Adam Gellert is the Founder and CEO of Hired Hippo, the leading Canadian marketplace for high potential go-to-market job candidates.
Taking a unique approach to hiring, Hired Hippo matches candidates with companies through understanding the intent and competencies of candidates whilst also developing a deep understanding of the job opportunities.
This process results in hiring companies finding ideal candidates faster who fit their culture and Hired Hippo claims a success rate for placements much higher than alternatives like linkedIN and indeed.ca
Read through the full video podcast transcript
Using LinkedIn for hiring and recruiting
Adam Gellert 0:00
LinkedIn is messy. It's chaotic, right? And it's not just for hiring anymore, right? People post sales, they try to get you to give them referrals do a free coffee chat. Like there's just it's really messy, right. So what we believe is a lot better as an exclusive network more like a curated LinkedIn where companies don't have to be exhausted by receiving 200 300 applications, they can attract and hire high potential pre vetted talent very quickly, and for a fraction of the cost that they could do it themselves or going through traditional.
Qasim Virjee 0:44
Adam, thanks for joining me in studio today, it's a pleasure to have you here. I want to hear all about your company hired hippo, your career history that led to its foundation, I kind of like some of the some of the things that you've been seeing through the lens of operating this HR focused company, this recruiting focus company, in the last couple of years, you know, pre post, during pandemic, whatever. So welcome.
Adam Gellert 1:09
Thanks. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. saw you at that event and connected and appreciate it? Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 1:16
So for our listeners, the back the background is, you may as this is being released, in part for the gathering series that we do for people in people in culture. You may have watched an episode or heard of an episode with our friend Martin Hawke. And he is a super connector in the people and people and culture stupid people group. Yeah, that's what he does people people group. So that was the event that we met at, and we talked or I talked to someone on our team about, you know, engaging you guys, as a client of hired hippo years ago. It feels like, so it's good to reconnect.
Adam Gellert 1:52
Absolutely, we still gotta get you in for that demo. Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 1:55
Yeah, we need help. We need sales help. We'll get to that. But so what is hired hippo? Let's jump into that.
Adam Gellert 2:02
Yeah, so hire tempo is a place for companies that are startups or SMBs, to attract and hire high potential pre vetted talent very quickly, and for a fraction of the cost that they could do it themselves or going through traditional methods. So I
Qasim Virjee 2:25
like to I like the quick access to on ramp, you know, talent. Give me a background, I guess let's let's start there, let's say, okay, so you guys make it easy for people to find higher quality talent quicker, and get them up and running this idea? Absolutely. Yeah. So how do you do it?
Recruitment industry trust and alignment.
Adam Gellert 2:45
So kind of came through my own pain. I mean, I've been in the recruiting space for the last 20 years, tell me about your pain, brother. Hiring is a pain and honestly, hiring touches everyone, at some point in your career, you will hire someone or get hired, right? It's just inevitable. Um, even if you start your own thing, you know, customers are hiring you. Right? So, you know, it was it was my own pain, working in house and working for an agency and then started my own recruitment agency, where I realized that at some point, um, companies kind of graduate from us, and they go off onto their own, you know, try to recruit themselves, that kind of thing. And what they're all telling me is like, hey, like, we need to do it because of budget restraints. And we want to bring everything in house and kind of like, own the data and own, you know, how candidates perceive us as a brand. But the tools out there aren't very good. LinkedIn. And indeed, so how we do things really differently is, we have the philosophy that alignment is the most important part. But hiring, alignment is missing from traditional job boards, recruiting, doing yourself referrals,
Qasim Virjee 4:02
alignment, breakdown, what do you mean by alignment?
Adam Gellert 4:05
So alignment is where it kind of goes back to like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right? Candidates are looking for a certain thing, in order to change jobs in order to progress their career and pick the right career move. Most people actually don't make their migrate career move. So they keep hopping back and forth. And it looks really bad. And, you know, it was either a result of them picking the wrong role or being presented with the wrong role or so sold on the wrong role. And so, alignment is where candidates are interested in career opportunities based on work environment, the job that they're going to be doing. So do I want to move from an SDR to an AE, don't order from a leadership role down to an individual contributor. And then the compensation obviously, like what are the benefits, you know, and all those things and so By figuring that out, we're able to present very high quality, premium job opportunities to candidates and attract them sort of like faster than typical recruiters can, and companies can do do it themselves.
Qasim Virjee 5:14
Yeah, it's sort of, it's interesting because like, definitely like looking for a job finding a job, and then going through that onboarding, or that the recruit, triage, you know, the kind of like hiring companies hiring processes, to then be sat at a desk in a company, and then be tooled up to like, do your job is like such a cumbersome process for every company that seems like and anyone, I liked this idea that that you brought up of kind of like how people want to internalize companies want to internalize HR, or I guess recruiting as a function. And often cases, the justification is reduced op X. But the truth is, it becomes a little bit more expensive and or shittier, as a process if you're going to own it. But I think there's also that like, possibly because of the costs, a lot of mistrust in recruiting companies that, you know, especially smaller, like SMBs might have is that, Wow, we got to pay three months or six months of someone's salary, whatever it is, to bring them on board. And we're paying that to these guys whose job it is to just make that fee and place people. How do we know that they have a vested interest in our success? And how do they find the right person for us? Like, I would think there's a lot of mistrust with smaller firms, especially there,
Adam Gellert 6:29
there's a ton of distrust in the industry, I think it's like it's looked at as, you know, that cheesy car salesman type of role. I mean, it's been around like, since before the well, forever, but like, traditionally more like 70s and 80s, right, where they didn't, you know, LinkedIn didn't exist and things like that. Right. Um, and I think it's primarily because of the direction that the industry went. And like a lot of, you know, bad actors in the space, I mean, just trying to throw heads at seats, and, you know, not being invested or involved in the business for the long term. And so yeah, when I started my agency, I mean, we we run on one KPI, which is repeat business, right, and you know, that value, that mission, really changes, like the way that we approach our customers, in terms of like, what customers you work with, and things like that. And so trust is, is something that is like earned over time, obviously, like, it's not something that you can see right away. And so it's, it's tough to show your work and recruiting because it's, you know, if you're a lawyer, you're like, hey, you know,
Qasim Virjee 7:42
we won that case, yeah, we
Hiring and team building in innovation-based industries.
Adam Gellert 7:44
won that case would take me this many hours to do this project. But in recruiting, it's years of, you know, networking, assessing candidates, like, just understanding from an experience perspective, right. And so, the way the industry started was that, you know, we would just pay upon success, right. And so that kind of like damper, but I think a lot of the trust, because there's no, you know, concept or understanding of how long that that can potentially take, it could take a long time could take a little bit of time. And so I believe that like the utopia is essentially like bringing in your own recruiting, you know, superpower in inside your company, it's just the tools available to you to do that. Like, aren't there, some people don't have to know how to hire some people don't. And if you're growing startup, or SMB, like, getting everyone on your team to be able to hire and a leadership roles, like is pretty key, just you got to give them the tools to do it.
Qasim Virjee 8:47
It's funny, because you mentioned sales, like you said, SDR is it just the off the cuff as a potential kind of, you know, hiring identity. But like, I've always looked at this kind of like finding people as a sales role. If you're doing if you're a recruiter, and you're looking for people to fill or candidates to fill a role. You have to sell those candidates on that employer, and you have to sell, of course, the candidate to the employer, who is ultimately you know, you're working for internally or otherwise. Tell me a little bit about that. And your personal experience, like as, as someone who, you know, helps people find each other? How does salesmanship come into it in terms of like this relationship formation side of things?
Adam Gellert 9:34
I mean, it's a bit of push and pull, right? Like you have to be able to attract but also repel to get the right talent, right. So you can't just be selling. I mean, I don't think people take like direct selling seriously anymore. It's very relationship based. Like, you know, as I mentioned, like trust happens over time. Right. So yeah, I mentioned salespeople because they're more than just boxes to check. It's you know, it's personality fit. It's how people show up. It's, you know, I was looking at, like, passion trust attitude for any role, but like you really see that and in, in sales and so when you're recruiting for a company, you have to understand the company as a whole, you have to understand the business problem that the company needs to solve, not just surface level of, you know, what's on the website, or what somebody said in our Article Two weeks ago, like you just really need to understand like, what's worked, what hasn't worked? Why is the company even hiring for this candidate? And could you go a different path?
Qasim Virjee 10:32
Higher, right? Because because it's not just like, exactly, you're not hiring for widget factories, right? Like, I need an operator to pull this lever every third of a second, like, he's gonna go super quick. That's all I need. cheaper than a machine going to get a human. Yeah, so for office work, you know, or white collar work, there's a lot more at play, and inter relational skills are really important. Because I find this like, people in roles can, if they have the capacity, you know, they can learn stuff that they didn't know, coming into a job on the job. And they can get better at processes and functional stuff, if they have the capacity. But their inter relational skills are what you know, allows a team to form and people to rely on each other in that team and do great stuff together. So for innovation based teams, you know, that's really, really, really important. Who typically are the clients of hired hippo? So
Recruitment strategies and candidate qualifications.
Adam Gellert 11:32
we strictly work with SMBs small medium sized businesses and startups founder led, they can be bootstrapped, working out of their kitchen table, or series A looking to raise Series B. Um, so all the candidates that we have, and we've we've vetted, which is over 35,000 candidates that are mostly local within Canada, I'm looking for their next opportunity, but being picky about it, like, you know, we always say like, we're kind of as picky or selective as our like, as our customers, which is the companies as well as the candidates, right? So it's quality over quantity, making sure that it's the right role, it's going to actually be good trajection in their career, it's going to be the right place for them to excel. Because like, you know, work environment is a reason that, you know, a lot of people don't work out like it might be the right person, wrong spot, kind of thing. What
Qasim Virjee 12:39
Okay, so and what are the roles typically? Like? Are there particular types of roles that you fill, or that you guys have found yourself? Aligning with post pandemic?
Adam Gellert 12:51
Yeah, currently, we focus on GTM roles go to market, so sales, marketing, customer success, we want to own the space in Canada, as like the best like already met with pre qualified recruiter ready talent for those roles. And for those small, medium sized businesses, but
Qasim Virjee 13:16
how did you arrive on that identity as like, a particular and catchment of people that are both being looked for and also that maybe are difficult to recruit for?
Adam Gellert 13:26
Yeah, it's a good question. I mean, we tried a lot of different things. And, quite honestly, it's one of the harder roles to get, right. Because you don't really know somebody is going to be great until they get into that role. So the alignment piece, like part of what we do is so critical for those roles, right? Again, it's not just the boxes that you would check, right, like with a developer, do they have the right tech stack, that kind of thing, which my agency does a lot of, we do a lot of executive search there. Developer attack, you know, product roles. And we also tried to test them out on our product. And what we realized is that, like, those candidates don't actively seek opportunities at different companies and less, somebody kind of reaches out to them directly in touch them on the shoulder.
Qasim Virjee 14:17
Hey, we want you for this role. Oh, my God, I never thought of changing my job. Yeah, I can make more money.
Adam Gellert 14:23
It's make some money. It's exciting to be recruited. Right. So I don't
Qasim Virjee 14:29
know. But nine times out of 10 those random inquiries are bullshit. I mean, at least that I'll speak from my own experience, like the LinkedIn messages, oh my god, this would be great. We have this company for you know, you don't you just want me in your database. That's another thing that happens. A lot of recruiters looking to like kind of see, oh, well, who's interested in what so that we can kind of earmark them for positions as they come available? So it's like building a refined database out of LinkedIn, you know,
Adam Gellert 14:59
yeah. I hit the nail on the head because like LinkedIn is messy. It's chaotic, right? Like, I mean, I can barely get through my LinkedIn messages. And it's not just for hiring anymore, right? People post sales that try to get you to, you know, give them referrals, do a free coffee chat. Like there's just, it's really messy, right? So what we believe is a lot better as an exclusive, you know, network more of like a curated LinkedIn, where companies don't have to be exhausted by receiving 200 300 applications, they can, you know, sign up onboard with us, we'll learn about their business, we'll learn about the role, but make sure that they're posting the role correctly. Which is something that you know, those other traditional job boards don't do specifically. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 15:46
so each each role is defined differently. And then candidates kind of don't really focus on those details, and they try and spray and pray and hope that it works.
Adam Gellert 15:54
Exactly. We don't even let candidates click apply, or
Qasim Virjee 15:59
it's a waste of time. From an employer perspective. Yeah, geez. And then people once in a while, I'll get a candidate reaching out to me being like, Hey, I never heard from you. I'm like, Well, my job description says specifically, anyone who doesn't include a cover letter explaining why they think this is a fit for them with a demonstratable knowledge of my company, you know, is not even we don't even read that. I'm not gonna read a resume. The hell's a resume in this day and age, you know, like, it's just could be totally lies. And I don't care if you got a PhD or masters, you know, you got to be able to just do the thing that we need that. And, and yeah, some people are a little miffed, because it kind of like, but I clicked apply, like, I did the work. Yeah. What? And from that experience, you want me to hire you. You think that's demonstrating initiative, because you click the button? Buttons? Not enough? So yeah, it's a huge service to be able to prevent, you know, candidates for employers and get a better understanding of what employers need to be able to matchmake Yeah,
Hiring and alignment in startups.
Adam Gellert 17:05
I think like you said, like, it's, um, we're kind of like, in this time where, you know, do less work right. to, like, you know, get that introduction and introductions take time. And, you know, I think there's a lot of bad advice out there. But if candidates have to do more work, obviously not like unpaid assignments, and, you know, like, astronomical amount of work, but if, if they're not putting in the work to, like, do an assignment and understand the business, then how do they know even if they're gonna like it, they're right, like, it's just as much of a risk for the candidate as it is for the company. And again, more alignment that that people have, before you get started, the less likely that anything's going to, you know, falter or not work out, right. So
Qasim Virjee 17:55
I want to pick your brain on something, or focused on, like you said, go to market, right. So people that can enable companies to find connection with business. And also, if you're working with SMBs, and, you know, technology companies, I'm sure bulk of them are SAS. So the idea is, you know, salespeople that are doing b2b sales probably a lot of the time. What have you learned about, I know, this is generic buying things. And he says specific, you know, there's details, though, that we need to get into about salespeople in terms of commonalities of skill sets, that people may find complementary to sales as a role. And if you have to bring people who have not sold directly before, like, enabled a financial transaction for a company before, but they had a skill set those complimentary that you feel confident, enables them to do sales, anything that you can speak to on that topic. I
Adam Gellert 18:57
mean, the easy answer is like passion, or industry knowledge. So typically, when I talk about people that are in career transition, right, so you know, maybe they worked in food and beverage and then working for a food and beverage related tech company, like could be a transaction like could be a good opportunity for them to hit the ground running because they understand sort of like the you know, what's behind the curtain, the nuts and bolts of that particular industry and how to talk to those customers. The rest can be taught if the onboarding is there, if they have the right attitude, like some people need a lot of our onboarding some people need, like very little like, it just depends on the person and how resourceful they are. Right? So but there's definitely a few things that I've seen that are like very rare. I mean, if somebody doesn't have the sales experience, they don't know if they like sales, for example. Yeah. It's gonna be you know, it's gonna be really hard. Yeah, like I I've hired people without recruiting experience before. Are and we don't really, we don't do it anymore. And the reason is because a lot of the transition to becoming a good recruiter is understanding that you like the industry, you like the hard work, you'd like the ups and downs. And you can handle that sort of like a high stress, emotional rollercoaster, and chat with people on a personal level. And people think that they want that, but they don't really want that. So that's, you know, where I worry. Another example is, when startups are trying to hire people that don't have startup experience, it's very rare that I've ever seen that worked out,
Qasim Virjee 20:36
people freak out. And it's the startup people don't really realize, especially if you're like a career startup person, from a founder perspective, if you've just always dealt with new CCOs, and like all the problems to do with new co formation, finding customers, convincing them to part with money, going after investment rounds, whatever that stuff is, and you know, you're not looking at systems and process and regularity. And in fact, you kind of May abhorred those things. So if you bring on people to your team who are like, they just want the week to be the week, and they'll kill it in that nine to five, but they're not over committed, you know, to like sharing your passion for the necessity of actualizing your vision, then they're going to seem like, you know, they're tying you down. And I think I've seen it here, where, at start? Well, we've had a number of obviously, we were startup aligned. And since our foundation, the mission here was to enable early stage companies to kind of like pair programming in a way where we had small companies together in the same space, in fact, in the beginning, and I was testing that proximity question as an enabler, so we'd have like a company that doesn't have, let's call it, I don't know somebody in finance, but they're next to a team that has like, a really strong finance team. The idea is that they can learn what they need from that other team to hire for or develop internally as a skill set. And those are hugely successful for a while. But we, as an operating team learned a lot about all these other early stage companies that were sharing the space to see. Well, yeah, what what can they do? What can they do? And what are the frustrations to you know, and perhaps even in some cases, the inhibitors to speed and agility? A lot of that is just miscommunication and misalignment of vision? Absolutely. Because you have these founders that have, you know, their idea of how things should be. But often cases, they're not managers, they're not communicators, they're not relationship people at all, you know, and yet, they're wearing so many hats, it's hard to take those hats off and put it on someone else's head.
Adam Gellert 22:45
Yeah, it's tough to get the context like you've never done it before. So like, to what you're saying, like, you kind of need to be in it to know how, how tough it is and what to do like if, you know, there are pivots and stressful situations, although a lot of startups hate that word pivots. But, you know, there's just like, things that happen off the cuff, right? Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 23:09
I've had that I've had staff just like, freak out on me, you know, freak out on me, like this one lady. She just couldn't understand why it was years ago. But she couldn't understand why I didn't have a number of paper documents for her to fill out every day. And I was like, and she was like, there's no process here. And I'm like, well, process is digital man. You know, we have three different software's that we use for these things that you want to create paper records for? And then she's like, but then how do I look through all these documents? Yes.
Adam Gellert 23:40
Well, yeah, that's one of the things I mean, like, that's why companies need to do these tests, right? Like, even if you say, like, Hey, I'm comfortable technology, like, how do you use it? How do you interact with it, you know, if you're using a Mac, do you know like, the quick commands, like, right, there, just some things that like, it's really hard to tell where things go into, I recommend to my clients to basically do an interview, like a podcast like this, get to know the person on like, a super deep level, take a lot of interests, but be like, you know, don't try to trick them just like be engaging. Right, right. And then, from an interview standpoint, like really kind of like paint the picture of what it's going to be like, in the day to day, the good, the bad. You know, what's worked out before? What hasn't, I mean, transparency is just missing. It's so important and most people leave their current job because it wasn't as explained to them in the interview or so they say that's their side of the story.
Job misalignment and its consequences in the workplace.
Qasim Virjee 24:37
Oh, my God, so much focus on the interview. And it's like the interviewer is supposed to give you this crystal ball into, you know, the organization, I'm gonna do some diligence, like how many candidates due diligence on the company that they're about to, you know, spend their waking life at? Very few. They're not like, they're not necessarily kind of like aligning themselves with opportunity. when they come into a job and expect to be, you know, spoon fed everything. And also motivated, that's a another side thing, if you're finding that in amongst candidates that you're trying to place, but like, there, we're seeing in a lot where a lot of people are these days, especially in their 20s, let's say, let's call it out, I'm going to be a generation list are looking for like moms and dads at work. Yeah, they're looking for leaders to be parents. You know, and, and that's, that's not something that's sustainable. You know, organizations can invest, especially SMBs can invest in bringing employees up to scale up to speed on everything going on in the company, because so much is happening. And each worker, each person, especially, we're talking about startups, each person is doing something that has a need for autonomy in a way because they got to drive their own, you know, mandate because I'm working on behalf of five people that don't exist in every business unit. So it can be very difficult. I'm sure for a lot of people, not necessarily people that want only that stasis of like, you know, the life out of bank, nine to five clock in clock out, but also the people that feel like the there's constantly knowledge gap and like, they can't get ahead, because they need to be told everything.
Hiring and candidate identity in the tech industry.
Adam Gellert 26:15
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I agree. And I see it as, you know, again, the the alignment piece, it's like, Kim Scott wrote this book, radical candor, and it's, you know, a part in it, where she talks about, there's a lid for every pot. So gold, there's a plate, every missing lid there that too. And so it's just like the wrong person, wrong company. And so, you know, a lot of these, it happens at the beginning stages where either the candidate doesn't dig into it themselves, or what they should be doing, maybe, you know, they don't they didn't get a career coach, they didn't really assess what were the good things and the bad things what I was doing before or what am I actually like, you know, passionate about and motivated by. Because if there's like misalignment between that person and their leader, like, they're just like, it's just not going to be a fit, it's going to be a constant, like, you know, struggle, or that person is just going to try because they're there, and then and then fall off. So it's really like the wrong fit. And these things, obviously, are extremely costly. To do it wrong. And that's what we want to get rid of, we want to say like, Hey, stop, you are we tell our customers like, Look, you don't have to recruit like skip recruiting, don't worry about sourcing attracting talent, we do that for you, our app automatically tracks people, and doesn't have just a job description, that's just like words on a paper, right? It's all the things that you would want to know about an employer before making the jump. So it's like, here's the insights and information on the company with series that they add videos, you know, images, it's not just that those words on the paper, so it's very intentful. And then the company as well, it's not a resume, like resumes, like you said, or are you know, they're old and traditional and poor predictor of success, we want to know more information right? About where this candidate is coming from, it's and then he can make better decisions, better choices. Funny,
Qasim Virjee 28:18
I had this one candidate that kept coming up over three years for different jobs. And she didn't provide much information about herself. And you know, as part of our process, we always kind of will review applications in line with a little bit of logistic, a Google search, like, Who is this person? What's their social footprint? You know, what are they like doing? Well, how do they interact? Are the tech enabled? Do they have 10 events attend different profiles on different platforms? Are they engaging in any whatever you Google someone's name, and this person kept coming up in different ways that was so surprising and weird, like, in terms of the number of different types of career that they seem to be pushing out into the world, over the two year period, or three year period of applying for different jobs with us. And it's like, wow, this is like 10 people in one person. But it's not like they have simultaneously you know, interested in different things. It's more like this person was trying out different hats, and they weren't fitting, and it's really interesting. But, um, so yeah, putting that information. That's another thing to note, rather than expecting employers to be able to triage your digital footprint and define some sort of unified identity. It's better to put that into a system like yours, and say, you're going to be presented in a living breathing way. You know, that's, that's more concise, for the person looking at it and easier to digest. Yeah,
Adam Gellert 29:43
there's a lot of bad actors out there. I mean, you talk to everyone they've got a horror story for hiring right there. There are stories and a lot more than you think in terms of like, you know, we were paying this person they also had another full time job. You're paying this person I'm
Qasim Virjee 29:59
hearing that from people on this podcast, yeah, in the PNC world, that like I just had a chat with someone today, this morning who said that they had an employee that had five, no four jobs for full time simultaneous jobs. Yeah,
Adam Gellert 30:12
it happens. And people like kind of, you know, sales like saying that you'd reach out to this many people and, you know, recording it in your, your, your CRM, but like, it's actually not true once you use
Qasim Virjee 30:27
BS leads, they're like, Yeah, I don't know, they're emailing me back, man. There's
Adam Gellert 30:32
there's a ton of those right? And they really shouldn't be in those industries. Maybe they shouldn't have been at that company, maybe.
Qasim Virjee 30:38
Let's pause and let's talk about this example. Okay. And I want to talk about, because you mentioned the other day to me that you represent, you know, some candidates that are comfortable with 100%. Commission positions in sales. Yeah. So that's an interesting identity to me. You know, and probably you don't you mentioned, like, people hiring should conduct interviews. Well, that's kind of what we're doing. Because I want I want you guys to find me some some salespeople. So I find it fascinating that there are people that because there should be that are, you know, Commission's only focus, because you can make a lot more money with the right structure in that sort of a role, but it requires a confidence in your abilities to be able to actually knock it out of the park. Right. So I have a question about those people, like who fit? Are there character traits or otherwise, anything you could say about the canon of people that you represent that, you know, are commission only salespeople?
Adam Gellert 31:39
Yeah, so um, just for context for the audience? I mean, the reason we know is because that's one of the questions. What are your salary expectations? What do you want? Is your on target earnings, which is like total comp? And would you be open to commission on liberals? Right? And so for those that select, you know, we're opening and commission on the rolls, it's less than 6% of the entire talent pool. And we can say that, like, just in the whole thing might be
Qasim Virjee 32:05
even less than that. I like in Canada, but it's interesting, because in sales, I mean, people need to know, I would think they'd be driven by Re compensation, right. So it's a very specific kind of motivator for people. Most people, and that's an interesting thing, taking the flip stat, saying that 94% of candidates looking for jobs are not primarily driven by Re compensation.
Adam Gellert 32:28
Yeah. Right. They, you know, I think it's like a bit historic, or, you know, where you are in your life or, you know, you know, just just I guess, having being put in like a, you know, situation where you can take a low salary, but if, you know, founders are on commission, only some recruiters that start their own businesses aren't commission only real estate agents. You know, there's a lot of these industries that are commission only. So there are people that are kind of used to it, and they like to know that they're earning each dollar that they brought in. But because of like inflation, and the cost of living and all these things, the the interesting commission only jobs has gotten less and less like over my career, like, by far, right. So just like less people are willing to start that. So the idea is to like, kind of create, like a good balance that, you know, based on how long sales might take, and this is something one of the conversations we have with employers, which is like, they're like, Well, you know, what should I pay for this base? Well, first of all, do you want to be paid the highest base that of any other company? Do you want to pay in the middle? Do you want to pay a bit lower? Like, what's your budget, first of all, and then, you know, kind of look into? Well, what is the likelihood that this person is going to start earning commission? And When's that going to be because the longer it takes for them to earn a commission, you know, and they, they're not making any money? And that's like, effects of the product or the service. It's just going to be harder on them, depending on what sort of like cost of living that they currently have. Right? So these are all factors that I like, you know, I recommend people look into, and also say, like, if you could pay a million dollars, salary and base, you'd have access to almost every single person, right? Because you would eliminate the compensation requirement or question and anything lower, you go to zero commission only, it's just a smaller pool, but, you know, depending on your business, or how you're structured, you know, being able to balance the right person. It's interesting,
Commission-only jobs and performance-based compensation.
Qasim Virjee 34:41
but the commission only thing is very interesting to me, because it's about performance and about the confidence and performance. You know, like I mean, it's a particular function in a business, not everything, every role can be performance based. Some things are more tricky to gauge performance on right. And yet we live in this world especially with remote work and unhybridized teams is like a lot of organizations that have no clue what performance means anymore. Because they're they're creating these sort of metrics to say, well, we don't know if Judy's happy. And we really, I mean, she, she's not in the office to bring us bagels on Thursday. So we don't know if we'd like her anymore. And so we can't game the system by saying we like her. And she, you know, she's, she's a happy person to have around. So I guess it's only about performance, and like, she's really bad at turning things in on time. Is that performance? You know, or when you were all in the office together, her bringing the bagels actually made the whole team performed 20% better, you know, yeah. These things are really kind of crazy right now to see people assessing. Yeah,
Adam Gellert 35:44
and like, you know, remote work and office like, these are questions that we get from our clients all the time. And this is why we sort of realized that like, just a product doesn't work, just a service, you kind of need both to complete the trifecta of like, what we would call utopia, hiring, or getting as close to perfect hiring as possible. And, you know, the productivity or performance is no, it's it's like, company and person specific, right? Like, how does that leader think about what outcomes they want? Every job is outcome based, whether you're serving coffee, like, okay, you know, I used to go to Tokyo smoke a lot for coffee and like, they the way they put it together and describe the coffee like that was to me like an 11 star experience, right. And people would go back because of the science that they described behind the coffee as an example that just went away went up in smoke, right? Yeah, they, I guess turned into just like, so cannabis stores and no more coffee. But yeah, right. For our
Hiring and recruitment strategies in the cannabis industry.
Qasim Virjee 36:45
listeners outside of Ontario outside of Canada. A few years ago, when let's call it 2018 19, when cannabis was about to be legalized, there was all these companies that were questioning what the rollout of legalization would look like. And this company started very, very smartly. If I'm correct that it was the son of someone already in cannabis. Yeah, who started this brand. And the brand was supposed to be a lifestyle brand for cannabis minded people. And they focused on caffeine nation, which is interesting, but really geeked out on, like you were saying on how they provided a stellar Cafe experience espresso org experience. And the posit was we built a network of cafes, and those cafes could be distribution points for cannabis, depending on how legalization happens, and whether we could sell weed in those shops. And then it turned out they couldn't mix function and say retail is retail only and all this stuff happened with the legislation. But they got acquired for tons and tons of money. Yeah, 500 million, I think. And then all of those shops, died and had not provided a database of customers. So it was one of these kind of like overhyped brand extrapolations, that didn't necessarily provide access to market. It was a weird thing, because it's like, we'd all love to have those espresso bars back. Oh, it was like,
Adam Gellert 38:06
they had this concept where it was clothing, coffee, like really well done coffee and tea like they had, you know, I talked to and just exceptional people that work there. I always say like barista chefs, servers make incredible workers, like, they just paid so much attention to detail. But for whatever reason, Tokyo smoke was able to hire these people that were like, you know, almost like a small EA, like, they just went to school for I don't know, it's called for coffee. But they went to school for that. And then the vessels for cannabis. And, you know, as that transition that you just explained was happening out people come in looking for cannabis. And they'd be like, no, no, we don't have this here. It's no different location, Link. We're just coffee. So I think that confusion started coming. But you know, it was close to our office and I was like obsessed with that experience. Getting remember how I went on this tangent. But yeah, um, that's
Qasim Virjee 39:00
another coffee shop now. Right? Is that the little shed in the side of the building? Oh,
Adam Gellert 39:05
so that, too, but they had another one on Queen Street, right? West that I don't know what it is right now. But I can't remember maybe like Warby Parker or something? I don't know. It's probably not.
Qasim Virjee 39:17
I don't know how we got on this cannabis angle, or at least the Tokyo smoke thing. But I think you were talking about kind of like, the Well, it came from compensation and performance. We're talking about performance. Maybe you're gonna say something about how their staff you know, were particularly adept at like, relating the value of what they were selling.
Adam Gellert 39:40
Yeah, I think it was along those lines.
Qasim Virjee 39:43
But we did talk about your office being next to that shop. So tell me a little bit about your outfit. So hired hippo consists of what as an organization, how many people are you and and how much of a digital platform are you and where did the people come into that operate? Do you plan?
Adam Gellert 40:00
Yeah, that's a good question. We're super small, we're 10 people, um, we're kind of staying small deliberately, because I don't believe it's the size of your team. But like kind of the way that everyone works together to execute. And we want also feel startup because like all of our clients are like working out of, you know, either very small, or just raise some money, right? And so just understanding what they go through culturally, and from that perspective is important to us. The other thing is like, we are really focused on quality over quantity. So it's like, what customers do we take in? How can we verify, you know, certain companies for candidates to make sure that like, Hey, we've done the due diligence, like these people are going to take your interview serious, they're gonna give you feedback, like we guarantee candidates get feedback, it's one of the reasons that they apply through us over anywhere else, right. They know that they're not going to be one of 200 applications, they're going to be a top contender for that particular company. And so yeah, it's a big answer to the size of the team. But yeah, we're pretty small and kind of just staying that way for now.
Qasim Virjee 41:08
So your software is like a tool to enable your recruiters to work for?
Adam Gellert 41:17
No, but I mean, it does do that job to for my for my agency. But what it does, more specifically for the greater community is provides direct access to founders, HR managers, hiring managers that are hiring on their own. So sales manager, customer success manager, that is looking for top talent, the day that they posted their job, without having to go through the
Qasim Virjee 41:48
slog of waiting for applications. And yeah,
Adam Gellert 41:51
or reaching out to candidates not hearing back, you know, going through 200 applications, making sure Wait, so
Qasim Virjee 41:57
your staff don't necessarily they're not necessarily recruiters or they're filling that database of people. But they're not necessarily like doing interviews with people and stuff. That's the role of the software,
Adam Gellert 42:09
the software verifies and vet candidates based on that alignment, then certain customized questions that each employer has. And then we further take the verification vetting process, because we meet everyone in person. So we do meet them as recruiters, and then you know, if candidates don't show up properly, or, you know, like, ghost in interview aren't, you know, honest about certain things, then they won't be hired hippo candidate, we believe that there's 20% of top talent in their field. And that's within our exclusive network. And that's the benefit that we provide our companies because they don't have to go through candidates that aren't a good fit, right. So our team of developers, and, you know, ops, and recruiters make up that that team, we don't have an issue in terms of getting candidates because we've created this like carrot. So at the beginning, we worked a lot on how to get candidates in learning what candidates wanted, why they would apply to a job. I mean, if you saw a job on Indeed, or LinkedIn, 87% of talent don't actually apply to that job. Right. So the person you want might not be applying. Whereas we figured out how to get the person you want to apply to your job with our product. So we don't have a problem of getting talent and talent tell other talent, because they're like, this is an experience I haven't experienced before. And so our recruiters just like manage support, help our current clients hire the best people. And that's kind of how we're set up. And you're
Disrupting the recruitment industry with a focus on quality hires
Qasim Virjee 43:43
filling roles primarily in Toronto, or across Canada, or globally,
Adam Gellert 43:47
across Canada, most of our clients are in Toronto. Um, and we do have a bunch of clients, like in the States, especially like companies that are here that are have opened offices in the US, but most of our clients don't need to hire like this hot, high volume, right? They need one person a year, maybe one person a month or two people a month, right? Because there are companies that are looking to grow at that stage with high quality, very intentional hires. And so, you know, we've just found that like Toronto companies tell other Toronto companies, and that's been a bulk of our clients, but across Canada, it's
Qasim Virjee 44:27
great if you grow by word of mouth, and you're a good thing. Um, okay, a couple last questions. And I think we can wrap this because it's, it's been a pretty insightful conversation already. I didn't ask you in the beginning, necessarily, but your career path leading to founding this company. So give me the highlights along the journey.
Adam Gellert 44:48
Yeah, so um, I was kind of just somebody who, like, was unsure what I wanted to do, right. Like my parents, um, Like, you know, I'm a first generation Canadian, right? My parents came here when they were super young. So I didn't want to spend like the little money that they had on getting an education that I wouldn't use, right. I'm actually worked for at a record store that was super popular in Yonge. And Eglinton in Toronto, called record world, like back in the day, and there'll be a lot of people that would come in with degrees, like MBAs, bachelor degrees and apply to be at the record store. And I'm like, I'm already working here, right. So just trying to figure out, what I wanted to do with my career path was like, wasn't super obvious. I wanted to be a vet, like my entire life. And I worked at a vet clinic for seven years, but didn't have like the school smarts or the chemistry, interest or passion to continue that job. Like I just knew that like, Okay, I'm not passionate about this piece. But I am passionate about the business side of being a vet, and owning a vet shop and the experience and how people show up and how they leave. And, you know, helping them something that's super important. So I was offered a job as a recruiter, and I was like, what is the recruiter and they said, hey, you need to help this company, hire the best person for their job, and you'll get paid for it. Right? So I started full commission. That's how I like learned the business. No money at all, like, just didn't spend anything, you know, lived at home with my parents, like, you know, just I was lucky to be able to do that. But I'm also just you lived very minimally right for the first many years. And then just like excelled at it, right? So I just realized that I was really good at it. And that's kind of how I came into recruiting. And I just became super passionate. And I believe that it's an industry that as you know, I mean, cheesy as it sounds like ripe for disruption. Sure. I just think that the way that we've been doing it the last many years is boring, unfair, you know, all those things, right. And there is a great space for great companies to hire talent that's, like, super aligned to them and their mission and their values, and candidates to make that right career move. And so that's, that's sort of like our vision of what we want to do. Brilliant.
Qasim Virjee 47:15
And then lastly, one tip, if there's just one tip, you can give people looking for a job. And then one tip, that you could give people looking to hire any role generic, I
Adam Gellert 47:27
think it's the best, the same thing for both sides. Which is essentially, to know the business problem that you solve, right? So as a candidate, um, there's a lot of people that, like, aren't really sure of the value that they can provide to companies, and they don't know how to express that. And that's where a lot of interviews failed, falter, right? They can't clearly identify what I'm great at, and what I can be successful at. Seth Godin says that, like you have sort of like this one superpower, it's like figuring out that one superpower, and then for companies that need to hire, it's like, Who do you need that pointy enough? That has that one superpower? Sure, they might have other things but like, what are they going to be really good at to you know, change the game. Like, you don't need a mass generalist. You need someone who can have the attitude and, you know, curiosity to figure out other things, but they've got to be one thing that they're super intentful about and passionate
Qasim Virjee 48:27
about. It's great advice, man. Thanks for joining me on the podcast. Appreciate it. It's a pleasure. Yeah. Pleasure.