#STRIVE19 Speaker Spotlight: James Ellis4 min read

April 23, 2019 Industry Insights

This is part of a series of speaker spotlights ahead of the 10th Annual Yello Conference, STRIVE 2019, on May 1-2, 2019.

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Name: James Ellis

Your current role/title: Consultant, Author, Podcaster, Speaker

Favorite book: The Pirate Inside by Adam Morgan, This Is Marketing by Seth Godin, The Business of Expertise by David C Baker, Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Favorite place you’ve traveled (or would like to): I actually hate traveling. I hate the stress. I hate being out of control. I hate worrying about missing connections, lost reservations or forgotten shoes. I hate being out of my daily process. I hate not knowing where the coffee is.

Fun fact about you people may not know: In elementary school, I started a rubber band chain that stretched more than a mile long. It made the local paper.

Tell us about your background and what led you to your current role.

I lost a bet? Or maybe I won it? Or maybe I was bitten by a radioactive recruiter years ago and found I had strange new powers….? Or maybe I’ve just always been a marketer, doing everything from helping software companies market themselves to new customers, building websites by hand in 1999, helping state governments tell better stories, introducing social media to non-profits, and just helping companies be more themselves. And then I got poached by a recruitment marketing agency and the rest is history.

If you had to pick one piece of advice to give to recruitment professionals, what would it be?

That InMail/posting/conversation/screener will not get someone to take the job. Deciding to change your life and accept a job offer is a process and you can’t skip the steps. The purpose of the InMail is to get someone to pay attention to the posting. The purpose of the posting is to get someone to consider researching a company. The purpose of the research is to help someone see themselves in the role. And so on and so forth. You can’t sell the whole thing on the first conversation. You have to feed them the stuff that moves them one step at a time down the trail.

What inspires you about your work?

Humans are deeply messy. And helping humans make better decisions about their lives (which is what a good recruiter does) is messier still. Helping and arming recruiters to tell the stories, to attract the right people, to build the right relationships with these messy people is a blast. To see that it doesn’t take a lot to see huge impacts in hiring, just minor tweaks to align messages and policies and actions, is why I get out of bed every morning.

What is a professional goal you STRIVE to achieve?

This year, I’m going to publish the book that finally explains employer brand properly to both recruiting pros and business pros. That should get me one step closer to my ultimate goal: being the Seth Godin of employer branding.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing talent acquisition?

Recruiting is not set up to succeed in the new world of talent. We are still asking recruiters to think transactionally: put the butt in the seat. The future is about building relationships. The future is about seeing and leveraging the entire company to find and grow talent. The future is connecting recruiting closer to the business and leadership and less to HR. The future is asking recruiters not to burn through more applications in an hour, but to do the things that actually attract those amazing talents.

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