Jason Berkowitz serves as a Business Development Executive for IBM Talent Acquisition & Optimization, where he focuses on crafting Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) solutions for Financial Services and Communications organizations.
With more than 18 years of diverse RPO experience, Mr. Berkowitz brings a wealth of knowledge in sales, operations, leadership and delivery. He is a top leader in the industry and has been credited for coining the RPO acronym.
Jason, tell us how you got started in RPO nearly 20 years ago.
I started a staffing business with a partner in 1997. About two years into our business, a client inquired on whether we'd be able to take on the hiring for his entire organization. He saw the value of our work, but also needed it to be cost effective. We worked out a deal that was mutually beneficial, and the RPO business grew from there.
Why did you decide to join the IBM team?
IBM has a really good reputation for being able to deliver multi-national, complex deals. There are some negative perceptions about IBM, too, however, when I talked with team members about their experiences, they expressed how willing the organization is to pull out all the stops to deliver a great client experience.
IBM also has fully developed offerings that are solving real organizational problems, which makes selling its solutions easier. Take for example, IBM Employment Branding. There is an entire experienced team dedicated to employer branding and doing amazing work for clients. Plus, we have a number of ancillary services like onboarding, learning & development, assessments, and analytics that allow us to deliver an innovative end-to-end solution that solves challenges beyond just the hiring process.
How has your previous experience prepared for your role as a Business Development Executive?
Clients expect that every conversation is consultative in nature. Smooth talking sales alone isn't going to win. Clients want you to have a point of view immediately and experience that can speak to their need. Having been a recruitment practitioner for most of my career, I have that personal experience. I can go beyond high level headlines and share my personal experiences with similar issues and present realistic solutions.
What's a common talent acquisition problem that customers share?
It's such a common challenge to hear customers talk about the natural friction that exists between hiring managers and recruiters. The hiring manager wants someone yesterday at a low cost and the recruiter wants more time to find the right candidate. This push and pull forces many recruiters to become simply order takers rather than talent consultants.
A consultative approach can relieve this tension. Our recruiters are highly trained to be able to use their expertise to advise the hiring manager on howto make the requisitions realistic to fill.
What challenges do financial services and communication organizations experience that is different from other industries?
The massive shifts and improvement in technology is changing the type of people that financial services and communication services organizations need to hire. They require talent with a different background and experience level. We have the unique opportunity to help make the shift.
What advice do you have for talent acquisition professionals looking to make an impact on their organization?
The focus should be on business impact—not on reducing cost per hire—to make a clear case for investing in talent acquisition. You might need to spend a few more dollars initially on someone who is going to stick around and make stronger contributions to the organization. If you're going to hire LeBron James, time-to-fill and cost-per-hire should not be the top concern.
Demonstrating the value of talent acquisition requires the ability to report and analyze data outside of just the talent acquisition function. It means you might have to connect with HR to obtain turnover data, sales to obtain performance data, etc. to measure the real impact someone has made on the organization. Doing so would help you make statements like: "We hired Bob in 90 days—you wanted in 60 days—but it's 5 years later and he's still a top sales performer bringing in more revenue than his colleagues. And by the way, he's referred 7 people since he's been brought on board, and many of them are also high performers."
Great insight, Jason. Looking forward to hearing more on how organizations are gathering and centralizing this type of data.