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: Kaila Prins, Content Marketing Manager, RiseSmart
Episode: 135
Air Date: December 9, 2015


Kaila Prins is a certified Human Capital Strategist through HCI, and works as the Content Marketing Manager for RiseSmart, a Randstad company and the leading provider of contemporary career transition solutions. Kaila’s work in human resources technology has exposed her to many sides of the HR function, from recruiting to outplacement, and she is continually excited to learn from and share insights with all of the human resources heroes out there who are keeping our coworkers engaged and our companies running.

In her “spare time,” Kaila also runs a podcast and blog on eating disorder recovery and health at every size, and has been quoted in both books and publications, such as the Guardian and the Washington Post, on orthorexia, exercise addiction, and recovery.


Audio MP3





Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        Good Morning and welcome to HRExaminer Radio. I’m your host, John Sumser, and we’re coming to you live today … Let me look and see. Is it sunny out yet? It’s a little sunny out. We’re in Sausalito, California today and we’re talking with Kaila Prins, who is a content marketing manager for RiseSmart. Good morning, Kaila.

Kaila Prins:                             Good morning. Thank you so much for having me.

John Sumser:                        It’s nice to have you onboard. Why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the crowd?

Kaila Prins:                             Sure. I am the content marketing manager for RiseSmart. We’re an outplacement company located actually in San Jose, although we have another headquarters in Pune, India as well. I am the word behind the company, so if you see anything without a byline on it, that probably came from me.

John Sumser:                        How does one become a content marketing manager of RiseSmart? What’s your story?

Kaila Prins:                             The short story is social media recruiting work. I happened to know somebody who worked for the company on a personal level and I saw … I was following the RiseSmart Twitter handle and saw that there was an opening for a content marketing manager so I sent a Facebook message and here I am. But the long story is I actually never went to business school or marketing school. I was a playwright and a dramaturge, which I explained to you a couple weeks ago. A dramaturge, for people who don’t know what is, which is most people, it’s sort of like an editor for the stage. You work with directors or new playwrights to help them find out what their story is and help them tell it better. It’s sort of an oblique … It works. I can help people figure out what their story is and help them tell it through content marketing, I’m just not doing the fictional version.

John Sumser:                        That’s interesting. Are there other applications of being dramaturge?

Kaila Prins:                             Other applications for-

John Sumser:                        Yeah. Are there famous dramaturges you wouldn’t know like Barack Obama was a dramaturge in his early days or something like that?

Kaila Prins:                             Probably not. I was in a class of seven and I think we were the largest class ever, so that should tell you something about the widespreadness of this profession. Just like Shakespeare, I’m going to be coining words throughout, so I’m going to apologize in advance. I feel like I have the license since I’m a writer. With dramaturgy, it’s more a European profession. It’s not as common in the States. One of my professors actually at one point was like, “I’ve never actually worked with a dramaturge. I don’t need to work with a dramaturge. I do my dramaturgy by myself.”

I don’t know if there’s too many of us out there who have made the leap from dramaturgy into the mainstream, but I personally just found … I loved writing and I happened to … I was working for a retail company after I left school, because with a theater degree, unless you go straight into the theater it’s kind of hard to find a job. I was on disability and just writing, doing freelance for people, because I just found they needed me to write in a certain voice for a certain audience and get a certain message across and make sure that it was consistent across all channels, and I said that’s something I know how to do. I just looked at it like a play.

I found with content marketing, for me … Something that frustrates me about content marketing is really it’s about finding your voice and finding the right thing to say at the right time to the right person to get them to do the thing you need them to do, or at least to consider doing that thing. A lot of content marketing tends to be just follow these seven tips and you’ll be fine, right? But if you really want to get into it, there’s an art and a nuance to it that it’s exciting when you do it right.

John Sumser:                        I think you’re the first person I ever talked to who said content marketing is exciting. Most of the people that I-

Kaila Prins:                             It could-

John Sumser:                        You’re backing up already and I didn’t even push hard.

Kaila Prins:                             I like it. When there’s like a really cool project that we’re doing at RiseSmart, you can ask my manager, there are times when we’ll be sitting there just talking about something and HR. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been interested in HR. Even before I was doing HR, I was doing HR or writing about it or thinking about it. Even at my retail company, I was doing new employee training and learning and development stuff. We’ll be sitting there going oh, my gosh, this thing in HR, we can’t wait to write about it. How can we do it? What’s the campaign? What’s the best vehicle for delivery? Is it going to be print? Is it going to be digital? We’ll get excited because we’re telling a story and we’re hoping to excite our audience too. It’s not just like we got to get more leads in the funnel, guess we’ll send another email.

John Sumser:                        That’s great. You must have an amazing boss to get that level of excitement about projects that are dry and statistical unless the team is well constructed, then the boss [inaudible 00:06:10].

Kaila Prins:                             Yeah. I got really lucky with RiseSmart. It’s funny because there’s a ton of awards out there, Best Places to Work, Top Places to Work in the Bay Area, et cetera. We win them consistently, like every year, and it’s true. I always hesitate to say that because I feel like people aren’t going to believe me when I tell them that I have a good job, an amazing boss, and a great team, because there’s a lot of cynicism in the world today, especially around work.

What’s really nice is that we started out as a really small startup and now we’re part of a public company, but we have this very tight-knit startup feel still. I think that’s something that’s just right in the heart of what RiseSmart does. Again, I can hear the cynicism just like dripping in from people outside, but I swear to you, one of the reasons why I work there is it really is based on the personal mission of our CEO, Sanjay Sathe.

Basically, he started the company because he went through what we’re helping other people go through now. He was laid off and he realized that the resources … He understood that his company tried to give him the best they could give him to get to a new job, but the outplacement services themselves were just outdated and not … They weren’t helping him get where he needed to go, so he was like why don’t I just start a company so nobody else has to go through this? It’s completely based on his personal mission. He got other people who saw his vision to work with him to make the company work.

When you talk about employer brands, which in content marketing I do a lot of that … When you talk about employer brand, there’s something that’s really ineffable that you can’t find in [inaudible 00:08:12]. If there’s the heart there, something happens and you start to attract the right people. You know how to make those hiring decisions and the right people kind of find you. I feel like that happened just on my marketing team. We’re all super-close and it’s incredible how well we work together and communicate and when we do find a project we all get excited and get onboard and make it happen. I’m sorry, long story, but yes, it’s a great company.

John Sumser:                        That’s great. Let’s poke at that a little bit. You said something magical about employment branding and nobody ever says anything magical about employment branding. It’s right up there with content marketing as the hall of cynicism. What do you think that magical quality is and how do you think it gets around?

Kaila Prins:                             Gosh, it’s so hard. It’s one of those things where like if you’re working for a company where there is no employer brand or the employer brand is we hate our job, or it’s all about … It is, it’s ineffable. It’s one of those things that you can’t quite describe, but when you go to a company like Apple or Southwest or Jet Blue where people are just friendly or people just seem to work together or people … It’s like this weird, magical thing. It wraps a tentacle around you and pulls you into it’s mass and then you become that same quality.

I’m a writer, so I have to think in metaphors and weird stuff like that, but it’s like if you as a leader or the creator of a company or a manager, if you start to exude this sense of this is how I want things to be, this is my passion, this is my drive, this is what this company is about … If you live it and you work it and you teach it and you help develop it in others and you look for it in your hiring decisions, then other people tend to start to exude that same whatever that quality is.

You’ll find in workplaces when they talk about fit, it’s like there’s no checklist of a hiring manager. You can’t just sit there and go this person likes to get coffee at 3:00pm and hates long walks and would love to work from … It just doesn’t work like that. But when you’re working in a company, you sort of get this feeling and you go, “Yeah, this person is not going to work here.” Does that make sense?

John Sumser:                        Yes. Yes. It makes sense, but I want to dig a little bit more into it. I think this is very interesting terrain that most people don’t talk about. You’re saying roughly that culture expresses itself in ways that are non-physical and expresses itself over time and over space in a way that allows people who could fit to somehow discover the culture. That’s a fascinating idea about what a culture is. It makes the idea of culture more lively than I think most people tend to think.

Kaila Prins:                             Culture is a living thing. This is the same reason why I get frustrated with content marketing. We talk about these things, these ideas, these concepts as if they are something you can put in a list. We talk about them as if they are describable, but it’s one of those things where it’s like I know it when I see it. You can walk into a room and get the feeling from it and know it when you see it. You can have a flashy website, but if somebody is a candidate, a candidate with experience, if somebody sits down with your hiring manager and knows that they’re not going to work with that person, it doesn’t matter how flashy your website is or whether or not you have a Twitter chat.

I didn’t know really anything about RiseSmart before I started here. I was working for another HR technology company so I was very aware of the HR space and I knew about RiseSmart from my friend who actually was a former VP of RiseSmart. I just would follow the Twitter handle. I didn’t really know anything about the company. I saw the website redesign, but it wasn’t until I actually sat down in the office that I made my decision yes, I think I want to continue interviewing. Does that sort of make sense?

John Sumser:                        It does. Are you saying that this magic doesn’t happen with everybody and that you sort of have to find it? Is that what you’re saying?

Kaila Prins:                             I think so. I think so. Here’s the thing. You can work for a company that you don’t fit in. You can work for a company where you don’t love your boss, but I feel like we have so much emphasis on branding … Not every company is going to have a specific speakable brand. Yes, you go to Apple and you know what you’re going to get. It’s a multi-national corporation that has worked very, very hard to build a brand from the ground up so that people have come to speak it over time.

But when you’re talking about a small company or you’re talking about just a regular small to medium size company, just one office or maybe a headquarters in two different places, you don’t need like a graphic design team to say that everybody really, really, really enjoys small get-togethers on Thursdays. You know what I mean? It kind of builds itself and you find it.

John Sumser:                        That is … Employment branding is not the graphics and it’s not the campaign? Employment branding is an articulation of something that exists before you start calling it employment branding? Right?

Kaila Prins:                             Exactly, a hundred percent. I think people want for it so badly for it not to be that, that we’ve kind of in content marketing actually made it not that.

John Sumser:                        Well, you know, there are … Let’s call these things organisms instead of cultures. There are organisms out there that are extremely unpleasant and that makes it hard for them to grow and it makes it hard for them to attract people and it makes it hard for them to hang onto people, and so they wish they were like that. Really it’s a lot easier to pretend that you’re not like that than to change in a way that allows you to become something different.

Kaila Prins:                             Yeah. Yeah. It’s sad, but I feel like it’s really up to the leaders of the companies to want to change. Unfortunately, leaders are also people and sometimes people don’t change or can’t change, don’t know where to start. You can read every blog post and hold town hall every month and be transparent and let people know how they’re contributing to the company and change your performance review structure, but if you, yourself, don’t change the way that you lead or you don’t lead with passion or you don’t have a passion at all, it trickles down. There really are no Twitter chats that can fix that.

John Sumser:                        I wonder if passion is the right word there? Passion seems a little over the top. I’m not sure that what I want in my accounting company is passion, and I certainly don’t want them to be innovative. We’ve have plenty of innovative financial companies and it got us in quite a mess. Maybe there’s something besides passion that describes what makes a company attractive. My sense is that the emphasis on passion is transitional. It’s a sort of a hipster flavor of the month. People go to work and do crummy jobs with deep enthusiasm all the time, jobs that they hate with deep enthusiasm. There’s nothing about having a great company that says everybody who’s there has to like their job.

Kaila Prins:                             I a hundred percent agree.

John Sumser:                        You’re doing this for a company that is innovating in outplacement services. How much of this thinking of yours leaks into what RiseSmart actually does? Do you teach people who are looking for jobs how to get in touch with the part of themselves that connects the companies that they want to work with?

Kaila Prins:                             Actually, maybe you’re right.

John Sumser:                        [inaudible 00:17:41].

Kaila Prins:                             Yeah. Maybe passion isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s enthusiasm, right? Because you can be enthusiastic about your job and not like your company or be enthusiastic about your company and not like your job. There’s tons of things that you can at least show up and get the job done with some iota of engagement, if you want to use that word. Our outplacement, we’re very … We’re not focused on teaching people how to be a job seeker for life. It’s hard to describe, because we are teaching people how to find the right job, but we don’t want them to spend hours and hours and hours searching job boards for maybe this thing fits.

We want to send them all the leads, and they just automatically get job leads. We have people who are hand-picking them and then we also have a semantic search engine that actually finds jobs that are really tailored to their profile. We also do full-service coaching and also give them a resume writer. So they’ve got a team of three people, a coach, a resume writer and a job concierge is what we call them. Those three people work together to make sure that they have the job seeker kind of on a path to find a career that’s not just the job, like land that thing, get it, get a job, get a job fast. It’s get a job fast and let’s try to get you to stay at that job if we can.

We want you to find a better job or a job that’s on par with your career, or if you want to make a career change let’s do that. We have several different coaching pathways, because all of our coaches are certified in our methodology. We have several different pathways. If you’re planning on pursuing a job that’s in line with your current career, we have ways to help discover who are your target companies? How can we help you network with them? What are the things that excite you? Let’s try to find you a job that’s in line with that.

If you’re changing your career, same thing. If you decide to go rogue and be an entrepreneur or a consultant, we’ve got ways to do that. We also help people who are considering partial or creative retirement, finding ways to network and join boards or find a part time job that allows you to practice a passion maybe you wanted to practice during your career but couldn’t. Coaching is about finding a job fast, but it’s also finding a job fast that you’re going to want to stay at or that’s in line with the things that you care about. It’s pretty in depth actually. Our coaches, I’ve talked to several of them and we’re doing a webinar … I’m giving a webinar kind of on passion actually with one of our coaches in the middle of the week, I believe the 17th. We’re just going to talk about her methodology as she goes through with a participant, doing those soul searching questions before you start really looking for that job.

The thing with outplacement is you want to get to a new job for a number of reasons obviously. People don’t always have savings. People don’t want to blow through their savings. Being unemployed is a very stressful time, but at the same time if you end up in a job that you hate, you’re not going to be there very long. Yes, maybe you’ll stay because you have to feed your family, but bosses understand when you’re not working to the best of your ability because you’re not engaged and you’re not productive or you’re not a good fit. Sometimes you get fed up and then you voluntarily leave. The longer we can help you be employed, that’s kind of our goal.

John Sumser:                        That’s great. What makes RiseSmart different from its competitors?

Kaila Prins:                             A lot of things. It’s difficult. This is actually the number one challenge of marketing and one of the things that I … It drives me crazy because anybody can make a claim. As long as you can sort of back it up or nobody asks questions, anybody can make a claim. It’s been really I would say flattering, but it’s mostly just frustrating to see a lot of competitors literally glom onto our messaging and then try to steal it, especially since I spent hours crafting it.

What makes us different is that we really have that dual focus of get a job fast and get a job you like. We have built our own proprietary technology. Of course anyone can say we’ve got technology, but it’s literally been the foundation of everything we do from the second the company started. I like to say that our technology actually augments what we do instead of apologizes for what we do, because most places that were doing outplacement before we were around were doing just the service part. Come into an office, sit down with a coach in a group and learn how to write a resume. We do it all virtually, which I know scares a lot of people in HR, because as soon as you say virtually they think it’s hands off, it’s in the cloud, it’s completely impersonal, it’s completely like that’s not what outplacement is. Outplacement is full service, it’s hands on, it’s get people a job.

We do the full service thing and we actually take the full service thing to the next level. Most outplacement firms don’t supply people with a dedicated team of three. As I mentioned, they are the coach. They are certified, non-methodology. They also have years and years and years of experience in HR or in recruitment and in career coaching. Then we have the certified professional resume writers. We bring in certified resume writers and make sure that they are top of their class. Then we also do a job concierge. These are people who their full time job is finding jobs and in past jobs were in recruitment and sourcing, so they know how to find job outside … You know, the hidden job market outside of just the job boards.

We’ve got a technology base. They’ve got semantic search and intelligent linking, so people can actually … If you put in your resume and you put in a couple of preferences, our machines understand complex relationships. If you do a key word search and you just say architect, that can bring up a whole bunch of things. It can bring up landscape architect or you can find some technology jobs … There’s architects of design and whatever. I don’t design this stuff. You may find an architect for a building. But if you’re looking just for a building architect, you don’t want all of those other search strings, search queries. Again, I don’t build this stuff. I’m not an engineer.

This technology will actually understand based on the key words in your resume what kind of job you’re looking for. If you’re in sales, there’s like a million ways to describe a sales person, so this search engine actually understands all of those million ways and how they’re related and how closely they’re related to the search term you put in or to the term that’s on your resume. It will actually rank jobs based on how closely related it is to that term, how closely related it is to the number of years experience you have, to the languages you speak, to your security clearance. I think there’s a ton of different factors, and it ranks them so that you’re not sitting there going through a job board, going is this job better than that job? This one is eighty percent and that one’s sixty-five, so which one should you apply for, or at least which one should you apply for first?

We’ve got a team helping you. We’ve got the technology helping you. You’re basically surrounded by our outplacement services at all times. You’ve got unlimited coaching. If you need help, then we’re here. We will help you get a job. Our focus isn’t on learn how to write your resume. It’s like let’s just do that for you and give it to you. You’re set to go. Start applying. As soon as you start applying, our coaches are teaching you how to network. They’re teaching you how to interview. They’re teaching you how to negotiate salaries so if you’ve got a couple of interviews and a couple of offers, you already know going into it how to get what you need out of this job.

Of course there are companies who are coming up and they’re virtual outplacement and they’re trying to do the same thing, but nobody built that technology base the way we have and nobody offers the services the way we do. People make a lot of claims, but we’ve demoed a lot of the services and none of the claims actually hold up. It’s hard to say that in a marketing document because if you can put like a big flashy number and a cool graphic on it, people like to click.

John Sumser:                        That’s where job security is in marketing. If you say something really amazing somebody will steal it and then you have to say something amazing again, so it’s a relentless-

Kaila Prins:                             Exactly.

John Sumser:                        We’ve blown through our half an hour. What should I have asked you?

Kaila Prins:                             We have a whole bunch of conversations. I think we covered a lot of it though. I’m sure there are questions that … I mentioned before the call I’m a millennial, so if you wanted to pick my brain about Snapshot recruiting, I can’t give you an answer to that because we don’t use Snapshot.

John Sumser:                        Here’s your final question. Why are millennials so awesome?

Kaila Prins:                             Millennials are awesome because we’re entering the workforce, we’re running companies, and we do it and we still have time to play on Twitter. I don’t know. We’re the same as everybody else, we just had Facebook in college.

John Sumser:                        That’s great. Why don’t you reintroduce yourself, tell people how to get a hold of you, and we’ll go marching off happily into the sunset?

Kaila Prins:                             Sounds great. Again, I’m Kaila Prins. I’m the Content Marketing Manager for RiseSmart. You can find a lot of my words on the website at Or if you just want to find out more about all the crazy millennial stuff I’m up to, you can find me on Linkedin, Twitter. Just type in Kaila, K-A-I-L-A. Looks like Kaila, pronounced like Kaila, and you’ll find me.

John Sumser:                        Great. We’ve been talking with Kaila Prins, who is the Content Marketing Manager at RiseSmart, which is a company recently acquired by Randstad, and a very interesting take on the outplacement business. Thanks for being here Kaila, and thanks everybody for listening today.

You’ve been listening to HRExaminer Radio. I’m your host, John Sumser, and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day. Thanks very much everybody.

End transcript

Tagged with:  
Read previous post:
red tectangular image with text: Recruiting Animal Day
HRExaminer v7.03

It’s Recruiting Animal Day and HRExaminer celebrates with John Sumser’s article about the person and persona behind the one-of-a-kind voice...