TalentFleX Solutions helps companies in the Mid-Atlantic States bring in the right people for Information Technology, Data Science & Analytics, Finance & Accounting, and Human Resources. 

Matt Sullivan, President Co-Founder shares specifics about : 

  • Their quality in the process that yields better candidates 
  •  How they provide more accurate candidate information to provide better outcomes for everyone involved  
  • Their respect and empathy for candidates that gives them an edge in recruiting top talent 

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The Transcript

   Brad Wolff: 00:00            

Welcome to the “It Is About You Show”. Today I’m honored to have as my guest, Matt Sullivan with “TalentFleX Solutions”. Matt, welcome to the show!

Matt Sullivan: 00:26       

Brad, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here!

New Speaker: 00:30       

Absolutely! Now if you would, share a little bit about yourself and your organization “TalentFleX Solutions”.

Matt Sullivan: 00:37       

Certainly! So TalentFlex is basically in its 4th year of Inception. We focus on providing Business and Technology Consulting Services to the Mid Atlantic Market. I basically have “4 Key Pillars of Service”. We provide Solutions and Resources in the area of Human Resources, Finance and Accounting, Information Technology and Data Analytics. A lot of the work that we do is providing Project Professionals to our customers, but we also supply Direct Hire Resources on “as needed basis”.

Brad Wolff: 01:11            

Okay, terrific! Now tell me about a little bit about your journey that brought you to where you are today in the Staffing and Recruiting Business. It’s been a very interesting journey.

Matt Sullivan: 01:23       

Yeah! That’s a good question, Brad. So I started out graduating college in the mid-90s in Advertising and spent some time up in New York working in the business side of Advertising that led me to relocating back into the Philadelphia area to do Advertising Sales. And by happenstance, I was selling to a large Multinational Staffing from some Advertising Google. We’re doing the Online Career Sessions, It was when the career section was really blowing up for Online Job Postings. And I was actually had the tables turned and they were interested in me as a Salesperson. I had started with Robert Half and now some 22 years later, I have pretty much sold Staffing and Professional Services in the Tri-State Five State Area to Start-up Companies, Mid-Cap, Large Enterprise, EMS, MSP Direct.

Matt Sullivan: 02:23       

So ultimately what ended up happening is about 4 years ago, I had reached what I felt was the highest level I could go with my previous firm and was looking for an opportunity to create something of my own. I then had an opportunity to partner up with my business partner. His name is Rick De Mariano, and he and I created TalentFlex with an eye towards providing Great Service Quality Candidates with building a long-term relationship with both our Customers and our Candidates.

Brad Wolff: 02:55            

Terrific! Now Matt, tell me a little bit about what excites you the most about your organization and what you provide to your clients?

Matt Sullivan: 03:03       

So when I find right now is being that we have the ability to kind of make what we want out of this organization. We’ve really tried to develop a relationship and a communication path with our clients that we’re there as a trusted advisor.

Matt Sullivan: 03:21       

So our goal was to help them fill the needs that they have that are open immediately, right? Whatever that job may be, could be in one of those “4 Pillars” that I mentioned. But ultimately the goal is to help educate them on what the market is bearing, what challenges there are in Talent Acquisition. So being able to do provide a consulting service when it comes to the actual doing of Talent Acquisition. Obviously when we were able to place a person that excites us because we feel like we’ve, taken the process all the way straight through to a successful completion.

Brad Wolff: 03:52            

So I want to highlight a little bit about what you just said about consultative approach rather than just taking an order. Can you expand a little bit on what that offers to your clients?

Matt Sullivan: 04:03       

Absolutely! I think what it does is it enables us to sort of identify what’s important to them and then be able to match what the market’s bearing to what those needs, wants and desires are.

Matt Sullivan: 04:15       

So on both sides of the equation, for both the candidate and the client, we all have needs, wants and desires. And those three areas really come in to the equation of making a decision. So when we’re hiring for a specific position, we’ll ask the customer, tell us everything that you want. And then we have to go through that Laundry List to say, okay, this is what’s feasible and here’s what the market’s bearing. And then also be able to bring intelligence to them that is focused on what the salary levels may be. Or what the certifications may be for specific individuals. So we’re trying to go ahead and give them the full 360 degrees view of what that Talent Acquisition Responsibility is, and then get and set the expectation that if we can bring a certain level of solution to them, that they’ll feel satisfied with it rather.

Brad Wolff: 05:06            

So if I’m understanding it simply wants a unicorn and basically help them understand that you can help them find a really good horse, but it may not come with a horn. And on the front of it’s between his eyes.

Matt Sullivan: 05:19       

We’ll do the very best we can to get them that horn with a unicorn. But ultimately, I think what it comes down to is, we see a lot of times that organizations are trying to do more with less. I mean, even in a great economy like this, we’re always trying to maximize efficiencies and sometimes jobs get pushed together when really they are more than one resource would do that job. So we have to work with our customer and understand what’s important to get the job done today in the candidate that they’re looking for. And highlight what is in the market. Bring that together, match it up, but also have realistic discussion, dialogue around what they’re accepting and what they’ll have flexibility on because those positions sometimes have 90 bullet points. Not everybody fits that role.

Brad Wolff: 06:07            

You think?

Matt Sullivan: 06:10       

You’ve been there,

Brad Wolff: 06:11            

I haven’t figured out a way to manufacture candidates yet when you can do that, that’ll be another story. But that’s another conversation at another time, I suppose.

Matt Sullivan: 06:18       

For sure.

Brad Wolff: 06:19            

So a little bit in terms of the “Keys” to your Organization’s Success and Staffing and Recruiting, what would you say is the first thing that comes to mind that really differentiates what you bring?

Matt Sullivan: 06:31       

I think that’s a great question and I would say wholeheartedly it’s our “Focus on Quality”. We believe that you can’t start a process without having mapped out exactly what that process looks like if it has a quality driven view behind it. So ultimately what we decide is that we’re not just going to take any search on. We want to be able to be successful for our customers. And we have picked those “4 Pillars” very because we have Demonstrated Success Delivering Resources in HR, Finance and Accounting, I.T. And Analytics. But our “Focus on Quality” not only starts on just, you know, what the candidates quality is, but our process as well. So what we’ve done is we’ve defined roles within our organization. We have Sourcing, we have Recruitment, we have Account Management, we also have Business Development Representatives. They each have a very specific duty in the equation.

Matt Sullivan: 07:24       

And then from that point forward, we’ve mapped out what our workflows are. So when we take on a New Search, it’s not as though we’re “Recreating the Wheel”. We’ve actually set up a process that allows us to take a New Search on quickly provide that Direct Open Communication to our customer about what they can expect from us getting Expectation and Accountability back from the customer. So that when we provide them Information or Resumes, we know exactly what their process is so that we can set Expectations with our Candidates. And then then managing that process, almost like a concierge where we take all the responsibility of Setting Up Interviews Transferring References, Doing Background Checks. We want to make it easy for our customer and our candidate to do business with us. So we hand hold, I kind of make the equation or give the example, we’re taking the hand of the customer and our right hand, the hand of the candidate in the left hand, and we’re all walking across the trust bridge at the same time so that when we get to the other side, they feel like they have every expectation that was prescribed to them.

Matt Sullivan: 08:31       

And there’s no surprises at the end. So when a candidate likes a job and a customer likes a candidate, they can actually make that match happen.

Brad Wolff: 08:38            

So based on what you’ve seen in your clients have seen, what is the end result difference with your approach versus what they would find with the average typical recruiter?

Matt Sullivan: 08:50       

So I would like to use the “Analogy of a Sniper” versus “The Shotgun Approach”. So a lot of firms and this is not to be critical of other firms, It’s just different than how we operate. But a lot of firms will send multiple resumes, you know, plus 10, plus 20, depending on the type of role. We really like to whittle that back and add, the first approach is to send no more than 5 resumes of highly qualified pre-vetted and basically pre-closed on the idea of the position, their geography, the financials that are around it, either hourly rate or annual salary, the level of the role, any type of a bonus or benefits information. So by the time the customer in the Kennedy had actually speak, they all have a pretty good idea of what they should expect from that conversation. And it basically increases our close ratio because we’ve taken the time ahead of them connecting to make sure everybody has an idea of what to expect.

Brad Wolff: 09:54            

So it sounds like you don’t think most clients want to interview as many people as possible is what it sounds like.

Matt Sullivan: 10:00       

With those things they have the time.

Brad Wolff: 10:02            

I’d rather have the energy to fit and not, they’re not paying you to buy. The more interviews they get to do the better job you did.

Matt Sullivan: 10:08       

Well, if they paid me by the interview, I would probably do “The Shotgun Approach”.

Brad Wolff: 10:11            

There might be 30 resumes minimum.

Matt Sullivan: 10:15       

Well, and I think Brad, it comes down to this. So I’ve been in the business plus 20 years. I failed a lot to learn how to be successful and what I tried to do and when working with new employees in our organization is give them the flexibility. Here’s the framework that I know works, I would like you to adopt that, but you have to also test it out and see what works for you. We’re not robots so everybody gets a chance to be able to fail and succeed within that model. But the framework allows them a higher percentage chance to be successful if they follow through with the open honest communication on both parts.

Brad Wolff: 10:53            

And I think I want to highlight what you said there about that you’ve learned from failure and you’re not afraid to be honest and admit that the failures, things not working the way that you wanted, but the biggest teaching opportunities and that you’re willing to be real. That it is a process of learning through experience rather than you get stamped with this perfect process that will always work,

Matt Sullivan: 11:19       

Right? So as you know, Brad having run a staffing firm yourself they’re not widgets, they’re not robots, they’re not assets, they’re people. And we have a very unique industry that we work in that we’re only successful when two other parties have decided to make it a joint decision where if you’re a copier salesman or software salesman, you usually are selling a product to a solution. And maybe you have three competitors. Customer does a bake off, they like one or two and then they have to make a decision here. We have a product, if you will, if I could use that loosely, that gets to make its own mind up whenever it wants to. I’m engaged, I’m not engaged, I’m interested, I’m not interested. So it’s key upon our recruiting staff to be able to have a clear message, set expectations, listen and understand those needs, wants and desires that the candidate has. And then on the flip side, when we have our marketing and business development folks, they need to be able to have those same dialogues with the customer. Understanding again, it needs, wants and desires. We all make decisions regardless if it’s personal or a business professional with emotion. And so understanding what that emotion is and what drives those levers to be pulled or those buttons to be pushed helps us better understand how to make that connection with another individual so that our customer and our candidate find that right connection.

Brad Wolff: 12:48            

And that’s an excellent point. So you were talking about the dedication to open communication and you relating it to everyone in the equation, the candidate, the client, and you is able to talk openly and honestly is basically what I’m hearing in the importance. Because if people aren’t sharing openly and honestly, then there’s a separate agenda and that’s where real problems happen because you weren’t providing real accurate information because it was filtered through a what to get a particular result rather than what’s right, real and honest.

Matt Sullivan: 13:25       

Well, I mean we’re really only afforded what people show us. So you know, as a candidate interaction, that user experience for the candidate, it is a short term time-frame that we get to work with the candidate. Could be up to a month from the first introductory call to actually getting an offer. With a client, you probably are, if you’re successful, you’re working with them on a more, a longer term basis where it could be for a couple of years, but each interaction you’re getting a little bit more information understanding a little bit more about what is important in their decision making process. So I feel that it’s the responsibility of the firm, the recruiter or the business developer to be the champion of open and honest communication. Test the waters, ask people, do you really believe that? Is this really what you’re looking for?

Matt Sullivan: 14:14       

I asked my recruiters to always, you know, ask a question second time just so that if you hear a different answer, then that’s when we pause and say, I feel like maybe this isn’t the right opportunity for you because this is what I’m hearing. Please help me understand. Then not a lot of recruiters are doing that. They’re basically checking boxes. They have to hit a certain number of candidates. They have to have a certain number of submits. And what ends up happening in that situation is a lot of whitewash. I heard a little bit about that person saying they may not want to do a angular development or you know, work in Java shop, but you know they’ve done Java. Okay, let’s it and see what happens. I really frowned upon that. That’s a waste of time. That’s a waste of effort because if we know upfront that the person’s not a good fit, then let’s be open and honest.

Matt Sullivan: 15:01       

Let’s tell them this isn’t the right opportunity for you, but we’re in the business of finding that right opportunity. Let me learn about what you’re really looking for so that can bring high qualified opportunities that you’ll truly be interested in. And I think when you talk to a candidate after they’ve had a chance to work with TalentFlex, they’ll tell you whether we place them or not. It was an open, honest approach. They felt like they knew what was going along on all the way through the process and whether the result was positive or not, they would recommend us.

Brad Wolff: 15:32            

And that’s a, that’s a big deal. I know from my experience in the recruiting industry is that the candidates are very clear whether you’re just wanting to play some and get a fee or whether you’re really working with them, still a tape them getting the right opportunity and that makes a huge difference in your ability to get referrals and attract the right candidates for your clients.

Matt Sullivan: 15:53       

Absolutely! And I think just having the dedication to being able to speak to people when you don’t have the right opportunity, keep that dialogue going. Return phone calls, treat them as you would treat people that you know personally because you’re trying to build that personal relationship. We’re very fortunate that on a contractor basis we’ve placed several contractors time and time again over the last four years. And then from direct hire, we’ve been fortunate that if we place somebody and they’ve then moved into a decision making role, they feel comfortable coming back to us because they know we’ll represent good quality talent to them that’ll match what they’re looking for.

Brad Wolff: 16:30            

Right! How you treated them when they were a candidate is going to be indicative of what you do when you’re helping them find people.

Matt Sullivan: 16:36       

For sure!

Brad Wolff: 16:37            

I’ve been to a different company.

Matt Sullivan: 16:38       

It goes back to the golden rule, right?

Matt Sullivan: 16:40       

Treat people like you’d like to be treated.

Brad Wolff: 16:42            

So Matt, those are two really key points with your quality process and your dedication to open communications. Is there anything else that you do that you really feel like gives your firm an edge?

Matt Sullivan: 16:53       

I do, and I think it falls a little bit on with the open communication, which is to be to provide empathy, be empathetic to both the client and the candidate. I would say specifically to the candidate because taking on a new role, whether it’s a career move or it’s a new consulting engagement is considered a life event. So knowing that, making that decision, there’s so much more that goes beyond it rather than, I just liked that job where I need a job. It really comes down to all the impact that it has on the individual’s personal life as well as being able to start something new. So when we’re talking to our candidates, we really want to be able to identify with them that it is a change and we’re here to support you through that change. And we want to make sure that it’s the right fit for you because there’s nothing worse than somebody starting in a role and then in a short period of time and not being very fit. So we really are looking to make sure that we have a better of what their drivers are and getting men to the right situation.

Brad Wolff: 17:54            

Yeah! And that really not only is a huge differentiator in your ability to attract the right candidates because of your reputation, but frankly it translates into your clients getting better quality and knowing they can trust you because the candidates are not being pushed. And then, you know, they reject the offer, they back out and take, accept a counter offer because they really didn’t want the job anyway to have, you know, like the client believed.

Matt Sullivan: 18:25       

Right! And so again, I’ll go back to that. It’s we put the responsibility on ourselves to be able to keep checking and making sure I hate to use the old sales term, but always be closing. I mean, we are really checking with the candidate on a regular basis throughout the process. Has anything changed in your thought process around this position? Is there an outstanding question or any information that you don’t have that would be important to making the decision? It’s easy for a recruiter to just take somebody at their face value to say, “Oh yeah, I liked the job, I’d like to start”. But there’s so many more pieces to that decision making process from the individual standpoint that we want to be involved in at least understanding any type of yellow flag on their part and be able to work through it if we can. And if we can’t, there’s a graceful way to bow out of the process that, you know, shows respect to both parties and also keeps a, a graceful exit for the candidate.

Brad Wolff: 19:21            

Right! And everyone involved with members, how they, the level of respect and honesty that they were dealt with. That remains in the memory. Even if the job, they didn’t take the job or took the job, it doesn’t matter if they still remember that,

Matt Sullivan: 19:33       

Right! They want to it. I mean, we want it to be a good experience. I’d love Brad for every job to close and be a fill. But we’re, you know, obviously in our business, in any sales organization, it is a numbers game. You’ve gotta be able to have enough opportunity, enough in our world, enough candidates that can match the different opportunities. So just by the law of numbers, you’re not going to fill every job, but you don’t want people to walk away from the process feeling like, because they didn’t make that decision that now all of a sudden we feel like they’re the bad guy,

Brad Wolff: 20:04            

Right! Because you want you, if they’re a good candidate, you want to continue working with them when they are looking again.

Matt Sullivan: 20:09       

Well, I go back to the old statistics that say if you please one customer, you’re lucky if they’ll refer you to another. If you are not successful with one customer, you can guarantee they’ll tell 10 other people they didn’t have a good experience.

Brad Wolff: 20:28            

Boy is that true! That is sure true. So Matt, we’ve talked about some of the key differentiators with “TalentFleX Solutions”. I was wondering what things make you a particularly good place to work for people that want to go into recruiting and be an employee?

Matt Sullivan: 20:47       

That’s a great question! I appreciate you asking that. So we’re an Entrepreneurial Environment. So we’re looking for individuals that really have a drive towards their own success, but being part of a larger team that has you know, respect for each other, respect for the process as well as fun. We try to keep it lighthearted and enjoying what we do. We celebrate victories. We’re not a firm that eats up people emotionally if they don’t have a successful and to a deal or if they don’t have a great run for a week or a month or a quarter. What we’re looking for is to build individuals that not only add value to the process, but also are starting to create and carve out a career path for themselves. We don’t pigeonhole our staff into one specific role. If an individual wants to move from say, sourcing to recruiting or recruiting to business development there’s an opportunity for them to make that approach.

Matt Sullivan: 21:50       

It really comes down to what’s exciting them and giving them a chance to grow. We invest in our employees with a ton of training not only training on the job, but also training when it comes to specific subject matter. So for data analytics, which is a Growing Industry so Data Analytics, Data Science, Visualization we’re doing lunch and learns to, you know, increase the knowledge base so that when they talk to a candidate or talk to a customer, there’s a lot of understanding. And almost a feeling of walked a mile in their shoes before.

Brad Wolff: 22:23            

So those are I would imagine that your experiences working as an employee for recruiting firms has really helped you key in on what would make affirm a great place to work at?

Matt Sullivan: 22:36       

Yeah! I think staffing’s a hard business, right? It’s, it’s full with a good amount of the word no, just really is.

Brad Wolff: 22:46            

A lot of emotional ups and downs.

Matt Sullivan: 22:48       

And I think what we try to do is ensure that there’s a steady, calm approach from leadership so that people don’t feel as though, “Oh my God, if something went wrong”, I now have to feel someone’s wrath. I would rather there be a teaching moment or learning moment, an opportunity to say, okay, can I take what happened here and now put this tool in my tool bag so that when I hear or see this again, I can pull that tool out and say, I’ve experienced this. What can I do differently now than I did the last time to ensure that there is a successful path forward for everybody involved?

Brad Wolff: 23:23            

Absolutely! So this is some really helpful specific information that differentiates “TalentFlex Solutions” from my experience of what a typical staffing and recruiting firm would do. Is there anything, Matt, that you’d like to add that we haven’t discussed that would be helpful for the audience to about or hear about?

Matt Sullivan: 23:46       

I appreciate the opportunity. Yes. I think that what I love to say is that we enjoy what we do and, and I think that’s the most important thing. Life is too short to be stuck in an employment situation where you’re unhappy or, you know, there’s not a lot of energy and fun. So our organization is really focused on trying to meet our customers, right? Where their demand is, educate them on what the market can bring, be a good trusted advisor, but also have fun and, you know, make sure there’s a good living for everybody involved.

Brad Wolff: 24:20            

Right? So a triple win, not just a win win, but a triple win.

Matt Sullivan: 24:23       

Absolutely. Can’t be anything other than the triple win.

Brad Wolff: 24:26            

Absolutely. So Matt, any websites, books, or any other things that you’d like to share with the audience?

Matt Sullivan: 24:32       

So obviously our website is “TalentFleX Solutions” dot com. We are heavily involved in networking in the Mid Atlantic Area. We’re part of the “New Jersey Tech Council”. We’re part of the “Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technology”. We also are members of “The Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy”. We host events. We also are attending events. One of the things that we do in trying to really be part of the talent discussion in the Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia market is that we sponsor the Talent Connect. What is certain Executive Sessions for during the Philadelphia lines of Capital Technology focused on really retaining and growing the talent level in the Philadelphia market, Greater Philadelphia market.

Brad Wolff: 25:23            

There, yeah! Growing the good of quality people is so important because you can’t manufacture, it needs to be developed.

Matt Sullivan: 25:32       

Right! And we’ve been fortunate that over the last five years, there’s been a real uptick in the retention of recent college graduates out of Philadelphia schools staying within Philadelphia.

Matt Sullivan: 25:44       

And that’s obviously to a point, some of the people that live here locally that go to school, but also those that have come in from different areas and are now stay. So a real uptake in educated workers in the Philadelphia market that are recent college grads within 5 to 10.

Brad Wolff: 25:59            

That’s real helpful to know and encouraging for your area. So Matt, I want to thank you very much for taking the time and sharing with the audience key things about your organization and just being real.

Matt Sullivan: 26:13       

Thank you! I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and have this opportunity to tell you a little bit about our firm and the way that we operate.

Brad Wolff: 26:20            

Thanks Matt!

Matt Sullivan: 26:22       

All right! Have a great day!

 

 

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