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Putting your resume pretty much online was just unheard of. And there was lots of talk about if you put your resume up there on LinkedIn, you might get fired. Right. So and that was a serious conversation.
And within, I would say, three or four years, LinkedIn did a fantastic job of changing that narrative.
And I would love to understand how they went about changing that narrative that they made it OK to share your personal work history online. I cannot tell you how different that was feeling. Did I am Robin shows you at Higher Suites and we are sourcing automation software that helps the tech companies hire the best talent at me. And follow me now on LinkedIn.
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We're welcoming come and come and worked for the last 20 years in the recruiting industry. We actually already recorded this episode, but the recording fell. So we're doing it again. And I'm very excited because I already know part of the story and I already know about comments personally story and how cross is that of the Second Valley's startups. So very excited to have you here again. Come in. And I'm convinced that will be a great episode, knowing the content of the last one.
So very excited to have you here today. And can you start by introducing you again?
Absolutely. Thank you, Rob. And I am very happy to be here and I appreciate the invite. Just to chat a little bit about my past. My name is Carmen Hudson and I've been recruiting thank you for being generous, but for 20 plus years and I have been all throughout my recruiting career, I was fortunate enough to work for Fortune 500 companies, mainly Fortune 100 companies, actually. And that started that Capital One. I did a little bit of time at an agency before that, and I moved from there very quickly to Amazon.
I spent some time there in the very early days of Amazon and moved from there to Microsoft and Starbucks here in Seattle. And I went to Yahoo! Down in Silicon Valley. And after that great experience, I hung up my shingle as a corporate recruiting leader and became a consultant and a business owner. And I am currently, as I have been for the past 10 years, I have been a senior principal consultant at a recruiting tool box, and we do consulting with all kinds of companies on the recruiting issues.
So I have been through every single phase of recruiting that we've had in the last 20 plus years, and I still love recruiting, which is a good thing.
OK, so when do you want to start? Do you want to start in 2000. You want to start even before that. When do you think it's relevant to start your history?
Well, we'll start when I landed at the door of of Amazon, which was interesting to me because I joined Amazon very early in the year. It was just after the first of the year and it was in two thousand, I believe, and Amazon had just had a huge layoff. So they had laid off many of the folks who preceded me and talent acquisition and in other areas. And it was just a strange time to arrive. And for my colleagues, it was who was this new person in recruiting who has arrived?
And we just laid off a bunch of our colleagues in recruiting. So it was very interesting. I was hired to was actually hired by John Leslie, who now leads a recruiting tool box. And I was hired to bring sourcing some of my sourcing skills to Amazon. And very quickly, we were growing out of every space that we had. We were growing very quickly. And I knew from a sourcing role to leading recruiters and probably record time.
And it was a fantastic opportunity for me. It was a period of incredible growth for me. And it was crazy. It was a circus. It was so much fun.
How big was the company at this time? It was about, I would say in two thousand one, two thousand two, we were probably at twenty five hundred, maybe approaching three thousand employees.
Well, OK, think about when I stayed close to a million right there. Close to no. I think they just they just surpassed the million employees. Well yeah.
OK, so they know how to hire. What did you learn there in the early 2000?
What I learned was that despite moving fast. You had to have a deep focus on the kind of talent that you wanted to bring in, and so very early on preceding me, there was a huge focus, especially in the engineering side, in terms of the type of talent that Amazon wanted to bring in. And as we were growing, as we were adding categories, we were being really thoughtful about the people that we were bringing in, because I don't understand how the senior leadership realized that this was going to be a long term concern and that the folks that they were bringing in at the time were going to be long term employees, future leaders.
But they knew this. And so we had a huge responsibility in recruiting to bring in the very best people that we could.
And we were doing that in an environment that where we work, either well known or we weren't well known for our technology or we weren't considered to be a success yet. So it was a bit of a challenge. It was also just some of the most fun recruiting that you could possibly do.
I'm curious to know more about the tools that you used at that point, because two thousand that was before LinkedIn. That was before anything basically. Right?
It was before anything. And that was one of the reasons I was brought in because I went on prior to Amazon, I had worked at at Capital One and had helped to start sourcing division and one of their offshoot offices down in Florida. And it was then the Internet was the Wild West. And so we were finding resumes. We were sourcing resumes from wherever we could. There was, of course, monster dot com. I'm not sure if indeed was even around by then.
I think by the time I was leaving, Amazon indeed was growing in popularity. But we we had very few tools that were focused on recruiting and bringing us the top quality candidates that we were looking for. So I started there. I started as a leader, actually, as a sourcing leader. I had two folks who had been about to be laid off from working in the warehouse. We had a warehouse that we had closed down and I said, hey, can we use these folks in recruiting?
And someone said, sure.
And so I gave them the quickest lesson, probably known to man in sourcing, and they were fantastic.
And right now they are both incredible recruiters. I will give you their names, because if there was anyone you'd ever want to source and have leading a team, they would be the people. But they are now, I think one is in a special position at Amazon and another is leading a recruiting team at Facebook.
And they are they were fantastic because they just they took probably a tenth of what I had to give them.
I couldn't give them much of my time, but they took that and really brought about a very focused sourcing team and focused on finding those candidates that weren't looking at Amazon focus on finding the candidates who were best at what they did, who were best in the technology, and they were fantastic. They continue to be fantastic. I am still friends with them. We grew that team and we grew our recruiting team. But it was at that point we were using anything and everything.
We were using the web, of course. And this was also an interesting time at Amazon because we didn't have a system of record. So managing your candidates was a bit of a struggle. Everything in recruiting was a bit of a struggle.
Well, there was a public company right at this time and you didn't have any company.
And it was a company that was very careful about its selection of tools. So if something could be built in-house, they would build it in-house. And in fact, they trialled a group of hiring managers, got together, built their own tool, which was great from a candidate and interviewing side. It wasn't great in terms of housing candidates and referring to them after the fact. It just wasn't built for that. So we had we went through a lot of difficulty when it came to choosing a system.
And even by the time I left, there wasn't a system of record. So it was an interesting time. It was an interesting time for for my career. I grew more than I could possibly imagine. I learned so much just from my time there. I was able to apply it in other places pretty quickly, pretty easily.
OK, cool. And then so you say three years at Amazon and then move to Microsoft, right?
So I did April three. Yes.
So Microsoft was interesting. Microsoft had a much more sophisticated talent acquisition team. I will tell you, I think that a lot of what we knew about talent acquisition at Amazon, we learned from Microsoft, I had the opposite pattern of a lot of people. A lot of people left Microsoft. I went to Amazon. I did just the opposite. And it was an interesting environment. It was not an environment for me. I think the time that I was there was an interesting time.
It was probably closer to the end of Michael. Former CEO and Satya Nadella had not come in and had not refocused the company on its new strategies, and so it was just an interesting time for me at Microsoft. And so I left fairly quickly and I went to Starbucks and Starbucks had nothing when it came to really going after hard to find talent. So that was a great environment for me there. It was fun and it was an interesting company.
It was an interesting company from the standpoint that the candidate experience was important and really thinking through what people would bring to the organization was more than their skills was. That was probably the first time in my career that I stopped and really gave some thought to that as we thought about how we selected candidates there. It was my first time managing a really large team and doing some really interesting things there. So I really enjoyed my time at Starbucks. And plus I am a coffee lover, so I was to have it OK.
And how did it all change? Because two thousand and three, that's LinkedIn, right? So very early on, did you use LinkedIn? How did you use. It was only for a single.
I was a very early user of LinkedIn. I was very excited because before we could find candidates who were at the bottom, candidates who were in their first or second roles because they were applying to us to be a monster or maybe through our corporate website if we had that. And you could find folks at the top because they were often just found one or two levels down, all just lined up there on the Internet, very easy, but everyone in the middle was just lost to us.
And so that meant a lot of phone calls, a lot of direct sourcing. And LinkedIn ended all of that. I won't say all of that, but they did a lot of that. It really was a tool that made the job market accessible to everyone.
And I remember there were around that time I joined, but it took probably three or four years for people to trust that LinkedIn would not automatically switch attitudes, I think is more than even trust, because before your employment data was something secret.
It was not something that you shared with the world. It was a very different environment. So putting your resume pretty much online was just unheard of. And there was lots of talk about if you put your resume out there on LinkedIn, you might get fired.
Right. So and that is conversation. And within, I would say three or four years, LinkedIn did a fantastic job of changing that narrative. And I would love to understand how they went about changing that narrative that they made it OK to share your personal work history online. I cannot tell you how different that was. Free LinkedIn, that was probably the basis of their genius if I were to think about the things that LinkedIn has accomplished. So we use LinkedIn and Starbucks.
Of course, job boards were pretty critical. We were very much attached to the active job market, but we were also worried about the same as today.
Or did you use different job boards? For some we might not remember.
Some of them are the same. So monster I remember doing a big deal with Monster and CareerBuilder at the time, indeed was just sort of gaining its feet in terms of popularity. So taking a look and experimenting with that, and we got a pretty decent number, if I remember correctly, of candidates from that as a source. And I don't think it would in any way compare to what you would get today. Most organizations just aren't finding the talent that way.
And we were actively using LinkedIn and we were doing some of the old fashioned just calling to a company network until you find the right person. That was for some of the more senior roles. That's just the way it had to have to get done. But I would tell you that it was the beginning, I would say at Starbucks, it was the beginning of really understanding that there were tools available to us to help us get better and use an ETS.
And how the U.S. is growing at this stage. Did you see new players or did that change then or was it a bit later?
No, Azziz. By that time, by the time I had landed at Starbucks and I will tell you, Amazon was a different experience. There's an ETS in place at Microsoft, although they blew it up to create their own. And then they created all kinds of chaos for several years because of what they built. Didn't quite work. That's another long story for another day. And with the exception of Amazon, everyone else was very much committed to their ETS system because that was the system of record for a lot of candidates that were at that time applying.
They were applying through through job boards. And so we. We relied on them and I cannot remember which system we use at Starbucks.
It was Oracle PeopleSoft who was pretty successful at the time. PeopleSoft was pretty successful.
PeopleSoft was PeopleSoft. People don't remember this far back, but they were fairly well used in the 90s. So the late 90s was PeopleSoft time. And I remember using PeopleSoft back in the 90s before I even got into recruiting. So and at that time it continued to be a source for people and then they were gobbled up by someone else and something cobbled together from the old PeopleSoft and the new whatever it was. I remember being part of that at some point, but it was it became very important to understand that technology was going to drive whatever we did.
So it was pretty clear by the time I was at Starbucks that you if you were going to need recruiting, you were going to have to be fairly well versed in what was available, what was new, and thinking about how you were going to not only take candidates in, but get candidates out for sourcing tier candidates with managers, etc. All of that became incredibly important.
What I like is these were really the early days of software. A marketplace is used in recruiting. So LinkedIn 2003, Glassdoor 2007 indeed was around the time in 2004. So it's very interesting to see how these new tools emerged and how you started using them. And then if I'm correct after Starbucks, then you move to Yahoo! When you had a completely different experience again. Right? I had a completely different experience there.
I started off managing a team and suddenly I was leading a sourcing team. And at that moment, Microsoft decided that it wanted to acquire Yahoo! And Yahoo! Had no interest in being acquired. And so it was interesting. So our our team, our recruiting team, we were approached by the CEO and the CEO said, whatever you want, whatever you need, we need to show the market that we are strong and that we are hiring and that we want to hire great engineers.
And that was dumped into my lap, I should say, dumped, because I eagerly went for it and I had just the thrill of my recruiting career. I think I think it was a task made for me, because at that point I knew that the basis of getting all of these new engineers into Yahoo! Would be our referral system. But our referrals had dropped off. We were getting a minimal level of referrals every day and no one could figure out why.
I ended up partnering with a very senior marketing leader at the company and we did a little bit of work and it became apparent that it wasn't just a matter of people losing interest in Yahoo, it was our team, our staff. Our people did not feel the same about Yahoo as they once did. And so they weren't referring their friends because they didn't know what was happening. They didn't understand. And so we developed a huge campaign, but we started internally.
First, we helped people just develop what we call purple pride in because the colors of Yahoo were purple and gold. And we did everything that you can imagine to get people excited and fired up about Yahoo! So that they would go and tell their friends. And they did. And we watched this grow. We measured this. We did external. We took it from that point externally. And so we did everything from fly helicopters with banners of value to we did billboards one on one on one in Silicon Valley.
We sent people out and motor scooters to go into the driveways of Google and other tech companies to recruit their people and had them run out knowing that they'd be run out. We have them drive up and down one on one. It was the most fun that you could possibly have. It was probably the most money at the time anyone ever spent on a recruiting effort. And it was incredibly successful. We were able to hire actually more engineers than we thought we'd be able to hire in a very short period of time.
So it was for me probably I still laugh when I think about that exercise. It was as if someone said, here's a pot of gold, go do your thing. And I did my thing.
It's hard to remember that at some point Yahoo! Was stealing employees from Google. I did that right.
It's hard to remember that. And shortly thereafter, the entire thing became apparent. And of course, Microsoft did not require Yahoo! And Yahoo! Spun off Alibaba and all of those things happened. But we felt recognized and appreciated as part of a recruiting to be part of that story and to drive something that was important. We were recognized by the company for the work that we did it. An incredible, incredible recruiting team, and at that time, it was interesting because all of our resumes that were coming in for tech roles were primarily referrals.
We were paying the largest bonus at the time for tech referrals. We even got ourselves on the news as a result of this.
But what we were doing, we were also it at that point, I think it might have been five or ten thousand dollars.
It was literally we were we found ourselves on the news as a result. And so we had people who were excited by that and we were referring their friends as a result of that. But we also had people who were just blown away by the fact that it was a good company to work for.
Yahoo at the time was a really incredible company to work for, and that we had some great technology and some some really fantastic developers and leaders in our company. And so we were able to attract some really great people at the time. And eventually we have to shut down our efforts. I want to keep going and we had to shut it down because we did eventually decide to come out with our plan. But it was it was fun. It was it was fantastic.
And then also in 2006, Twitter launched. So was about that time. And in 2009, you left Yahoo! To create your own company. So that was three years in Twitter. Exactly three years because they launched in July 2006. And then you created in July 2009.
Yes. So I will tell you, near the end of my time at Yahoo! We were laying people off. It was becoming a different company. And the head of H.R. came and said, I don't know what what Twitter is, but someone needs to find out because someone is tweeting or twittering their layoff. And so there was someone sitting in an office who I had never heard of Twitter, and I said, I'll figure it out and went online.
And sure enough, there was someone in an office and really there was nothing that we could do about it. But I thought at the moment that this person who was unknown and suddenly that day became one of the most well-known people around the world because they were literally tweeting their moment by moment experience as they were being laid off, they became immediately famous. And so I thought this has incredible reach. And that's when I decided that this is going to be where I focus my time.
And I ended up building a tool based on Twitter that allowed jobseekers to post their jobs to my site. And I would post their jobs to Twitter and jobs would be distributed to interest groups. So if you were interested in jobs, nursing jobs, you would only get tweets about nursing jobs. But it was it did start from that incident that at Yahoo!
And how did that work out? Oh, it was a horrible business. It was I got a lot of attention at the time and it was interesting.
And it really introduced me to the world of startups.
And I am forever interested in building new tools, building new recruiting tools. But it wasn't an incredibly poor business model that I wasn't able to transform into something else fast enough. But the technology itself was actually pretty good and we did a little work around that. But it was three years of fun, I'll just say that. And I took my time there and my time at the great companies that I worked for, and I transformed that into a consulting career.
And then this is when you launched forty two and recruiting tool books. Right?
That's it. Yeah. So I Leslie, who hired me and Amazon had left and he was running his own company recruiting tool box and ask me, ask me to join. I went and started doing a bit of consulting and so I joined up with him and it's been fantastic ever since. A few years into recruiting tool box, we were just talking back and forth about what what kind of conference we'd like to go to. We go to so many of these recruiting conferences.
And even this year, I've gone to so many recruiting conferences online and we came up with this idea, what if we had a recruiting conference that would focus on recruiting and we got a few dollars from this. I said, we'll give you these dollars and see what you can do. And we don't expect much. But we we gave it our all we put our best into it. And sure enough, we had a full house the first year and people came from we thought it would be locally interesting, maybe some folks from the Bay Area and people came from all over the country.
And so up until, let's see, two thousand eighteen, we ran talent forty two and then we sold it to three and they continue to run it. And I was just a few weeks ago, I was part of the talent forty two presentation that they did over Zoome. So that was a lot of fun because it was focused on really our favorite topic, which is how do you get engineers interested in your company? And I had seen everything from.
Engineers knowing that Amazon was seeking the best engineers and trying to get into engineers, really turning off anything that came from a recruiter. So having to be very creative about how do you reach out to technologists? How do you get to software developers? What do you say once you have them on the line or on the hook? And how do you get them through a process that makes sense? How do you actually assess them? And what was interesting about the conference was that it was not only recruiters talking to us, we had developers come in, developers that we knew, developers that we'd seek out who would come into town 40 to and tell us this is what's important to us.
And this isn't don't call me a rockstar. Let's talk a little bit more specifically about what I will be doing. Or they would talk about their specific jobs, their specific roles. And it was and it continues to be an incredible topic for recruiters, because this is just it's the bane of recruiting. It's the hardest recruiting. It's to get engineers excited about our companies. And so it was it was fun to create a conference. It was a lot of work, but it also provided a lot of learning in the midst of doing all that.
Right. And we also discussed doing an episode about this, only getting engineers excited in your company. So if you're listening to this podcast and want to hear, come in again. Please let me know and we'll do another episode. Thanks, Carmen.
That was great. Thank you.
Twenty years, let's say 20 plus 30 plus plus. Thanks a lot. Coming. Super interesting. Thanks for being here today and happy to have you on another episode.
Absolutely. Thank you so much, Robin. Thanks for listening to the podcast. Till the end. If you're still with us, it's probably that you enjoy the players pay players is brought to you by myself and higher suites. Well, building a sourcing automation software. And we already helped nine other tech companies hire the best science. To know more about us, go to W-W the higher suites dot com or you can add me on LinkedIn. I'm pretty responsive and always happy to check the more subscribers the best.
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That really, really helps. Thanks a lot and talk to you soon.