Chase Kocher of Aim4hire Talks About What Is Wrong With the Hiring Industry

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As the business world continues to evolve, the importance of having a strong team of recruiters increases. Recruiters are on the front lines, experiencing the day-to-day changes in the business world. They also have their finger on the pulse of the job market, so they know where to find the best talent.

In this episode, Chase Kocher discusses what he believes is wrong with the hiring industry and offers his solution. Kocher is the founder of Aim4Hire, a boutique tech recruiting agency. He realized there was a problem in the hiring industry when it comes to recruiters, especially technical recruiters.

That’s why he created Aim4Hire–to provide a better solution for finding top talent. If you’re looking to improve your team of recruiters, this episode is a must-watch.

Chase Kocher Headshot

Chase Kocher of Aim4Hire

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Atiba de Souza: Hey, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Build Your Team. As always, I am your host, Atiba, and today I have with me my new friend and we were just in the same city. Well, he lives there, I was visiting, didn't know he was there. Wish I had known so we could have hung out together. Chase Kocher of Aim4Hire.

Now, the thing that you're going to hear today is, Chase is one of those people who they realize there's a problem in the hiring industry when it comes to recruiters, especially technical recruiters, and we're gonna talk a bit about that today.

And as always, we are brought to you by Client Attraction Pros, helping thought leaders make video marketing fun, easy, and painless.

Atiba de Souza: I gotta tell you something about Chase and he didn't know I was gonna say this, but I gotta tell you this about Chase. Chase won an award. He is the 2022 Founders to Watch. He was named the 2022 Founders to Watch by Startup Weekly. Yo, that's big. Means he's doing things. He's moving.

Chase, welcome to the show! It's great to have you buddy.

Chase Kocher: Great to be here, man. Thanks for having me on.

Atiba de Souza: Oh, absolutely. Now I said to everybody that I was just in the city where you are, but what city is that?

Chase Kocher: That is Austin, Texas, man. 

Atiba de Souza: Austin, Texas. The beautiful thing about Austin is, it is a beautiful city. And if you don't know this and anyone listening, you wanna buy some real estate, now's the time cuz Austin's gonna be real expensive next week.

Chase Kocher: The price has changed from the time we started this podcast, man. It's just going up.

Atiba de Souza: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I'm sure it is. And it's because there's so many tech farms that are moving to Austin, right? It's the new — almost like the baby Silicon Valley in New York City. Right?

Chase Kocher: Yeah, obviously it's been over the course of several years, but I think kind of covid expedited a lot of movement here. We've got Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tesla, Elon Musk has a place here, or it spends a lot of time here, so it's starting to become that next Silicon Hills. I think is what they like to call it here, though. 

I don't know if I love that or not, but I guess I can get on board that.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah, I see that. I can hear that. It's a good thing to have and be in a burgeoning city like that. And so you started a company in a burgeoning city, right? And it's a place where all the tech is going and you started a tech recruiting firm, right?

Here's the thing I wanna share with you guys, and I think you'll resonate with all of this listeners because I know this is YouTube because we've talked about this. I know this is YouTube.

You started your business because you realized there was a problem in the industry. You realize that something was broken, fundamentally broken, and you had to fix it. And that's why you've been in business. Now, Chase, when we were talking, that's you too.

Chase Kocher: Hell, yeah.

Atiba de Souza: So what was broken?

Chase Kocher: Where can we start, man? How much time you got? I think I was very centric on Austin and I think there's a lot of parallels to obviously Austin and many other cities that have a tech company presence, startups, big companies. But, in my kind of small world, I just kept seeing how transactional, I think recruiting and hiring be.

It's very much put in butts-in-seats and how many resumes it takes to get that butts-in-seats is what a company's metric is gonna be driven by. Software especially, it's the fastest moving, modernizing, constantly changing environment industry in the world.

If you aren't studying and researching and talking to engineers and trying to understand the newest landscape every week, then you're falling behind. And I think too often the bigger recruiting companies, the people that become the managers teach their people how they learned a year ago, two years ago, three years ago.

And it kind of creates just this cycle of really outdated information and outdated process. I think we've seen a lot of the ways that engineers spend time in GitHub and LinkedIn and different avenues than they did three or four years ago. So if you're trying to find top engineers on, and it ain't happening, that's just not how the world works anymore. Really in a big picture scenario, I think it's just outdated and frankly, attention to detail is probably like a core part of that is just people and recruiters kinda unwillingness to try to figure out a way to stay on top and be in the know of the tech world.

Atiba de Souza: Wow. So you know, what's interesting about that, and I completely understand because there was a time — and when I say it was a time, I'm talking back in the early 2000s. You know what's so funny? So often when I wanna say 2001, I say 2021. Yeah, I'm just backwards right now. Anyway, 2001 to about 2005, my resume was actually out there, and believe it or not, I still get calls today.

Chase Kocher: Really?

Atiba de Souza: Yes. I still get calls today and people who say, "I have a job opportunity for you." I'm like, you do know number one, the resume is old. And number two, I was an ASP.NET developer.

Chase Kocher: So yeah. Easy jump to Java.

Atiba de Souza: And so that's a lot of what you're saying there. But the reality is we all kind of face this because especially when we are in business, because we've seen a broken process and we decide to start a business to fix that broken process, we then end up in this situation where now we're trying to hire people into our company, which is I know where you are as well, where you're bringing in people to work with you and say, "Hey! The process out there is broken. We're going to do it differently." But they've been trained by that. Right?

Chase Kocher: Right.

Atiba de Souza: So couple questions here. Number one, how do you find the people who are trainable, malleable into learning that one, it's broken and we can fix it, and here's how we can fix it? That's the first question.

Chase Kocher: Yeah. I mean, billion dollar question, right? I think personally, when you're a services company, especially, and obviously we provide recruiting services. There is no product, there's nothing proprietary about what we offer. So really your product is your people. I mean your company, your team, how they act, how they perform.

That's our product. That's our brand. I can speak specifically to that and then obviously working with product tech companies, SaaS products. It's a bit different, but I'd say especially for our team, it's been finding, looking at someone's background, whether that be they were a student athlete in college, or they were able to work a job and put themselves through college, or internships that they showed effort, maybe manual labor services, they worked as a server at a restaurant. To me, I think you look for those little instances where like, did they do things they really didn't feel like doing? But they had to do it and they got it done. 

I feel like that's a critical thing that we look for in people's backgrounds is, is have they been a part of an environment where they know what it takes to win?

And sometimes it's not the most fun or easy to do activities, but they're willing to put in that effort to see the result. About half our team is actually former college athletes. So a lot of them, sports in a lot of ways were their job through college and still going to classes and putting themselves through school and earning a scholarship in many cases.

I really like to understand, even if you're hiring someone that has 10, 20 years of experience, I really like to look back to early outta college, kind of what were they willing, how scrappy were they early on. And then, of course if you can look at their recent work experience, kind of understanding just looking at tenure which engineers, software engineers have a tendency of going one year, one year, one year, one year or they're contracting. 

So it's not always their fault. I mean, sometimes with the way the market wasn't mean you were getting 20K, 30K more every time you jumped jobs. It's hard to blame 'em for that. But I do think if you're looking for someone that's really kind of, like you said, moldable, bought in, agile, those are the kind of things I look for, as they have they been on small teams?

Have they worn different hats? And can they explain? Kind of that. What's their passion? I think you kind of, quickly identify those things in a couple interview questions. 

Atiba de Souza: It's so interesting that you bring that up and it's something that we talk about here on Build Your Team and as we talk about building team is number one; what are the values of your company? You didn't use the word values. You are saying that like, "I'm looking for people who are scrappy. I'm looking for people who have shown grit. I'm looking for people who are willing to do the thing that it takes to get the job done, even if it may not be the thing that they love, but they know that's what I've gotta go through." Right?

Chase Kocher: Exactly. And the more formal answer is yeah. I mean, you wanna line up your values with the people you're hiring. For the first six months it was just me and now we're 16, 17 people. And I think your values kind of build, cuz originally my values have morphed a bit with adding new people to the company, and they've brought different skill sets and desires and passions to the table.

There are values you have to stick with as a company as you build your team, but also, I don't see anything wrong with kind of adjusting your values based on the people you hire because I think in a lot of ways, again, like we said, the people are the product. The people are the company.

Atiba de Souza: Absolutely.

Chase Kocher: And teams change. I mean, you don't always have to be the same thing year over year. I mean, a lot of recruiting companies have done that and it's kind of gotten them in the position they are today. So, full circle there.

Atiba de Souza: So let me ask you this. Where did you start with values then, in terms of the company and that have grown as you've added more people? And the second part of that question is, if you are growing — because it's also a tendency in there, if I could say to — cow tail to — and that's not what we're saying either, right?

So how do you avoid that?

Chase Kocher: Oh, man. Sorry, I didn't even hear it. You said cow tail?

Atiba de Souza: Yes. Like, you know, bend over, give in, acquiesce, maybe that's a better word. Acquiesce. That sounds more official. How about that?

Chase Kocher: That does sound more official. Building those values, I think it's challenging. I think you said like, what was something that we tried to build on? I think being agile, adaptive, and attention to detail, there's a lot of A's there, company's called Aim4Hire.

So I tend to stick with the A letters. But it's hugely important to build a culture. But I think, when you're hiring, especially early on, man, it's so pivotal to just make sure you're making the right hires. I think being agile, being adaptive, really synonyms in a lot of ways.

But in the tech world, it's a world that's constantly changing. Frankly to me, if you can't adapt, you die. I mean, that's kind of in my mind how it works in the tech spaces. If you aren't willing and able to move with the market, move with trends, move with technology, then you're gonna get left behind.

So I think that's probably kind of going along with grit and willingness to put in the work. And then attention to detail, that's where you and I were talking about offline, just tech recruiters trying to just be on the forefront of understanding that .Net developers aren't gonna be Java developing anytime soon.

Atiba de Souza: Any time soon.

Chase Kocher: And vice versa. Those are core principles. I'm sure a software engineer learns in day one of computer science degree. But to recruiter, most of us are communications, sales, marketing degrees. You have to sit down and actually learn these types of things.

And it's not always recruiter's fault. I mean, sometimes they get into one of these big shops and they're just told what to do. So I think that's part of it is, someone that needs to be curious and willing to go out and kind of figure out, like study the game film, as a lot of athletes here, we use a lot of sports analogies. But do your homework, study up on the opponent that you're going up against and understand kind of where your strengths are and where they aren't.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. No, that's awesome. That's awesome. We could probably dive into the whole athlete thing for a whole 30 minutes by itself, so I'm avoiding it because I know my tendency there. So, it's just putting out there. 

There's a point that you made, I know is the sticking point for a lot of people in hiring. And so my question here with this point is, what's the advice that you give to your clients and how do you deal with this within your own company? What happens when you make the wrong hire?

Chase Kocher: There's two different thought processes or ways to go about it that I feel like I see people go is one, is be quick to hire or quick to fire, kind of that mentality. Others, I think you probably try to take the necessary steps to seeing if that bad hire can be rescued in any way or repositioned. But to me, I'm a big transparency kind of person, and I think, again on a sports team, if you have someone that doesn't fit, usually they're capable of doing the skills necessary to still contribute to the team. But you need to have that difficult conversation with them on what you need from them and then you can kind of really judge. Are they willing to adopt and fit in with this team? 

And if not, then you can let them go. But the counter to that is you just wasted 3, 4, 5 months and you might have caused that bad hire to spoil your team. You have one bad apple on a team, it can kill your team vibe, it can kill the culture and could kill what you guys are trying to accomplish.

To be frank, I like to give people at least 90 days because I think it's just so much to take on when you're first joining. But I think it's a calculated risk that companies have to take and if you're gonna make it higher, I think you owe it to that candidate to at least give them time to acclimate and try to find their position on the team.

But the ones that are quick hires, quick fires, I guess I get it. But it can be pretty brutal, if that your mentality at times.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. No, that's very, very, very true. And I think people get stuck there because of that. Because it's like, geez, 90 days. So let me give you my perspective if I could on that too as we talk about this. For those of you who are listening, you've heard me say before, and this is a hard one for you to swallow and I get it, but 99 times out of a hundred when you make a bad hire, it's your fault.

And it's your fault because one, either you weren't clear on your values and so maybe they violated your values, or two, you weren't clear on what you actually wanted them to do. You put a good person in a bad system. It's funny because I told you I was just in Austin and Ryan Deiss from Digital Marketer said that from stage he was like, "There's so many of you..." — and he said, "You put good people in bad systems and then you blame the people. But you are responsible for the system, right? Or you hire them..."— and let me ask you, if you see this, "...and you hire them and you expect them to come up with the system."

Chase Kocher: Right, Right. You bring up, I think a really valuable points like, is it the wrong hire because of a skill issue or is it the wrong hire because it's a culture core value misalignment?

I think the latter, you have to be quick to act if there's somebody that's either undermining your values or trying to disrupt what you built.

But if you're taking a good person and bringing them in a bad situation, that responsibility falls on the company leadership. But if you take a bad person, you bring 'em into a good system, then you let that bad person start to undermine the core values of the team, then you're really in trouble.

I would probably selfishly or personally say that, in that kind of situation where it's a culture values misfit, you probably want to be quicker to act, because I don't know if that person's values are gonna be able to change in 90 days.

Atiba de Souza: No. Not usually.

Chase Kocher: Not usually. Whereas a skill thing then maybe you can kind of level set with them of like, "Listen, we hired you as a lead egineer. Now we're realizing you're probably not that high level, but maybe we can find other ways for you to contribute."

I think that's completely fair, but like you said, the responsibility falls on the hiring team and they make the calculated risk of bringing that person on knowing what they know.

It's interesting. Rarely are they really held responsible. Sometimes, like you said, it's the team and the company that — or the team and like the individual employees that it falls on. So I think that's kind of how the world works. I don't know. Top level leadership usually blames the lower levels. 

Atiba de Souza: They do. But at the same time, when you're sitting here and you're saying that you're scared to hire someone and especially if you're looking at a past failure and pointing a finger at the person, there's a moment in time when you have to realize, it's really me because I didn't — let me give full transparency.

So we had to let go someone two weeks ago on our team. I'd hired this person and I knew coming in that this person had never worked on a team before, which is a rare thing, but I knew that. Right? And I also hired this person to work very closely with me, knowing that they're gonna report directly to me, but need to talk to other people and they'll be okay. And I evaluated the fit of values and it looked like, "Okay, this will work and we can work together. This will work well." And the thing that I missed though was how important it was that she had never worked on a team before and not only did she never worked on it on one but she wasn't really willing to work on one.

That it was a deliberate choice to take jobs where she was working alone.

Chase Kocher: Interesting.

Atiba de Souza: Right?

Chase Kocher: As entrepreneurs, I feel like there's a blind spot to when you start a company and then you start having people that apply to your jobs and want to join your company. It's kind of like a self fulfillment thing of like, "Wow, we've made it. People want to join my company."

It starts to kind of give you that. But then I feel like you kind of develop sometimes blind spots, but around just, are they gonna fit? Great. Or are you like so excited that they're excited about what you're doing, what you've built, that you kind of lose sight of, do they have the tangible experience or skills that I think is gonna translate to what we do?

But an individual versus a team, that's a difficult one cuz I think it's a calculated risk of bringing someone on that's not accustomed to a teamwork environment. But as an individual that's got along that far in their career by being a one man, one woman type operation. That person's probably incredibly hard worker.

They don't need someone tell tapping on their shoulder. Telling 'em what to. So there's a lot of attractive qualities in someone like that, and sometimes, you can't blame yourself or taking a calculated risk on that. 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, she was great. To be honest with you. She was great. She did fantastic work. However, missed all the team meetings.

Chase Kocher: It's not a good start.

Atiba de Souza: Right? But what she produced was amazing, she didn't wanna talk to anybody else. Only me, she only showed up when I was there. That doesn't work.

For those of you who are listening, that's the beauty of this, is like you do — and I've learned from that situation and I had to realize, I made that choice. It wasn't about her. Yes, we have to let her go and it's bad, but it was because of a choice I made and I need to learn and grow through that. And that's where you have to be, every single time you're looking at hiring someone. Right? Now, Chase, as we begin to wrap up here, I wanna make sure that everybody understands your company, what you do, and who you serve. So, my friend.

Chase Kocher: Elevator pitch time.

Atiba de Souza: Yes.

Chase Kocher: So, we are a boutique tech recruiting agency. So we partner predominantly with funded — well, often funded, sometimes just purely bootstrap profitable tech startups between kind of 50 to 500 employees. Most of them have a presence in Austin, though we do some recruitment kind of across Texas, a little bit in the Bay Area in California though. I think lots of companies try to avoid the cost of living and pricing over there to hire somebody. And then we do some work in Florida as well from a recruitment perspective and then fully remote hiring. So, we kind of cover the gambit, but for the most part it's software engineering type roles, products design, development management.

And really on teams that are trying to make critical hires, kind of like we've talked about, the ones that are understand that the wrong hire can kill their team or company or their mission. And so we enjoy fighting for those smaller companies who are often going after the same talent that Amazon, Google, Facebook are also trying to attract. Usually, it can take an army to kind of find and attract that talent. So we take a lot of pride in kind of representing smaller companies and trying to attract that talent.

Atiba de Souza: That's awesome, man. Now, do they find you?

Chase Kocher: I live on LinkedIn, man. LinkedIn's my second home. Chase Kocher on LinkedIn, It's a number four in between Aim and Hire, H-I-R-E website, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, you name it. You hit us up anywhere there, I'll make sure we get in contact with you.

Atiba de Souza: Fantastic. And for everybody as always, we'll put all of Chase's contact information down below so that you can just click on it. 

Chase Kocher: There you go. 

Atiba de Souza: You don't have to remember that it was a four between. No, no. Just click on it. You're good to go. All right. Chase, brother, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for being here.

We still gotta talk sports and sports analogies. Maybe we'll do another show. Maybe we'll do that one when I'm in Austin. We'll do it in person. 

Chase Kocher: Would love that. Thanks for having me.

Atiba de Souza: All right, my friend. You're welcome. As always, I will see everybody real soon. And Chase, again, thanks for being here. Bye everybody!

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