The Staffing Show - Alison Daley

Alison Daley, founder and CEO of Recruiting Innovation, joins The Staffing Show to talk about how she got started in the staffing industry and shares her Tech Talent Cheatsheets with our audience. She shares the process she went through in creating her own industry training platform for the recruiting and sales industries. Daley also touches on the unique power and importance recruiters bring to their roles, and shares about how believing in herself changed the course of her professional life.

David Folwell: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for another episode of The Staffing Show. Today I am super excited to be joined by Alison Daley, who is the founder and CEO of Recruiting Innovation. Alison, thanks so much for joining us today. Very excited to have you on the show.

To kick things off, could you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got into staffing?

Alison Daley: Sure thing. Thanks for having me, David. I love talking all things staffing, recruiting, talent. My favorite topic, so I’m glad to be here.

I’m Alison Daley, founder and CEO of Recruiting Innovation, as you mentioned. I like to call myself the accidental recruiter. I’ve fallen into this industry four times. I think most of us have some, “I stepped on a banana peel and fell into recruiting story.”

Folwell: Yes, almost everybody.

Daley: Yes. I also love your perspective around, oh yeah, I was actually talking to Jeremy Roberts who used to run SourceCon, and he’s over at JP Morgan now, but talking about how a lot of recruiters actually are kind of renegades. We don’t really fit into a box, especially on the staffing side.

We like to run our own book and then run our own business. I think that this industry really is a good catchall for misfits that might not fit in other places, but are high-energy and like to deliver quality.

Folwell: I love it.

Daley: I think of myself. Yeah.

Folwell: Very relationship-focused people, people that can talk.

Daley: Yes, exactly. So fell into the industry four times, picked it three times. My first job out of college, I responded to an admin assistant posting hosted by Remedy Intelligent Staffing in Omaha. So, shout out to any of my Remedy franchise folks.

Ended up being an admin for them for a little while. I was like, “What’s this staffing stuff? That’s cool.”

I was a corporate recruiter for Footlocker Europe out in the Netherlands for about two and a half years, which was awesome. Fortune 500 is interesting.

Formally cut my teeth as a recruiter, both on staffing and direct hire at Manpower. Prior to Footlocker also was a first hire for a UX recruiting agency here in Denver, owned by the guys that run UX Magazine. They wanted to bring sophistication to UX recruiting because that’s even one more level of ephemeral from tech recruiting, which is also already hard. I learned a lot there.

Then my last full-time recruiting job was with a high-growth startup here in Denver called Craftsy. It was right after they had closed their $50 million round of funding. I was their first external hire and brought in a lot of structure and infrastructure to their tech recruiting process.

Loved that a lot, loved recruiting, but I always felt like I kind of came from the land of misfit employees. People like me. I delivered good work, but I bumped into little walls. I never was promoted. I never grew in my career. I was only in a job for 18 months to two years. Either I got fired or I was moving across the ocean, which happened a few times.

The backstory of how I ended up building Recruiting Innovation was toward the end of my time at Craftsy, I just really started burning out and was really tired of….I love recruiting. I loved the impact. I love how it’s sort of a micro MBA because next to the executives, I know what every person does and every team, because I hired for it. It’s such a great learning path. The fact that especially on the corporate side, recruiting lives under HR and I’m not an HR person whatsoever and it was like, “Well, where am I going to go from here?”

Then I ended up having this 10-day existential crisis where I was like, “What do I want from my life and my career?” One thing led to another, and I discovered this UX bootcamp. It was one of the very first user experience bootcamps in the market, six or seven years ago. Having been a UX recruiter, I knew everything about user experience design, but without the knowledge. So, I was like, “This is a great transfer of skillset.”

I quit the job. I started the bootcamp. And then I actually landed a junior UX researcher job the week I started my program because, hello, my network is so good. Another bonus of being a recruiter.

Folwell: Yeah. You’ve just been recruiting. Yeah. You knew all the people.

Daley: Just me and my 5,000 friends on LinkedIn, just, “Anyone need anything?” It’s like, “Yeah.” So started as a UX researcher, took like a duck to water because recruiters and researchers, especially on a product team, are two sides of the same coin.

So as a user experienced researcher, my job was to define, “Who are my end users? Where are they?” Get them to talk to me and then follow the UX toolkit to learn about their goals, expectations and needs related to using a product. And then synthesizing those stories back to the product team so that they can make informed product decisions.

It was so natural for me, my boss was like, “How do you already have interviews scheduled? Normally this takes two weeks.” I’m like, “Hello, I’m a recruiter. I kept just like, “Am I doing it?” He’s like, “You’re doing it.” I just felt so good, especially after having recruited for that software team and for tech forever, to now be on the other side of the desk.

That’s actually what led to the “aha” moment. So as I’m doing this job, I’m being a UX researcher, I had a student project for my UX bootcamp. My student project was a UX recruiter training program. Because like I was saying before, I used to tease my dev friends, “Oh, you think recruiters don’t know what you do? They really don’t know what UX people do.”

So I developed this little UX training model for the recruiters. I own the domain. It’s called,, because I thought that was clever.

Actually that’s what I named my company initially. And then literally I was like, “Is this a thing? Is this how we can train recruiters about how to talk tech?” It was like, “I think this is a thing.” I looked in the market. Now we’re transitioning to the origin story of recruiting innovation. Was looking at the market and was like, “Is no one out here teaching tech to recruiters, solving a problem that we all know is a problem, that recruiters fundamentally don’t understand what technologists do?”

So in that moment, realizing that there’s a greenfield, it was like, “Well, if not now, when? If not me, who?” Exactly one year into my job as a UX researcher, I quit that job to come back to recruiting and save tech recruiting. Nothing less. Nothing less. Yeah. I can tell you a little bit more about the company now too if you want me to.

Folwell:  Yeah. Yeah. I would love to know. Tell us, what is Recruiting Innovation? What problem does it solve?

Daley: Oh, man. So Recruiting Innovation, I brought to market basically the recruiter training platform that I wished I’d had coming up. There’s a lot of recruiting training out there, which is great. You need to know how to source and things like that. But no one was out here teaching recruiters, “Java is not short for JavaScript,” or, “This is what front end is compared to backend.”

So what we are focused on at Recruiting Innovation is really becoming the industry training platform for the recruiting and sales industries. We’re in tech right now, but you can also think healthcare, financial services, life sciences. Unless you’re a professional in that industry that’s transferring into recruiting, most likely you don’t understand that industry. But yet we’re tasking our teams to get on the phones with director level positions that are clients, not knowing how to even establish credibility, let alone how to pry loose passive candidates.

There’s a reason that there are blogs dedicated to how awful recruiters are. I can see where they’re coming from. It’s crap emails. It’s all templated. I’ve been there. You don’t know what to say. So, you don’t say anything at all and you just fumble along.

So what we do, we actually have a trademark training IP that I developed. This is the toolkit, the user experience toolkit that I learned in my role as a UX researcher. What I’ve done is brought this toolkit that lives in software development, in the user experience space, and I’ve brought it back to the recruiting process.

What does that mean? So there’s three tools in the UX toolkit that we are now training recruiters to use as recruiters. Those three tools are: journey maps, personas, and contextual interviews.

We call it the Alignment Framework. It’s our trademark training IP, the cornerstone of everything that we teach. When you learn that model, basically we like to say that the alignment framework trains recruiters on the language of technology. When you’re learning a new language, it’s one part grammar and how to construct sentences and how to have conversations. And then it’s one part vocabulary and the words of the domain in which you’re operating, in this case tech.

So we use journey maps to map the journey of the workflow of our different technologists. Then we use the personas to help recruiters to really understand, “Who are these archetypes that I’m recruiting for?” The toolkit basically is then the backbone of the rest of the technical training, so our marquee product. I’m like, why say something in two sentences when I could say it in seven?

Folwell: You’re good. We could also cut sections.

Daley: Okay. Yeah, no, I’m just having fun.

Folwell: Yeah, you’re good. You’re good. This is really cool, by the way. What you’re talking about is awesome.

Daley: Yes. Well, and that’s the thing. So I’ll tell you about the product and I’ll tell you why we did it this way.

Our marquee product is the Tech Recruiter Certification. It’s a seven course, all online self-paced program. It’s two recruiting courses. So, we’ve got a Recruiting 101 class that’s like, what is the workflow of a recruiter? How do you write job descriptions that are candidate oriented? How do you draft outreach messages and Boolean search strings and the 101.

Then we’ve got the Alignment Framework Course, which is all around, how do you have these technical interviews with candidates? How do you have the technical intake with hiring managers? Then what is this toolkit that enables you to have sophistication and nimbleness as you go forth and talk to all these different technical people?

Then we cover what I consider the five key roles of a software development team, which is product management, UX design, front end, backend, and DevOps engineering.

Then we’ve partnered with technologists in each of those disciplines. You’re learning from a senior, if not manager, director level technologist of that expertise. You learn from UX strategist. You learn from a lead product manager at Coinbase and so on.

Then what’s cool is, is then those technical instructors, the curriculum for the tech courses is basically that alignment framework again. So you learn the alignment framework on how to have these conversations. Then you come into the tech courses and then….Let me just tell you about this because I feel like we can overcomplicate sometimes as recruiters, especially when we’re not super comfortable. It’s probably not just even recruiting. The less that you know about a thing, the more intense it feels.

Folwell: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Daley: Yeah. So what we’ve done is we’ve actually broken down each role into just some component parts. So one part is workflow. How are they solving for the problems that their job is tasked with?

Another part is toolkit. What is the technical toolkit that they leverage to complete their job?

Then there’s the personas. So, what is a junior persona compared to a senior persona, task, deliverables, motivations, frustrations? What does that look like at one to three years, seven to 10, so I can start to figure out seniority?

Then finally, communication, because each of these specialists is looking at your job description in a different way. They’re looking for different red flags. They’re going to respond to different types of outreach messages.

So, if you can know what is the workflow, the toolkit, the career progression and the vernacular per role, oh my gosh, you’re already 80% ahead of the rest of the market. Now you can relate to these people in their language. It’s just been a really fun thing to deliver. We get some really great feedback from our audience. Yeah. We like to say we teach recruiting teams how to talk tech.

Folwell:  That’s amazing. It makes a lot of sense. I know a few of the CTOs that I’ve worked with over the years have told me that most tech recruiters that have reached out to them are awful, that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

They’re reaching out to talk to them about languages that they don’t know. They’ve looked at their resume and they don’t understand that the nuances and the different tech that they’re talking about.

Then the other side of that is that the people who do get it and do know how to talk about it correctly and accurately are lifelong recruiters for some of the best developers that I know, where they have basically have said….These senior level CTOs who have had jobs at KPMG, large organizations where they’re like, “I know one person that I trust and he knows exactly what I’m looking for. He will not reach out to me unless he knows it fits my criteria. He also has that technical background.” So, it makes a lot of sense.

One other thing. I know you and I have talked before this as well, and I find this very cool because I’m always in the startup scene. You just came out of Techstars and you got into Techstars, which congratulations for that. I also think if maybe you could share with our audience a little bit about what Techstars is, what that experience was like because I think that’s something that’s an accolade that not many startups can say they’ve accomplished.

Daley: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, very exciting. So Techstars is one of the premier business accelerators in the market. They’ve been around almost 15, 16 years. They’re on the same parallel as Y Combinator. Started right here in Colorado, which is awesome. They’ve become a global company with different types of different specific cohorts.

The one right here in Denver, fortunately for me, was actually the workforce development accelerator. So, it was everything related to workforce development. There was, I think 12 companies, two nonprofits. Really cool to see other folks solving for different parts in the workforce development lifecycle. Then we got to meet, I think it was over 90 different investors, operators, mentors that all operate within the workforce development space, which just totally widen my aperture to what we deliver and how we think about talent and upskilling and the industry.

It was a really intense program. It was an additional 15, 20 hours a week for 90 days.

Folwell: Wow. I didn’t realize there was that many hours of a commitment. That’s crazy.

Daley: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Folwell: How do you run your business with that?

Daley: Exactly. It was November, December, January, which in 2022, for everyone was a little sideways. So, it worked out that it was an odd time because then we came out of it, we had regrouped on who we are and how we want to be in the world and how we want to grow.

What’s cool too is, thinking of the Techstars stuff and the workforce development is just really thinking through, “What does 21st century recruiting models look like?” I feel like most industries three years into Covid are having some form of, “Who are we now? What served us before isn’t going to what’s serve us moving forward.”

Recruiting absolutely is the same. Not much has changed in our industry, really since the early aughts. We’re now maybe getting a little more AI, which is cool. We’re getting some more automation, but this will fundamentally always be a people business. 

We also feel like Recruiting Innovation’s poised in a good spot because as an industry, coming back to the pain points that you just addressed with the CTOs is endemic in our industry. This is a little tough love conversation. Most companies still subscribe to this sink or swim model. We’re going to hire a bunch of new grads. We’re going to throw them in a bullpen, which doesn’t exist hardly anymore. It’s kind of coming back. You’ve got 90 days to six months to prove your spot.

Folwell: Figure it out.

Daley: Yeah, figure it out. Otherwise, you’re going to be part of the 30% that we let go. It’s just not very efficient, not super friendly. So, we’re really all about how do we skill and up-level not just recruiters, but their teams and how they think about their systems so that they can be more nimble and be able to adapt as things get more technical?

Every company is a technical company now. So it’s like, if you can take this five-to-eight-hour program and now you know how to talk to folks, how to qualify them, how to establish credibility, how to actually build relationships, that’s an amazing return on investment.

I think that as an industry we need to get away from…well, this is another trend we’re going to talk about, but this idea of moving away from talent acquisition and paying bigger bucks for a senior tech recruiter.

A, you can’t really find them anymore. Now we’re focusing on talent activation. So, how do you upskill the people to become skilled tech recruiters? Well, now you can because there’re actually resources like that, like us in the market. Yeah. I’m just really loving the thought around workforce development, future of work and just really elevating the recruiting industry to being a premier spot and a destination for people to really grow six-figure careers here.

Folwell: That’s amazing. Coming off of Executive Forum, one of the stats that they had is…it was in their opening keynote, they talked about how talent wants career development and upskilling. This was talking about the temporary workers.

But the largest piece of the pie…it was not interested, interested, greatly interested and 57% of temp workers were interested in career development and upskilling. If that’s what’s happening with the temp workers who they’re trying to get, I’m sure your internal employees want to as badly, if not more.

You’re hitting the market at a time where it’s, I think the only way to fill the talent shortage in a lot of places as well. It’s like we have such a talent gap that you can’t just take the people that have the skills today to fill the needs that you have. So, that’s really interesting.

Tell me a little bit about some you’ve experiences that you’ve had, success stories working with agencies to help upskill their recruiting workforce.

Daley: Yes. Well, I will say too, that’s also a thing that we’re seeing from our perch is this movement toward internal pathways, internal development, internal growth.

The number-one benefit you can offer millennials is training and career progression. Gen Z won’t even work for you if you don’t have built-in training and development.

So, you take that into the context of also, we’re at what, 3.5% unemployment with also hundreds of thousands of open jobs? You literally cannot buy the talent. You have to be creative. You have to lean on partners and figure out how you’re going to upskill your own folks. We’ve been having some really great success. We’ve got some really amazing corporate clients. We work with the Zapier and HubSpot and Roblox.

Zapier’s doing some really cool stuff. They are very progressive. They do have a really cool new recruiter job rotation. What they’re doing with our technical training is they do the fundamental recruiter training, and then they get assigned to recruit for UX for a little while. So, they’ll do our UX recruiter training, and then they get to shadow a UX recruiter. Then six weeks later, then they go to backend, for example. They’re very intentionally making sure that these new recruiters are getting exposed to every technical role, with an ability to go deeper and really immerse for a period and then rotate. And then at some point when you’re done with that, now you’re a really great multitool. You might even at that point have an affinity that you can identify, that you really like working with a certain skillset. So, that’s been really successful for them.

On the staffing side, we have been working with Judge Group and EdgeLink and Brooksource to name a few. What we’re doing for Judge, for example, they’re really great in that they really are committed to training. They have a lot of internal training. I know they work with other internal training partners. What we’re seeing with some really great success is we’re actually doing a cohort model. 

It’s so funny. There’s this big push to online learning and self-learning, self-directed learning. Now that a lot of people are remote, we’re seeing the pendulum swing back to, “But I also want to interact with other people,” which is fair. So, we’ve been piloting cohort-based models. It’s a group of BDRs and BDMs. Basically it’s you meet once a week for six weeks, 30 minutes. You do a course a week for the six weeks. So it’s the alignment framework and then product and then UX front end, backend and DevOps. Then we talk as a group about, “What was a key thing with the lesson? What can you bring to your clients? What’s something that surprised you?” What’s also nice is because teams are remote, now it’s a great way for then these colleagues in five different offices to get to know each other and collaborate together. So, it’s not only are they learning and being like, “Oh, I’m already going to ask this question with my hiring managers. Ooh, I actually knew something. That felt really good in this course,” but now they’re getting this team bonding element as well.

They’re seeing some really good results in terms of just the detraction and then the delivery, too, because clients right now are discerning as well. They’re being careful about who they’re working with. They don’t want to waste their time with agencies that don’t get it. So, if you have trained and certified recruiters that are able to then point to their ability to deliver without wasting your time, that’s also a win-win on the staffing side too that we’re seeing.

It’s been really fun to just see different companies getting more creative about not only upskilling and onboarding more effectively, but retaining, because most recruiters want to get into tech. Actually, I had a great feedback from a graduate who was at Saga Education. She said when they found out they were taking the training, she said to her colleagues, “This is my path. I finally found my path to six figures.”

Because if you’re in recruiting and you’re not yet in tech, get into tech. This is where you get six figures, man. Our training will help you get there.

Folwell:  That’s awesome. That’s great.

Daley: Yeah.

Folwell: That makes sense. You touched on this a little bit, in terms of how workforce has changed and we went all remote. You’re seeing the pendulum swing back in some areas right now. We’re hearing Elon’s forcing everybody into the office on Twitter. There’s all kinds of weird stories on that front. What are some of the trends in terms of what you think the future of work will look like from your perspective?

Daley: Yes. Oh, awesome. Basically, it’s workforce development. So, away from recruiting and into the world of workforce development, which is really exciting, at least from our perch. I’ll talk a little bit about what we’re seeing. So up until now, I’ve basically built this off-the-shelf B2B training product. After having 15 years of doing services as a recruiter, I was like, “I need a product to ship.” So pure product, but then learning more about the workforce development space.

There are companies out there, Fortune 100s, Fortune 500s. They hire hundreds of thousands of that entry-level role, which is one part recruiting, one part sales, one part customer experience. I was actually talking to ahead of internal pathways with Walmart. For example, they have started partnering with bootcamp, similar to us or for dev. What they’re doing is, actually they’re creating a custom bootcamp with a partner to upskill talent, often underrepresented, underresourced talent, giving them access and a stipend to learn this training and then just bringing them into the company. The gentleman I was talking to was saying it was interesting because they had done this bootcamp, and then the 12 people went through the traditional interview process. None of them were invited to an interview. So, my contact interrupted it. He was like, “What’s going on here? Let me actually just put these all in front of the dev manager.” The dev manager ended up interviewing and then hiring 10 out of the 12.

Folwell: Oh my gosh.

Daley: So now what they’re doing is, they’re not even letting them interview. They’re just like, “Okay, here’s your next batch of 12.” They’re just giving them new trained talent. And then they’re enabling those internal teams to say, “All right. We’re going to have a team now that might be a little slower to start, but that up ramp is going to be so much more worth it.” He said that they’ve saved at least $12 million since they’ve started this program 18 months ago, just for that slice of their recruiting, which is the entry level dev.

Folwell: Wow.

Daley: That also is an indicator for us in terms of, A, recruiters, we can be blocking growth if we don’t know any better, if we’re not invested in to upgrade and be able to be more nimble and meet the moment.

But also, I feel very passionate about recruiting as a gateway function into white-collar careers. Most of us fell into the space and then you learn it. You’ve got the inherent skills, you just need to learn the tasks.

One of the things that we’re working on was working with two Colorado companies that are doing a lot of hiring. We’re becoming that workforce development platform where we’re partnering with these underserved communities that are looking for ways to help their folks upskill and get jobs of the future, at least living wage jobs. Then we’re creating this pipeline of trained, skilled recruiters for these local companies that are hiring a hundred recruiters every other year. The market’s kind of weird. Typically it’s over a hundred.

But literally being part of upskilling the folks, because I also feel very passionate about recruiting. I think that we need to do a lot more to really get people in the market. And the more we can actually diversify our recruiting teams, then inherently the more diverse the teams that they’re going to build.

Folwell: Yep.

Daley: Yeah. Yeah. Internal pathways, upward mobility, and leaning on third-party partners to triage what you can’t or don’t want to build in house. Yeah. So that’s what we’re seeing a lot of.

Folwell: IT staffing agencies, it sounds like you work directly with them where they’re saying, “Hey, come in, train our workforce. We want to upskill and we want everybody to do this.” You’re doing cohorts with that. It sounds like, are individual recruiters also coming to your website saying, “I want to go get this certification because I know that this is just going to…I’m going to level up. And because of the certification, the odds that I’m going to be a better recruiter, make more money are there, or I’m going to be able to get a job at an IT staffing from them, maybe I wouldn’t have”? Is that the two pathways right now?

Daley: Yes. Actually we have three. So yes, the B2C. You have people just come to the website, sign up, get going. Then we have the enterprise where it’s more face-to-face.

Folwell:  Oh yeah, yeah. Zapier. Yeah, or Zapier. Yeah.

Daley: Yeah. Zapier. So, like the staffing companies. So it’s more like team accounts, annual accounts. Then we also have two white label licensing clients, so human capital platforms that license our technical recruiter training as part of their portfolio.

It’s so niche and so needed that it’s sort of a turnkey scenario for the bigger companies that are then serving multiple other companies, if you know what I mean.

Folwell: I mean, it’s cool that you’re doing the cohorts with some of the organization. Have you been able to actually show the before and after of results in terms of what productivity looks like or time to hire or what are any fun results to share?

Daley: Just based off of the user feedback, we are seeing an improvement of 20% in time-to-fill rates. We also really are all about confidence because I really believe that recruiters deserve confidence and credibility. So, we’re seeing people go three to four points up in terms of 92% of the….

Folwell:  How do they feel? Yeah.

Daley: Yeah. They feel confident digging into technical details with the hiring manager. 94% feel comfortable digging into technical details with a candidate. So, that means that they’re going to be doing their job better, which obviously leads to the better fill time. 

We’re seeing a decrease of 50% for new hire, new recruiter onboarding because you’ve got the structure, everyone’s using the same information, they’re using the same tools. You’re not dependent on the manager having a good day and sharing the information. Everyone gets the same quality.

Yeah. Then we’re really excited with a couple of these partnerships to then get more data on their end about productivity and submits to completions. That’s not something that we can get on our side, but through partnerships we’re getting that. We’re starting to see those metrics come in as well, which is if it gets measured, it gets managed.

Folwell: How many recruiters have gone through the platform so far?

Daley: Oh my gosh. Well, we have over 2,600 users in 35 countries.

Folwell: That’s amazing.

Daley: Not unintentional. I just built a product that solves a problem that people are looking to a solution for. So, that’s really exciting. I think we’ve graduated over 400 certified tech recruiters in the market. We’d love to get that number up. I haven’t looked at the numbers most recently. We’ve had a lot of growth in the last year, so I think people are slowly making it through the program.

But I have actually now had three new clients come through, who had interviewed someone who was a certified tech recruiter. They were impressed with that person and also were like, “Oh, this training exists?” because we’re all used to this training not existing.

You know how it is. You’re a referral guy. You start to build and you deliver a good product and people want to share it.

Folwell:  Recognition goes with it.

Daley: Yeah.

Folwell:  Eventually it’s going to be the LinkedIn certification or the HubSpot certifications.

Daley: Right. Right. Well, yeah. We definitely see a vision where our certification becomes to recruiting with the SHRM Certification is to HR.

Folwell: Awesome.

Daley: On that note, our industry, we don’t have credentialing, we don’t have certification. There’s some things out there, but nothing super standard.

Folwell: Why not?

Daley: Right. Right? As a director of talent, it would be helpful for me to know, are you certified in UX recruiting? Have you done some extra work? So we’re hoping to bring some more sophistication to the market also through offering, through the training and certification.

Folwell: Where do you see Recruiting Innovation going the next three to five years? What’s your grand vision for it?

Daley: Oh man, world domination. Nothing less, David. Oh, honestly though, I do see a huge path to really kind of establishing and then cornering the industry training market for the staffing and recruiting space. Right?

Folwell: Yeah.

Daley: So our model, right now we’re in tech. That’s where I come from and that’s where it’s close to home, but every industry recruits. There’s no centralized healthcare recruiter training, financial services recruiter training.

With our training model, that’s what our plan is, is to then start pivoting into these other verticals and just really being that go-to source that takes the stress off of onboarding new recruiters or being able to take someone from customer service into recruiting or staffing.

Two other things there. We also are a mission-led company. So, in July of 2020, I launched the Ernestine McClendon Talent Grant. It’s a five-month grant program designed to attract, train, mentor and create community for underrepresented talent to launch careers in tech as certified tech recruiters.

Folwell: That’s amazing.

Daley: Yeah. We just graduated, I think our fourth or fifth cohort, literally today, March 29th, when we’re recording.

Folwell: Congrats. That’s awesome.

Daley: Thank you. So we have 25 net new certified tech recruiters to the market. I think we’ve graduated now over 80 certified tech recruiters. Again, I really feel passionate about this as an industry for creating wealth and generational change. Not to mention, we create equity and then you diversify your recruiting team, you’re going to diversify every team they build.

Then last but not least would be we’re also building out, it’s a skills-based hiring, training program/diversity, equity, inclusion training as well. Because as recruiters, we are the professional builders of teams. It’s inherently our responsibility to be the drivers of equity in everything that we do. We shouldn’t wait for a hiring manager to ask. We shouldn’t wait for our managers to ask. We need to educate ourselves on systemic inequalities. How do we source differently? How do we position differently? How do we support candidates that might look different than the typical 27-year-old white male developer?

We just really want to be the resource and hub for sophisticated, trained 21st century recruiters. Yeah. So that’s where we’re going with that. It’s really fun.

Folwell: I love it. Yeah. I love it. I love your passion for all of it as well. I think it’s a much needed product in this market and something that I know, a lot of staffing firms I talk with, a lot of the recruiters, I feel like this is something that they would be excited about and would be a huge value add for their organization or for them individually.

With that, we’re going to jump over to some of the speed questions here. Talk a little bit personal on who you are. First question I’ve got for you is, what advice do you wish you were given before entering the staffing industry?

Daley: Ooh, good one. Some advice I’d give myself is, “You know a lot more than you realize.” Because so much of recruiting is an intrinsic skill job. Are you naturally curious? Are you diligent? Are you organized? You love to listen. You love to talk. Those are things to not take for granted, honestly.

I always just assume everyone else had these skills and it’s like, that’s not true. Not everyone can just literally talk to anybody. So, without having some formal training, we tend to undervalue these intrinsic skills that are actually the secret sauce for being successful.

So, I would give myself the advice that I have a lot more skills and abilities than maybe the job description says, because maybe I haven’t done the thing, but I can do the thing. So I would give myself more credit to have more confidence.

Another thing I would say is ask good questions and take lots of notes. If you don’t have the formal training, you can learn a lot that way just by being tenacious and curious and humble as you move forward, meeting all different types of people. Yeah.

Then other advice would be, just stay curious. Because this is probably true for a lot of your listeners, is you start in one section of recruiting, but then you can easily take any other river or stream and do a bunch of other stuff as well.

It wasn’t until I left recruiting and then came back and then started this company that I realized how many skills I had developed by being a recruiter, that maybe I wouldn’t have thought to put on paper, but are absolutely useful and valuable in any kind of working capacity.

Folwell: That’s awesome. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Could be an investment of money, time or energy, et cetera.

Daley: This might sound odd or something, but I think the best investment I did was investing in myself. I realized there’s a lot of privilege and grace to just continually falling into a great job, which is what I did. But choosing UX and choosing that bootcamp and choosing myself and my own career growth started me on the path that moved me to actually where I was supposed to be, which is to build this company and build this training so that I actually can serve an entire market. So, investing in myself, betting on myself, especially for a girl that never got promoted. I never got a promotion. Well, guess what? I promoted my damn self, right?

Folwell:  Yep.

Daley: Started this company and now I know a lot of things. That’s a huge investment. It was like I stopped waiting for someone to tap me on the head and be like, “Yep, you’re picked.” I picked myself.

Folwell: Picked yourself. I love it.

Daley: Yeah.

Folwell: I love it. What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why?

Daley: Ooh, I actually just today on LinkedIn hosted a whole bunch of educational resources for anti-racism work and helping us as white folks, who is the dominant culture, to recognize what whiteness is.

Some of my amazing books in that space…this is what I do on the side for my own development, I really, really love, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. That was a huge eye-opener for me in terms of, what does it mean to be white? What does it mean to be black? What kind of different experiences might this be? Yeah. So, I love that book.

I also like How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi is incredible. I tend to also listen to quite a lot of podcasts. I love your podcast. I also love Code Switch. There’s a great neuroscience podcast on Spotify called Do You F***ing Mind? I don’t know if you really cuss on this podcast, but she’s incredible. She just talks about all types of brain things or codependence or confidence. She’s just a really sassy, super smart person.

Folwell: I’m looking that up.

Daley: It tends to be around self-development stuff as well.

Folwell: I love it.

Daley: I should do some more fun reading, but I tend to not have that much time for that.

Folwell: I know. I’m right there with you. So last question I’ve got is, what is a unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?

Daley: Ooh, that’s a good one. Okay, here’s a habit. It’s also a productivity hack. You’re welcome. I’ve never really been formally diagnosed as ADHD. I tend to land on some of the spectrums, but never definitively. When I had to really settle and build this business, especially because I was on my own for the first handful of years, here’s a productivity hack.

I am a total music freak. I learned at my Spotify Wrapped that I’m in the top 3% of Spotify listeners in the U.S., which means I listen to 58,000 minutes of music after, which is kind of sick. But anyway, I love playlists. So I have a focus beats playlist. What I’ll do when I have to sit down and work is I actually have a yoga sandbag that I keep at my desk. I’ll put the sandbag in my lap to literally ground me in my seat.

Then I have my headphones. I’ll put on my focus beats playlist until I find the track that I’m vibing with that day. That’s either house beats with no lyrics or classical. It’s a nice blend, but no lyrics because I really love lyrics. It’ll distract me.

Then I’ll find the one track that I like and I’ll put it on loop. I have been known to listen to a track for anywhere from two to four, even seven hours.

It’s just like produ. It’s not just like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I’ve just started trying the Pomodoro timer as well, which is 25 minutes on, five minutes break. That’s been helpful. So it’s kind of nerdy, but sometimes I just need help sitting still. But once I’m in, it’s like, dude, crushing it.

Folwell: I love all of that. Also, that resonates well with me too. I told one of my teammates that I hadn’t been diagnosed with ADHD and she said, “Well, have you ever asked a doctor?” It’s just, I think you might be good to go.

Daley: Right. Yeah.

Folwell:  Those are some good hacks to share. Really great having you on today, Alison. One thing I wanted to make sure our audience was aware of is that you also had put together tech talent persona cheat sheets. I don’t know if you want to talk a little bit about that and just share what that is, but we’ll be dropping a link to that in the show notes. Then after that we can just do closing comments.

Daley: Sure, yes, please. I’m really excited about these tech talent cheat sheets. They’re our latest resource that we launched just in December. It was per a client’s request. So all my clients out there, let me know what you need. We love to deliver.

What they are is, basically it’s a one-page cheat sheet for each of the technical roles that we cover. So product management, UX design, front end and backend, and DevOps engineering.

In the one pager it is high level, “What does this job do? What are questions you can ask the hiring manager when you’re onboarding that kind of role? Questions you can ask a candidate when you’re interviewing that candidate.”

There’s a technical toolkit short list. Then there’s also the communication part, which is the red flags and green flags. “What do these specialists like? What do they don’t like?” So we have that for each of those roles. They’re totally your cheat sheet. So, created a little Bitly link for you all with a little landing page. They’re awesome.

If you find those things valuable, you’ll find our Tech Recruiter Certification incredibly valuable. They’re just our gift to the community. I really want resources out for people to feel confident in what they’re doing.

Folwell: Awesome. I love that. We’ll make sure we link to that. So if you guys are listening, check out the page. You’ll be able to download those directly. And then any closing comments for the audience?

Daley: Sure. Yeah. I know your audience is more on the staffing side. This is going to be true for staffing and recruiting, but in my career, I always felt like recruiting was undervalued, which confounded me because you wouldn’t have a company without people and you wouldn’t have people without recruiters and staffing folks. 

So, put some respect on the title. I really feel like now is our moment to come out from the shadow of being like, “I’m here taking a deli ticket and I’m going to deliver you a person.” It’s like, no, sit up straight. We add huge value to our clients. We add huge value to our teams. What we do is unique and special and it’s important. Trained, sophisticated recruiters are a strategic asset to any organization. So, have some pride in that and know that there are resources to help you grow, that there’s ways to grow your career and that there is a long-term career for you here.

So, don’t leave. We need you. Bring your friends. Tell your friends. Now’s our moment as an industry. I think that things are only going to get more competitive, especially when you go white collar jobs, which is a lot of what the staffing folks are doing and billing for. It’s like, we can really add a lot of value in this industry. We can also be an industry that is well esteemed. It’s our moment to define for ourselves and therefore educate those around us that we’re strategic advisors. What we have to say is just as important as anyone else that we service, what they have to say.

Folwell: That’s amazing.

Daley: Thank you.

Folwell: I absolutely love it. Well, thanks so much for joining, Alison. Really enjoyed the conversation today.

Daley: Thanks so much for having me. What a pleasure. It’s my favorite topic. I could do this for two more hours, but I think we all have something to do on the other side of this. So, I’ll let us go now.

Folwell: Thanks.

Daley: Oh, yeah. And then also side note too, and I’ll add a link too with the cheat sheets, check out our website.

If you’re interested, with that talent grant that I mentioned, we also have a mentor program. So, if you’re a trained, seasoned recruiter or on the sales side, because we also have people that do sales or the DEI space, please sign up to be a mentor. We just wrapped our last cohort and it was phenomenal. I think it’s been transformational for both sides. So, if you want to give back to our community, please go through the grant page on too. We would love to have you as part of our community.

Folwell: Awesome. Thanks again, Alison. Really enjoyed it.

Daley: Thank you. Definitely. Have a great day.

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