This year, Fortune 500 companies are more concerned about their employment branding. The increase in M&A activity in 2011 has increased the need for outplacement services.
Sanjay Sathe founded RiseSmart in 2006 to make finding a new job or hiring new employees more efficient. To achieve this, he conceived a proprietary technology and service platform specifically designed to match jobseekers with opportunities and to help companies fill open positions. What I find unique about RiseSmart is the company works both sides of the street -- offering both an outplacement service, and a recruitment platform.
In our exclusive interview, we ask Sanjay:
What are you seeing in the many industry verticals you serve? Are they hiring?
What are your projections for your business in 2011?
What advice can you share with current job seekers?
What advice can you share with HR managers?
TotalPicture Radio Interview Transcript: Sanjay Sathe
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Sanjay Sathe is president and chief executive officer of RiseSmart, a company he founded in 2006 to make finding a job or hiring new employees more efficient. To achieve this, he conceived a proprietary technology and service platform specifically designed to match jobseekers with opportunities and to help companies fill open positions.
Welcome to our leadership channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton reporting and joining us today is Sanjay Sathe.
Sanjay, welcome back to TotalPicture Radio. The last time we spoke was in 2008 and there had been a lot of changes to both the employment market and to RiseSmart since then. Can you bring us up-to-date?
Sanjay: Sure, Peter. Thanks for having me back. I really appreciate it. It’s been really busy time for RiseSmart, business is brisk, a lot has happened since we last spoke.
For one, we’ve sort of grown substantially. We have many more Fortune 500 companies who really have seen the value in our next gen outplacement solution and have moved to us from the traditional players. Since 2008, there has been a significant growth in the virtual workforce itself as you see, so that really has strengthened the virtual outplacement model even more. So that’s one thing.
The other thing I think is that you know companies realize now more than ever the value of this 24/7 access. We give them an assigned coach and easy to use tools, all targeted at helping people get to the next job fast and really, we are proud of the fact that people that use our service are finding jobs twice as fast as the national average.
Peter: That’s fantastic. Sanjay, one of the things I find really unique about RiseSmart is your organization really works both sides of the street offering both an outplacement service and a recruitment platform. So what side of your house is busiest these day – the outplacement side or the recruiting side?
Sanjay: That’s an interesting question. Like I said, our virtual outplacement solution continues to grow at a very impressive rate, really making us the fastest growing outplacement solution in the US because you know in good times and bad, there are always layoffs happening, restructuring happening and M&A deals happening and this, therefore, will continue to be a busy area for us. But like directly pointed out, our SmartSource Solution on the recruiting side is a new solution and that leverages the same sort of proprietary semantic matching technology but this time it matches candidates to requisitions. So with SmartSource, clients outsource their candidate sourcing and prescreening to us. If you look at it, many companies reduce their recruiting staff over the past few years but now as the pace of hiring is picking up, they’re trying to determine how to fill these additional requisitions, should it be through hiring more internal and external recruiters, using a contingency agency, or really augmenting the recruiter they have with value added services. That’s where we really come in because SmartSource, what we do is we cater to recruiters really help them be more efficient and we take the sourcing and screening off their plate so they can focus on more sort of strategic activities within the company.
Peter: As we all know, over the last couple of years, a number of recruiters have been laid off and companies really are struggling with should we hire back recruiters, should we go use an RPO, what’s the best way for us to go out there and find the people we need and do it in a really efficient way?
Sanjay: That’s true. I completely agree with you.
Peter: According to your website, your customers include Fortune 500 leaders in information and technology, consumer products, data centers, government contractors, financial services, engineering, news services, good and drug and health care. So tell us about some of the trends you’re seeing in these industry verticals. Who’s hiring and as we’re gearing up here in 2011, what kind of traction are you seeing in these different verticals as far as the economy recovering and people hiring again?
Sanjay: That’s a good question actually. On the outplacement side, if you see, we are seeing trends obviously resulting from a lot of M&A activities that you see happening these days, also companies wanting to ensure that they have lean operations as they’re moving into the sort of recovery phase. We also think companies offering a new trend seen. We are seeing companies offering outplacement to broader employee populations in order to keep positive employer brand and that’s increasingly important because as you know companies spend billions of dollars in building a brand and what happens to folks as they transition out of the company becomes intriguingly important to at least the Fortune 500 companies.
On the hiring side, we are starting to see companies competing more and more for candidates. Really, we haven’t seen this sort of activity since 2007. We are starting to see trend where passive candidates are more responsive and interested in new opportunities than they were in the past few years, really supporting a lot of the recent reports that employed employees are more interested in changing jobs this year than the past. In terms of industries, if you ask me, the industries which we work with and we’re seeing a fair amount of traction of course are healthcare, clean tech, green tech, IT broadly, finance and professional services.
Peter: The traditional way of outplacement, I think what most people think about outplacement is you get an outplacement service where you can go and they’ve got a fax machine you can use, they’ve got a little office you can sit at and you may get someone to give you some counseling. Your model is completely different from that. Is that correct?
Sanjay: That’s right, absolutely. When we got into the business, the reason we got in it is because we felt that the traditional model was broken. What I mean by that is that the single most important thing to a person in transition really is to get to the next job fast. If you look at it, the traditional model is more about teaching you how to become a jobseeker, whereas we are about actually getting you a job.
So whatever we do, the two keywords are relevant and matching and so we used technology, social media and virtual model to really proactively help the individual get to the next job and today that’s why we’re running at 50% faster than the BLS labor stats in terms of actually getting people into jobs. So that’s what we’ve done to sort of disrupt this marketplace.
Peter: I think for people who really are not so tech savvy, it would really be helpful if you could kind of just paint a picture for us of how transition concierge and the recruit concierge work from a technology standpoint.
Sanjay: The transition concierge really is a full service outplacement solution focused on delivering results both for employers and employees. It’s not so much about its leveraging technology or using technology as an enabler but at the end of the day it’s about helping these people get to the next job. So the transition concierge offers a combination of technology and personal support to help these former employees find jobs.
We offer these employees a full spectrum of job search services, including of course an online portal where they receive weekly batches of sort of handpicked job leads from across the net which are customized for these people based on their background and preferences. So it’s sort of bringing the needles in the haystack to you. Also, we have build recommendation engines. So based on their profile and their zip code, we geotarget them and send them relevant articles, relevant blogs and relevant events. We also give them access to vast array of webinars and other sort of networking and job searching information.
Then to supplement this modern technology, we have built a virtual network of transition specialists who really work one on one with these individuals to help them, motivate them, inspire them and guide them through this job search process. To top it up, we have built another virtual network of certified resume writers who create new resumes. It’s not retrofitted stuff. It is new resumes for the job seeker to effectively market themselves.
Then for the employer, if I may, we provide full transparency for the service in terms of giving them custom reports and analytics which previously they don’t have too much responsibility to what happen but I think what we’ve been able them to do is drive accountability into this business by giving them status reporting and analytics on a platform. I think it really gives the employer the ability to effectively manage and track the outplacement investment which is becoming increasingly important.
Peter: So on the recruiting side of your equation, Sanjay, what level of employees are you mainly placing? Are these AVPs, VPs, managers? Tell us a little bit about that.
Sanjay: Actually the sourcing solution actually is agnostic to the level so we work across the board and so how SmartSource really leverages the same proprietary semantic search technology but this time matches candidate’s requisitions. What we do is we go out and mine the net across all databases and websites and the internet itself and then bring all that data in and this time we match it with the job description. After technology does that heavy lifting, we present the results to screening experts who find the most interested and available candidates which are the best match for that particular job description. And then the clients receive the entire or full sourcing pool transformed into actionable categories supported by of course powerful analytics. So I truly believe that this blend of cutting edge technology and solid sort of HR expertise makes sourcing and screening which I think are the two most expensive and time consuming functions of hiring we only make them fast, simple, efficient of course and extremely cost-effective.
Peter: In the conferences I’ve been attending this year and in speaking with a lot of HR and recruiting managers, they seem to be a little bit overwhelmed right now because they have very, very full plates. Is there any advice that you could share with them on how to kind of lessen the load and perhaps be a more efficient at what they’re trying to do?
Sanjay: Definitely as the challenges of hiring are going to increase, HR managers need to look at a variety of tools and technology but I probably like to give them advice at a littler higher plain, and my sort of advice to HR managers would be to be literally aware of and nurture their employee brand. I think it’s very, very important. You know over the course of the next decade finding and retaining the right talent and rehiring displaced talent is going to be even more challenging as it is today with all the baby boomers going out of the system so the way you treat your employees right from the time they join the company to the time they leave the company is very, very important. I think increasingly companies are going to start focusing on employee branding and then of course leveraging all the tools and technologies to make things easy and facilitate getting to the right people.
Peter: That’s an excellent point because the other thing I’ve heard in a lot of these conferences is everyone is talking about transparency and the fact that with all the social networks, when you’re not treating your employees right, it’s going to get out there, right?
Sanjay: I agree.
Peter: Just a couple of more questions for you. For those out there who are currently looking for jobs who perhaps don’t have the advantage of the RiseSmart platform, what kind of advice could you share for them?
Sanjay: That’s the most important category because of course we get the opportunity to help people in transition from companies but I think broadly jobseekers have the same sort of pain point. So I think the first thing I would really emphasize is literally network, network, network, and that should be both online and in person. The way I look at it many jobs are found, really, through the people you know. The more and more you connect with people I think the more likely you are to find sort of a person who can open the door for you to be considered for a particular position. If you look at us, we heavily promote and teach networking through our transition concierge service. The jobseekers go through our program, receive a lot of networking coaching by the transition specialist as well as, like I mention to you earlier, the recommendation engine really pushes relevant blog, articles and events plus you can leverage over 300 social networks we are connected to and you can leverage those social networks to share a particular job so that you can identify some connections into a particular company.
The other thing which I think is very important is really my second piece of advice is resumes. I think jobseekers really must take time or alternatively spend money on a well-written resume that really can position themselves well, market their experience and achievements to the fullest in order to sort of catch the eye of the recruiter or hiring manager. In our case, we of course provide new resumes and they are not sort of redone resumes or touching up on existing resumes or giving them a template but we actually give new resumes and cover letters created by professional resume writers early in the program so these people can market themselves better.
Peter: One last question. RiseSmart is a finalist in this year’s TiE50 awards. Can you tell us about this award and a little bit about its background?
Sanjay: Obviously, we are very excited and honored to be a finalist at this sort of prestigious award. TiE50 is TiE Silicon Valley's premier annual awards function and it is really contested by thousands of technology startups worldwide. TiE really is a global not-for-profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals really dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship.
We know that our Web 2.0 outplacement solution is highly innovative and is well ahead of the traditional outplacement providers by also really producing better results. So to be a finalist at TiE50 is a huge achievement for us and we are very proud of it.
Peter: Congratulations and Sanjay, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us here again on TotalPicture Radio. It’s always great to have an opportunity to hear what you guys are up to.
Sanjay: Thanks a lot for the time today and I look forward to catching up with you later this year to give you a little more details.
We’ve been speaking with Sanjay Sathe, president and CEO of RiseSmart. We welcome your comments on our interview with Sanjay. Visit his feature page in the leadership channel of TotalPicture Radio. That’s Totalpicture.com. While there, please sign up for a newsletter and remember you can subscribe to TPR on iTunes. Just do a keyword search for TotalPicture Radio and join me on Twitter @peterclayton.
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Sanjay Sathe, Biography
During a management career spanning more than two decades, Sanjay led successful sales and marketing organizations domestically and internationally. His background includes product marketing, CRM, loyalty programs, branding, marketing communications, public relations and strategic alliance initiatives across the telecommunications, banking, airline and technology sectors.
Prior to RiseSmart, Sanjay served as vice president for enterprise data management for Sabre Holdings, a $2.5 billion global leader in travel commerce and the parent company of Travelocity. He led corporate efforts to leverage customer insight and business intelligence to create differentiated customer relationships and incremental revenue streams.
Before Sabre, Sanjay was senior vice president of marketing for Brierley & Partners, a CRM and loyalty management company serving global brands such as Hilton HHonors, Hertz #1 Club Gold, Blockbuster Rewards, Sony and Nokia. In this role, Sanjay drove the company's e-commerce, marketing and international new business development efforts. Sanjay also has served in marketing management roles in Europe and Asia with major corporations including Lufthansa and HSBC.
He received a Master of Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, Philippines, and has completed an executive education program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
About Peter Clayton
Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.