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How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Mike Fitzsimmons of Crosschq

It is important to make sure we are enabling people to achieve their best and reach for their goals, to get out of the dugout.


SAN FRANCISCO, March 19, 2020  –
As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Mike Fitzsimmons.

Born out of his frustration with bad hires, Mike Fitzsimmons co-founded Crosschq to pioneer a new category for talent acquisition that harnesses the power of people to help companies better source, match and retain the best people. With a mission to build better businesses, Crosschq takes a talent-first approach that prioritizes trust and transparency, minimizes bias, and protects privacy. Prior to Crosschq, Mike founded and was CEO at Connekt, Inc., and Delivery Agent. His corporate business expertise has made him a thought-leader and sought-after expert for CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, New York Times and Forbes. Mike has partnered with top companies like Comcast, CBS, Fox, Disney, HBO, Sony, Amazon, LG, and PayPal. He has received multiple awards, including Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Media Company, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 Silicon Valley.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

My co-founder Pete Goettner and I have created or invested in more than a dozen companies over the span of our careers. Because we are often at the commencement of a business, we have had the opportunity to observe and experience first-hand how challenging it is to make quality hires. With a lack of sufficient tools available that really help with this problem, we saw this as a huge opportunity for disruption.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

I have always considered myself a great communicator and really prided myself on this particular skill. As it turns out, based on the results of using my own product, I am lacking in the communication department!

It is really fascinating to see, in real-time, how the people I’ve worked so closely with over the last several years view my strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares to my own self-assessment. I have a self-awareness gap that I need to work on. However, there is enormous value out of being able to objectively view my teams’ feedback in a way that encompasses their human insights without bias or opinion, and this will help me become a better leader.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

Right now, we are piloting a “Talent Scientist” program. We work proactively on behalf of candidates that opt into our network and help match them with partner companies. The Talent Scientist is analogous to a concierge, matching people with the best jobs at the best companies.

This program utilizes machine learning and technology, but the most important element is the power of human connection. We want to make sure that human intelligence is at the forefront of everything we do.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

  1. Using Crosschq. We are confident that our platform makes it easy for companies to find and retain the best talent, and our customers have had incredible results, including reducing the amount of time it takes to reference check employees: from weeks to 2–3 days.
  2. It’s important that companies clearly define the position, responsibilities, skills required, as well as outline the company culture, in the job description so potential applicants know if they are a fit from the get-go.
  3. Use data and human intelligence to find the best match for the job — this is where the magic happens. Traditional tools (LinkedIn, Networking, Internal Referrals) only get you so far in understanding the person’s skills and fit. By using data supplied by people who know the candidate — their references — you are 2x more likely to match a candidate to a job than by information supplied by the candidate themselves.
  4. Once you get to the interview process, it’s important to be thoughtful when asking questions and take the time to listen to what the candidate has to say. Hiring is a two-way street and it’s just as important for the company to determine fit as it is for the candidate.
  5. I believe that a combination of the above techniques will produce winning results. Companies will save time and money by decreasing the number of interviews conducted, shortening the time to hire and reducing employee turnover by 50%.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. A thoughtful LinkedIn content strategy and Glassdoor presence are critical as it helps candidates to understand who you are as a company, the business’s mission and vision, and insight into the company culture. Job seekers are resourceful and engaged and will be taking advantage of these tools to garner a better understanding of the company before they send in their resume. We have had an uptick in inbound applications recently, and I asked each candidate why they are interested in us. The overwhelming response is that they have been following us online and want to be a part of what we are doing, which is thrilling to hear.
  2. Do great work. I cannot emphasize this enough. We live in a world where people want to change the world and make an impact. At Crosschq, we make sure our cause-based initiatives are front and center, like our work with 70 Million Jobs. When you work for us, it’s not just signing up for a paycheck — you are a part of a greater mission.
  3. Build a great culture. I know this is cliché to say, but creating an environment where people want to work (not for the perks or snacks or foosball tables), building an authentic culture where people are seen and heard, and their contributions are recognized, goes a long way in attracting top talent.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

  1. We make sure that we are giving space to our team to do the work they want to do, that we have given them the freedom to excel day-to-day. We challenge them positively and encourage them to push themselves to do their best work, which is easy to do when they truly love what they are doing. At the end of the day, we want them to do work that supports their goals and future career path.
  2. I firmly believe in radical candor in celebrating achievements, especially as it relates to reinforcing our company’s values. We regularly do this via our team Slack channel, making sure successes are called out and shared throughout our distributed team.
  3. Most importantly, do great work as a company. There are so many job opportunities available that you have to walk the walk, not just talk to talk, to retain a great team.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

It’s important to keep up with trends in any discipline. For the HR industry, I believe implementing technology, in an effective way, is critical for streamlining workflow, removing bias in the hiring process and ultimately securing the best talent for the betterment of the company.

What are some creative ways to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

As a start-up, we can’t always compete with more established companies when it comes to perks and compensation. We’ve found a few things effective:

  1. Using Slack to celebrate success and acknowledge great work. Employees feel their contributions are valued and recognized.
  2. Providing equity and stock options.
  3. Offering flexibility with schedules and remote work options so employees can have a work-life balance, not just be told they can have it.
  4. Promoting job embeddedness, which is the collection of forces that increase loyalty and retention. We do this through organization-sponsored community activities and honoring personal and family community commitments.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Fair chance hiring. There is so much bias in hiring today, and quite frankly it sidelines a lot of truly great talent because of their past. We want to help drive this movement; we want to help the formerly incarcerated, minorities, people coming back to the workforce after a long absence, and veterans find great jobs that they love. Fair chance hiring has a positive impact on income inequality, opportunities, education, and it truly will make the world a better place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

My one go-to quote is “You can’t get a hit from the dugout.” I really feel this is relevant to everyone because if you don’t try, you won’t achieve it. It inspires action and reminds us that the world is not going to come to us. It is important to make sure we are enabling people to achieve their best and reach for their goals, to get out of the dugout.

We are blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

There are so many people that I would love to meet and get a better understanding of their approach to life, business, entrepreneurship, or just what made them make the decisions they made. However, if I could pick just one, I would want to sit down with George Washington. He is truly the ultimate entrepreneur and warrior. I am fascinated with how, in a world that that was constantly in flux and upheaval, he had the confidence to make the decisions he did and with such poise and grace.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!


About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-ft 3x Entrepreneur — now giving you the same Fortune 500 SEO / PPC / SMM Specialists used to scale some of the largest companies in the world (without the same overhead). Apply to leverage Spacetwin today to rescue more clients (and talent) from your competitors tomorrow. Connect with Kage on Linkedin to strengthen your network anytime.