HRExaminer Radio

HRExaminer Radio is a weekly show devoted to Recruiting and Recruiting Technology airing live on Friday’s at 11AM Pacific

HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Matt Charney, Executive Editor for Recruiting Daily
Episode: 134
Air Date: December 4, 2015


Matt Charney is the Executive Editor for Recruiting Daily, whose flagship property, RecruitingBlogs, is the world’s largest social network and content sharing platform for recruiting and HR professionals. Matt oversees editorial strategy and content marketing for RecruitingDaily’s portfolio of online properties. Prior to joining RecruitingBlogs, Matt served in marketing leadership roles at leading HR technology companies like Talemetry, CornerstoneOnDemand & Monster. Matt began his career as a corporate recruiter for such companies as Walt Disney and Warner Bros.

Matt has been named as one of the top 25 influencers in recruiting by publications like the Huffington Post , Glassdoor and LinkedIn, and has been recognized as a 2015 HR Gamechanger by HR Magazine/SHRM, 2014 & 2015 HRO Superstar for Analyst Excellence and the 2014 Top Recruiting Blogger by Social Talent. His blog was also named one of the top 15 business blogs to follow by WordPress in 2014. Matt serves as a member of the advisory boards for the Candidate Experience Awards, Rolepoint, Universum, Clinch, Take the Interview, LifeGuides, HiringSolved and Textio.



Audio MP3





Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        (Music) Yeah, good morning. It’s the HR Examiner Radio Show. I’m your host John Sumser and we’re coming to you live today from beautiful downtown Occidental, California, where the blessed rain is falling from the skies and we’re hoping to see the end of the drought. Today, we’re going to be talking with Matt Charney, who is the Executive Editor of Recruiting Daily and by far the most interesting writer in the recruiting and HR space in today’s universe. Good morning Matt how are you?

Matt Charney:                      After that intro, I’m awesome except for, I am not watching the rain in Northern California. I am breathing in downtown Fort Worth. Thank you for making me jealous.

John Sumser:                        Freezing in Texas, that always kills me. Texas is supposed to be hot. You go a little north of Arizona, it’s hot. I don’t understand about Texas.

Matt Charney:                      William once told me a joke. It turns out it wasn’t a joke. When I first moved here he said, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes and it will probably be in the 80s this the afternoon.” Thank goodness it cheap or else it really would be the worst place in the world.

John Sumser:                        Why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself.

Matt Charney:                      Okay.

John Sumser:                        This is the best part of the show. Who are you and what do you do?

Matt Charney:                      Normally I just say “Go to Google.” I am the Executive Editor for Recruiting Daily and we are a company that works in a couple of different capacities. Essentially, my job is to write the best content possible and stuff that is actually interesting about topics that often aren’t. Mainly recruiting and staffing and also to really help manage what’s a fairly vibrant community, around 110,000 practitioners and recruiters worldwide. I just start stirring the pot and managing content and really acted on both Recruiting Blogs, which is one of our properties, Recruiting Daily. We also work with … We merged with Bill Boorman’s #Tru Business now we [inaudible 00:02:25] side of the house, which we are ramping up.  We also work in advisory capacity with a lot of different start-ups in the space, to help them with go to market plans and marketing services. Basically, I am a hustler.

John Sumser:                        Basically, you’re a hustler. [crosstalk 00:02:46] How did you get here? How did you end up with this job?

Matt Charney:                      That a good existential question, how did I get here? I would say dumb luck of having the combined experience of being a recruiter and also coming up in an age where using technology and the internet was kind of passé. I took this job, I was in corporate marketing for vendors for many years, Monsters, Cornerstone, On Demand and Telemetry. I worked with Recruiting Blogs back in 2008 -2009, obviously it’s a pretty well established site. I had gotten a call from the owner and he led the conversation off in the one perfect recruiting way that you could. He said “I’m so excited to be talking to you, your my favorite writer.” Then, obviously after that when we started talking about a job he had me. I got here, I think by writing good content and watching it have weird repercussions. I was recruiting in house for studios. I wrote a blog post for ERE, which was I think my first ever blog post. That got me that job at Monster off of one post.

I got some bang for my buck there and I’m not 100% sure why, but it’s fun. Now I get to travel the world and tweet it. I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am in a really interesting industry as well.

John Sumser:                        If you were to tell somebody how to become awesome like you, what would you tell them?

Matt Charney:                      I would say that anyone who is trying to be awesome has already failed. To be 100% honest with you, if you say your cool you’re not. That’s just something you take for granted. I would say that everyone has something to add to the conversation and the only thing standing in your way is the fear of putting yourself out there. I’ll tell you I’ve gotten fired from jobs for my style, but at the same time I can be consistently me. I think that if people get over the fear of saying what’s on their mind they are really going to be okay. At least you’re consistent and you can go to bed at night.

John Sumser:                        You run your life, and you run your writing and you run your business with a very hard edge to it. It is easy to mistake the work that you do for being just a standard posture of ‘fuck the man’, ‘fuck you’. I don’t think that’s true but I do know that you’ve cut a path that’s got … It’s impossible to feel neutral about Matt Charney. You either love him or hate him. My question for you is, in the places where you offend people, how do you manage that and how do you think about it?

Matt Charney:                      To your point, if people are offended then I have succeeded in what I’m trying to do, which is try to get people to respond to content. I would say that a lot of the animosity that I feel, which by the way is quite fun for me, that’s to be honest, manufactured. If you read a post and you invest the time in hearing somebody’s voice and you walk away just like “Oh, oh okay.” You have failed, right? I want people to have that emotional response to contents, so I actually love that phenomenon. Yeah, I think its love it or hate it. I think that even the people that hate me don’t necessarily unilaterally agree with me. I research my points and I’m able to back them up with data. Turns out that helps with business cases.

John Sumser:                        That’s interesting. Sometimes I hear, this is the Matt Charney reputation, dissection time. While there are these extraordinary positives, they are matched with extraordinary negatives. Often the term you hear is disrespect. There are very interesting circles that you can’t get access to with the approach that you’re taking, does that matter to you?

Matt Charney:                      No. It doesn’t. I think that it’s a natural screening process almost. I feel the venues that I do get into, the organizations, the conferences have created a niche whereby you know what you’re getting with me and you’re not going to get conventional. Unfortunately, some people have been blindsided in the past. That is to say if you don’t want that style, and if you’re not willing to take the chance on dissention then I have no interest in being there. There are some conferences, some things I go to that I am invited that I don’t know why I’m there, you were at one recently. I am there to learn and I’m pretty respectful, but at the same time it wouldn’t bother me if I get excluded for anything. The only thing that frustrates me largely, is that exclusion generally tends to be from organizations who are actually setting policy and precedent. It doesn’t bother me that I’m not allowed in, what bothers me is that they have a strong resistance to the challenging of the status quo period. Which you can see in their content and positioning.

John Sumser:                        This would be the first time, I imagine that you’re ever compared to Donald Trump, but doesn’t that sound exactly like Donald Trump’s position?

Matt Charney:                      I was going to make that point. He is going to win the election. I’ll tell you this right … I told 3 months ago that I feel for the man because I think he was doing what I would do if I had that much money. Like “Yeah, I’m going to use some weird performance art piece and see where it gets you.” He’s probably in the same situation I am when I walk onto a stage in front of HR people in suits like “Oh, shit.” Before taking them seriously what do I do now. I feel for him and I also think that he’s doing to politics what I hope to do to content which is at least making it entertaining, because let’s face it talking policies issues is really boring. Which is why I fall asleep at [inaudible 00:09:29] conferences.

John Sumser:                        I hear what you’re saying, but doesn’t he run the risk of organizing the universe of people who don’t have any influence and blocking himself out of the place where there is real influence that is possible? That makes it an entertainment business rather than an actual politics business.

Matt Charney:                      He’s monetizing his personal brand. In fact, I was just flying over Miami, and as you know the first thing you see as you’re landing in the airport is Key Largo, with Trump printed in large letters on the top. I would say from a branding perspective this is all win-win, even if you lose. I feel largely the same way in approach. If people are talking about you that’s free brand placement and that’s not a bad thing in an industry where everyone is fighting for attention.

John Sumser:                        Then while you claim to be interested in influencing all you’re really interested in is building your own brand, is that what you just said?

Matt Charney:                      No, that’s not what I said. I think that I am interested in making information and more complex concepts accessible. In order to do that I have built a, what I would say is a persona, I like to refer to it as @MattCharney versus Matt Charney.

John Sumser:                        That’s great.

Matt Charney:                      I certainly think to that extent I can consistently be what I need to be online in order to get the eye balls and the conversation that I want into play. But I really do not like talking about myself. Which is why obviously this is a weird show for me. I’d much rather sit in the background, edit and then occasionally send out a snarky tweet. It just so happens I’m in the fall out.

John Sumser:                        Yeah, while I’ve got you under the microscope. What I’m taking away from this is that you have a very clear, self-directed development process, that you’ve been in for a long, long time and its bearing fruit. If you wanted to coach people who want to be like you or people who are interested in having the same level of impact that you have, how would you tell them to get started on not giving a crap what other people think? Which is pretty much what you said is the core of the object.

Matt Charney:                      I would frame it in another way for other people, which is to say I would know who I am and what I want to say. Because if you actually have the conviction behind it, then you can be yourself and if it pisses people off cool. If you believe, that’s awesome, I think that’s a necessary. But, the advice that I’ll give, I just wrote a post on this coincidentally, is really simple. Everyone can tweet, that’s easy. Everyone can post on Facebook, that’s easy. Everyone even, to an extent can do video blogging, or whatever. What’s really hard is sitting down and writing and I think that that’s really what creates a distinction because “A” there are few people doing it and there are even fewer people doing it well or in an interesting way. If you have something to say that’s worth talking about or you want to actually have people respond to things. Write, don’t sit there and think things are going to be awesome or you’re going to build your brand and not have any substance behind it other than what’s really easy or accessible.

John Sumser:                        Lets run that down a little bit. You say write, what’s the best way to get started and how do you keep it up?

Matt Charney:                      I can only gear this to practitioners, but what I’ll say is, if you are a half way decent writer who is working as a recruiter and are willing to contribute blog content, myself, Todd Raphael at ERE, basically everyone will publish you because there is a lot of people like me. Who are set in whatever the industry direction in the absence of their participation. If people want to put their voices out there, everyone would welcome that. That’s how I got started, was I happened to be at Warner Brothers which gave me an in at ERE. I had never written anything or had proof of concept other than sending in a post asking them to publish it. I would say the outlets are there so just go in the contact us section of any site you find interesting or hit me up. Anyone will run that content, if you’re a practitioner who is a good writer, that’s easy. As far as keeping it up … Do you have a question, sorry John?

John Sumser:                        No, go you’re on a roll.

Matt Charney:                      As far as keeping it going, the thing that I dislike most about a lot of the way content is done is that people write to keep it up or because they are like “Oh, shoot I haven’t written in a while, I should get something out there.” I very much think that you should not look at it as being a quantity game or the contents of an editorial calendar for personal use is just asinine to me. Write when you have something to say and you’ll get more mileage out of less work, than if you’re writing content just to write content and get it out there. I don’t think that anyone should feel pressure to continually create, but if you have something to say, it’s an awesome outlet for getting your content out.

John Sumser:                        My sense is that good writers write and they do it all the time. My advice in that setting would be write 500 words a day, first thing in the morning, every morning and sometimes it will be good. But it’s my view is that you have to get the flow started and the flow matters and you have to tend to the flow and you have to write when you don’t want to write. You have to keep, like it’s an exercise regime, rather than something that’s spontaneous and works when the inspiration hits you.

Matt Charney:                      I caveat that by saying for practitioners, if your trying to be a professional writer who’s getting into that flow need, I will tell you from experience, that actually having deliverables that you get paid for is a hell of a motivator to get into that flow.

John Sumser:                        I’m sure that’s right. You have a broader perspective on recruiting than anybody that I know. What are the things that are going on in recruiting right now that have your attention?

Matt Charney:                      This is, what’s become an area of interest for me, is where the money … Then there is a lot of venture capital and P E flowing over the sector right now, its astounding. Watching the way that companies with financing try to break into the space. Who succeeds and who doesn’t. Who has a viable product, who is all vapor ware. I think that watching the evolution of venture financed companies into market place is fascinating because you either have a company that really knows the market and doesn’t know how to do marketing, or you have companies its seems that are all flash and dazzle and a lot of venture capital without anything under the hood. It’s just fascinating to me that you can get literally a billion dollars plus so far this year in series A, seed and series B funding into an industry that everyone has more or less ignored and watching what happens when people with no background in it try to enter into this incestuous part of the world.

John Sumser:                        A longer view is that there is no research and development budget in HR or recruiting. Because they are staff functions. In operational functions there is always a research and development thing. In the engineering universe there’s research and development and new ideas come because people are committed to developing new ideas as a part of their work. In staff functions there’s never the resources required to make those investments. That means that innovation always comes from outside. It always comes from people who don’t know the industry. Because knowing the industry precludes you from being able to do R&D. Some of what you’re talking about … [crosstalk 00:18:36]

Matt Charney:                      Just a distinction, if you say knowing the industry is essential to R&D, what function do analysts serve then, who know the industry and then do research? Or are you talking about … [crosstalk 00:18:47]

John Sumser:                        Well, I think that if you dig hard into the work of analyst, almost all of them have some component of their practice that’s about helping people from … They do this Sherpa thing where they help people from outside the industry make their way in. It’s not the only function of analysts, by any stretch of the imagination but one of the functions of analysts is that they help the external R&D endeavors find their way inside of an industry that doesn’t have an embedded mechanism for creating new stuff.

Matt Charney:                      Yeah. Does that not then renew the objectivity of said industry coverage? Because If the answer …

John Sumser:                        What in the world are you talking about? Did you not take physics when you were in High School?

Matt Charney:                      [crosstalk 00:19:51] [inaudible 00:19:51]

John Sumser:                        Objectivity is a 19th century fantasy. You can try to remove the bias from your work, and that’s an important thing to do, or at least understand where the bias is in your work. But the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which is 100 years old is the scientific proof that objectivity is impossible. The assertion that what you should get from people who are paid to have opinions is objectivity of some kind is at least extremely idealistic. Now, you can find a ton of people who will tell you there is objectivity about stuff, but if you believe it shame on you. There is as much objectivity in analysts as there is in newspapers. There is as much objectivity in analysts as there is in your work. You know as well as I do that what matters is point of view not objectivity.

Matt Charney:                      Right. I don’t sell objectivity either, I sell bias [inaudible 00:21:04]. That’s interesting and thank you for that aside. I agree that objectivity in no way exists, so I would like to change my answer from earlier and just say I’m an analyst now, thank you John.

John Sumser:                        I think that’s true. I think that’s why you get invited to those things, because the important thing to emerge in analyst conversations is enough point of view so that people can make coherent decisions. It’s more important, in my view, that you be able to articulate a clear point of view than it is that you pretend. There are 40,000 vendors in the HR and recruiting space and each one of them claims to be the leading this or the leading that.

Matt Charney:                      [inaudible 00:22:06] platform yes.

John Sumser:                        Right. Nobody can keep track of all of that stuff and nobody can tell whether one bit of functionality is better than another bit of functionality, that’s nonsense. That’s nonsense. But, what you can do is go “I know these guys and they are good guys”, or “I have played with their tools and I found them interesting”, or “These guys have a tool for hanging a Christmas Tree from the ceiling and nobody else does, everybody else hangs their Christmas Tree from the floor.” Being able to offer strong, coherent opinion is by leaps and bounds the most important function that analysts do. The idea that they are supposed to be objective … I was talking to some guy, some guy called me up to complain about how awful analysts are, he said “They’re not objective and they won’t listen to me.” I said “Yeah, because you got a chip on your shoulder.”

Matt Charney:                      That was good because I think that you just reiterated every point that I was making earlier. That having a strong point of view, that’s where you add value. If you’re on the fence for content, analysis or product, and try to please everyone or sit on the fence, you’re screwed. I think that’s the lesson of the day.

John Sumser:                        Yes, if you had the sense that I was disagreeing with you, I’m sorry about that.

Matt Charney:                      I thought I was preaching to the choir. Again, thank you for validating my often crazy world views. You seem to know what you’re doing and I am making it up as I go along.

John Sumser:                        Yeah. I’ve just been making up as I go along about 20 years longer than you have. But it’s the same path. The path of being somebody who is self-determined is unusual enough so that it needs to be explained to people I think. What I like about what you’re doing is, you’re following your nose into the next thing. That takes, I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it, but it takes a kind of courage that is not a common thing to find.

Matt Charney:                      I appreciate that. I will say being a salaried employee with full editorial control helps. I just lucked into that. Those are very kind words John, and I do appreciate them coming from you. Hence why I have you as I think the [inaudible 00:24:49] quote for validation on my personal blog.

John Sumser:                        That leads me back to my primary tough question, which is how did you get to be so awesome Matt Charney?

Matt Charney:                      I think that my answer is that I watch a lot of movies and I watch a lot of sports so I can always talk about something with someone. How did I become awesome? I don’t know, most people would say that I’m not awesome. I personally just think that I have one skill in the world, which is that ability to turn a phrase and sometimes it makes people laugh, and that goes a long way.

John Sumser:                        We are slicing through the half hour and coming up on the end. Is there anything you want people to know about Recruiting Daily, or Recruiting Blogs or being in touch with you that we didn’t cover?

Matt Charney:                      The one thing that will say, that while we have a lot of venture we partner with, having come from that world know that sometimes that’s a 4-letter word. I just, anyone who is in the space, I’d like them to know that those, Recruiting Daily and those Recruiting Blogs, our sales and our editorial functions are independent. If you have something interesting to say that’s not product specific, I am more than happy to provide an outlet for that. That’s not something we charge for. Definitely we always looking for interesting builders.

John Sumser:                        Why don’t you reintroduce yourself and tell people how to get a hold of you.

Matt Charney:                      Okay. I’m Matt Charney, and I am the Executive Editor for Recruiting Daily. You can reach me at or you can tweet me at @mattcharney. You will get a snarkier answer if you do it on twitter as a warning.

John Sumser:                        We have been talking with Matt Charney, who is by leaps and bounds, the most interesting writer in HR and recruiting. Matt runs the Recruiting Daily operation with full editorial autonomy. Thanks for being with us Matt, it’s always a treat to spend time with you.

Matt Charney:                      Thank you John, that was a quick half hour. Thank you for making my morning awesome.

John Sumser:                        Thanks again, thanks for being here. Thanks everybody for listening in. Have a great weekend, you have been listening to HR Examiner Radio, I’m John Sumser your host and we have been talking with Matt Charney, the Executive Editor of Recruiting Daily. Thanks so much. Bye bye. (music)

End transcript

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