[Podcast] Industry Spotlight | Gary Benedik – CRO of Avenica – The New Recruiting Landscape: Upskilling and AI in Talent Acquisition

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Show notes

In this episode, we embark on an insightful discussion with Gary Benedik, the Chief Revenue Officer at Avenica. We’ll delve into the significance of upskilling and reskilling in the job market, explore Avenica’s innovative approach to talent development, and discuss the critical balance between leveraging AI and maintaining the human element in recruitment.


From navigating the challenges of a post-COVID world to building strong, long-lasting relationships with candidates, this episode is packed with valuable insights, and trends shaping the future of talent acquisition. Tune in to learn how Avenica is adapting to market demands and adding unparalleled value to their clients.


Follow Gary Benedik on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garybenedik/
Follow Crelate on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/crelate/


Gary Benedik [00:00:00]:
They could have came to us and said, okay, we want to pay you a net fee percentage of the annual salary to hire these hundred people. And that would have been great for us. Like, it would have been a very lucrative project, to be honest with you, Kortney. But that doesn’t really solve for the near short. Like the short, like long term. Right? So we want to grow with them. We see this next generation come in. We just don’t want to be super transactional.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:20]:
I love it. Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. This is the industry Spotlight, a series of the full desk experience, a curlate original podcast. In this series, we will talk with top leaders and influencers who are shaping the talent industry, shining a light on popular trends, the latest news, and the stories that laid the groundwork for their success. Welcome back to another episode of the full desk experience industry Spotlight. Welcome to the full desk experience industry spotlight. This is the podcast that really kind of goes behind the scenes with leaders shaping the future of the staffing and recruiting industry. And I’m your host, Kortney Hartman.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:06]:
Today’s episode, we have a truly dynamic leader joining us, Gary Benedict. He’s the chief revenue officer at Avenica and Gary’s career has really spanned all facets of the talent acquisition world, from his early days of hands on recruiter to building cutting edge recruitment, tech and marketplaces, and really been in the forefront of driving innovation while keeping laser focused on exceptional experiences for clients and candidates alike. Gary also has a really fascinating professional journey that he’s going to help us give a look inside of Veneca’s multi brand approach. We’re going to dive deeper in the biggest pain points and maybe influences plaguing traditional hiring processes across organizations. So I’m so excited to introduce you to Gary to talk about all the insights that he has to offer that’s going to change your stance in the industry and shape your recruiting and staffing practices. So get ready, get a pencil, take notes, and Gary, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so excited to have you and learn from you and kind of your experiences.

Gary Benedik [00:02:11]:
What an intro, Cortney. Holy smokes. You sure know how to make a grown man blush. I’m happy to be here and I’m excited for this conversation.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:20]:
I love it. So, Gary, kind of talk to us and give us our audience members. Really, the idea from your journey getting into the industry to your current role as CRO at Avenica, kind of give me the whole overview. How’d you get here? How’d you evolve. Give me the background story.

Gary Benedik [00:02:36]:
Okay, I will try to do this as quick as I can in a somewhat elongated elevator pitch. I love it. Next year will be 20 years in staffing and recruiting. I started it doesn’t have a graduated college with an undergrad in engineering technology. Went to a recruiting firm that specialized in placing engineers, agreed with them. They provided me with a couple opportunities and interviews. I went back in and they’re like, you know what you’ve ever thought about recruiting? And I said, no, tell me more. And they said, well, it is a 100% commission, but all the people here on the floor are making so much money.

Gary Benedik [00:03:11]:
And I said, all I have is a student loan and a car payment. Let’s take a stab at it while you continue to try to find me a job in the engineering space. The rest is history. So that was a boutique firm out of Schaumburg, Illinois that specialized again in matching engineers, mechanical, software, electrical applications. We were out there hunting engineering professionals and placing them with our clients. It was an interesting experience. It was almost like a boiler room type of environment. And for those that don’t know boiler room, it’s kind of eat what you kill, you know.

Gary Benedik [00:03:43]:
They hired probably ten to 15 new recruiters, a quarter and one or two of them stuck. So it was an exciting path. I spent five years in that search environment. It was full desk, so I was hyper focused on building relationships. The way that you were able to make the most amount of money is building business, not necessarily placing candidates. So I pivoted and focused on bringing in new clients while helping my recruiters find the candidates to match to those open jobs. I spent five years there. As I matured in my career, I wanted to experience what the buyer was interpreting of what I was selling, aka corporate recruiting.

Gary Benedik [00:04:22]:
So I left the agency and went into a full desk corporate recruiting role. But I was specializing in about 180 retail stores in northeast part of the country. So it was high volume. Think about anything from a cashier at a Sears or Kmart store through leadership, divisional managers, loss prevention managers, automotive managers, etcetera. I spent about six months on retail side and was invited onto the corporate side where I then was able to support a true corporate recruiting environment where I was supporting about 20 of the lines of business. Anything from home appliances to softlines to marketing, analytics, HR. I was a full blown corporate recruiter on the desk, managing about 40 to 50 recs, spent four years at Sears, moved my way up. By the time I left, I was leading the group.

Gary Benedik [00:05:07]:
We were hiring well over 10,000 people a year and touching well over a million candidates annually through this tool back in the day called connects a brass ring. I became very curious on how we could actually intelligently start using the platform, the, aka the applicant tracking system, versus relying on my humans, aka the corporate recruiters on my team.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:30]:

Gary Benedik [00:05:31]:
So I left Sears in 2014, I believe, or 13, and I dove into the startup world. And the startup world that I dove into was all of buzzwords we’re talking to about today. Artificial intelligence and machine learning recruitment marketplaces. I landed a consulting opportunity with this pioneer in the gig recruitment space called shift gig. So what we were doing at the time is we were matching on demand lawyers, accountants, everyday working individuals to gigs, bartending gigs, back of office gigs, you name it. We were able to actually sell supply full time employees into gigs, and we’re able to digitize that experience for the company as well as the candidate or the worker through like a digital rostering type of environment. Spent about a year and a half in the startup world at that time, I made a career choice to go back into the corporate space and joined, which most of us know as Manpower Group. This was 2015.

Gary Benedik [00:06:30]:
I came in as managing director in the Chicago Lake area. I owned everything outside of it, which would have been scientific, professional and engineering. Spent two years at Manpower Group. It was a great experience. I learned a lot about the MSP space, a lot about outplacement. I learned a lot about bill rate markups, margins, high volume, all the fun stuff we deal with every, every single day in the contingent workforce. I left. I was recruited out of Manpower Group to go to a startup called Scout Exchange.

Gary Benedik [00:06:58]:
This is now 2017. They ideally wanted somebody that can run the marketplace that had exposure to both agency as well as corporate TA. So fortunately enough, I was able to speak the lingo of both buyer Personas, the staffing agencies, as well as the hiring managers on the corporate TA side. And we built the marketplace, which was an awesome experience. Scottexchange was a homegrown marketplace driven off of AI matching about 520 employers, so about 3500 staffing recruiting firms. So just think about like the predictability. If a large bank northeast posted a bunch of wrecks in our marketplace, we were able to predict the time, the fee, who would be filling it, and it was great experience. Unfortunately, this thing called Covid entered our life that kind of disheveled our business.

Gary Benedik [00:07:43]:
In about 2020, and Scott Exchange was acquired or absorbed by their parent company, a large global staffing firm. And I was scared. It was 2020. June, I had a one and a half year old and my wife was not working. So at that point in time, I just grinded. I just did as much as I can, talk to my network and just started monetizing my time and talking about the things that other marketplaces should not do and or think back to roots and doing some search. Fast forward four years later. That company was called Arch Advisory Group.

Gary Benedik [00:08:15]:
I was able to build a recruiting firm, which we called it a modern day headhunting firm built on transparency, authenticity, and speed. Fast forward four years. Scott Dettman, who is the chief executive officer of Avenica, who I coincidentally worked with at Manpower, we were reintroduced, and his charm said, hey, what would you think about us acquiring Arch advisory? You become part of America, we bring in the arch advisory services, which is professional search up through executive. You can now play in this whole, like, career matching, early in career, data driven model, and we can all be one big happy family. So I am now with Avenica as a chief revenue officer as of November 2023. And we’re just trying to change the world.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:58]:
Kortney, I love it. One person at a time. What an amazing story. You started at commission only recruiting like you look back at that to where you are today. I’m sure those experiences have shaped who you are and how you run your organization and the drive that you have. So this truly amazing. I love it. You started obviously very hands on.

Kortney Harmon [00:09:20]:
How did those early experiences shape your approach to talent acquisition and leading teams in today’s market?

Gary Benedik [00:09:27]:
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think early on in my agency days, Kortney, I soon realized that in my opinion, the biggest asset that anyone can have is their network. So think about the way that I would position myself is if I had a tooth egg, I knew where to go. If I had a flat tire, I knew who to call. I wanted to be that individual across my friends and family and acquaintances to say if I have any questions in what’s on the job market or if I need to hire somebody, Gary needs to be the guy I go to. Early my career, I wanted to brand myself as an individual in the employment market, just as people think as mechanics, dentists, and resources that we need every single day outside of a career. So that was kind of like a focus for me really early on. And thankfully, that focus allowed me to grow arch advisory, the recruit firm that I built myself based on those relationships that I tried to foster way back in the day.

Gary Benedik [00:10:18]:
So even to the day, I’m always trying to coach my teams on, like, sure, you work for Avenica. You’re probably not going to be working for Veneca for the rest of your life. But if for some reason you decide to leave Avenica or things just don’t work out, where are you going to go? Who are you going to talk to? Start building that network, that trusted network today because they will come in handy. That was my philosophy. So that’s one piece of advice that I’m giving everybody. You know, Avenica is great and we’re going to do really cool stuff, but anything can happen. I learned that in 2020, right?

Kortney Harmon [00:10:49]:
Yeah. Honestly, that’s a taboo topic. Some leaders and staffing organizations are like, well, just talk to the people that you should talk to, the recruiting firms, and it’s building their own brand. It’s you’re helping these people build their own brand, be an established thought leader in the industry, really stand out. Because when they notice those people, they notice Avenica, too. So I love that your stance on that because not everyone has that opinion as they lead people in this industry.

Gary Benedik [00:11:14]:
Yeah, I mean, let’s face it, people want to work with people they like personally as well as you got to add value, right? It’s not like old school sales where it was like, close, close, close. Right. You got to add value, then you can build rapport and expand the relationship. A little bit different today, but people still want to work with people they like. Genuinely.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:31]:
Yeah. Great advice. Obviously, in today’s unit, certain economic environment, staffing and recruiting industries are really navigating unique challenges since COVID So from your vantage point at Avenica, what specific headwinds or obstacles are you seeing that are a force in the industry to adapt and evolve to how much time do we have here?

Gary Benedik [00:11:55]:
Okay, so I’m just going to respond to that based on my personal experiences. Right. And what I’ve seen and how I was able to position arch advisory group. So one is like, everything evolves. So time evolves, candidates evolve. We’re talking about skills based hiring. That was in our conversation a decade ago. The majority of that all makes sense.

Gary Benedik [00:12:17]:
And I think some of the biggest hurdles that we’ve had is actually helping hiring managers understand why things like that make sense. So it’s able to position, whether it’s data or other success stories or business cases or folks like that that came with us, where we were able to solve problems. We still have to rely on trying to eliminate bias, trying to eliminate the emotion of subjectivity, on saying, if you need to hire x person or this group of folks, we need to think differently. We can’t hire people today as if we were still thinking about it, approaching that hire or that or those hires. Based on your ask, some of the major hurdles that we were having when I was building arch advisor group is getting hiring managers to think differently, to hire people and to think differently. That could be a bunch of different options. Right. But just to be open to think differently, hiring best candidates.

Gary Benedik [00:13:08]:
Right? There’s this. We all talk about talent shortages, and some of the data proves that if you post a job, you’re only seeing 14% of the eligible population to do that job. We could say those things, but we have to expect others to be able to digest that. Right. So I think that’s, like, our biggest hurdle is, like, believing in what we see and what we’ve researched. That’s easy, getting the client or the customer, the hiring manager, to also believe in that.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:34]:
So I don’t want to read between the lines. Do you think that you guys take a more consultative approach when talking to your clients? Do you feel like that’s kind of the stance that you’ve changed and how you really are different in the market?

Gary Benedik [00:13:45]:
Well, so, Avenica, I mean, we. The end goal, we’re solving the same problem. We’re bringing in talent for our clients. Right. In one of the divisions within Avatica. Right, called Avl. We call it a Veneco launch.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:56]:

Gary Benedik [00:13:57]:
So we launch careers, usually early in career folks. Right. We get about 300 people entering our database a day.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:05]:

Gary Benedik [00:14:05]:
Let me give you an example. Right? So one of those individuals entering our database might have an undergrad in journalism.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:11]:

Gary Benedik [00:14:11]:
What they research, what they see on the Google, what the university is telling them they should do to justify the cost of the university, they probably are thinking, I need to write a book. I need to be a teacher, I could be a writer, et cetera, et cetera. There’s a prioritized options that they think they should follow from a career path perspective. Avenica will consider that. But we have an assessment and experience that allows for these individuals to actually consider other career paths that would never even be mentioned or introduced up until this point. And that’s through, like, a Persona that we’re able to create called halo. It’s our proprietary assessment where these folks go through this leveling experience. They learn a lot about themselves personally based on some things to overcome, not in the professional workforce, not in a college project or an internship, but, like, things that they’ve come and gone through personally that we can prove paves the way in this career path, and you will be very successful.

Gary Benedik [00:15:07]:
And here’s the actual the reward from a micro perspective, career pathing perspective, the work you’re doing perspective. So the eventica launch model is still putting people to work with all of our soft and hard competitors are doing, but the way that we’re doing it is different. Hence what I mentioned a few minutes ago.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:24]:
I love that. I think that’s amazing. Now, have you had to make any shifts internally? Whether it’s around strategy, whether it’s around your approach to the industry based on the economic climate as of today’s market, or do you feel what you’re doing today is really just proving value and you haven’t had to make any shifts?

Gary Benedik [00:15:41]:
I mean, knock on wood, I’m fresh to Avenica. It’s only been a hot seven or eight months. You know the reason that I sold my firm to Avenica? After six weeks of diligence, talking to mom and mentors and getting the approval from my wife, I believe in them and I’ve seen it work with large, well established Fortune 500 brands. We have repeat business, and this has been going back for five years. So the machine continues to learn, for example, which Personas will fit well within not just the industry, but the job category and the job subcategory. So think about insurance, okay? There’s 150 job titles with an insurance claims, what level of claims? Like, we can pinpoint what Persona would do well in that job title, that job site title, and then almost predict how long it will be at that insurance company, for example. So to answer your question, we have not like knock on wood the last seven or eight months. We have had to make big changes.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:34]:
I love it.

Gary Benedik [00:16:35]:
Based on the uncontrollable economy.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:37]:
No, that makes complete sense. I love that. And I love your unique approach and the brands that you guys have. Obviously, you’ve been in this industry for a while. Is there any other like, as you think of hiring processes across organizations? We have, obviously, operations leaders, CEO’s, presidents that are listening to this podcast. As you have worked with these people across the 20 years that you’ve been in this industry, are there any maybe inefficiencies that you’ve observed consistently where people, as they look to grow, scale beyond the startup? Because this is a time where when we have this kind of economic uncertainty, people are like, how do I grow? How do I scale? How do I come out of this ahead? So let’s talk about maybe some inefficiencies that you’ve seen within staffing and recruiting companies over the years. Is there anything that stands out? First and foremost, you’re talking about like.

Gary Benedik [00:17:28]:
Excel and elbow grease and whiteboards, that’s not the way to run a business these days.

Kortney Harmon [00:17:31]:
Well, I mean, I love me a good whiteboard, but that, I’m just saying, is there anything that stands out that maybe you’ve seen across all of your time in the industry?

Gary Benedik [00:17:42]:
Well, yeah, I mean, the truth be told, is like, you know, the reason that we were introduced, Kortney, is because we committed a crelate, right. And we’re going to be expecting very large things from the tool to help us get smarter and be more effective. Not necessarily efficient, but more effective in the way that we run our business for our clients. So obviously the technology piece is being discussed all day, every day of our lives. Then you have ancillary things like how do you inject artificial intelligence, not necessarily automate, but to get smarter and learn patterns, to predict and help shape our behavior on what we should focus on, which those are things that we’re testing all day and every day. So I’d say you have to have a robust tech stack in order to scale, because like I said, excel and elbow grease and whiteboards are great, but we all know that that’s not scalable these days. So I also, I would encourage coopetition. Elaborate what I mean by this.

Gary Benedik [00:18:35]:
You know, back in the day, in my head hunting is, and, you know, the leaders that kind of groomed me to be a headhunter were always very territorial. Recruiting firms were always like, we can’t tell you who our client is or candidate ownership, or like, only work with us as a recruiter. Right. I think those are far in God. There’s plenty of opportunity within this world if you open yourself up to be vulnerable, be humble and listen to your competitors. I think there’s just a world of opportunity to share assets, even from like as elementary as rev share. Right. So I would encourage kind of a little bit more of an open coopetition approach versus like, this is mine, mine, mine, mine.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:14]:
I love. I think that’s great. It’s good advice. And we oftentimes, you know, as I’ve taught franchise owners, and it’s like the idea of, well, don’t tell the client, don’t tell where they’re going to interview. And you’re just eliminating the trust factor and all the things that you have talked about so far, it’s establishing trust and establishing relationships. And I think those are the things that probably are, have made you excel in the industry. So I love that. But you mentioned, I’m going to go back to something you said.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:41]:
You said, AI AI continues to advance. This is something that you’ve kind of had in your past, in your background. And as it becomes more integrated into our recruitment processes, into our data, how do you strike the right balance between leveraging innovative AI and increased efficiencies while still preserving that human element? Obviously, AI is like the easy button. People think it’s the easy button, but sometimes we get distracted. Sometimes it’s a shiny tech kind of give me your stance on AI, maybe how you guys are using AI in your firm and kind of what you’re doing with it today.

Gary Benedik [00:20:19]:
Yeah, I mean, I’m still learning. I don’t even know the acronym of AI yet, but I’m just joking. But, like, there’s. There’s so much to learn about AI, right. I think, like you mentioned, efficient. Like, I am not focused on being more efficient because that doesn’t mean you’re getting better or being more effective. So, like, I’m always trying to, like, help my folks understand, like, being more efficient doesn’t necessarily help us be better. It could be getting more efficient and being bad.

Gary Benedik [00:20:43]:
And I think that relates to a little bit of the same conversation on AI. Like, it doesn’t know if it’s being vicious, it doesn’t know if it’s being bad. Right. So I think there’s a lot of discovery that needs to happen within AI, even, like, from a public perspective. Like, there needs to be some sort of legislation or something needs to happen because it could get real bad if there’s rules that are anchored around how people are using AI. And then if you reverse engineer that, Kortney, it’s all about data integrity. So, like, the machine is going to learn on what’s coming in, and if it’s not good stuff coming in, it’s going to learn, and it’s going to think or expect or assume that what’s coming in needs to be replicated, or that’s the information that it’s learning from. Those are the patterns it’s learning.

Gary Benedik [00:21:27]:
It’s not going to say, like, these patterns bad, you’re going to jail. This is on the road to a felony. Right. So I think we just need to be very careful to be able to dissect efficient versus effective and also just ensure that if you’re going to put more weight in leveraging AI to run your business, we have to be super focused on the data going in, the integrity of the data coming in. So with that being said, when we’re swapping tech stacks again, we’re excited to see what create could do for us. We’re two weeks in and we’re working with your project managers and we’re learning a lot. It’s actually forcing us to refresh. We have 900,000 people in our database and we have 15 million different data points across those 900,000 records.

Gary Benedik [00:22:10]:
What’s the value? Right? So, like, do we even need that? We’re researching and evaluating some of the models around. Maybe we only need the last six months, twelve months, 18 months, because the value of that might be just as effective as going back to all 900,000 records. And also talk about like limitation migration of data. Then it’s a whole nother conversation. Right? So that’s what we’re evaluating right now, is like, how can we be more effective with all of this information we have? Not necessarily. More efficient isn’t the priority.

Kortney Harmon [00:22:41]:
I love that. And I’ve sat through those migrations from our end and not to talk about product, but it’s really the idea, you know, as they analyze, it’s like, well, you have owners that are like, I can’t lose this data. But the data was from 1991. You haven’t contacted that candidate again, but you are hell bent that you can’t lose that data. What is that data? What are you going to do with that data today differently than you didn’t do with it since 1991? So I love that.

Gary Benedik [00:23:09]:
Yeah, it’s like comparing Brian James. Right.

Kortney Harmon [00:23:14]:
Absolutely. Very insightful. As you sit and look at it. You had talked initially based on one of your brands, and I’m going to go back to this. One of the big conversations in 2024 through 2027 is really the upside. Skilling and reskilling of markets. This is something that, you know, is kind of new and not a lot of staffing and recruiting firms have really put an emphasis on that. So as we look at this, upskilling and reskilling being crucial for our job markets, what are maybe some of the key workforce trends or skill gaps shaping your solution offerings and kind of what should be pressing that people should, companies should focus on as they focus on this effort, because we’re going to have continued gaps between boomers, retiring people, doing gig economy, not needing full time jobs.

Kortney Harmon [00:24:04]:
It’s something that we’re going to have to put continued focus on in the future. Talk to me about upskilling and reskilling. What are you guys doing for that? And why should people focus on that?

Gary Benedik [00:24:13]:
Yeah, great question. So kind of like the thesis of Avenica Inc. Across our developments is AVL Avenica launch early in careers, a plus across higher train, employee consultative, and then arch, which is professional upstream through executive. So if we’re actually explaining that to the supply side or the candidate, now we’re talking about first job, next job, dream job. Like that’s what we’re trying to do on the supply side, right. And obviously that bleeds into the corporate side where, you know, those are, that’s the customer. Right. So that’s the model is first, next dream.

Gary Benedik [00:24:47]:
But in order to get from your first, your dream, what skills? I call it AV plus, think about like a plus one skill. It could be as simple as like learning tableau. And now all of a sudden you go from an analyst to a senior analyst, and all of a sudden you go from whatever you’re making to another ten or 15 grand a year. And we can help folks understand those types of decisions that you would need to make in order to go from your first to next or next to dream. So we want to be that platform or that resource for the supply side for these 300 people coming in a day, because we don’t have 300 net new jobs a day, not yet. Right. But we want to be a resource to these individuals coming in that are not necessarily tunnel vision, but expecting being a writer because they have an undergrad in journalism. So we want to have this self service model where these individuals, these applicants, these candidates, we call them our community, can come in and learn what else is out there that caters to what they personally want to do with themselves, not necessarily what’s been told of them or what they’ve researched on the Google.

Gary Benedik [00:25:51]:
Right. So with that being said, we’re not upskilling within a certain market. We’re not like in the cyberspace. We’re not like incubating thousands of folks to turn into penetration testers, right? What we’re doing is we’re opening, this is a self service model for the supply side to come in and saying, here’s some of the data that we’ve seen. Here’s the growth that we’ve seen across our clients, the candidates that we place at our clients. And if this is something you’re interested in, here’s the skills that you need to learn, here’s the context of the information you need to absorb. In eight months, 17 months, 24 months, you’re going to get that promotion to a senior analyst on the client side. This is where it’s getting really interesting.

Gary Benedik [00:26:28]:
So right before this call, we had a scoping meeting with a client of ours that has asked us to train their hiring managers on how to be recruiters they don’t hire. They have a small set of internal corporate recruiters. This is a global engineering company. They rely on their engineers, civil Geotech. I mean like think about that skill set. They are great at what they do. Functionally, they’re not going to be great at selling the company. To attract candidates to be interested in taking a job they have to hire 100 people in the next twelve months.

Kortney Harmon [00:27:02]:
That’s a lot.

Gary Benedik [00:27:03]:
So they’ve asked us to build content that’s relatable to a civil engineer that will help them understand on how to position conversation, what to say in an email, how to overcome objection with candidates to put on the recruiting hat 1015 20% of their time to help meet their goal of hiring 100 people the next twelve months. That’s fair.

Kortney Harmon [00:27:25]:
That is very cool. And that’s the evolution of our industry right there.

Gary Benedik [00:27:29]:
Well, it’s great self awareness by our client. Right, right. Like, and also like you mentioned, you know, the kind of generational pool where we’re going to have to start. Kind of like building the next generation of engineers relative to this is they want their lifelong engineers that have been a part of their team for the last 1015 years. As they depart and retire, they want to be able to tell their story but also like be able to tell their story to the next lay folks. Come again?

Kortney Harmon [00:27:57]:

Gary Benedik [00:27:57]:
While also being able to recruit them, keep them engaged, don’t ghost them in law, ask your questions, all that jazz. And then we have another client that came to us and said we have 170 global corporate recruiters. We want to force rank them all and we want you to upskill a large population of these folks. So we’re having really cool, interesting, fun conversations and we can’t fix and solve everything, but we definitely want to listen to what’s going on inside the business.

Kortney Harmon [00:28:23]:
I think that’s amazing. I love it. I am so intrigued and I’m so happy that their awareness on the client side is also building. It shows and attest to your relationships that you have with them that they’re listening because sometimes it’s you even have to like teach an educated of you’re not the only one selling yourself. It sounds like you’re ten steps past that. And what they’re using you for to try to build is truly amazing. So I love it. I can’t wait to hear more.

Kortney Harmon [00:28:48]:
That’s awesome.

Gary Benedik [00:28:49]:
Yeah, I mean they could have came to us and said, okay, we want to pay you a net fee percentage of the annual salary to hire these hundred people. And that would have been great for us. Like, it would have been a very lucrative project, to be honest with you, Kortney. But that doesn’t really solve for the near short, like the short, like long term. Right. So we want to grow with them. We see this next generation come in. We just don’t want to be super transactional.

Kortney Harmon [00:29:10]:
I love it. Looking ahead, looking at the remainder of 2024, beyond into 2025, what are some key trends development that you’re going to be watching closely in the talent industry besides AI, obviously, that’s a conversation, but is there anything that you’re continuing to keep your pulse on understanding where industry is going or any way that you plan on pivoting in the next six to twelve months?

Gary Benedik [00:29:34]:
So Avenica, and the reason why I joined Avenica is super focused on the supply side, the candidate, on the applicant. And I think, you know, I think California just raised minimum wage quite a bit. You see decisions being made to support the supply side, the applicant, the candidate, whatever we want to define that Persona as. So us personally, we’re going to take a much, we’re going to invest a lot, a lot more on the supply side. Now, obviously, we want to solve problems for our customers and clients that need to hire people or train, but I think there’s some really cool things that you could do on the supply side that, again, if you think about just like, paying it forward in karma, they probably will become a hire manager down the road and maybe they will need to partner with a firm like ours. Right? So it’s mutually beneficial for us to spend time with candidates because hopefully we make a memorable impression for them and maybe we get them to that senior analyst role and then they’re a manager and they come back around. This is happening with Abeca. We onboarded a large logistics company and the actual hiring manager we placed nine years ago in the same model.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:34]:

Gary Benedik [00:30:35]:
He went in as a customer service rep and now he’s like heading all of sales and he came back to us. He’s like, oh, yeah, you helped me find this job. I now need to hire several classes of folks.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:44]:
Everything comes back full circle.

Gary Benedik [00:30:47]:
It comes full circle. So, like, I mean, we don’t have any secret sauce, Kortney. What we do know is that we’re going to be focused, even more focused on the supply side.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:55]:
I love it. Have you seen in the past since COVID I mean, you know, I just, I spoke with an economist last week, and as we were talking, I oftentimes when I’m at conferences, people are like, oh, we’re down. We’re down 15% to 30% year over year. But in reality, they’re just down from the previous year because Covid in 2022 was record breaking years. They’re not actually down in their business. They just don’t have job orders knocking down their door. Has that changed with Avenica and kind of what you’ve seen over the past few years? I know obviously you have a major focus on the supply side. Have you seen any adjustments and changes on your client side as you’ve been working with people over the years? I know you’ve only been there for so long, but have you seen a downturn in that or have you guys been pretty steady?

Gary Benedik [00:31:42]:
Well, I think that’s all kind of like job category dependent.

Kortney Harmon [00:31:45]:

Gary Benedik [00:31:45]:
So, you know, I think the way that we were able to build our advisory, to be fully transparent with you, Kortney, is we were not a specialist in a certain job category or niche. Right. There’s very successful firms that, like, go deep in it or deep in engineering or deep into sales. Our focus was building credibility with internal talent acquisition, HR procurement teams. Then we would flow with how this world changed every ten to twelve months. So we were not dependent on a certain industry or even a certain category of skills. We were focused on supporting TA and supporting HR. So personally, that’s how we were able to stay consistent and balanced through the fluctuation of this interesting world that we live in.

Gary Benedik [00:32:26]:
Right. So I hope that answers your question.

Kortney Harmon [00:32:28]:
It does. It absolutely does. And obviously it’s industry specific and who you work with is different. A lot of people steer clear of HR, want to talk to HR. It’s completely different in your approach for your business line. So. No, that makes absolute sense. My last question for you as we go ahead, do you want us to add something?

Gary Benedik [00:32:45]:
Well, I was just saying is, like, only because in my career I played the role as, like, a head of talent acquisition in a corporate environment.

Kortney Harmon [00:32:52]:

Gary Benedik [00:32:52]:
So it’s not right or wrong, but it’s nice to have conversations and talk about real problems that I personally experienced running a talent acquisition function with 31 different presidents that were all willy nilly about search and they worked with their, you know, sisters, cousins, brother recruiting firm and, you know, like. And there’s no. So we could talk about real problems. And I actually physically experienced some of that pain as well. As our chief talent officer at Avenica, she also comes from internal talent acquisition leadership. So we have a. Not necessarily better or worse, but it’s an interesting seat at the table when we’re talking to Ta and HR, hence why that’s why I built our advisory is it was relatable versus like. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:36]:
And you can change their trajectory of where they were going because you’ve been there, you’ve done that, you understand it full circle. So I think that’s a great unique position.

Gary Benedik [00:33:45]:
Yeah. It was just real life experience. So when it’s good, it’s good, it’s bad. You know, I feel for corporate talent acquisition. Right? The corporate recruiters. That skill set has. Has been through an emotional roller coaster, right? Especially Covid. Like, everybody, nobody wanted them then.

Gary Benedik [00:34:00]:
Everybody wanted them. They were making more than software engineers then nobody wanted them and now they’re kind of like, so, yeah, it’s an.

Kortney Harmon [00:34:05]:
Interesting time to be alive, ever changing, that’s for sure. Our market ebbs and flows and it’s just, it’s a fun roller coaster ride to be a part of.

Gary Benedik [00:34:14]:
Yeah, for sure.

Kortney Harmon [00:34:15]:
I love it. Is there any other words of advice based on your, your guys’s three lines of business? What you’re doing over there is truly revolutionary. Any other advice to leaders like yourself who are looking to expand, make their organizations better in this staffing and recruiting world as they look internally post this episode of what they could or should be doing differently?

Gary Benedik [00:34:39]:
I mean, I don’t know how cliche this sounds, but like, just be normal. Just be human, be authentic. Respond to people. Be transparent. Don’t ghost, don’t not respond to emails. It seems so simple, but we all get busy every day and all of that matters because people remember things, right? So as elementary and cliche as it sounds, it’s like, just be a good human like to your people that report to you, to your bosses, to your peers, your customers. Just be vulnerable. Be authentic.

Gary Benedik [00:35:09]:
All have going on in our personal lives that bleed into our professional lives. And if someone’s having a bad day or if you’re just feeling some heat from somebody, that usually doesn’t give you.

Kortney Harmon [00:35:17]:
Heat, great words of advice. I think it’s something that we all need to keep forefront of our minds as AI becomes more of our a part of our day daily. We’re getting more emails, we’re getting more spam, we’re getting more conversations, more text. The human element is going to lead us through what this crazy and few, probably uncertain years are as this thing develops. So I love that. I think that’s really what makes a difference in our industry. And Gary, thank you so much for joining us today. I love your guys unique stance and really how you handle the supply of what you’re doing in our industry.

Kortney Harmon [00:35:53]:
Guiding people to be better. And I love the, the start to dream and what that could be for people that are entering the workforce and beyond. So thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate all of your insights and I’m so excited to continue to watch your journey and as you join curlate and the family and so much more.

Gary Benedik [00:36:13]:
Well, thanks for having me. This has been a blast. I appreciate it.

Kortney Harmon [00:36:18]:
I’m Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Industry Spotlight, a new series from the full desk experience. New episodes will be dropping monthly. Be sure you’re subscribed to our podcast so you can catch the next industry Spotlight episode and all episodes of the full desk experience here or wherever you listen close.

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