I’ve Never Sold Anything Before. But You Should Buy This.

By Steve Parker

I know, I’m out here shilling for a startup on behalf of my day job, so that makes me a giant hypocrite, considering my long battle against the conflagration of sales pitches and content marketing (they’re more or less different means, same end, admittedly).

But the thing is, I don’t ever endorse products I think suck – in the almost half a decade I worked at Monster, guess how many nice things I had to say about our roadmap or employer product? Ditto the, er, global HR Tech provider whose marketing department I was hired to support in advance of their move into talent acquisition from L&D (don’t look at my LinkedIn, it could be any company).

Both of these companies are somehow still around, only one is no longer a component of the S&P 500 index (or even on the market), and one of them has lost more market cap in the last year since WeWork. I guess you could blame the brand marketing hire who’s an “industry expert,” but I jumped ship a long time ago, and both times, for the same reason: I won’t be affiliated with a brand I don’t believe in.

Even when I was ostensibly an independent journalist, my partners at Recruiting Daily probably never loved the fact that I refused to present with, write about or byline anything that was paid for with good money, but from bad vendors.

A week in, I almost got canned when I publicly denounced an email blast that had my name as the sender endorsing the Ladders Mobile App (that was the last one that went out in my name without a perfunctory edit); our biggest client when I was hired, for context, was LinkedIn.

A couple months in, we ran a Valentine’s related, cobranded content package on “falling in love with a candidate.” Yeah, I know – that well ran dry pretty quickly when we dispensed with the conversation hearts and actually asked recruiters what they thought about the product and its ROI. Not to mention the lawsuits (I can’t by consent decree).

It’s no secret that I think most recruiting products are pretty crap – a position that’s gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years, but one that I have to abide. Recruiting is hard, man – and having a bad system can make even a good TA gig absolutely miserable. Problem is, no one ever says anything, as long as the checks cash, analysts and “influencers” included. I’m neither.

I just geek out for HR Tech, which is not something I would have expected to ever admit openly. The 17 year old version of me hates myself right now for that, but it’s true – a lot of HR Tech is actually really, really cool.

The problem is, while we have the potential to change the way people find jobs, and people find work, often the best interests of our software and services providers win out over meaningful change, embracing the status quo at the expense of both recruiters and candidates.

Our industry could be actually transformative. Instead, we’re too busy quibbling over SMB market share for CRM solutions, or whether AI and ML are synonymous, or some crap like that, to really make any sort of meaningful difference. As important as candidate experience is, if looking for a job still sucks, and fully 1 out of 3 candidates quit within the first year, and over half of us report having terrible onboarding or transition experiences when moving to new employers, it’s really irrelevant. If anything, the ones who didn’t make it might just be the lucky ones, after all.

That’s a lot of pretense for this post. But here’s the thing. I really, really like QuantumWork a lot. And I think you will, too. The reasons are more or less outlined above, but it does what I think every talent tech platform should, and all too few actually do.

    1. If You’re Stuck With Bad HR Tech, There’s Hope: QuantumWork augments and extends the capabilities of legacy systems instead of building a better mousetrap for the same profiles and candidate data. That means you can teach an old ATS or VMS new tricks, and extract value from an investment that started depreciating decades ago, without going through the whole selection, migration and implementation nightmare that’s inevitable even amongst the most cutting edge of people platforms.
    2. Beyond Classification: It solves an actual business problem, unlike 99.9% of VC backed plays out there. Back a lifetime ago, when I was recruiting onsite at an RPO, I was consistently the top performer in the TA organization (in terms of filling reqs, if not entirely playing the game). I got plaques and gift certificates and stuff every month just because I knew how to batch upload Google results into a proprietary ATS, which apparently makes you a boy wonder. The CHRO actually made it a point to have me in meetings (this was fun while it lasted). But I was a consultant, and my badge was red, not blue. This meant I couldn’t eat in the cafeteria, had to park in a different lot, didn’t get to go to company meetings or retreats, and according to the corporate directory, my actual last name was “*Contractor.” I didn’t care who was paying me, but our RPO team had the drive, talent and results to put our in-house counterparts to shame.If companies realize that the best workers don’t always work for them, and search for the best matches on the market without paying attention to classification, everyone wins.I truly believe that QuantumWork can help democratize workplace access, and ensure that companies see their total talent picture, and not just the ones who come in through an ATS for FTE roles. Data doesn’t discriminate, and by standardizing and structuring people information from across systems, we can finally judge workers not by the color of their badge, but by the product of that work and the organizational impact it objectively has. I think QuantumWork can help employers turn inclusion from a TA buzzword into a workforce planning and talent management imperative by ensuring that recruiters can have a single view of talent, no matter how fractured their workforce.
    3. Products are Built by People. Pretty much everyone who’s even tangentially related to startups knows that their relative success or failure isn’t driven by the product, provided that product isn’t vaporware, is legal and delivers more or less as promised. It’s the people – the Steve Jobs’ (how do you pluralize that, by the way), the Elon Musks (if you’re into that kind of thing) and the Stanford CS Alumni Association who are the real reasons startups succeed (Zuck, looking at you), fail (uh, Zenefits guy, why are you still here) or succeed and fail spectacularly (Elizabeth Holmes and Meg Whitman, for example, or the tech bros behind WeWork and Tom from MySpace). And the people building QuantumWork know what they’re doing just about as well as any team in the industry. From Steve Parker, who actually ran IT Professional Services and Strategic Sourcing at Lowe’s (if you think hiring is hard from a tech perspective, try literal hardware) to the single data scientist building an algorithm in a matter of months that can actually go head to head with most any job matching or data mining tool in talent today, these are smart people. The exception, of course, is Alan Barker, but he’s in sales, so you can’t have it all – and with him, you have to settle for industry knowledge and doing a real demo instead of looking at some specious deck with a “Hiring is Broken” slide just for show, I promise.I’ve seen the team pitch this product dozens of times, and I don’t yet want to slit my wrists. Trust me, it’s worth a half-hour – even if you don’t buy it, you can at least waste Barker’s time, and that’s a win for everyone.I kid because I love. And there’s a whole lot to love with the people who are putting their passion into a product that’s actually, well, pretty awesome (and getting better literally every day, they’ve got some world-class developers). Plus, they’re not from hella Silicon Valley, which means that they get the real world and real recruiting – which you do when you happen to be located in Charlotte, America’s diabetes and banking capital (no pun intended). I’m not trying to score points with my coworkers; they work with me, so you know how they feel about me already. I’m just saying when it comes to the intangibles, I think this is a team that can give you the product you need with the support you want. This is a low baseline, but few startups in this space ever manage to have decent people working on people products – and about all a buyer can control for in today’s talent tech market.

So, yeah. I guess what I’m saying is, I rarely publicly endorse products. Never in my career have I given public plaudits to any product which also had me on payroll, because, well, I’m not going to shill stuff just because it’s my job to market it. In this case, it’s not my job at all; that would be Mr. Craig Fisher (@Fishdogs on Twitter, y’all).

But I’ve always felt it’s my job to let recruiting and HR leaders know about what’s worth watching in terms of talent acquisition technology, and which few products actually live up to the hype for recruiting and hiring. Which is why I’m bylining this blog post.

I’m not trying to sell anything, for the record. QuantumWork kind of does that during a demo – which I was definitely not expecting the first time I saw it. I was expecting my “honest feedback” would be anything but; instead, my honest feedback is that they managed to prove me wrong and build a product that’s worthy of promoting.

This is not a sponsored post, and any opinions expressed herein are entirely my own, and not necessarily those of Allegis Global Solutions. Just like everything else I put out there.