Rethinking Talent Acquisition

Adrian Russo, Director of Talent Acquisition at MotoRefi
Sep 29, 2021

As the nature of work continues to change, so too should the hiring process. On this episode of PIVOT, you’ll hear how MotoRefi Director of Talent Acquisition Adrian Russo is approaching the candidate experience. Since the start of the pandemic, MotoRefi has grown from 65 to over 300 people and continues to hire about 30 people each month. Adrian joins the show to discuss how to create a sublime candidate experience, hire based on business needs, and form partnerships to bolster recruiting efforts.

As the nature of work continues to change, so too should the hiring process. The old way of hiring—for the role and the specific set of skills needed to do the job—just isn’t cutting it anymore. On this episode of PIVOT, you’ll hear how MotoRefi Director of Talent Acquisition Adrian Russo is approaching the candidate experience. Since the start of the pandemic, MotoRefi has grown from 65 to over 300 people and continues to hire about 30 people each month. Adrian joins the show to discuss how to create a sublime candidate experience, hire based on business needs, and form partnerships to bolster recruiting efforts.


On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [01:05-02:25] How to match the right candidate to the right role
  • [02:43-04:15] The changing requirements for smart talent acquisition
  • [04:19-05:42] Why the traditional, dogmatic approach to hiring isn’t enough anymore
  • [05:42-06:18] What is employee net promoter score (eNPS)?
  • [07:29-08:58] How to write job descriptions and interview based on business needs
  • [08:58-10:35] The soft skills needed in hybrid and remote workforces 
  • [10:36-12:28] How to form partnerships for recruiting opportunities
  • [12:28-14:50] How to develop employee “launch plans” for onboarding success 


After you listen: 


POPS Star Bio:

Adrian Russo is the Director of Talent Acquisition at MotoRefi, a company that uses technology to help car owners save money and achieve financial security.



PIVOT: Rethinking Talent Acquisition with Adrian Russo, MotoRefi

Didi: On this episode of pivot, a pops show by Zenefits. 

Adrian: That’s really helpful as a leader and as a manager to really get a pulse for how your team feels, how employees are feeling the engagement, and really take that feedback from your peers and people that are on your team and make adjustments and really see what could be doing better and how you can grow as a leader.

Didi: The people ops podcast, Rosetta, the only show dedicated to small businesses, sharing stories, pivotal people, moments. I’m your host DVD Rica with a record number of people leaving their jobs in search of greener past. It’s more important than ever to elevate the candidate experience for Adrian Rousseau, director of talent acquisition at Modo refi.

This process starts long before an offer is ever made. He joins the show to discuss how small businesses can level up their people operations starting before a new employee’s first day with a longer view of that person’s employee experience. 

Adrian: One thing we do to approach talent acquisition today is obviously take full advantage of the current environment and really try and match up the talent that we’re finding to the appropriate role.

So a lot of times what we find is the talent that comes to us. They don’t always wind up in the position that they start out with. Well, let’s say we have two software engineers and we have both of them that are going for a full stack engineer position. A lot of times you have two great camps. And you have one position and you can’t always hire them both in the same role because you only have one opening a lot of times, especially at voter refi, you’re hiring for multiple roles.

So if you find that you have one that has stronger experience say full stack and one that maybe has full stack experience, but they’re a lot stronger on front end. Maybe you would take that candidate as a front end experience and say, you know what? We think you’re a great fit. We really liked your experience.

We have this other role. That’s a front end developer. Would you be interested in finding out more about this position and you’re reviewing for this role as well. And really what we find is you’re able to match up candidates with the appropriate role, help them with their career trajectory and really match up the appropriate person to the appropriate position.

That’s not really, I would say, as you put it a button seat approach, but also with this allows us to do is help people find the right position for them and also help the company. Moto 

Didi: refi has grown from 65 to over 300 people since the start of the pandemic, they add about 30 people a month. Here’s Adrian’s philosophy on the changing requirements for smart talent acquisition.

Adrian: It’s really all about how you treat people and how you approach the candidate experience from the start motor refi has our core values. The first two being, see people as people and take care of each other. And really that starts with the candidate experience. I think it starts with treating all candidates as people understanding.

Their needs are as people who are leaving jobs and it’s really a stressful time. So we have to really seek to understand what it is they’re looking for, and really take them through the entire process from the candidate to employee and have a coherent process from candidate to employee and workplace experience.

And so what we do for that. From the time they were a candidate, we have our recruiters usher them through the process. And then we have our people partners that help them sign it off for a letter. And then we have our workplace experience team that engages them when their employees. And so what you have is you have recruiters who were engaged.

You have people, partners are helping with the transition, and then you have a workplace experience team. That’s making sure you have an inclusive environment throughout that whole process, but you have a comprehensive launch plan. We put together in people operations to make sure that this person is successful in their new organization and their new role.

And what we do is we take into account things like what their new role is going to be, their career progression, professional development, and things of that nature. And I think that’s really how you attract talent, create an inclusive environment and really make sure that employee grows, thrives and stays at the organism.

Didi: You’ve been in recruiting for 15 years for public and private sectors. You’ve mentioned to me that most organizations have a dogmatic approach to hiring hire for the role and the specific skillset to do the job. Tell me why that isn’t enough anymore and where it falls short. Not only for the individual being hired and the company, but also competitively in the.

Yeah, I would say 

Adrian: this falls short for really two primary reasons. The first we’re in a really competitive market, not withstanding market factors. This approach really leads to a poor candidate experience. Our candidates are the people who become our future motives. And so if they have a poor candidate experience from the start, they’re going to come into the company with a poor impression.

Who we are as a company and what our values are. We need to think creatively in order to hit our aggressive growth targets and create a better candidate experience compared to our competitors. So in the end, I think it’s about serving our customers both internally and externally motor refi talent acquisition.

We view our customers as hiring managers, our motor refi leadership and our candidates, and what this leads to is a better experience overall. And. Personally, we’re seeing dramatic results. In the last 90 days, we’ve seen our candidate net promoter score go from 72% to 86%. And this is at a time where we’re growing quite rapidly.

And while we’re scaling the business, that’s something that’s really important to us. 

Didi: And let me take them pause here, because I know those in the tech sector are familiar with the net promoter scores, but for those who are listening, who might not be, can you just explain what an employee net promoter score.

Adrian: Yeah. So for us, the candidate net promoter score is derived from a survey of how candidates feel about the process, the rest, very specific questions. And it’s based on the candidate sediment and whether or not they feel that they’ve had a positive, neutral, or negative experience. So the candidate net promoter score comes from candidates who feel that they have a positive experience.

So in this case, 85% of respondents say that they’ve had a positive. 

Didi: So let’s dig in a little bit more here and talk about filling the needs of the business. What does that mean? And how do you frame up talent requirements at Moto refill? 

Adrian: So we’ve worked directly with our people partners and hiring managers to come up with our job descriptions, our hiring process and our interview questions.

And what we do is we really try and dig down to the core of what the job is seeking and really try and firm up where the requirements are and what’s necessary in the job. And what’s not necessarily the job. We try and do this from the perspective of the candidate and both the needs of the business.

And we try and weigh both of those aspects and make sure that we’re focusing on the. Responsibilities in the role, but also trying to make sure that we’re looking at it from the candidates perspective and also doing it with an eye towards diversity, equity and inclusion. Also making sure we’re writing these job descriptions and a fair, inclusive, and equitable way, making sure we’re asking questions that are fair and equitable, making sure that we’re not introducing bias into the interview process.

So we do that with our people partners, our hiring managers and our talent acquisition part. 

Didi: And I really like the way that you guys build flex into that, by understanding strategically where your needs are. You’re looking a lot broader than the box. That is you need somebody with three years of experience doing this and building out this kind of code or whatever, but really looking a little bit more holistically.

And you gave me a great example about an engineering role that you had open. Can you share. 

Adrian: A lot of times when you’re recruiting for a position, you get a lot of really great candidates, but there’s oftentimes where you’re recruiting for a software engineer. For example, you’ll have a lot of great candidates, but you could only hire one.

So in the example that I shared, we’ll have candidates go through the process and we’ll find that for a full stack developer, for example, we might find a great candidate who meets our values. They’re a great team player, and they have really strong skills, but maybe. Their skills are stronger on either the front end or the backend, rather than take a dogmatic approach and just say, you’re not a great fit.

We’ll have a position open down the line. What we would say. We have another role available. You have really great backend development skills. We have a backend developer position. Interested in taking a look at that position. And so what we find is a lot of times, these candidates are interested in motor refi, the company and our values.

And so if we have a role that meets their needs, matches their skillset, we can really match them up to the right position and really help enhance their career. And then also bring them into the company and as an added value, really Phil motor revise, hiring agents. Let’s talk 

Didi: about soft skills. So the world of soft skills has changed, right?

And 15 months ago, you guys were all in person. Talk a little bit about how you feel that out to find people who can be successful because your planning on a combination of in-person workforce. But how do you make sure that you are looking at people who can function well when they might never meet their team?

Adrian: So part of what we do is we assess not only the candidates skills, but we also look at and value alignment as well. In every part of the process, we look at our motor refi values and how that aligns with the candidates values. We also look at other areas like propensity for growth leadership, coachability, how well they were.

Teammates collaboration, things of that nature and this remote environment. We have engineers that collaborate together and oftentimes these engineers span large geographical regions. They go through a practicum where they will actually code side by side with an engineer on the team, just so they can get a sense for how we work in a team and collaborative environment.

And so they get a real sense for what it’s like to work at Motorola. And at the same time, we can see how they work within a team. We can see how they manage, pull requests, commits things of that nature, how they troubleshoot problems as they come up, how they handle things that might come up unexpectedly and how they handle things that really don’t go their way.

If there’s an issue that comes up, that might not go so well, whether or not it’s something that they handle well. And if it’s something that they could, as we say, seek truth on and admit that things didn’t go well and just get better every. As we 

Didi: wrap this up, let’s talk about good takeaways to think about as you’re recruiting in a market where lots of people might be dropping out.

And maybe you start with something like a quick review of your hiring plans. Would you suggest, for example, that people think about hiring ahead of plan to accommodate for churn or how should they be thinking about their overall strategy on. 

Adrian: Really the dynamic has shifted a lot of times what we traditionally look at for ways to recruit it’s, resume databases, job boards, things of that nature.

Those are great. And I’m not suggesting that we get away from those, but what we do need to look at are. Partnerships partnerships with different organizations that represent our values and where the candidates are at. We all know candidates that are part of different associations or that gravitate towards different groups.

So for us, we really value diversity in our organization. So what we’ve done in recruiting is we’ve partnered with a lot of different diverse organizations like out in tech, women who code women impact tech professional diversity network. And that enables. To really get entrenched with these organizations and get to know the people in the community.

We go out and we’ll sponsor events. We’ll go out and do speaking engagements. We’ll get to know the community. We’ll get engaged in their slack channel. We’ll have dialogues with the community. Members will get to know what they’re looking for. And really when we have opportunities, we’ll be able to speak to the opportunities that we have.

And we’ll be able to speak specifically to the. They get to know our culture. They get to know the individuals on our team and really they get to know the kind of fit that they would have at motor refi, both from the perspective of the roles. And then also the perspective of the values of the organization.

I think that’s what attracts people to companies. And I think that’s what gets people to stay because once they find the company, they know they found the right fit before or 

Didi: Moda, refi, and Adrian, what happens after the. I asked him to share the onboarding and engagement process at motor refi and how that company defined success beyond the first.

Adrian: Really, it starts from the time someone’s introduced in the recruiting process and it spans even beyond when they onboard. So we talked a little bit about what the candidate experiences, but really it starts with developing a launch plan and making sure that launch plan is tailored to the individual so they can be successful in their ramp up working at a text.

It could be stressful at times, and it’s very fast paced. So it’s really critical to make sure that you’re working with the individual and the hiring managers on developing launch plans for the individual. So they can be successful with that’s inclusive of, it’s not only things that they need to be successful in their job.

But also long-term plans for professional development. And what that gets into are things like weekly check-ins, which I have weekly check-ins with everyone on my team. We use HR tools for that. We have everything documented, but it’s documented in a manner that everyone knows what’s on the agenda. We write down what we talked about.

So we have something to look back at and see what we discussed. So when you’re having your career discussions, when you’re having your quarterly, check-ins your semi-annual, check-ins nothing that’s in your performance reviews are a surprise. Constantly doing those performance reviews, many performance reviews on a weekly basis.

And would they become our mini check-ins and refinements on what you’re actually doing in the work that’s being performed? So there are no surprises there, RNA drastic shifts, and everyone knows what to expect. And in that same vein, we also get the same kind of feedback from our teams is. So our teams will also give us feedback on how we’re doing as managers, how they feel the check-ins are going, how they feel the communication’s going, how they feel that we’re doing from a team perspective every week, everyone submits a feedback score for how they feel about their sentiment.

We have different sediment scores for teams, and that’s really helpful as a leader and as a manager to really get a pulse for how your team feels, how employees are feeling the engagement. And really take that feedback from your peers and people that are on your team and make adjustments and really see what could be doing better and how you can grow as a leader 

Didi: I’m DiDi, and this was PIVOT, a POPS! show by Zenefits. If you want to learn more about inspiring people, operations stories like Adrian checkout, backslash Pop’s dash podcast, where you’ll find bonus resources, profiles, and even a link to order our new book, people operations. Also, if you have questions you want us to answer on our show, check out the link in our show notes below and we’ll get it covered.


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