Ellen Jordan Senior Talent Acquisition Business Partner at Alegeus, a leading market leader in consumer-directed healthcare solutions joins Hiring U to discuss recruiting best practices in a hyper-competitive, candidate-driven market.
"When we engage with hiring managers we really walkthrough closely to figure out what are the must-haves; what are the skills or experiences that a candidate absolutely has to meet in order to meet their standards and determine what are skills are trainable? Because rarely in a candidate do you find they have everything on the wish list."
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[00:00:00] Jon Beck: what's up everyone. Welcome to this edition of hiring university. It's your host, John Beck. Today. We welcome Ellen Jordan to the program. Ellen leads, talent acquisitions at allegiance. And if you don't know lieges you should, allegiance is a market. If not be market leader in consumer directed healthcare solutions, offering the industry's most comprehensive platform for administration of health care benefits, FSAs, HSA, HRS all the above, dependent care consumers.
[00:00:27] Processing over $9 billion in healthcare payments, annually. Massive. You may actually use them and not be aware of it before joining allegiance element and talent acquisition for UC Davis health. And prior to that sat on the other side of the desk. Before we went to the dark side as an executive recruiter, Nelson staffing, Ellen, how are you?
[00:00:44] Welcome to hiring university.
[00:00:45] Ellen Jordan: Hi John. Thank you so much. I am. I'm doing great. I'm doing wonderful today. Thank you for us.
[00:00:51] Jon Beck: Thanks for coming on. Let's jump right into it. You build companies and you're responsible for staffing a very rapidly growing organization in the healthcare space. Give us a sense of the state of the union and living in a hyper competitive world.
[00:01:06] And how you're addressing that and how things are going. And to, for our viewers, Ellen's been in the chair for just a couple of months. So still figuring out the lay of the land, but knowing LN, she's already making changes at impact. So tell us about how things are going though so
[00:01:19] Ellen Jordan: far.
[00:01:20] Yeah, well, I think, to answer that question the last few years have thrown us all a little bit for a loop when it comes to recruitment. Primarily right now, It's a candidates world out there in terms of what's available new opportunities deciding to, maybe leave their job of 10 years and take on a new possession.
[00:01:38] So really right now, I the biggest thing is just really finding those cancers. But have the skills that you're looking for. And, we tend to get a lot of applicants still to this day, but in some cases, we really do have to go out there source and really find them, even in our kind of wild market that we're in at this exact moment.
[00:02:01] But you know, really for us, we're in the process, like you mentioned, Building up our organization, we're still kind of a startup company and working to continue to grow. And actually last year it was over $10 billion in healthcare spending. So an even bigger number when we're talking about the participants, that account holders that we're working with.
[00:02:20] Um, but we're really in the process of growing, , at the moment, really in all of our, various departments, whether we're talking, marketing it, sales tax, All of those positions. We're growing as an organization, hiring more senior leaders and then they're able to build up their teams from there.
[00:02:38] How do
[00:02:39] Jon Beck: you address the fact that it is a candidate driven market? So they have, let's be honest. They have some control and some leverage. There are. A bunch of considerations when you're doing that sourcing, you want to move swiftly, but not compromise the process to make sure you're finding the right people, but yet not waiting too long before they take another offer.
[00:03:05] How do you strike that balance between the two? That's a, that's a really hard one for companies to deal with.
[00:03:11] Ellen Jordan: Ooh, that is a really good question. I have always worked as a very proactive recruiter. So, you know, I'm not just focusing on the, you know, 10 positions I might have today, but I know how many additional account managers we need to hire.
[00:03:26] What additional executive directors or C-suite positions we're going to be looking at. You months over the course of a given year so that I can really strategically plan from the beginning. So I can go out there and already start talking to candidates. And in some cases, maybe it is keeping them on the bench, which is a little tough right now because it is that candidate marketplace.
[00:03:46] But for me, it's just continuing to have those conversations, staying in touch, knowing making sure candidates know that I really, truly here for them. I am here to help them. I'm here to help answer their questions. I'm here to help them. Through the entire process. And so I think for me personally, that's something that's always just worked out really well is me being, as I'm not just feel, hi, I'm a recruiter trying to get you over into this position and we're never going to speak again, but actually forming those true relationships as I'm talking to candidates, you know, whether they're interested in.
[00:04:21] Or, you know, maybe this is a conversation we come back to in a year and a half from now. So really for me all about that relationship building with any type of candidate, regardless of position or position level it's so
[00:04:33] Jon Beck: often just the words are said about candidate control and building relationships, but that takes a lot of work.
[00:04:39] And to your point, a lot of dialogue and the recruit is constant because. You're somewhat dependent on people's personal circumstance in the large part, depending on people's personal circumstances and when they're ready to make a change. And when things line up and all the things that go into making a decision to make a job change.
[00:04:57] So often recruiters just walk by that and don't take the time to ask the simple, but yet what should be obvious questions about timing? Your process to communicate. And if there's not alignment there, then to move on, right? If you tell a candidate, this is going to take three weeks, is that okay with you?
[00:05:12] And if it's not, because they're looking for a job tomorrow, that's cool. Let's not waste each other's time. Right? Do you, when you think about building out your teams to use your example of how many account managers you need, everyone's looking for the top talent and the best talent. That's not always possible.
[00:05:28] I don't want to use the word compromise, but how do you coach your managers when they're building a team to say, look, we're going to reach for some A-players, but we may get some B players along as well, too, that we're going to coach up to sort of have some balance within the team. How do you coach managers and how do you think about that as you're building out these teams?
[00:05:43] Ellen Jordan: Really sitting down and it's, it's having, again, those transparent conversations with the hiring managers and talking to them.
[00:05:51] Talking to them about the applicant pool to begin with. And then let's say, we're not getting the applications that we're looking for. Well, why aren't we is our job description written so poorly because the last time it was updated was in 2005. When we hired Joe, if that's the case, let's go back.
[00:06:06] Let's make sure the job description itself is actually reflected. Of what this individual would be doing, because number one, I find that to be a pretty common problem. , when you're looking at an old job requisition, that hasn't been updated. So taking a look at the job posting itself, and then when we're talking about the candidates coming through, in terms of the applicant pool, It's really diving into the conversations with the hiring managers to figure out what are your true must have, is it actually 10 years of experience or is it experience, in this specific platform or working with B2B or B to C, whatever that is, and really nailing down those must have, and then talking to them further about, okay, well, you know, we have candidates with XYZ experience, but they're missing.
[00:06:53] Is that trainable. Is that something that as long as they have the other set of. Can you train them on that? Can we train them to be successful here at allegiance? If so, that should not be something that's holding us back from moving forward with them. That's my philosophy, at least because right, anytime you're joining a new organization, you're going to need training.
[00:07:12] You're going to need to learn a few things. So really think about that. And if it is just a minor thing missing, there's no reason we shouldn't continue the conversation with these individuals.
[00:07:21] Jon Beck: When you're talking to the hiring managers about the balance of the team and the A-players and the B players, how do you give them counsel? And I also want to ask you about.
[00:07:31] What's the breakdown between those that are coming to you and your hiring versus those that you're having to reach out to. And I'm guessing a lot of it has to do depending on skillset.
[00:07:39] Ellen Jordan: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. No, no. So this is good. So in terms of counseling, hiring managers, when we're talking about those a and B players, I think before we even get.
[00:07:51] We first need to make sure that the job that is posted the job I'm recruiting for is in fact, the job that this person will be doing. So making sure the job position has been updated to reflect the current duties of today. So that's number one, to help us to get. The right players to begin with.
[00:08:07] Number two, as we're looking at them, walking really walking through with a hiring manager to figure out what are the must haves, what are the skills or experiences that a candidate absolutely has to meet in order to. To be at your standards, I guess let's put it that way. And now let's talk about, okay, what are the pieces that are trainable?
[00:08:29] What can we teach them? If they were to be hired with us here at allegiance or wherever your organization is at? Through those steps, you can find some true, hidden gems, maybe if you want, if you want five years of experience, but this person has four and really meets all the other pieces of the qualification.
[00:08:48] That's an exception that could be a great exception to make. And those cases more. So I would say through one-on-one conversations with the hiring managers, as we're really walking through the candidate profiles. But that is something that. I am a firm believer in giving folks an opportunity. And so, but something small that's missing.
[00:09:05] Let's talk about it. Let's talk about why I think they're still qualified and why I think you need to also have that conversation with them moving forward. And now the second part of your question, I believe was in regards, or can you repeat the second part? Yes. The breakdown
[00:09:19] Jon Beck: between how many of your hires are coming from inbound to versus you going out and reaching for that?
[00:09:28] Ellen Jordan: For my portfolio here at allegiance, I would say honestly, it's a really, really healthy mix of both. I tend to focus on our go to market portfolio. Sales, marketing, some of our revenue and operations folks, and then, I'll help out with some of our it positions. I was one of our big it recruiters for the last five years when I was with UC Davis and UC Davis health.
[00:09:51] And so that worked out pretty easily for a transition. In my case, some of it is of course, applicants that do come through and directly apply to position. For a lot of the sales roles, I am doing some sourcing. But we also have a really great referral program here at allegiance because, we know that sometimes the best people you can find are folks that were within your network or folks that other people on the team might know.
[00:10:15] And so. For my portfolio, I am pretty lucky, on the sales side that we have some fantastic players that are able to share really great referrals. And then for me, it's working to open that door, to share with them why it leads us as a great place to work and see if they'd be open to making a change.
[00:10:32] Yeah. That's
[00:10:33] Jon Beck: really smart. It's amazing how many companies are. Stingy for lack of a better word when they talk about our referral program, but yet willing to pay firms, like we'll take the money all day long. But, you're not using your own internal folks to hire you're missing the opportunity.
[00:10:48] You mentioned talent pools and where you do your sourcing and searching. Given that everybody, is looking in the same places, for the most part. Are you, do you think about it differently? And I guess that question dovetails into diversity and inclusion where there's now greater awareness, which is a great thing, for.
[00:11:08] Diverse candidates that come from different backgrounds, right? The classic example is, well, I want to, I want an engineer and they have to come from an Ivy league school or, you know, MIT and that's everybody wants those people. There's tons of talented people that may come from, historically black colleges or getting trained through online training and boot camps.
[00:11:27] How do you think about that as you spend your time? Because there's only so much, so many time, hours in the day to go so. Are there other places that you look where you've had success without giving away any secrets? Everybody else's looking
[00:11:37] Ellen Jordan: there. Um, so yes, I will say, I don't leach it. That is something that we are currently working on, is our diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the recruitment process and talent acquisition process.
[00:11:49] Perhaps they come back in the future and share some more information with you there. But speaking specifically to my background in the last five years with UC Davis and UC Davis health, I sat on our leadership recruitment and diversity services team. And really our job was to help create some true structure around how we do go out there and source for diverse candidates.
[00:12:14] How we. Maybe edit some job descriptions that don't require a four-year degree. Why are you looking for that if it's not needed? So really going through some of those pieces, in terms of the work that we did at UC Davis, we did partner with a few organizations. So I want to say prism. They are an online platform that helps specifically in recruiting and sourcing diverse candidates.
[00:12:37] We did a number of, gosh, I would do. At least one a month, some type of outreach event, whether that was with local community partners, with community colleges, even with the EDD. So employment development department here in California, all sorts of spaces like that, where you might not think to just find.
[00:12:58] Candidates. But working at the EDB, you have so many opportunities to talk with folks from entry level or maybe folks that had to take time off and are working to get themselves back in the workforce and have a phenomenal set of skills. So I would say that was kind of a little secret area that would work out really well.
[00:13:12] Like I said, community colleges, smaller four year colleges, as well as talking to folks who were graduates from there working with alumni basis. You mentioned HBC youth, if I'm. Targeting some individuals from those types of universities with those types of backgrounds. It really, I would say also depended a little bit upon.
[00:13:32] You know, what type of position I am, I'm searching for it because diversity, it's such a large, it's such a large word. So maybe it's that recent. We need more women, right? If our entire executive board is all men, well, then let's get some women on there too. And so looking at various pieces of, diversity throughout the entire process with each recruitment, You know, that's how that's, you can actually get the payoff in the end when we're talking about creating a more diverse employment workforce.
[00:13:59] Jon Beck: Yeah. No great stuff, as important as it is. And as challenging as it is to find and hire talent, retaining talent may be just as hard, if not harder, especially with so many choices. Today, you've mentioned a couple of times training programs and re and some of the things that you do. Give us a sense about, what allegiance does and it's not just about the money either.
[00:14:19] I think that that's an easy way to dismiss what people are now referring to as the great resignation or gray reshuffle. It it's certainly part of it, but it's not all of it. How do you think about that? And what is allegiance doing specifically to retain.
[00:14:31] Ellen Jordan: Well, I will speak, I can speak specifically to some of the sales positions, because that tends to be the largest piece of mind portfolio.
[00:14:40] And we have a phenomenal, bootcamp for any new sales person. That's starting with us, whether you're starting in an entry-level sales specialist role or you're all the way up to, the vice president of strategic. We put everyone through a six week training bootcamp so that when you start, we're giving you those tools, right.
[00:14:59] From the very beginning and even the same thing for other positions that aren't sales related. I had to go through a couple of day orientation as well, and really getting us fully set up for success from the beginning. I think that's something that we do very, very well here. I think something else that you do really well is, you know, we are a smaller company.
[00:15:20] So folks are available. I might not always be able to pick up the phone and call Leif our CEO, but I know for a fact, if I need to reach out to him, if I have a question I can easily get out there and do that. And he is he, and I would say any of the leaders really within our organization have that kind of open door policy.
[00:15:37] So for new folks, if you have a question. There's no hesitation to, to be able to reach out to others, to talk to our senior leadership or mid-level managers or leaders. And I think that's important, because sometimes, you know, I'm an exposition and there are 500 layers above me. And I might never know who sits at the top.
[00:15:56] Whereas I think having that open door policy here is really nice. Our leaders, I would say also do a really great job of. Keeping us really updated with things that are going on. So, you know, if anything exciting is happening here at allegiance or with our partners or, working tuning, continuing to grow as an organization, or we had our, uh, actual kickoff earlier today, and really, seeing leadership, talk to you about how exciting it is, and then being excited to talk to us as employees and to really.
[00:16:29] No. And to know that we're putting in the work and being grateful and thankful to us for doing so. I think that's important. And even going back to something else that I leave our CEO said on the call, We support our employees. I've been here for two months in what, two days.
[00:16:46] And already people are like, well, what do, what do you want to do? How can we help you? How do you want to grow here? I've already been out that multiple times and in two months, I would say that's not always normal in some cases, right? You, you start work and you're like, well, gosh, I'm going to be in this seat for three or four years before something else comes up, comes up or becomes available.
[00:17:05] And we really do support promoting from within.
[00:17:11] Jon Beck: It's it's investing in your people and the training and onboarding piece that you mentioned is so important. It also takes a lot of work and time and energy and ownership, but the dividends, in the long run pay off as you invest in your people and it becomes part of your culture and your identity, I can think back to.
[00:17:30] When I was in starting my career, knowing of the companies that had great training programs, ? First it was Xerox. Then it was Oracle and enterprise Rent-A-Car is legendary for their training program. Right. That started that, that becomes almost that lore of, of who you are as, as an industry, which draws people to it.
[00:17:47] And then to your point, you know, continuing to invest in having dialogue with them about their career develop. Above and beyond just the job is doing that day is, is really important. So it sounds like you guys are aren't a great. Yeah,
[00:17:59] Ellen Jordan: and you actually just made me think of something else, that our new hires go through, for a certain period of time on a bi-weekly basis.
[00:18:06] And part of that is developing your professional growth plan. So that is something that every new hire does within their first few months. And you do that with an HR partner, so that they know what you're looking for. So again, we're always trying to help folks continue to move on through. And I think what in the last two weeks alone, I've promoted.
[00:18:26] Gosh, I think five or six offers for internal candidates for promotion, um, you know, half of my requisitions and we're able to promote from within I'd love to see that.
[00:18:36] Jon Beck: Nice. Excellent. Let's switch gears a little bit. Alan. Talk about your personal,
[00:18:41] experience in Korea. Five years ago, as I mentioned
[00:18:45] at the introduction you went to the dark side and left agency into corporate recruiting.
[00:18:50] What do you tell a recruiter who's, starting off their career about the differences are pros and cons comparing agency versus corporate. And I always say that there's not better or worse. It's just different, but what would you share with somebody earlier on their career? Thinking about either option?
[00:19:06] Ellen Jordan: Ooh.
[00:19:10] And yeah, I don't, like you said, I don't think, I would say one's necessarily better or worse than the other.
[00:19:16] So I think one of the benefits on the corporate side of things is that I'm just hiring for that organization. I'm just hiring for a lead just, or I'm just hiring for UC Davis. And so in some cases that makes my job a little easier because I work there, versus in staffing, I may have 20 client partners that I'm trying to fill one position at each company.
[00:19:39] And so, and that case, I'm not sure. Ingrained, I guess you could say, as I would be, Garrett allegiance, I'm on company calls all day long. I'm on team meetings all day long. I'm getting to know what each department does, who each individual is, as opposed to that one hiring manager I'm working with are those two hiring managers that I might be working with in staffing.
[00:19:59] In that case. I do enjoy the corporate side a little bit more. I'm a relationship person. So if I'm able to really get to know you for the long haul, I enjoy that, in terms of. No staffing levels themselves, or, you know, like the number of open requisitions I might be working on, I would say that's really comparable between the two.
[00:20:19] As you're doing your job and, on the staffing side of getting new openings and getting new clients and what have you, do
[00:20:26] Jon Beck: you miss the, , the diversity of working with multiple clients and multiple job orders that you had in Nelson?
[00:20:34] Ellen Jordan: Every day's a little bit. So every day. So yeah, so in staffing every day can look a little different. I may be working on, light industrial manufacturing role one day and switching gears, I'm working on an HR role or something the next day. So in that sense, It could be a little different, but honestly, in my experience, even since leaving staffing, I tended to be a recruiter that has been able, and maybe it's because of my staffing background, that's been able to really take on various portfolios versus some recruiters that only, only ever touch it and nothing else.
[00:21:10] I really have the experience to, to focus on. All sorts of possessions. And especially in my time at UC Davis and UC Davis health, , we're an organization of over 65,000 employees, and so in that case, I'm working on every type of position under the sun. So for me, I guess I haven't seen that much of a difference because I've always still had a large set of portfolios.
[00:21:31] Well, I think a
[00:21:31] Jon Beck: lot of it has to do also with the organization that you're working for and what their structure is and how big their teams are.
[00:21:39] Because to your point, a lot of corporate jobs, you are. Fairly narrow, if you're in a large organization and you're just looking for, you know, uh, BDRs that are on the phone that can become a little tedious, but if you're in a place where you've got a larger portfolio, it's probably pretty similar to what you had from the agency side, I would suspect.
[00:22:00] Ellen Jordan: Yeah. So I think in my case, I'm maybe unique in that way and that I'm still always had a pretty well-rounded portfolio of recruitments, regardless of where I've been. I would say, I guess maybe if anything, in terms of thinking back to maybe missing something of staffing was there, you did get a little bit more of surprised.
[00:22:19] We, we need this kind of a thing and sometimes right. That was fun to light a little fire and get going and have that immediate fill and, and working right away. But yeah, otherwise it would say for me it is somewhat similar.
[00:22:31] Jon Beck: Ellen, I have good news for you. I've developed a way back machine. And so I can put you in it.
[00:22:37] I bought a ticket for you. I can put it in it and send you back to the time when you first started your career. When I transport you back to that point in time, what one piece of advice would you share with young LN based on the experience and what you know now.
[00:22:56] Ellen Jordan: So for reference, I did start my career in a completely different line of work, uh, as
[00:23:05] exactly as a non-profit. So I started as a nonprofit director. Recruiting was part of that.
[00:23:09] You know, it's going to sound silly, but I would tell me, so do what makes you happy?
[00:23:17] So basic type of way, but do what makes you happy? Because. It matters. And for me, the way I've found myself now in recruiting for what over, over 12 years at this point is because I just, I love people. I am a people person. And so having the job where I get to do that and where I get to help others, I think that is something that I truthfully enjoy as well.
[00:23:41] I mean, I'm helping someone get a job. That's important that it's to support their families, to support their dreams. To me, that's just, that is exciting in and of itself. Yeah. Do what you love. Find something that maybe the do what you love. Part is a little hard, but find something you really enjoy doing and work on getting there.
[00:23:59] I love it.
[00:23:59] Jon Beck: You're the 30th guests we've had on the show. I've asked that question every episode. That's the first time I've had that answer and maybe the best cause it's simple, but it's easy. Forget Ellen. Before we go, let our listeners know where they can connect with you. If they're interested in contacting you or interested in a job, be.
[00:24:17] Ellen Jordan: Yes. You can definitely find me on LinkedIn. So Ellen Jordan, I am the senior talent acquisition business partner here at allegiance. So you can find me that way. , email is also pretty easy, so I'll throw it out there as a little plug. It's ellen.Jordan@allegiance.com.
[00:24:33] Jon Beck: Great, really appreciate you coming on to the program.
[00:24:37] Best of luck as you continue to settle in at allegiance. I know you'll do a great thing. For our listeners, keep the faith, keep grinding, keep safe, and we will definitely see you next time on hiring you. Thank you, Ellen.