7. March 2023

The Tomorrow’s People HR Podcast: Episode 1 with Hung Lee

Podcast with Hung Lee

We’re super excited to be kicking off an entirely new HR podcast series, entitled “Tomorrow’s People” – powered by Personio. In it, our host Perry Timms and an esteemed guest talk about the latest in the world of work and what lies ahead. 

With a new episode every week, it’s a fascinating look into the evolution of the people profession. To give you an idea of what to expect, we wanted to take a moment and profile each episode with some insights we found particularly interesting.

Alternatively, skip to the chase and listen to the first episode of Tomorrow’s People here.

Episode 1: Hung Lee, Recruiting Brainfood 

Hung Lee is a household name in the world of UK recruitment. As the mastermind behind the weekly newsletter Recruiting Brainfood, he heads up one of the most impactful industry newsletters for the talent business. 

Naturally, we had to have a chat with him! In this first episode, Perry and Hung dive deep into the world of talent, what goes into building a community like Recruiting Brainfood and the exciting future they see on the horizon for candidates and companies. 

When it comes to our top-line takeaways, here is what we found most interesting… 

Takeaway #1: We Need to Craft a Talent Ecosystem 

Hung Lee’s journey in developing Recruiting Brainfood is nothing short of amazing. He took a humble weekly newsletter and transformed it into a machine that the entire industry eagerly awaits each week. It took patience and a great deal of commitment. 

For Hung, though, he has always viewed it like an ecosystem rather than any sort of standalone, static item. In his own words: “Create mental stimulation, encourage the community, the recruiting and TA community, get them inspired. They've got important jobs to do. We've got important jobs to do. But it's a hard job. It can be a very, very tough job. Mentally difficult. So, I see my job now is basically supporting an ecosystem”. 

Especially important for Hung (and the entire industry) is to also reach outside of the typical corners of the industry. In fact, he suggests going beyond them: “There’s a lot of problems out there that other industries or disciplines have got an idea, solution or framework for and it could easily be transposed and applied to what we do at TA”. 

In that sense, Recruiting Brainfood, in Hung’s estimation, is an ecosystem for professionals that happens within the industry of talent, but borrows heavily from all corners of global industry – but the final key is maintaining a safe space for conversations to happen. 

“The responsibility for me is not to avoid tough conversations but to kind of create a space where that can happen in a safe context. Because if we don't have the conversation in a safe space, somebody else is going to have it in an unsafe space”, explains Hung. 

Takeaway #2: The Current Market Has Many Angles

All that considered, where does Hung currently see the market for talent, as someone who has eyes across the industry? 

As he puts it: “We marched into 2022 as recruiters feeling: ‘Wow, it's going to be a big growth year’... Boom! We have conflict in Ukraine. We have a very significant backlash in terms of sanctions...  Suddenly that saps the energy and the optimism out of this growth vision. Now we're in a situation of high inflation. We've got a lot of high-profile tech layoffs, a lot of VCs starting to pull back and be defensive. And that looks difficult”. 

But, is it all doom and gloom? The market for talent has certainly been hit hard, but as Hung explains: “We may be over-indexing some of these high-profile cases, which at the end of the day don't actually constitute a large number of the roles that are employed…A lot of the layoffs have happened in tech companies, but in terms of the numbers of people employed is actually quite a small number. I think recruiting is still going on in a growth phase for a lot of other segments in the industry”. 

Of course, there is no crystal ball for predicting the future. But, Hung’s major point is to look at the market for talent professionals from multiple angles. As someone who has eyes almost everywhere, the reality is often somewhere between the lines. 

Takeaway #3: Candidate Behaviour is Changing

Digging deeper, Hung offers a very sobering insight into the current state of candidate behaviour: “There's no question that candidate or job seeker behaviour has massively changed over the last couple of years. We've got elevated candidate expectations now, along with a sort of disaffection with loyalty to employers”. 

That’s a very tricky mix, and employers have reacted in very interesting ways. One of which, as Hung identifies, is removing the idea of assessments during the interview process (which is something we similarly discovered here at Personio, as well).

Hung explains: “Certain companies have entirely abandoned the idea of doing any assessment. They've basically accepted that assessments are fundamentally flawed and you can never actually accurately figure out whether this person's going to be good at the job. This is because the job is going to be performed in context and the context can't be replicated by some sort of exercise. So, if you want the job, there’s the job. It’s called open hiring”. 

This is part of a wider trend around how effective interviews are at present, and how effective they can be in the future. In this episode, Perry and Hung discuss

 interview bias, interview intelligence and interview analytics. 

Hung highlights: “I think there's still a lot of recruiters that are very resistant or hostile to technology because they see it as a threat. To some degree, that perception is not inaccurate, because there'll be less recruiting resources required. But at the same time you can imagine that the work will get better because the tooling is going to help you to have better outcomes”. 

Parting Thought: Don’t Underestimate The Value of Your Network 

Hung discusses own journey building Recruiting Brainfood and reinforces the value of each recruiting creating a talent ecosystem: “It’s essential that people really focus on their own network value. I think too many people are trying to solve [their problems] all by themselves. Guess what? If you’ve got a massive network that can help you solve these problems, it’s actually going to be super valuable for you… Can you build a network that can help you get that new skill when you need it?” 

Ultimately, everything starts with people. In the world of HR, that starts with the professionals themselves who are solving problems, helping their candidates or employees and building their own network every single day. 

Tune In: Tomorrow’s People, Powered by Personio 

Want to tune in to hear from Perry and Hung? You can catch the first episode, and every one coming up on Tomorrow’s People by clicking this link or by watching the video podcast. You can also find it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and Google. Happy listening! 

Listen to Tomorrow's People

The HR podcast by Personio