Travis Kessel is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at Jet, acquired by Walmart ECommerce. His initial job as an accountant motivated him to move from Virginia to Chicago, where he landed his first recruiting job. Shortly after, he confidently opened his own staffing agency only to be shut down two months later by the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. After one more short stint as a recruiter at another agency, Travis became the Vice President of recruiting at Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm. At Edelman, Travis learned a new side of recruiting and started to place companies with candidates that paralleled their brand. Craving a tech focused company, Travis left Edelman to work at Jet, which was previously acquired by Walmart E-commerce. As The Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, Travis focuses on the systems of the hiring process and the future of acquisition as it meets advancements in artificial intelligence.
Today’s guest is Travis Kessel, the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at Jet, owned by Walmart E-commerce. Travis connects candidates with the right job, spending his days building new companies or extending branches of established corporations. As a talent acquisitions expert, he has used marketing and psychology to become one of the best recruiters in his field.In this episode, Travis explains the do’s and don’ts of applying for a job, how to get noticed amongst hundreds of other applicants and the new technology that is automating the recruiting process.
This is the Lean Commerce Podcast.
What is the process you look at for e-commerce talent acquisition?
1:00 The process is similar to how we move people through to hire, such as collecting resumes, assessing them, phone screens, outside vendor tests and then an offer.
1:58 Artificial intelligence is creating a streamlined process that allows us to bring on new talent and Travis is looking forward to the future of AI in talent acquisition.
What kinds of roles do you usually recruit for?
2:33 My team is broken into three main areas: category management (retail),technology, and business/customer care (supply chain, marketing, customer care, high level positions).
3:36 My favorite part of my job as a talent recruiter is the variation in my responsibility,where one day I am building a company from nothing and the next I am scaling part of the world’s largest company.
5:11 One of the largest challenges in hiring is that a director at one company has a different role than a director at another company which means hiring for each position involve two totally different people.How has your career brought you to this point?
6:20 I started in accounting, and admittedly was terrible at it. I found myself in Chicago where I started as a recruiter and then started my own staffing industry two months prior to the Lehman Brothers collapsed. This forced me to work for another recruiting company where I was later laid off.
9:27 I moved to Vice President of Recruiting at Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, where I first started to understand branding as it is related to talent acquisition.
10:15 I decided to move from Edelman to Jet, where I wanted a company involved intech, scaled quickly and had the opportunity for him to put a mark on the company in a unique way.
What is currently happening in the top of funnel resume attraction space?
17:33 We have a big focus on building our brand in a way that it seems you can only do when you are face to face with somebody. We’ve found that our story resonate best when other people tell it, so I look at interesting acquisitions to bring people into our funnel and have them apply.
18:40 One time we built out an RV with technology on it that was true to Jet, placed it in a college campus and then let people experience the brand through interacting with it through VR, etc.
How will AI be used in top of funnel resume screening?
22:45 I think it’s the future of recruiting because AI can learn what a recruiter wants to look at and then can take over that job. LinkedIN is currently doing this, pulling candidates that are most likely to resonate with a recruiter to the top of the funnel after the recruiter has interacted with several profiles.
24:35 In turn, the recruiter has more facetime with the business and can move away from the administrative tasks that don’t move the needle. The candidate experience becomes better because the recruiter knows where to go to nurture relationships and put the company’s best foot forward.
How do you get noticed amongst other candidates?
26:50 I think there is a lot of value to reaching out to other people working in that business and building those relationships, even if they aren’t in the job you would like.Try to approach the business in a smart and tactful way, such as making strategic introductions.
What tips do you have for somebody aspiring to be a recruiter?
31:12 Focus on marketing and psychology, because those two things combined are what a great recruiter does well. Be interested in the creative side and in having long term relationship with your clients.
Have you seen anything interesting happening for inbound marketing for candidates?
34:48 The traditional career page and what that looks like to our prospects is extremely important. It’s important to show people that they want to work with you, they understand what that would imply and that it’s easy to go through your application process.
35:55 The search is very important as well because most people are Googling jobs based on title and location, so you want to make sure to SEO test your jobs to make sure you’re one of the first jobs that appear.
Should you be able to use mobile to apply to a job?
38:19 With any career page, you have to be able to pull it up on mobile. You have to be able to view and place an application through mobile, and that experience is mandatory.
Do’s and Don’ts for applications:
39:20 DO proofread your resume, DON’T go too far into the personal aspect of your life(don’t lead with your hobbies), DO make it one full page (not over), DO have an appropriate email address, DO clean up your social profiles
Resources mentioned in the Podcast: