Recruiting During the New Normal with Ira Wolfe

Reading Time: 19 Minutes

How do you sift through thousands of resumes? How has recruiting changed during the “new normal”?

Ira Wolfe describes the passion and mindset required for the convergence between people and technology.

About Ira Wolfe

Ira is an HR visionary thinker, an accomplished speaker and author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization. For 25 years, he has been a leader in pre-hire and leadership assessments, recruitment marketing, and workforce trends. Today Ira describes the passion and mindset required for the convergence between people and technology.

Ira Wolfe is an HR visionary thinker, an accomplished speaker and author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization.

Read the Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview.


Deliberate Leaders I am Allison Dunn, Executive Coach and Host of the Deliberate Leaders podcast where we are dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each episode we feature an inspiring interview to help you on your leadership journey. And I’m so excited to introduce today, Ira Wolfe. He is an HR visionary thinker, and accomplished speaker and author of Recruiting in the Age of Globalization. Ira has been the leader in pre hire in leadership assessments, recruitment, marketing and workforce trends. For over 25 years, he put forth the passion and mindset required for the convergence between people and technology. And I kind of love this description has been described as the millennial trapped in a baby boomers body and the world’s first Google ization officer, which I think is chief Google Officer IRA. Welcome to the Deliberate Leaders podcast.


It’s my pleasure to be here. Very excited to join you today. Thanks.


Fantastic. I love to kick these off with a quick deliberate conversation. And I say quick meaning, you know, it’s just a small part of what we’re going to talk about, but what would be your number one leadership tip that you would give our leadership listeners today?


Great question. I’m probably being adaptable. work, right, working a lot on that, how to be adaptable. And we’ll talk a little bit down the show. And actually, this wasn’t a setup, but it was a good setup for me, because we actually just released an adaptability quotient. Assignment. Yeah, yeah. It’s actually a lot of research was done into it partnered with a group that had been doing that. And yeah, I’m really excited. We actually haven’t even officially made it available yet. So some finishing the assessments done but the portal and access so but we definitely could talk about it. So adaptability is no question the number one skill that every In fact, they just wrote an article was adaptability is everyone’s job these days.


Is that not so the truth? Especially right now? I think. So. And I love that as a tip, I think that it’s critical, especially now more than ever, what is what would be the tip that you would give based on the research you’ve done? When you when someone should identify that that they’re not being adaptable enough?


Oh, well, what is it? Well, it’s interesting, because the assessment broke it down into three areas. And this was based on research, from universities, organizations, science back even involved with Singularity University. So a lot of people were involved in identifying this and they identified three areas, and the acronym and the acronym is Ace, AC. So one is, is your ability. So some people have, you know, maybe it’s their cognitive abilities now that they’re not smart, but they may overthink things, okay. But, you know, some people have are more open minded and more curious. So those are all ingredients. And so once ability, the character, your personality does impact that, you know, extroverts are going to be more engaged, introverts are going to think about it a little bit. So you’re how you manage your stress. Are you resilient? Are you resilient? Or do you have grid, you know, whatever words, we want to throw out some of the buzzwords, but, you know, that all makes up our character. But the third part is super important. And it’s our environment. And it’s the cultures and the companies and the people we hang with, and our edges, the education system. And sometimes people are have the ability and they got the right character, but they’re just stifled and other times, they’re given opportunity, but their ability or ability holds them back. So there’s actually 17 different dimensions that were identified as critical. So it was tough to say, you know, what, what does somebody need to do the one thing I would I would tell everybody if there was one out of all those areas that that I would suggest doing actually, there’s two the very first one is being open minded, even more so than being curious is at least open my if you’re open minded, then you probably are curious, but if you’re curious, that doesn’t mean you’re open minded. So I’m very sure you may find the rabbit hole to go down and, and really curious about that rabbit hole, but it may not be it may not open you up. So I would say open mindedness. I always quote her, I quote her a lot rather than spending all our time going into it. But Carol Dweck dw Louie ck wrote a book on mindset and sucks about the fixed and growth mindset. And growth mindset is just so critical that we allow ourselves to make mistakes. Nobody’s going to be perfect moving forward, you know, ever. I heard this from some of the top people, really experts from military government organizations, CEOs, early on in the pandemic, and they said, everybody’s faking it. And when you heard that from some of the most successful people in the world that, hey, we’re all just faking it, you know, to get through this, what they’re allowing themselves to do is, is make mistakes. And hopefully, none of them are fatal, or lethal mistakes. But you know, taking little baby steps, we have to allow ourselves to make mistakes.


Thank you, I appreciate your insights into that. And I do think open mindedness is super key.


The other one, which is also interesting, is unlearning. And learning is, you know, started is like, yeah, I’m learning. I’m learning is hard to do. Because we’ve wired our brains are wired. I mean, you know, now that we understand what neuroscience looks like, there’s patterns, there’s actually a great video, I would suggest people, you can go to YouTube, I did mine. But I just discovered that a couple weeks ago, and I thought it was a brilliant idea of how difficult it is to unlearn. It’s called the backwards bike. I don’t know if you’ve ever if you’ve if you’ve seen that. Have you seen the bad?


I’m, I’m definitely good.


It absolutely is the best example, this guy’s mechanic was an engineer. And he’s got his, he’s not working on his PhD. He’s got a whole bunch of degrees, very theoretical guy, but young guy, great personality. And he and he talks about what he did was they took the shaft from the bicycle, the steering column, and he got a mechanical engineer to reverse gear. So when you turn left, you turn them with the bar and the bars left, the wheel turns to the right. And vice versa. And you go, Oh, well, you just you’ll learn how to do things opposite. It’s like, what I’ve gotten the England or Australia, we’ve learned to drive on the other side of the road. And it takes a little getting used to until you go around the roundabout or a circle. You know that that’s a little harrowing. But then when I came back, then I was struggling. When we landed, we landed in New York and I struggled in New York. Which way which way do I turn, but your hardware so you know, you learn to adapt? The bicycle is really, really hard, because you balance yourself by making as little adjustments. So it’s not like, oh, it only matters when you turn. It was a great example of how difficult it is to unlearn. And we’re all in this. We all have to unlearn what we, when people say we need to go back to normal, there is no going back to normal. And we all have to, we all have to make room in our brains to move to this next normal. And that’s and but part of adaptability, one of the skills and adaptability, sub skills and adaptability, as I’m learning what we need to learn. Yeah.




I get off, right.


Yeah, that’s an on it. I think that is it’s not a topic that anyone is talking about, but how rapid like so relevant that is?


Samples right now.


I appreciate the opportunity, where hopefully, it will be a lot more people talking about it after this.


And I know that you are kind of you know, labeled as a visionary thinker in HR. And so right now, I just believe we’re at this pivotal point in our world in how we work and way we think about recruitment and hiring and I’m just curious, in your crystal ball IRA, how do you see what is your outlook on hiring or, you know, going forward? Um, I there’s sort of the shovel to spoon analogy that teed up a topic to talk about So, um, what’s your outlook?


We’re gonna hire employees, we’re gonna hire people.


The hiring, you know, one is anyone who thinks that hiring got easy, because we now have 15 or so million people on the unemployment rolls. 50 million people on unemployment claims, you know, that are either partially or being subsidized by PPP or unemployment or something like, the fact of the matter is, is we still have a skill shortage for, you know, for basically lower skilled jobs and some frontline jobs such as hospitality and things, although those are relatively skilled these days as well. But there, there’s going to be an abundance of people. But I can’t tell you how many calls and panels and conversations I’ve been involved with that the skilled labor market, whether it’s an engineer or data science or sales, management leadership, the skill gap got Much worse, in the last six months or so, despite the unemployment numbers, the difficulty in finding people who have the skills to do what you want to do, and then on top of that, not only they have to have the skills to do the job they used to do, but now they have the skills to be able to work remotely or telecommute or work with people who telecommute. You know, there’s two sides of it, can you do the job? And then can you manage the people that are doing the job, or communicate with people that are doing that? It’s just gotten more complicated. So where everybody says, Wow, you know, we walked out this time, we, you know, it’s the skills gap was just going to crush us in January, where are we going to find the people? You know, we had all these people that are unemployed now, we’ll be able to get through this and give us time. That’s not true. Because six months later, people are really, really struggling to find people in, in many industries, almost all the geographic areas, there’s certain pockets, certainly communities that, that don’t have enough jobs, but it’s so my analogy, as you mentioned, for the people in the north, and I know you were from New Hampshire, I’m from people that understand that. It’s, it’s literally it, because there’s just more people applying for the job. But there’s still X number of jobs, and there’s still not a lot of talented people. The is like show, you know, what talent acquisition gonna be like, recruitments gonna be like, shoveling out of a, out of a blizzard with a teaspoon. You know, for the people in the south. It’s going to be draining of blood with the draining of flood with the straw. So all that happened was there’s just a lot more people that are applying. I had a client the other day, now about a month ago. And they started to rebound. And they called him and he called me and he said, You are so right, we used to be good. This was his words, we used to get 20 to 25, maybe 50 applicants out of on from indeed out of that two or three might have been remotely qualified, within 24 hours, 1300 applications. And they did not have a system in place. They don’t didn’t have an ACS, we’re just a small company, we don’t need anything like that, you know, was worth it. The processes in place, you just can’t do it through email, and spreadsheets anymore. And a good candidate way around, which gets that is a fortunate challenge, like a shift as opposed to not having enough, but then to have a whole bunch of maybe unqualified candidates that you still have to sift through and figure out how to de select and do you know, it’s a combination of both ways, right? I mean, there may be some candidates that are looking, but I can tell you, the good candidates are selected, even if they’re out of work. You know, they’re many of them. Again, we’re on PPP, they’re on subsistence, some of it, they’re not ready to jump back in to the market. So you still have to get on a great candidate experience present yourself a good a robust culture, that people want to work there for the talented people. Are there people who want a paycheck? I mean, people who just want a paycheck, you’re gonna be overwhelmed. If you don’t have a good screening and selection process.


For sure. Do you have so you spoke about the north and the south? Do you have any predictions for kind of my side of the country where I am today, which is an Idaho?


Is it universal? This is global. I mean, everybody’s struggling with it. There’s going to be pockets. I’m going to talk I did a presentation for the Missouri State SHRM the other day, and it was virtual, of course, and but there was a chat going on in the side. And people were talking about in there are people saying, Oh, we just can’t find people. And then in the same token is like, Oh, we’ve got like, 22% unemployment in our area. But I pulled it up on a map. And, you know, they were literally between Chicago, they were they were 100 miles from Kansas City. And I can’t remember what the next closest city in Illinois was, but they’re basically in the middle of nowhere. And their economy was not robust before. They depend, you know, so they depended partly on agriculture, partly small manufacturing small businesses. And there are I mean, so they have jobs. So it depends. I mean, you’re gonna hear stories like that, that Oh, how bad it is. But I can tell you that if we really truly had a mobile society where people can pick up and move and not worry about selling their house and do all those sorts of things, certainly in the water, millennials, and Gen Z or Gen Z are in that place. But you know, overall, I mean, it’s pretty remarkable our or our economy was pretty resilient to even be at the place it is now. And You know, considering how many people are unemployed and, and the crisis we’re still in, for sure.


And insights into kind of what we’re experiencing, like right here is where we’re an influx market, we’re definitely getting a lot of movement towards Idaho, because of just a sort of associating states around it. It’s kind of a beautiful place to live and place to start a business or move your business. But we’ve also had that combination. So we have small business coming. We also have a large plant distribution facility from Amazon. And what I everybody knows that’s true, right? Yes, we have four of them now.


Oh, my goodness. And so we’re just now seeing the impacts of what an employer of that size can do to our, our, our labor markets, just in general, which is incredible.


There’s a word you know, we talked about, you know, a word for leadership, I think if there’s a word that describes the time we’re living in is disruptive.




Yeah. And again, just it disruptive, transformational is, is literally a kind word. When we talk about leadership, and what we need to do, we’re living in a disruptive time. And, of course, I’ve got my, the acronym that we talked about, which is vuca, you know, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And I’ve been talking about that for Well, it’s been around for 30 years, I did not make that up that was came from military history in their understanding what the world was going to look like in 1990, after the Berlin Wall came down, what the world was going to look like, and they anticipated terrorism and a number of other enemies that we have to face. And they came up with how do you function in a vuca? world volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and then it got picked up by business saying that was what our future was going to be. But people didn’t really get it. You know, they understood volatility. Yeah, we have our ups and downs and, and uncertainty and complexity, but we living it. I don’t know of a better acronym that describes 2020.


Yeah, I agree. But I know that everyone keeps on talking about getting back to back to normal, right? And I don’t even know like, you know, new next new normal, like, I don’t know what you’re coining it as but what, where do you see us heading? Even, especially since we’re in an amplified a vuca? world?


Yeah. Well, one is I wrote an obituary to normal. And it’s up on my LinkedIn profile. So anybody who wants to search for pitch, we’re in normal, you wrote out on a bit because it died.


oh, weren’t normal, normal died, and everybody’s mourning and grieving it and left behind as a wife, Mr. Normal left behind certainty, his wife certainty and his daughter consistency. So you know, so very short, only, like three paragraphs, but it basically is where everybody’s grieving, and they want to go back to the way it was, it’s not going to happen. We’ve never had never has never will. We’re not going back. So but like you, it’s like, whatever you want to call this, I struggle. Because I don’t like to word the new normal. Played with next normal. Couple people I’ve interviewed and talked to when I respect, you know, they talk about future next. another colleague of mine talks about normal 2.0, whatever you want to call it, it’s, we’re moving somewhere forward, we’re not going back. And so whatever you want to call it, you know, I just, I even just saw this. And again, I’ve got to go to people that are a lot smarter than I am on, on predicting what not necessarily trends are going to be but you know, what, is the economy going to recover? When are we going to come out of this, and that’s going to sort of set the foundation for some type of new normal mindset, new normal lifestyle, and investor talking 2022. So it’s not that far off anymore. I mean, crazy to think that 2022 is only 15 months away, or approximately, whenever, whenever you’re listening to this, but it’s going to be very, very different in ways that we couldn’t possibly imagined. To the point where just about a year ago, right now, I gave a presentation on it was it was workforce. 2030 was the title of it was a keynote. And we talked about whatever you thought was going to happen in 2015 was probably going to happen in 2030. Every thought was going to be 2030. at the pace that things were accelerating was probably 2025. And then we had the pandemic. And the reality is is a lot of the predictions from 2030, including telecommuting working from home happened to 2020. And so, the read a lot of the predictions, you know, like the Jetsons of flying cars, it’s not going to happen. But there’s a lot the even autonomous vehicles, the acceleration of autonomous vehicles, you know, picked up, didn’t slow down. It’s not like, Oh, we got to table that and put that off a couple years, and accelerated. And what I found was very interesting, kind of a short story in my book recruiting in the age of globalization. So for anybody who wants to read about some of what my predictions were at, but you’re not a recruiter, you’re not an HR. The first hundred and 30 pages has nothing to do with recruitment. first hundred 30 pages was originally titled when the shift at your plan, and it was about vuca. And what the world and I wrote a couple pages in there about what our world would look like when we’re when we have autonomous vehicles. And what happens to the why was in the sheets, and the turkey hills and the little convenience stores, what happens to all the shops along the way, what happens to hotels, you don’t have to sleep in visit to go in the autonomous vehicle drive you there, we experienced that, in the pandemic, when we shut down in April and May have people didn’t have to go to the convenience store to get gas people. People didn’t go to the convenience store and stuff and stop and get lottery tickets and cigarettes and milk. Because we weren’t driving by there. And that’s, that’s the world I mean, basically, we get a glimpse inside, what our world will look like when we have autonomous vehicles, what are urban centers going to look like? When there’s not, you know, a couple thousand cars coming in every day. And we rely more on public transportation, or we work from home.


And you use the term Googleization, and I’ve just here the chief executive chief globalization officer, what is Googleization? And did you have to pay or get permission to use that term?


No. And hopefully, that’s not going to change.


The I basically came up with that when I wrote my prior book called keek, skeezers. And globalization, which has that sense, since adopted after my podcast. So it basically was it’s time where everybody was talking about the four or five generations working in the workplace simultaneously, that was a big deal. We had, you know, that was about the millennials. Now we got Gen Z. But we basically had a baby a Gen X baby boomers, traditionalist. And even if you want to go earlier than that, so we have multiple generations that everyone is focused on, what are we going to do about that? And so that wasn’t the problem we have. We had multiple generations working simultaneously, which was a challenge. But the bigger challenge was what, but about the technology, and you had people that were the geeks, and the geezers, you know, had young like myself, I use a lot of technology, I’m definitely not the baby boomer, there was a lot of young millennials who weren’t using technology. So there, there was even another category. What Googleization became, was really the convergence of business, technology and people. And they were all changing, the people were changing, the technology was accelerating, and business was evolving. And Googleization, just was that. Now, Googleization was also written about almost same time by somebody else. And again, it’s just an error as a period of time. And so I’m very careful to not to infringe upon Google, even using their colors, or, you know, we almost had Googleization in the different colors that reflected Google. But so but Googleization, they frankly, they were living in an era of Google. I mean, they set the ball rolling, you know, especially with search, and now with quite quantifying all the information that’s out there available, making it accessible. It’s just amazing. Or the first search engine clumsy, it was, you know, it typed in something and it was like, how, why in the world was this coming back? Now? It predicts what you’re going to type it? Yeah, three letters in it, it comes up with like, it’s like, how did it know I was thinking about this.


And when I go to ask a question in the questions already there, I’m like, Oh, I’m not alone, thankfully.


Yeah. Yeah. Or it’s reading your mind.


One of those things. I would love to wrap up with a couple of thoughts that you have on how it is that as organizations are trying to recruit and reach top talent, and how do we need to think differently about it? from like, the acquisition that like, you know, any thoughts on?


Yeah, we need to evolve to, why would you definitely become smarter, and I highly encourage people to use technology, but don’t rely on the technology to solve the problems. Just like people said, Well, now we got a need, we can just go out there and do it and solve the problem people are people bought in ATMs, and they use the technology to fix the problem. And they basically purchase somebody else’s workflow, you know, that designed it, or was tested on and people adopted it, you still have to, you need to use technology to automate what can be automated, but the purpose of this technology is to free up your time. So you can connect with the people that are qualified. So rather than sifting through 100, or 50, or 1000 resumes manually, and entering them into a spreadsheet, automate part of them. By doing that you allow yourself to respond to the top candidates, and also respond to the people who didn’t make it. I mean, you know, one of the things that people hate is technology basically took the human out of the jar, because people relied on it, it was easy to apply. But then they fell into the HR black hole and never heard from them ever, ever again. There are ways to use the technology, to keep in touch with human beings, and then allowing you to have faster, more effective conversations with human beings. That’s the direction you’re going to go. That’s your roadmap. If you’re not going to do that, then there, it’s going to get really, really hard to find good people.


It’s an interesting in thinking that that’s the tip. And yet I think that that’s the way it always should, should be done anyways.


Yeah, people just defaulted. Hey, we’re getting good. The technology won’t let us do it this way. So I guess, since other companies are using it, that’s the right way to do it. And it’s turned out one of the craziest things, and I know where you want to ramp up. But so I’ll leave it with this, the talent board and I suggest that you can go up to the talent board, just search for the talent board, and they do a massive survey every year. It’ll be really, really interesting this year. But the 2020 report that came out in the beginning of the year before the pandemic, shared that since 2016, candidate resentment, resentment is a pretty strong word, not just that they’re dissatisfied or upset, candidate resentment, increased 40%, between 2016 and 2019, which is absurd. Because without the technology, it should have improved, we, with all the focus, with all the people trying to do better, it should have improved, and yet it got much worse, because people defaulted to the to the technology to do the job. And again, the technology should be selected. And it should do what needs to be done to remove the tedious repetitive work. So you can respond to candidates faster. Yeah.


And I appreciate that. One of the things that I work with in from a coaching standpoint is that your brand imprint that you’re making a candidates who are saying that they want to work with you can either be really good or really bad. And you get to choose, you know which way which way it is. So I would agree that resent that makes a lot of sense, actually, that.


And that actually got and even within this, we started the conversation with adaptability. HR needs to be adaptable. And traditionally, it has not been they’ve been sort of compliance administrative people box checkers, trying to hold the fort down, not not allowing the company to get in trouble and get sued. That’s true. That’s still the role. But they, but HR needs to really be much more adaptable. And basically, it’s an opportunity to be leaders and lead the way and teach people how to be adaptable.


Alright, it has been such a pleasure to have this conversation. I definitely would want to ask you if our listeners wanted to follow you where where’s the best platform for them to check you out at


I’m most active on LinkedIn, and then directly Twitter from that. But most conversations they have most connections those are the easiest way. For me personally. website success performance solutions. personal website but LinkedIn is where most of my communication goes on. And then I’d also like to offer for anybody who’s interested, you can go to That was an award I got for so from book authority they selected as one of the best HR and recruiting books of all time. But if you go to best, you can actually order the book for free. The only charges few dollars for shipping. So you can get recruiting in age of globalization. As I said the first half of the book has nothing It was just about changing. The last half of the book is what recruiting is going to look like in the next normal.


Fantastic. Well, the there’s a couple of big takeaways for me from our conversation today. But I’m going to have to look around where I can start to unlearn things that are no longer helping me. So Alright, thank you so much for your time. It has been a pleasure.


It has been a pleasure. Thank you very much. Stay safe everyone. Thank you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

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