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The ToTalent Recruitment Masterclasses from Silicon Valley: introducing Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan has been described as ‘Michael Jordan of Recruiting’, and ‘The father of HR metrics’. The straight-talking recruitment guru is best-known for pulling no punches when it comes to improving recruitment. Before his upcoming masterclass about recruitment in Silicon Valley, we caught up with him for an interview. 

Jasper Spanjaart on October 19, 2020 Average reading time: 3 min
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The ToTalent Recruitment Masterclasses from Silicon Valley: introducing Dr. John Sullivan
Q: Dr. Sullivan, thank you for your time. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you end up being one of the leading and smartest voices in recruitment?

A: With a Ph.D. in business and as the CEO of a consulting group, my specialty was quantifying the dollars in business impact from people management actions. When analyzing HR, I found that recruiting had the highest business impact. But no one in the recruiting profession was spending the time to prove to executives the tremendous dollar value added by hiring a high-performer and innovator.

My specialty has been getting recruiting leaders more resources by showing their executives the tremendous economic value added by great recruiting.

And the negative business impacts from a bad hire or a slow hiring process. My specialty has been getting recruiting leaders more resources by showing their executives the tremendous economic value added by great recruiting. Strangely after 30 years, I find that I’m still the only one that focuses on this area that allows corporate recruiting efforts to be fully funded.

Q: Has talent acquisition always been in your blood?

A: Yes. Since college, I have always wondered why corporate recruiting has remained so intuitive, while every other business process has become more scientific and data-driven. I still fail to understand why we somehow still allow managers to do “gut hiring” even though it hurts our organization’s results

Q: It’s been a tumultuous year for recruiters. What do you think has been the biggest thing to come out of 2020?

A: Turmoil provides an opportunity to break away from the pack. The biggest outcome has been having executives understand the value of remote work. From a recruiting standpoint, remote work changes sourcing radically. Being able to hire people that can work from home in any country around the world eliminates more than half of all sourcing problems. Location is no longer a limitation for a job where the work can be done remotely and a lack of talent within a commuting distance of the company’s physical. Remote work dramatically increases both the size and the diversity of your recruiting pool.

Location is no longer a limitation for a job where the work can be done remotely and a lack of talent within a commuting distance of the company’s physical.

Q: Your masterclass on October 28 will zoom in on one of the most admired areas in the world, Silicon Valley. For those that haven’t been in and around The Valley in the last few years, how would you describe that particular area of the world in a few sentences?

A: The Silicon Valley is unique in that we prioritize individuals and jobs based on their economic contribution. As a global traveler, I have found no other geographic area where executives have learned to prioritize talent based on their ROI. And, whenever you calculate the ROI of the different classes of employees, you find that by far innovators have the largest economic impact on business success (followed by top performers in key jobs).

Most in recruiting want to treat every job and new hire equally, and that is a huge avoidable mistake.

Unfortunately, most in recruiting, and HR haven’t had the courage to calculate and admit that all jobs and all performance levels of hires don’t make the same economic impact. Most in recruiting want to treat every job and new hire equally, and that is a huge avoidable mistake.

Q: You’ve mentioned that Silicon Valley firms are always looking for ‘game changers’. What sort of personality traits should a ‘game-changer’ possess? What should recruiters look for?

A: Game changers are disruptors; they view every process and product as becoming obsolete. And while accountants want to improve things by 2%, game-changers expect at least a 20% improvement. Unfortunately, many hiring managers resist disruptors, but cynics drive change even though most don’t want to face up to the fact that everything these days will soon be obsolete. So, when you’re interviewing a game-changer, they will be extremely critical of whatever you currently do. And they will have dramatic suggestions that could improve it by at least 20%.

So, when you’re interviewing a game-changer, they will be extremely critical of whatever you currently do.

However, they are not just dreamers. Each one will have a track record of not just disruption, but in collaborating with others so that they learn to accept a high level of change. It takes courage to hire someone that will be critical of everything you do, but criticism is the engine of change.

Q: Finally, without giving away too much, what do you think will be the biggest takeaway for recruitment or those working in talent acquisition on October 28?

A: The initial learning would be that almost everyone involved in recruiting will have to change as recruiting inevitably becomes more scientific, data, and technology-driven. The good news is that there is a clear path that allows almost everyone to make the transition. And those that attend the class will be able to pick and choose which transition steps are best for their situation.

© Dr. John Sullivan 10/14/20

Do you want to learn from Silicon Valley’s leading recruitment experts? This is an exclusive opportunity to attend 3 masterclasses with John Sullivan, Kevin Wheeler and Jim D’Amico. Sign up here.
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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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