Johnny, I realize that half of the wrecks I have, we don’t need, because we have an unbelievable amount of amazing executive talent in our organization. The decks of the top-level hiring don’t know who’s in their organization. They’ve never met people outside their departments because we don’t spend enough day to day creating networking opportunities for those.”

Then there can be a perception that internal talent isn’t as good as external talents. Therefore, let’s hire the outside people, they’ll solve the problems we can’t solve, except we did hire them two years ago in a different department. Now that person wants a new move. You know what? If you don’t know who they are, and I don’t consider them, they’re going to go to Facebook. Then in two years, you’ll want them back and we’ll have to pay them 50% more. Internal mobility is a complex thing. Hiring has to be part of it because, yes, you’ve got to hire the skills for the organization, and your hiring process also has to be augmented.

I see more teams, again, post-pandemic, and probably through force rather than choice. They’re now being forced to look at these processes and merge them and align them, and try to challenge managers to say, “We’re not going to tell you that your team is looking for an internal move because you know what? Our competitors don’t tell us when they’re poaching our staff. We’d rather keep them in the organization.” More companies do this. Standard Chartered Bank, a big organization you might be familiar with. Their journey started in this club years ago.

Today, you apply for an internal job, your boss won’t know until the day you’ve accepted the internal move. The notice period your boss is given us is the same as you would give if you were leaving for an external job, the way it should be, right? It took them a long time to get there. On the same note, the recruiting team will recognize the data and patterns. They’ll see, “Hang on a second, there’s a pattern of this. The sales team, we’ve had 26 people from this sales organization apply for internal roles. We’ll do the math and say 13 of them are going to get jobs in the next six months.”

We need to inform the team that there’s probably a need to backfill 13 roles coming. Let’s build a pipeline.” That’s how we can help the organization. Again, recruiting needs to think about how do we anticipate challenges through data? Not revealing the name of the person who wants the job, how do we use data to then form the business?

Patrick Cournoyer: You’re speaking my language with data, Johnny. I am a big fan of using data and making data-driven decisions. That has been the core of Peakon since we started six years ago. Johnny, we are, at the end of our time. I would love to continue the conversation, particularly maybe in about a year from now. I’d love to revisit the conversation and see how the world has particularly worked, has evolved, and how recruitment processes, and also that connection between that three-point equation or three-step equation has evolved. I share your enthusiasm and focus around that.

I completely agree with you about the fact that those three are so interconnected and critical for success. I would be quite interested to have another conversation in a year and see where we are at. Johnny, first off, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and your passion for the work that you’re doing. How can the audience find you? What’s the easiest way to find you?

Johnny Campbell: Just type Johnny Campbell at SociaTalent into Google, you’ll probably find me. I’m active on LinkedIn, I’m active on Twitter. If you are obsessed and want to know about my personal life, you can find pictures of what I do in my private life on Instagram, including gigs I want to go back to once I can go back to doing stuff. I’m everywhere, @Johnny Campbell on most platforms. You can find more of our resources on

Patrick Cournoyer:, Excellent. There was also a book that you mentioned that we’ll definitely link in the podcast link as well. I always like to share with the audience, the inspiration points, the podcasts, the books that they listen to, or that they read to help them gain inspiration and help guide their personal path. Thank you for sharing a few of those. We’ll link them in the podcast as well. Johnny, thank you very much for your insights. I know the audience is really going to enjoy it. I hope we can have another conversation in a year, I’d enjoy that.

Johnny Campbell: Thanks, Patrick. It’ll be my pleasure.

Patrick Cournoyer: 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.

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