In a recent episode of Talent Talks, Quincy Valencia (Vice President of Product Management, Alexander Mann Solutions), Tena Lyons (Vice President and Global Head of Product Marketing), and Jenn Terry (Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Joveo), discussed some of the biggest challenges faced by hourly job seekers (in industries like hospitality, retail, warehousing, and others), both pre- and post-COVID. They also spoke about the role of content, communication, automation, mass personalization, job application experience, and conversational AI, in driving significantly better talent attraction, candidate engagement, and hiring outcomes for hourly worker recruitment.

In addition, Quincy and Tena shared their thoughts on how Hourly by Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) delivers a completely conversational hiring experience – from explore to offer – in one platform, while also improving job seeker experience.

Watch the video, or check out some of the highlights in the transcript below!

COVID-19 has re-emphasized the need to mobilize hourly workers

Jenn: I have the pleasure of having two powerhouse women on the show today. We have our friends here from Hourly by Alexander Mann Solutions. Quincy, do you want to start by giving the audience just a little overview of you and your role?

Quincy: Yeah, sure thing. So my name is Quincy Valencia. I am the Vice President and Head of Product Management for the product division of Alexander Mann Solutions, which is our newest venture at AMS as we push forward into the future of work and how we can support our current and future clients.

Jenn: Amazing! And Tena, just a few notes about you and your role at the company?

Tena: As Quincy mentioned, we are a brand new product division within Alexander Mann Solutions, and we are currently working on building and launching Hourly by AMS, which is our first ever product! We’re super excited to share a little bit about it.

Jenn: Well, I love the concept of it being about hourly workers. Because hourly workers have probably taken the largest hit due to COVID, and for you guys to really have a focus here is amazing. Tell me a little bit about the practice.

Quincy: The reason that we went with Hourly first as a product for AMS is, a couple of years ago, my boss and our Managing Director Jerry Collier and I were lamenting how over the course of about 20 years, we’ve continued to see point solutions that are very good, but we don’t really think that the TA community has served recruitment in the hourly space as well as has been done in perhaps the professional place.

Workforce solutions and technology, and even recruitment organizations at large have been really built to support the professional community, and the hourly workers have just been kind of “yeah, let’s see who comes in,” and you know, “if they work for us, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t, and we can just get more.”

That’s a disservice really for the workers, but certainly also for the companies that employ them, because these are the workers that are actually driving the revenue upfront in pretty much all of the markets that we look to serve.

So we saw this gap, and we were given the opportunity to create this product division, and we decided to focus on Hourly for that very reason – not just in an altruistic way, to start treating human beings as human beings – but also to support the people who are applying, the applicants, in their mission to find new jobs.

Tena: We started this mission well before COVID hit. We’ve been quietly building it over the last year or so, and we were really ramping our activity up right when COVID hit, and we definitely had that moment of, “the folks that we’ve purpose-built this platform for, are now finding themselves out of work.”

We had one company we talked to really early in the pandemic, when we were really not sure where this was going. This company had 130 or 140 recruiters, and they were down to a team of two! They knew that wasn’t going to scale when they did start to open back up, when they needed the hourly workers back.

Some companies we’re talking to are rebuilding, but some companies are growing, right? Some companies have managed to actually be busy and grow. Some of the folks on our advisory board are in retail functions, where they actually were busier than ever during the pandemic.

Changing the hiring experience for both hourly job seekers and their hiring managers

Jenn: I like the way that you’re honoring the people on the frontlines. You talked a little bit about treating the candidates differently. How are you doing that with the platform?

Quincy: Yeah, it was one of our foundational pillars when we were building this. We were really setting out to make sure that we’re changing the experience for not just the candidates who are applying for the jobs, but also for the hiring managers who need to figure out who’s best for the job from 4,000 applications.

If you go through a traditional hiring experience, particularly in these hourly roles – you apply – and generally, they ask for a resume. You may or may not have one, and you certainly don’t have one on your phone. And almost 70% of candidates for these jobs are applying from their phone or a mobile device. Then you’re asked to repeat that information again on a formal application, and you’re asked for a blood sample, and you’re asked for your social security number, and you’re asked for all of your passwords, and things that you don’t need. It feels invasive – and then you don’t hear back.

Eventually, you might hear six months down the road, “Sorry this requirement is closed.” Meanwhile, you’ve been working in a new job for six months.

It’s just aggravating, frankly, and it does nothing to support your brand.

We wanted to put some more value there and to build in communication throughout the process, not just an automated, “thanks, will let you know.” We’re giving them customized content to help them either grow their career, or, conversely, to continue along the path of looking in their search.

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Enabling mass personalization via automation

Jenn: I love the idea of customized feedback. But, are you using tools to do that at a large scale?

Quincy: Yeah, we absolutely are. It’s about how we automate what we can by using this concept of mass personalization – which sounds like an oxymoron – and still allow that recruiting team to add value in the process.

But to the point of personalization, we’ve partnered with a company called Trainify, which is an assessment company that has one that’s built specifically for this market, completely valid and validated.

It takes a candidate about 90 seconds to get through the application process from something that has traditionally taken up to an hour to complete. Their results are then compared against a benchmark of existing employees that have been successful within that specific organization, to say, “hey, this person’s about a 90% match, we’re going to invite them automatically to self-schedule for an interview.”

And so, using that same information, we know what their personality profile is, and we have content that’s been developed for that specific personality profile. So it’s, “hey, let me help you better prepare for your interview based on your profile. Here are some things that you may want to ask, or do, or look out for, during the interview.”

Tena: Automation has become really synonymous with impersonalization. A lot of times you end up seeing all these images of bots with automation. We believe the opposite – we think the automation can actually, as Quincy said, drive better or, you know, at-scale personalization. So we’re really using automation not to remove the human or remove the experience, but actually to supplement that experience and make it even more personal and more human.

Jenn: I love that! It really is about taking repeatable human skills, and letting humans do important thinking work, and letting the automation do the not-so-smart work. That bodes really well for talent acquisition and how we manage our candidates, how we manage our employees, and how we manage our image, especially as layoffs are occurring, and we’re doing more with less.

Quincy: Automation, traditionally, is exactly what you’ve talked about, but with conversational AI, we’ve set out to also replicate the experience a candidate may have when doing an initial screening call with a recruiter. We’ve set out to do that for each of our clients using natural language processing and other things in the back end.

Jenn: I had a boss a million years ago that said to me – “you’re responsible for one of the top five moments in most people’s lives.” Getting a job is a really big deal! And I like the focus on making sure that meaningful conversations are happening, and nobody is left behind.

Economic recovery will be varied

Jenn: What do we think the economy and the recovery is going to look like for hourly workers? Do you guys have a sense of where that’s going?

Quincy: There are several different economies happening at once, and so your traditional indicators of economic growth, like the stock market, have been performing really well. But it really hasn’t been a V-shaped recovery, and as we wait for that second strong wave of COVID to hit, the economists and the analysts are predicting more layoffs, perhaps more bankruptcies.

So it’s not that traditional recovery from an employment standpoint that we’ve seen previously, but it’s going to be a lot of up and down. It’s also going to be different for the type of work that’s done.

You’ve got the stock market that’s doing really well, but let’s be honest – that doesn’t really impact your frontline hourly worker directly.

Jenn: Tena, what would you add to that?

Tena: I read an interesting article yesterday talking about a lot of restaurants now feeling like they are getting to the level of business where they need their full labor force back.

And I know that’s not the same in every part of the country. And one of the indicators they actually talked about was not just the fact that they’re hiring their labor force back, but that they’re seeing innovation.

So people are feeling confident enough that they’re starting to, you know, invest, and innovate, and grow. Which I thought was a really interesting way to look at it.

Some segments of our market are going to take a while longer to bounce back. None of the services inside a hotel I recently went to were open. So obviously they’re operating at a much lower staff level. But then, I walked across the street to this Whole Foods that was fully staffed and it was like nothing had ever happened, right?

I think we’re going to continue to see all different patterns.

Jenn: Yeah, I think that’s a very true point. And I’ll end with this – that gives me hope, right, like all of my friends are in the talent acquisition industry.

They’re experiencing downturns and all of those things, but I think everybody’s starting to see, particularly the hourly workforce start to creep back and get a little more active.

And so excited to hear everything that you guys are doing to make that process for hourly workers – and for companies – something that is personable, sustainable, and also really bodes to the most important part of our business, which is people.