Employ a digital strategy to generate a following and supercharge your recruitment agency


okay hello everybody to our latest
talent Talk thanks very much for coming and joining
us again as always if you’ve got any questions or you want to say something
nice is what it is prompting you to down in the bottom and please feel free to
say something nice say something that’s not nice
we don’t really care we’re gonna be taking a look at it anyway so we’ve got
people who are signed in from the UK from Holland from the USA so far a
couple of people I don’t know you as well so I don’t know where you are but
welcome so quick reminder the talent talk is a show where we have somebody
that’s got a really interesting perspective on recruitment or talent
related matters and I’m just gonna ask some questions it’s pretty informal I
would like you to ask any questions you’ve got as well and we always start
with just a little bit about the person’s kind of background basically
took us through your CV so I’d like to introduce Joseph Mullings from the
Mullings group which is a search firm based in the United States focused on
the med tech industry also working with biotech companies internationally and so
Joe first off can you just tell us a bit about your background what’s you how did
you how did you start your career and how have you got to be running this
highly successful company just talk us through your CV great but first of all
thank you so much for having me out of into anybody who’s listening greatly
appreciate it I’ve been in the search business since December 4th 1989 I went
to work for somebody for two years for those are in the US might know the firm
management recruiters international Sebastian Laveau C was my first person
who hired me I went to school for engineering bachelor’s in mechanical
engineering from the University of Dayton Ohio spent a few years as an
engineer knew I could not do that just surrounded with too
conservative of a mindset in general so I left engineering and I went into
Sebastian’s office one day asked for him to move me into marketing because he was
a friend of the family after about two hours of interviewing he asked me if I
ever thought about being a headhunter I said no idea what you do he shared a
little bit more I asked him what his top salesperson made the that year he told
me $200,000 I said I’m in little did I know like most people who enter
headhunting they get in sideways you didn’t go to college for it at least
back in that day yeah usually you’re in a transition in life
so I told Sebastian I’d worked for him for two years and then opened my own
firm I just knew I was an entrepreneur he giggled and he said if you’re able to
do that you have made me a lot of money good luck and two years and about three
weeks to the day Sebastian’s sent me off with my database
to allow me to open up my firm down in Coral Gables Florida I amazing that’s
remarkably collegial Sebastian to do that I don’t think that would normally
happen they would normally tell you to eff off
and that what you told them you were gonna do two years before doesn’t matter
and so what was Sebastian must have been just a good guy Sebastian was one of the
most at least to me one of the most generous human beings I’ve ever worked
with footnote it heard ten years later after I left that he was retiring and
closing his business I called him up and I told him I wanted to buy his business
he said it wasn’t for sale because there was nothing to sell I beg to differ and
I’ll just mention I stroked him more than a six-figure check for his business
American because that’s what you’re supposed to do I bought his database
Mike told me how to buy something and that was just the right thing to do so I
I got into search because of sebastian and
bill jose two icons in the manager recruiters system so that’s how I did it
and when I open in Coral Gables I decided I was only gonna work one
industry because I knew frequency of contact with the individuals I don’t
call them candidates with individuals is critical to be able to have speed and
accuracy to hiring so that’s that what happened okay
I want to come back to the this thing about frequency of contact later because
that’s something that I know you’ve got some really interesting views on is
contacting is communication so okay so how do you think having
training as an engineer how do you think that kind of disciplines that you learned
from that have helped you with in recruitment yeah it’s a good question so
much so I was always an engineer before I was an engineer I always looked at
things as a process right even at Kim so I look at the search business to tell an
acquisition business as a manufacturing process and but I look at it like I’m a
fine watch maker so you will have a supply chain in watchmaking even even
you know IWC Breitling patter a whatever it is the finest watchmakers still have
a supply chain and you still have raw materials which are your individuals and
your companies and you still need skilled craftsmen to put those together
whatever it is so I look at the search business as a supply chain with a
mindset of a fine watchmaker and the people who work in my factory are
incredibly well trained and have areas of expertise that they execute on and
how I fill up my supply chain from a raw material perspective to getting out the
finished product to either the individual meaning job offer or to the
company meaning a success hire are all done in a supply chain
mindset okay so let’s talk about the different aspects of that who if you’re
if you’re treating your company in that way who is your customer everybody so
they the employers and the individuals yeah if you think about it
every hiring manager so your client both of your clients to me the individuals
are more important than the companies because hiring managers switch companies
all the time so you’ll find for those that are listening that are career
search consultants you’ll have Bob or Sally move from Company A B and C in
their career and if you did them solid either as the individual ie candidate or
as the hiring manager they’re going to use you so here is critical
okay so in in terms of your supply chain the most in-demand is is the okay so if
you have got great candidates who are also yeah people people who are
interested in job opportunities and the you can find jobs for
them or they can are they are the candidates more scarce than the jobs so
I’m I’m gonna offer up a philosophy here that’s worked very well for us and let
me just put in perspective we’re anywhere from a six to a seven million
dollar American run rate per year and fees just to put context around things
my firm I think we’ve done over 95 million in fees Justin’s just in Meditec
just to put context so what what I’m sharing does work and is not hard to
replicate it’s my opinion in the search business that you need to create a
following amongst the candidates ie the individuals based on your expertise and
demonstrating that in the public domain and because of that because of your
following the companies will come to you because they know that you do lead as a
thought leader how individuals should manage their career how they should
approach the market demonstrating your expertise
and depth in an area I’ll give you an example surgical robotics interventional
cardiology predictive health whatever accounting whatever your expertise is if
you can demonstrate to the market that they follow you the clients will call
you because you have access to those individuals that’s how we run our
business most people place job orders I never chase a job order we have not
made an outbound marketing call from my firm and probably more than a decade to
quite a job yeah yeah yeah yeah okay I there’s two but there’s too many things
here I’ve got to write them down so okay you just said your opinion is that if
you build a following among the individuals because of your expertise
and what you’re kind of talking about in the market the companies will come to
you absolutely okay let’s let’s let’s just do well on that for a second
because I think this isn’t me I can bring down everything you’ve just said
in in the last two minutes I I wanna I can cover all of that in like different
chunks what how do you go about building that following what are the what are the
channels and what are the formats and what are the techniques and what are the
main things that you need to do in in your view to build that following so
first of all you’ve got to become a domain expert if you’re going to be in
our business in our craft in our profession I think you need to pursue
that aggressively as both a teacher of technology as well as career enhancement
and career development so there’s this there’s this little site out there
called LinkedIn and again I don’t work for LinkedIn and I don’t get paid by
LinkedIn directly they pay me extraordinarily well because of our use
of it to me it is not a job board and to me it is not a candidate repository to
me it is the most brilliant marketing tool that TA talent acquisition
has ever laid at it at your doorstep for free yeah free yeah so as what is as an
example I think you could look at what we do and if you go to my profile you’ll
see that we spend an enormous amount of time in our era of expertise talking
about the market relative to medtech and again whatever it is digital surgery
neurovascular peripheral vascular old heart and what we do is we talk about
where is that market where do we believe it’s going what it means to you is the
individual and then how to take all of those into consideration and then start
to follow what we suggest in regards to career enhancement now keep in mind Adam
this is why I think it’s important that the hiring managers follow me they’re
individuals I have placed as many of my hiring managers in their next role as I
have non hiring managers yes so they see us from both sides therefore they know
the level of service and the level of expertise they’re getting because
they’ve experienced it on both ends I don’t know if that answers your question
directly yeah I mean to an extent it does I think if you’re if you are
working in a specific market like you are then you’ve each and each person
each individual could be somebody that pays your invoice or somebody that goes
into a job that you’ve put them into we’re content I put out or a
recommendation or this is why I strongly recommend that every single person in
search pick a vertical start with a vertical and stay in that market because
frequency of contact is key here and when I say frequency of contact back in
the day your frequency of contact was a mailed resume I remember standing at the
Secretary’s desk and waiting for the mail to come in in 1989 to get a resume
and then frequency of contact was became easier once we started to get email and
then once we started to learn how to work and use voicemail and video and
Skype and scalability that frequency of contact when you start to work to
horizontal of a market gets diluted and my firm I have 12 people on the floor we
touch our industry and individuals on other industry one way or another either
through articles videos phone calls voicemails texts six seven eight times a
year yeah and as long as you’re touching them with really solid content everybody
thinks of touching on a phone call yeah that’s that’s 1970s recruiting yeah I
think I agree so the okay so in terms of the I think I think you said there’s two
things they’re really being a domain expert and that kind of stuff around
career development and being an authority on how people most people
should run their careers and that kind of thing I think those two things are
broadly in line with what I can see from the data from candidate ID is suggest
that when when when people are not in the market for a job opportunity they
still want to find out industry insights and they still want to find out how to
get ahead in their career and their new skills that they need and all that kind
of things so I can see that that is absolutely you know the right kind of
focus tell me about how how have things changed
since 1989 because I mean you just said they’re you know the phones maybe not as
the phones maybe not as productive as it maybe was in the past and privately you
said to me yes you can get around town on a horse but there’s better ways of
doing things you actually also said I said to you what worked in 1989 doesn’t
necessarily work now and you said what weren’t two years ago doesn’t
necessarily work as well too a so what is what are the main changes
that you’ve seen happening in recruitment terms of that in terms of
that contact look what when just ten years ago the primary catalyst that you
had in the search business was a telephone most activities that occurred
occurred because of a telephone call and and sure email and yeah I’ll go back 15
years whatever it is but my point is is the phone call is no longer the primary
catalyst for some sort of movement in the business I believe the primary
catalyst today at scale is using a digital strategy and that digital
strategy doesn’t have to be a video camera just for those that know how much
video our firm puts out I I do believe it’s a critical one but it’s not the
only one writing articles writing micro articles long-form video short form
video co-branding with clients online aligning and sharing partnerships online
those are working 24/7 365 and can scale out for those that I’m an engineer the
phone call is an analogue movement one phone call one action when I put out
content or anybody puts out content that’s good
is one piece of content scales out almost digitally meaning tens thousands
tens of thousands depending on the quality of it right so there’s always
the content and then the variable on that is the quality or the creative on
the content so that’s that’s really important to understand the phone call
is no longer the primary catalyst at scale what it does do though is you do
have to use it once that catalyst is in motion in order to bring that home to
deliver that individual and that company together those skills have not
disappeared but it’s now allowed desks like in my office to average four
hundred thousand five hundred thousand average Billings per year because of the
harmonization and understanding of contacting and causing catalysts or
movement at scale yeah no I mean I completely agree in and I think that
today let’s go just quickly stay on the phone thing do you think that people do
you think that people are are happy to take an unscheduled call today it
depends on the relationship you have with the individual which again comes
back to frequency of contact if I’m an absolute cold call and I’m interrupting
your day no they don’t want that but if somebody looks down at their phone and
says oh it’s Holly Scott from the mullings group or it’s Matt Kaufman from
the Hollings group Mullings group they will take that call it’s not an ideal
time for them but because of the gravitas and credibility that you’ve
established on how you dealt with them the content you put out how much they
know that you understand about their market they will text you back and go
geo can’t talk right now how about 5 p.m. oh I would agree with you phone
calls or interruptions only if you playing the old game and you
don’t understand that they’re nothing more than another chess piece in the
match you have text you have email and then you have to design your cadence
based upon what’s best for the individual not selfishly what’s best for
you yes second you start to serve yourself you’re losing touch with the
individual who really is who you need to be in service of yeah absolutely so I
firmly believe that if you’re trying to land your messages with people you need
to understand that everybody’s got different preferences for how they want
to communicate and digest information so if you’re being really comprehensive
then you’re caught the content you’re putting together you create it
multi-format and you share it in multi-channel the
thing about the telephone is it’s simply I think it’s absolutely you have to in
recruitment you have to be good on the phone because
you’ve got to get people from one step to another step however it isn’t it is
never the best I don’t think it’s almost ever the best first contact that you
have with anybody because I don’t think most
people want want to get that cold call from somebody they have no relationship
with is my accident my attitude about the phone is I answered the phone every
time it rings because my view is it could be an opportunity my wife does not
answer the phone if she doesn’t know who the caller is and even if she does she
often doesn’t answer the phone because she just doesn’t like talking on the
phone but I I I view it as an opportunity every time it rings however
point get it out the phone call be answered is directly related to the the
value you perceive on the other end of the phone call yeah so so if they look
down and they see you know Adam Gordon calling or Jill Mullins calling and they
have that relationship as a high value sort of relationship proposition even in
the middle of a meeting we’ve all had it they’re like oh excuse me hold on a
second and you’ll walk outside and say Joe I’m in the middle of a meeting can I
call you back because there’s a direct relationship on
the perceived quality of the phone call relationship versus the payoff so again
it comes back to building that domain expertise and that gravitas for your
audience that you’re serving yeah so um tell us about I mean you know it’s a
pretty bold it’s a pretty bold attitude and to say right the most important
people are the individuals that we might you know in place so actually we’re
gonna focus our attention on them and customers are gonna come to us because
of our following I think that’s bold I think it’s really confident and I think
people should be more like that in order to in order to be in order to have that
kind of approach I’m interested to know how you go about structuring the
relationships that you have with customers because you’ve told me in the
past you and I spoken in the past and you’ve you’ve told me there’s businesses
that pay you a not inconsiderable monthly retainer there isn’t even
attached to your specific job vacancies it’s just to be just a retain your
business as a supplier so tell me about how you structure your relationships you
have with employers because I view our business as a Ernst & Young of the
talent acquisition world I really do there’s too many headhunters
that have entered into this business as a transactional business and I’m getting
the Sun here I’m gonna rotate this for a minute that didn’t make it any better
hold on Wow okay just as well just as well you haven’t cleared just like one
section of your office there for their purposes of this talent talk yeah by the
way I don’t have a private office I never have yeah so I think it’s critical
that people view this as a very high-end consultant you know my individuals who
work with me the people in my office who work with me do extraordinarily well
because they think that way and the organization is set up that way and we
bring that to our clients because if we just think of ourselves this
transactional that’s the way we behave so I’ve got clients that pay us five
figures plus on a monthly basis to come in and look at what they’re proposing
for their ta their talent acquisition strategy we’re gonna post this this is
how we plan on putting it out these are the platforms that is not a core
competency of our clients and therefore we provide the opportunity for them to
co source that with us we give them guidance and we always explain to them I
will teach you how to do what we’re doing certainly not to the level but to
the point where you can dramatically affect the hires of maybe your hourly
labor or your less skilled labor or your internship program or new grads so and
that comes that comes from putting out the massive content that we put out
because they can see the value there in the strategy so you know that’s my short
answer on that and then with that some of them get a couple hires per month
where we have a client that we charge over $80,000 a month – and they get a
number of hires per month but also they get us managing your
linkedin strategy they get us looking at what their position descriptions are
going to look like we sit in on retention challenges that they’re having
we can give them forecasts on organizations that might be good targets
for them to go after that they hadn’t considered so yeah we don’t look at this
as a transactional business at all yeah yeah and absolutely okay and tell me
about how do you how do you structure your team because let’s talk about how
you structure your team because it’s quite an interesting interesting way of
doing things so here’s here’s the here’s the process I go through all the time I
service my teammates first meaning the people who work with me then the
individuals in the marketplace then the companies everything is always done in
that order yeah because what I want to do is first of all our hiring process
here is is quite brutal it’s seven interviews or seven interactions with
our team once you finally do get hired here it’s very difficult to lose your
job and what we do is we make sure that the individual is right for our
organization and then we make sure we design their careers here built around
the things they’re really good at and what our good organization could use as
a core competency yes feed to hire on all of our placements is critical it is
not out of the question for us to have three search consultants working on a
single search we go at it for four or five days super hard on the heavy
lifting somebody then will take it over after that and manage the candidate flow
through the process and then those teammates are off working on another
search why is that super important one is our client gets speed to hire very
quickly everybody in the business knows time kills all deals that’s number one
but more importantly is my individuals will have anywhere from six to ten job
orders open on their desk that they can count on potentially being
successful in that month and it it flattens out their earnings where most
search firms are like this because you’re working one job order one person
pumping it out it doesn’t hit what this builds is collaboration problem solving
skills speed to hire my search consultant to make a lot more money in a
steady-state basis and they learn a lot more and it’s a lot of cross-functional
team building as they continue to develop and it allows me to train my new
search consultants within a village versus them sitting on the side trying
to figure it out themselves I mean that’s not how a search firm normally
works normally our search firms got one consultant working on each job and it’s
gonna take a lot longer and there’s a first and a middle in a third stage
payment I wonder I wonder how well your model translates outside of the USA so
tell us about like you’re working internationally and what are they say
say in the UK for example how how do they what do they think about your model
here I don’t care it works look at a it works anytime but it always comes back
to hiring the right people so here’s what happens with a lot of search firms
they end up hiring anybody they can for the littlest amount of money they can
pay right I’ve done a lot of consulting for search firms around the world
primarily us but owe us as well and so what happens is they’ll say here in the
US Joe I can’t retain anybody or you know I’m not getting somebody smart and
so there’s a couple things there one is how much money you pay so when you walk
into my organization it’s a guarantee first year earnings of six figures but
you’ve got to make it through the gauntlet what that gives me is best
athlete yeah and if you’re running any sports team football soccer basketball
there’s a reason why they have combined scores 40-yard dash
body weight bench body weight chin-ups whatever the
the mechanics are I want best athlete because the more time I have to spend
off my desk or my leaders have to spend off their desk training somebody who has
no chance at all of being successful is insane
ya know what we do is we hire best athlete we pay them well they never have
to worry about where they’re getting their money for next month believe me
they’re gonna earn it and I’m okay with it taking the first year for me to get
my ROI on the cournot commission plan that most search firms put out yeah so
that allows us to have a dynamically different team in order to execute at a
very high level look there’s a reason why there’s buds school in the Navy
SEALs and the reason why those high-end operators can do with six seven or eight
people on their team versus a hundred yeah right so it’s the same mentality
here yeah that’s very cool and tell me what do you do you plan to diversify at
all or are you gonna continue medtech that’s what we do that’s what we’re
always gonna do so that we’ve been the answer’s no we’re expanding we’ve just
moved aggressively into an adjacent market the biotech space I’m doing some
consulting for somebody right now who’s in a totally different market by taking
these principles because they all work but they have to work in harmony with
each other you’ve got to be I believe you’ve got to be committed to a very
large digital strategy it’s it’s it’s not cheap intellectually it’s not cheap
economically it’s not cheap but it is part of building out at scale very
quickly a brand new market or a brand new modality in a marketplace so we have
been working this hard for the last 24 months and I I know that I believe I
know it transfers to any industry now I absolutely
does I completely I could you could you could replicate what you’re doing and
put it into accountancy or legal or management consulting or there’s a whole
plethora of different worlds that you could transport your model into and
that’s why I wondered about I mean you must have been tempted over the years to
go like multi multi sector or multi discipline but you haven’t done that
until now why why are you why are you diversify because the diversification
from med tech to biotech is not like a huge chasm that you’re crossing there
but what was tempting what’s triggered you to do it now I think it’s the the
confluence of a number of things I knew I needed to build a tower digital
strategy first because as I mentioned earlier while the phone was a catalyst
for the last few decades in search it’s never been less expensive easier to
produce doesn’t mean quality but messaging at scale because messaging and
again it’s I’ve got the right team now and I’ve got the right system now just
because you put a video camera in somebody’s hand doesn’t mean that
they’re going to be putting out content that is acceptable it has high value
it’s like putting a soccer ball at my foot versus Lionel Messi’s foot the ROI
on Lionel’s foot is going to be tremendously different on my foot so we
now believe that we can replicate what we’ve done in our digital side we’ve got
workflow we’ve got processes we understand the cadence on breaking into
new markets we understand how individuals want to take in content
online and then using the tool of the phone online influencing informing
persuading facilitating and then our hiring process this last 18 to 24 months
has been a tremendous change because now we’re putting these high-end tools and
these high-end invest in capable hands and it’s that’s made
all the difference and it doesn’t matter if it’s med tech biotech accounting IT
whatever it is well I know I think is remarkable the way that you’ve
positioned there so digital and communication strategy as being almost a
platform for everything that you’re doing and I don’t know anybody in your
world that’s doing doing things in within that kind and not kind of focused
way and I love it and that’s why that’s the reason why I wanted to do this town
talk with you quick question how is it you know anything about soccer because
you’re American is it because you’re actually Irish and polish yeah so I was
a walk-on University of Dayton Ohio Division one soccer in 1980 and by my
junior year I was captain leading the team so I played d1 ball I grew up in
Hicksville New York which is Long Island which was a hotbed for soccer so yeah I
grew up with the soccer ball at my feet more than anything else and I it’s a
beautiful game yeah um you probably played with George best then in that
case was he you know the I remember Georgie he his last year’s he had a lawn
chair and a fifth of vodka on the sidelines down here with the Tampa Bay
Rowdies Burness yeah so yeah yeah and sorry one of the question is about like
what but you’re based in Florida is Florida a kind of medtech center or what
what do you just love Florida why are you based in Florida I ended up
down here in 92 I had wanted to leave New York at the time came down to Coral
Gables my wife at the time was a model for Ford so we really gonna go to LA
Miami or Milan I wasn’t going to LA and I had no interest in Milan so it was
Miami and wrote our last paycheck I wrote my last check out of my bank
account to open up the office down here and never look back
yeah very cool excellent well listen thank you so much for taking the time to
join our talent talk and for sharing very very candid and transparent and
sharing you know your thoughts on some things that I know the people that have
taken part will have the jointers will have found really interesting and so
Jojo Mullings many thanks where can people if they’re interested in talking
to you what was the best place to reach you you can go to my LinkedIn profile
which is obviously Joe mullings our webpage is mullings group.com and my
email address is Joe at Mulligan’s group calm guys I will absolutely share every
single piece of information I have I don’t hide anything I give it all away I
will spend time and help you think through your process
I just want to and I’ve been rewarded handsomely with this behavior for 56
years so I’m not gonna stop now terrific thank you so much really enjoyed it
thanks everybody bye for now who’s

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