April 12, 2024

Navigating Q1 Trends and Future Predictions with Hirewell’s CEO, Matt Massucci


Episode Highlights

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In this episode, Em and Ryan sit down with Hirewell’s CEO, Matt Massucci, to unpack the Q1 trends and predictions for the future.

From the rise of corporate functions to the challenges in the tech sector, they explore how companies are navigating the changing landscape of hiring. With a focus on providing innovative solutions, Hirewell is leading the charge in revolutionizing the way organizations approach recruitment.

Matt, Em, and Ryan discuss the importance of flexibility in hiring strategies, the impact of shifting market dynamics, and the power of partnership in achieving hiring success.

Episode Transcript

We’re going to bring in our fierce leader, CEO, founder of Hirewell, Mr Matt Massucci. Hey there, Matt, welcome to the show. Hi ladies. How you doing? Fierce leader? I don’t think I’ve ever been called that. I’m not sure if that’s the correct term, but, I’ll take it. We really want to do a recap of what happened in Q1. So to kick things off, what overall trends did we see in Q1 of this year? Yeah. Yeah. No, good question. And I look at these numbers a lot, right? It’s kind of my job. And we’ve talked at length about sort of the challenges we all went through and through 2023.

So, we saw some positive signs kind of as the year ended, but you’d never know if those are just sort of just false hope or not. Results say that it was a pretty strong Q1. I mean, I think we saw our numbers up 37% from Q4, but then it was up a little bit year over year. And again, like that may not sound great, but when you look at in hindsight in Q1 of 2023 was our best quarter of the year. And then it kind of just sort of got a little bit worse each quarter from there on out, it was nice to see an improvement over that.So, definitely positive overall, definitely, much, much needed. I think for all of us were kind of just hoping for better days. Hanging on, that’s part of the process. For sure. I feel like with those overall trends too, it’s like you mentioned being up like almost 40%, like 37% in comparison to Q4 of 2023. I’m curious if you could kind of break it down a little bit for us across our different practice areas. So if you’re tuning in and you’re not super familiar with Hirewell, we have recruiters that specialize in different practice areas. So I know when I introduced myself, I always explained like I’m a director on our go to market recruiting team.

We specialize in like sales and marketing roles. Ryan’s a VP, for our corporate functions team, which is a lot of HR finance and accounting, et cetera. So, if you could Matt, maybe like zoom in a little bit on some of our specific practice areas.Yeah, I’d love to. I think you all can probably provide a little bit more context, but I think, corporate function actually saw the biggest increase both, quarter over quarter, as well as year over year. And interestingly, they both were the same, almost, 65% for each. And so, I think there was a few reasons behind it. And Ryan, you can probably say more at just sort of my kind of high level look is the F&A areas was probably kind of the biggest thing that has taken off. It’s been a big focus for us as a company.Obviously as we combine those two groups under the leadership of Ryan and Will and Rosanna, I think that’s been a real positive. You know, go to market is probably the next biggest improvement. And that was, I think you all were up like 33% quarter over quarter. And then another 7% year over year. I think just what I’ve seen is the sales hiring has really been kind of a leading indicator. It was our first group to really slow down, but then it was the first group we saw really spiked back up. So that was encouraging. And then, I think the last piece is our tech practice. So, Hirewell has done tech forever. Back when I was doing the job, I was a tech recruiter and it’s always been kind of our biggest area. And kind of interestingly, for the first time in 15 years, we’ve seen that group slow down.

And it’s not just us, we’re seeing that kind of across the industry where there’s been this insatiable demand for people within technology, engineers, you name it. And it’s slow. And I mean, on the bright side that did pop up a little bit from Q4, but that still is down 10 percent from Q1 of last year. On the bright side, we’ve seen an uptick just even in the last kind of month or so. So it looks like that is starting to pick up as well, but yeah, that’s kind of the trends we’ve been seeing.Yeah, that’s helpful. And like, I don’t know, Ryan, you’re obviously the corporate functions, queen and expert, all things corporate functions. But I know you guys have seen sort of just kind of an overall shift in like the types of roles. So y’all are up. I think Matt just mentioned like 65 something percent from like, from last year. What specific area have you seen most of those roles in?Yeah, great question, Em. I think like Matt mentioned, you know, a lot of this growth is coming from the finance and accounting focus that we have. And I think that’s a incredibly in demand skill set in a lot of organizations. Part of what we’re seeing too, is there’s a smaller pool of candidates for those positions, less and less people going to college, getting those degrees, which is really important in those particular fields. And I think the other thing that’s been a really interesting shift that we saw really, you know, throughout the entirety of last year, continuing into Q1 of this year is we’ve kind of moved away from the talent acquisition type of focus that we’ve had. That’s really taken a huge part of our focus in terms of our practice over the years, and we’re still kind of staying in that generalist type of a bucket in terms of roles that we’re seeing.

So organizations are really trying to do a little bit more with a little bit less when it comes to HR as opposed to having these like massive teams built out. It’s really thinking how they can be nimble, how they can best utilize resources internally. Those are super helpful insights and really, really interesting to see the shift. Maybe we can zoom in a little bit more to just on, like, how Q1 this year compared to Q1 last year, because I feel like it’s kind of hard to compare like Q4 2023 to Q1 2024 because fourth quarter is naturally a little bit slower and a slow quarter in a really slow year doesn’t always give us like the best idea of how the market is looking.Yeah, no, without a doubt. We’ve talked about it at length, like, 2023 was a long one and it was kind of, punctuated with an especially slow end to it. So I think, at least me for sure, and I’m sure most of the leadership team, a little bit nervous about kind of what was in store. The positivity we saw, like, I think, as you said, the better cop is just looking at it year over year. It’s sort of mixed, each department where, like I said, the tech group, still being down 10% down year over year.

Like, I think, that group, when I look at in hindsight was still pretty busy Q1 of last year. Companies were hiring so much, there was so much fueled by like venture capital spending and organizations like just in this arms race to hire engineers. And I just think there’s a lot of things that are causing it. There’s more companies relying on offshore, near shore resources, doing more with less. I mean, some of it could be, you know, a gen AI or automation. It’s a little too early to say how much that’s a factor in it.But I think there’s just an overall fatigue. I mean, you know, like software engineers, if we have not seen a dip in their salaries, but, I think that’s causing to it, is they’re just really, really expensive too. So I think it’s just an area where companies are just doing a little bit less with. I think that’s been the biggest change there. You can probably speak to the go to market trends, since obviously you do that. It was not a huge bump year over year, but it’s still like, I think it was, you know, roughly 10%, which, I think in hindsight is quite good. What do you think is causing that?

Well, and it’s interesting because like you said, like Q1 is always our busiest, I would say. Like looking at the numbers from the past five years I’ve been on this team, Q1 is always our busiest. And I think we’ve, Ryan and I have talked about this on the past few shows of yes, we’ve had a lot more placements in general, but also the average salary of those placements has gone up, not because I think that salaries are going up. I actually don’t. I think similarly, I think sales salaries have kind of finally started to plateau and like normalize a little bit.Whereas looking at 2021 salaries, it was wild what sales folks were getting paid, honestly. So I think that’s kind of normalized a bit, but we just, we’ve seen a lot of enterprise types of roles. So more enterprise AE roles versus like, we’d still do some SDR roles, more entry level. When you think about the overall theme, similar to what Ryan is mentioning, that companies are trying to do more with less people. So if they can hire an enterprise AE who can also prospect do the work of an SDR, we can hire one person to do all of the jobs versus building out these, like an AE team, an SDR team, et cetera.

Yeah. I think that’s going to be just a trend that happens for a while, like a reliance on SDRs/BDRs- I just don’t know how effective they are anymore. Right? I know I get just inundated with, with kind of cold outbound calls or messages. It’s so easy to just to ramp up messages, but they’re so much less effective. And I think companies realize that you need to invest more to drive sales. Cause everybody’s looking for revenue right now. Right. I mean, they always are, but even more so in a challenging economy. So I think that it makes sense that’s been the bigger emphasis and push it. And we’re seeing the same thing internally. Like, we’re looking at our BD efforts are kind of our new client efforts.And it’s like 75% have been driven by relationships. So, you could have a salesperson just pounding phone, making cold calls and like, it’s still going to be a fraction of the effectiveness of just people who have deep relationships. So I think that’s just what we’re seeing across the board. Makes sense. Yeah, great breakdown on those things. And this has me thinking too. We’ve obviously talked a lot about the themes that we’ve seen comparisons from this year, previous years, but I’m curious, we’re obviously in the business of providing services to our clients, right?

And so a lot has to have shifted over the last couple years. What are some trends that you’re seeing in terms of like the types of solutions that organizations, our clients in particular, are most commonly seeking at the moment? I think like solutions is the key word there, right where obviously you think about what we do, we provide search, provide interim talents. But you know, that kind of the third bucket is solutions. And that can be talent advisory, you know, helping companies sort of design their organizational structure, kind of the plan to grow. But then it’s also just executing on those multi hire solutions. And, I think again, you all can probably answer some more of the details.But like, we’re in the whittling down phase of companies have built up internal TA so much and then they’ve just spent the last year tearing it down. And, the challenge is it’s still hard to hire right now, right? I mean, it’s this weird dichotomy of you post a job, you’re going to get a thousand applicants. But like, how do you create a good candidate experience? How do you find the best 50 people to screen? And how do you find the best 5 to 10 to put in front of your hiring managers? Like all of this takes time and effort. The whole concept, we’ve been talking about doing more with less.

It makes it really hard. And so I think, we’ve always provided, you know, what we think are some unique hiring and talent solutions. But I think it’s becoming more, you know, paramount of how do you, how do you help companies? How do you meet them where they’re at? Provide whether it be fractional TA or kind of these multi hire engagement or solutions that will help them.Yeah, I love just the full circle moment that we have when we talk about this sort of thing. Right? I think we’ve talked about this often on the Hirewell Update and just how much the market has changed over the last four years.

And if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that it’s unpredictable and that change is going to happen and we can’t really predict where it’s going to come and what it’s going to look like. But I think one of the things that it seems like organizations are really learning from the last couple of years is that having these really built out complex TA functions internally and not being able to stand those up completely over the last four years, having to redesign them, let people go.It’s really been a major issue and the recruiting process has become broken because of that. So I think a lot of organizations are finding these types of solutions, like you mentioned, Matt, to be really the answer to what has been a huge problem over the last 4 years.

Yeah, I know. I mean, I know Ryan, you’ve sold a number of these, you’ve pitched probably even more like, what are the, like, is there any kind of specific trends you’re seeing or what’s been kind of like where clients like where their pain points right now?Yeah, it’s interesting. I think there’s a few different things. There’s obviously organizations that have never really had like a fully built out TA function internally. And that’s It’s primarily been often where we see a lot of these solutions come in where they need someone that can kind of act as that internal TA process.

So I’d say that’s one bucket. But then there’s also these more complex organizations. If there may be a spinoff from a larger company, or just got a big round of crowdfunding, whatever it may be, they tend to need that type of support really immediately. These typically are not things that go on for a really long time. We do have a few clients that we’ve had long term engagements with, but the way I see these solutions working out most times is when there’s an immediate need. It’s normally a higher volume and it has to happen in a quick amount of time. So there’s not an opportunity even if they wanted to bring a team and let people get up to speed, it’s really like needing that solution in the moment.

And that’s where I think Hirewell does such a great job at really finding the right creative solutions for our clients to fit those needs. Yeah. Perfect. Yeah. I say we see more of the former of what you were describing, because I feel like recently in terms of the trends, I guess, if we’re talking trends still, we have been working with a lot of like very early stage companies that, like you said, do not have internal talent acquisition teams yet.And I mean, like Matt said, like hiring’s hard. Like, yeah, anyone can post a job, but like the getting a thousand inbound applicants that are mostly questionable, it’s not easy. So, we’ve seen that a lot too, just the trend toward more of like solution hiring versus one off stuff for sure. Well, and I think that like is a pretty good segue when we talk about like, HR advisor, talent advisor, which we’re doing more and more of, like-

Forever, like with these early stage companies where you’re dealing with the founder, like, we sort of just do it, I wouldn’t say it for free, but you know, it’s just sort of an add on or add into kind of what we’re doing is you just have to coach and consult and help people understand, all right, this is sort of the best process. This is how you design an interview process to make sure you’re vetting people well. And some of that even kind of gets into the onboarding piece of like, all right, how do you make sure you’re successful? Because, you know, we’re all spending way too much time and effort in the hiring process to have it not work out. And I think that just, that’s probably the other trend where we see happening where kind of being a little more of this full solution provider, again, knowing these companies don’t necessarily have people to do what they need. We probably have three or four active engagements where we’re doing that. It’s been exciting. It’s a new challenge and something we’re excited to do more of. And I guess when we talk about the predictions for the future, it’s some of the stuff I think will become more paramount.

Yeah. Our last question for you is just predictions. Do you have any? Like, any thoughts on what you think we’ll see moving forward this year? And like Ryan always said, like the biggest thing we can always predict is that it’s unpredictable, so. We won’t hold you to any of that. Yeah, jinx. I think that sums it up. I’ve given up trying to call when I think the top of the market is or the bottom is, it’s always much easier to see that, you know 6 to 12 months later, I am hopeful that kind of Q4 2023 was the bottom. It’ll still be like choppy, but I also think, like, the challenges over the last year will manifest themselves in many ways, right? Where, like, companies have stopped hiring, they’ve punted on projects, they’ve cut internal teams or, you know, hiring functions. So there’s going to be more needs and, you know, the challenges that like, I mean, will they be as pronounced as it was in like 2021 or 2022 and these like hiring booms? Probably not. But I still think they’ll need solutions. They’ll need the ability to kind of quickly scale up and hire folks. And I think it’s going to be harder than they envisioned because like, it always is like throughout all of this, I know, unfortunately, a lot of people have lost their jobs over the last year, but I mean, unemployment is still historically low and it’s just- Things aren’t going to change the populations aging, you know what I mean?

Like, there’s just been less and less workers. So I think that the need for solutions, the need for kind of being able to quickly turn things on and off will be a big one. And the concept of hiring a bunch of recruiters, like hoping that they’re going to grow, I think that’ll change, but it’s more kind of nimble and then sort of adding with whether it be fractional or interim resources to sort of scale up and scale down, I think that’ll probably be the biggest thing. Again, whether that happens the next three months or the next three years, it’ll be the longer trend. I think. Yeah. I honestly hope that part of that prediction, you mentioned hiring a bunch of internal TA people, like just to lay them off again. Like, I truly hope folks have learned from the past in that. Cause I feel like we saw like two or three very quick cycles of that since 2020, right?

Like we’ve talked about this, like TA was kind of the first to go when the pandemic hit. So, I hope that prediction is right that like, you know, instead of hiring these big internal teams just to lay them off like six months later, whatever it is. Like, I agree with that prediction. I hope it just goes more toward partnering with a company like Hirewell to avoid the stress of that. Yeah. Recruiters need a break. But even if it’s bringing on consultants, like recognize that like hiring is not going to be forever. You know what I mean? It’s going to be like for 6 or 12 months. Like, yeah, we think we’re the best solution. So, please call us, but, there are other, you know, people or places to do it. I think too many people in recruiting TA have learned that this “stability” that exists within corporate recruiting, not to say it’ll never happen again, but it’s just- It’s just going to come and go and there’s got to be a better way. And again, I think that is being able to just kind of sort of scale it up and down as needed. Yeah. Well, this is great. We love having you on here. Great to have you. We’ll see you soon. Thanks ladies. Bye.

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