How to Hire With Your Business Core Values with Alex McKeown at Fusion Recruiting Labs

Today, we talk about business core values. We talk about how to hire using your business core values. My guest today is Alex McKeown, CEO of Fusion Recruiting Labs. His company was ranked #223 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Alex shares the importance of business core values. He talks about how he uses those values to enhance culture. Your business core values are essential to the growth of your company.

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Alex McKeown: The Transcript

Target Audience: Alex McKeown is the CEO at FusionRL, Inc. Fusion RL builds employment tools that accelerate hiring processes and increase the efficiency of recruitment advertising campaigns for the fast-growing needs of Human Resources Departments.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Alex McKeown
I think we appreciate the recognition more so that our employees get to enjoy in it. It’s nice to be a part of an award winning company. It’s nice to be able to post on LinkedIn about you know where your company placed and what you’re doing in that and that you serve a really valuable purpose. That is the growth in employees that that matters more to us.

[00:00:21].870] – Intro
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs. The fastest growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammond. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

[00:00:44].510] – Gene Hammett
Business core values. You know how important it is to have the business core values that align with the people in the company through leadership through development through hiring. Everything is important when you understand what your core values actually do your business core values are the critical component behind you being able to align people when you’re not in the room. What decisions do they make. How do they handle certain situations that set some expectations. And if you have the right values you want to make sure they run throughout the entire organization. I talk about values all the time on this podcast to make sure that you understand that this is not just the same old thing over and over and over.

[00:01:28].280] – Gene Hammett
I want to take it to a deeper level with today’s episode. We’re going to talk about hiring with your business core values in mind. So how do you select the right people what are the right things you do. We’re gonna be talking with Alex McKeown. He is the co-founder of fusion RL And he’s got you know thousands of clients in the recruiting industry that he’s worked with but he also does this specifically for his company. They were number 223 on the Inc list over 50 employees that continue to grow fast and really enjoy this conversation. One of the best things about Alex is conversation is the detail we go to about how he uses core values in the hiring process which is all about today’s episode.

[00:02:12].710] – Commercial
Before we dive into the interview I wanted to remind you that you can actually get a tool that I’ve been working with clients with for the last couple of years. I’ve refined this tool that’s gone through several iterations now we have it completely automated. You can actually go online and fill out the leadership quiz to get the leadership quiz. Just go to That’s pretty easy right. what you would get when you do that you will answer a few questions you will see where you rate based on the core principles of fast growth companies. If you’re ready to grow your company or you want to see where you are then make sure you go to inside it you will get insight to where you are. Understand where you want to improve and you will get them mapped into the 10 areas that are most specific to fast growth companies. Again go to and you can get that right now. So here is the interview without Alex.

[00:03:08].500] – Gene Hammett
Hey Alex how are you?

[00:03:09].840] – Alex McKeown
Doing well. How are you doing?

[00:03:11].230] – Gene Hammett
I’m fantastic. Happy to have you here. Growth Think Tank and very little audience to a little bit about you at a personal level and about the growth of the company but I’d love for you to tell us about Fusion RL.

[00:03:22].640] – Alex McKeown
Sure Fusion Recruiting Labs is a startup and operates in what’s known as the H.R. tech space as technology for H.R. departments recruiting companies. So General was started with it with the mission of to humanize and simplify the hiring process. We do that through a variety of software and job advertising services that we offer and we really take a vertical approach with those with those services. So we focus on two very challenged industries transportation and healthcare. And so we build products that try to make it easier for candidates to find jobs and make it easier for recruiters to hire again.

[00:04:03].660] – Gene Hammett
Well that’s pretty simple. And two very different industries health care and transportation. Why do you pick those two.

[00:04:11].900] – Alex McKeown
They are the two most challenged industries in this country. If you look at we started in trucking almost five years ago. If you look at the average churn rate for truck drivers and the forecast that shortages for truck drivers in the US you’ll see a huge shortfall. I think forecasted the American Trucking Association predicts that we will have something like a hundred seventy five thousand less truck drivers than needed at current growth rates to move packages and goods across this country in the next five years. And everybody likes ordering their packages and goods and they like getting them in one to two days now which has been a big change over the past 10 years with the help of Amazon and some other e-commerce services.

[00:05:03].150] – Alex McKeown
And then beyond that health care is the next big issue right. We have huge generational shift coming our way and we’re forecasted to have huge shortages in health care professionals and especially nurses and similar nurse practitioners home health aides and doctors as well. And anybody within the health care industry I think nurses specifically which is where we spend most of our time currently right now there’s three point five million licensed nurses within this country. And I think it’s in 10 years that we’re forecasts that are maybe 15 years or we’re forecasted need about seven point two million of them. So we have a bunch of issues logistically to solve in terms of providing health care to our population in the next 10 to 20 years.

[00:05:59].150] – Gene Hammett
Well it’s good to know that you’re in the fast growing industry segments and that means that you’ve got a long runway for growth for your company. I know you’re probably impressed with the growth rate of two twenty three ranking on the Inc list this past year. What else are you proud of as it relates to the growth of your company.

[00:06:23].390] – Alex McKeown
You know the the the growth rate is really nice and we really appreciate the recognition. I think we appreciate the recognition more so that our employees get to enjoy it. It’s nice to be a part of an award winning company. It’s nice to be able to post on LinkedIn about you know where your company placed and what you’re doing and that serve a really valuable purpose. It’s the growth of employees that that matters more to us. We went from 17 employees to in 2017 to now about 50 employees and for us bringing on more people with big brains and big ideas that can contribute to the growth of the company is more important than recognition. But it’s again it’s good to get that recognition because it lets you know that what you’re doing is working and that you know everybody can be inspired to continue to build on that and you know make the list again next year and every year .Moving forward.

[00:07:26].500] – Gene Hammett
It is a big benefit to be proud of your company and it does help with that sense of that feeling of ownership which is part of your core values. We’re going to dive into those core values in a few minutes. Why are having core values important to your company and to the growth of the company.

[00:07:47].120] – Alex McKeown
I mean so when you’re in a startup and you’re you’re in a growth company on a regular basis you encounter a lot of challenges that you haven’t seen before. You’re in unchartered waters. So it might be myself who’s in a place I haven’t been before and I get presented with a problem or a challenge and I need to solve that. We have the company. It might be somebody who’s been with us for six months and might be somebody who’s been with us for 18 months. Those core values that they’re agreed upon and they’re understood they help that person competently navigate how to go about solving that problem.

[00:08:29].110] – Alex McKeown
And that really just enables consistency in how we act as a company and serve our various users whether they be clients whether it’s communicating with the prospect and or whether it’s trying to solve the needs of a candidate who’s working with one of our products. Again we just see so many problems that we haven’t seen before and we want to build processes into it but we’re not a 30 year old or generational company that has seen so many things and has a huge living book of this is how you react to this situation. We’re writing a lot of those things as we’re going along and trying to figure them out.

[00:09:03].670] – Alex McKeown
So having that shared core set of values really enables every employee to know that if they think of those things and act with those in mind they’ll be very consistent into how to handle the situation based on how anyone else in the company would. And then we can go and formalize a process from there and and continue to make it work better for all parties involved.

[00:09:26].120] – Gene Hammett
Now I am kind of curious where did you learn this. Was it something that you had learned from other work or something that you have run from from other experiences to put such an emphasis on core values.

[00:09:39].980] – Alex McKeown
I’ve only ever worked in startups except for my very first job in sales which was short lived. So I’ve only ever worked in startups and so it’s it’s just I’ve been very fortunate to work at it at a couple of really good startups that had really good leadership and knew that you were gonna deal with a lot of chaos. So you just needed to put some structure around the best way to make decisions that deal with the chaos because otherwise the employees get stressed out if you don’t give them any guidance as to what’s the best way to just handle some simple form of logic and go through those steps and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out. It’s OK to make mistakes but then we figure out how to refine and improve on the process every time and at least learn from the mistakes.

[00:10:23].060] – Alex McKeown
So I think that’s something that in every book I’ve read on entrepreneurship and really on on it I guess the business leaders that I follow that they always stress that. How do you set up set yourself up for continuous learning and in doing so that process really takes you through and it enables everybody to be competent in making decisions and be competent in making mistakes and have this shared goal of not making the same mistakes repeatedly as opposed to not making mistakes.

[00:10:55].040] – Gene Hammett
So how many core values did you elect to be the foundation for the culture.

[00:11:00].170] – Alex McKeown
I’m a fan of three things always editing down to three. I always like making three arguments list of three are really simple and he has a rule of three. I just feel that resonates with people and it’s easy to remember so there’s probably eight different traits that I could identify that I would like everybody to espouse. But not everybody I’m not a model of a perfect traits of a perfect candidate and a perfect employee and neither would even probably most other people in the organization so just having three to really be the guideline and yeah that you know empathy and I’m guessing you’re going to ask that question next. When I was young. So those three things for our company would be empathy and then curiosity and the ownership mentality.

[00:11:55].870] – Gene Hammett
I don’t if you’ve thought of this but the acronym behind that if you put curiosity first it’s it says CEO.

[00:12:00].940] – Alex McKeown
I did not think of that.

[00:12:04].480] – Gene Hammett
And I bring that up because you in the sense of ownership you kind of want people to have the approach to their projects into their client experience like they’re the CEO. They take full ownership of it because let me let me guess. If you have if something goes wrong you don’t really have a right to blame because it’s it’s all up to you right.

[00:12:27].650] – Alex McKeown
But early defaulting to blame is not a good trait to have.

[00:12:31].430] – Gene Hammett
So I just kind of bring that out. But so you’ve got three core values I could go in and talk about these and we can make that the issue today. But I really want to talk about this you’ve got you know being an H.R. industry being you know having see so many people hiring you actually hired by these core values so I want to just go into that process with you. Why do you actually hire by the core values?

[00:13:06].590] – Alex McKeown
So you know we we’ve been very fortunate in our early growth to have a lot of referrals. So it’s it’s easy to kind of know in those cases where we’ve hired somebody that that was familiar to somebody already in the organization. It was easy for four to be able to identify those individuals. We’ve also had really amazing success in hiring people that with whom we had no familiarity.

[00:13:38].340] – Alex McKeown
And those are people that are in really significant leadership roles right now that are critical to this company and I think three of them actually came off of the very same job description. We had three applicants apply to the same job and two of them were immediately identified as just being so obvious in terms of being a great match to the culture fit that we went and figured out how to get them jobs in the organization right.

[00:14:05].640] – Alex McKeown
We need that person here. They’re just perfect. We we know we have needs in the organization. Let’s just still find great people and they’ll make their way and really create opportunities for themselves. So the way we did that early on and then continue to do that especially you know we’re supposed to be really good at the hiring process. So we have to finish. We feel like really we have really big shoes to fill when we kind of bring somebody in and evaluate the resume and so objectively when we get a resume may we just try to identify consistent growth and then in that kind of satisfies that curiosity aspect. Right. Is somebody always looking to to grow throughout their career are there identifiable logical. Is there an identifiable logical progression with the paper that’s put in front of us but then beyond that really in the interview process the very simple format that we always go through is immediately we start off and we tell the candidate what this company does why we do it and how we do it right.

[00:15:12].630] – Alex McKeown
We want to set the table for them. This is how we do things here and this is what makes sense to us and this is why we believe it works in that fashion. And then the next part is having the candidate take us through the progression of their career where they came from where they’ve been why those places are significant to them and why it’s led them here and why they’re interesting and continuing their path with this company for this opportunity. And then from there it really just opens up a conversation. It opens up right during during that part of the process the interviewers should be identifying questions to ask things to get clarity on or really what I love looking for in the interviews is just finding that thing where whether it’s a side project or it’s you know something they worked on for it was a short term project within a previous company something that just you can tell there’s a sparkle in their eye and there’s a pride associated with that project and with the outcome and just kind of key in that sense of pride and that that sense of motivation that came out of you know either performing that work or meeting people as a result of that work or whatever the outcome was why it was so important to them because it really lends towards somebody who’s passion and if you can get a sense for somebody whose passion you can then relate that back to what opportunities that we have as a company to tap into that person’s passion and let them lead the way because if they’re passionate about something that they can do for your company they’re going to take you so much further than just you know hiring somebody to perform a task from [9:00] to [5:00].

[00:17:00].910] – Commercial
Now hold on for a second. Alex has talked about hiring by core values and we are going deep into that today. But I want to make sure you have the next step in the process because when you hire by core values you want to make sure you also include those core values as a central part of the onboarding process. If you want to create the kind of employees that really are using the core values you want to make sure you set those expectations early and often and you want to make sure you include that in the onboarding process is a part of their standard first week. Now back to the interview with Alex.

[00:17:35].040] – Gene Hammett
I totally agree with that. I mean if you want someone to take ownership of it give them put them in a place where they’re really passionate about. Right. When you do these interviews we haven’t gone into details but do you do you have specific questions that you have lined up or about library of questions that use that they help you align to the the value fit.

[00:17:59].280] – Alex McKeown
Normally those questions are more specific to prior experience that would be relevant to requirements. So and that’s really you know specific to the position. So if it’s somebody for a development role what languages they work with. And that’s more about just betting that what they’ve claimed in the process to date kind of you know through the nonverbal communication is actually there and just reconfirming and getting explain to us.

[00:18:26].930] – Alex McKeown
Oh I’ve worked with you know their developer I worked with this language before on this project or if they’re a salesperson you know and they use Salesforce before or they’ve you know had some sales training and in a previous company and and kind of what that sales process was but that’s really more just to to get a sense of where they are in their experience. We as a company have hired a lot of I’d say a healthy amount of our company is is some younger people who are with startups is usually the case early on younger people are more willing to take risks because they have less established careers. And they also probably don’t have families to worry about.

[00:19:08].780] – Alex McKeown
But we’ve generally seen that just kind of tapping into whatever history there is giving people the opportunity to relate that prior experience to the current opportunity lets you know exactly how interested they are if it’s just something they’ve done previously versus something they really enjoy doing. You can tell that and you can if they can kind of make that that logical leap themselves and and understand how they can make an impact on the organization.

[00:19:43].640] – Alex McKeown
Explain that to you. That’s a lot easier than just saying oh I have four years of of this language experience or you know I hit one hundred K one month in my last company in sales and then you know so and so happened the economy had a hit or this industry went away because technology killed it. So we just really tried to try to find those motivations and the things that people are passionate about and let them identify why they would enjoy doing that for us.

[00:20:14].840] – Commercial
Alex just talked about the interview questions and I really think it’s a good practice to be very intentional about what those questions are as they align to the the values that you’re trying to hire for. So you want to make sure that you have a list of three or four for each of the values you have that could be around stories that could be you could use them exactly the way Alex talks about. But you could also kind of create that moment with the right questions and you just got to be intentional about creating those in advance back to interview with Alex.

[00:20:50].360] – Gene Hammett
And I want to ask you in this because it really makes sense. A lot of people focus on the skill fit in I understand in technical world that they’ve got to have certain skills but where do you come down on the whole dilemma of culture fit versus skill fit.

[00:21:07].220] – Alex McKeown
Because part of our culture is curiosity a big curiosity is is a a broader term for us to use. That’s about an idea of continuous learning and really is beyond just the idea of continuous learning but also the idea of being an educator. So culture fit and the willingness to learn and and really showing the ability to learn and especially learn quickly that’s more important than having three years of experience elsewhere so we don’t we generally have no qualifications that are included especially if there is in some cases there there has to be some minimum qualification but we try to go as light as possible in terms of what those required qualifications are and then figure out you know we know we like to invest in people that have the right motivation and the right aspiration and we can shore up any gap in experience within a year’s time because somebody is motivated and you know you’re investing in them and they’re appreciating that opportunity that they’ll learn two years worth of content or information or two years worth of a skill in one year’s time if you give them the ability to do that and help work with them to create that roadmap for their future growth.

[00:22:28].730] – Gene Hammett
I want to ask you a question about retention and this can just be a quick answer. But vast growth companies rarely have a problem with retention rate. Where are you with your retention retention from the employees perspective from where.

[00:22:45].880] – Alex McKeown
I mean again we we really don’t newspeople we go through and we we constantly gauge for performance and we go through and just try to constantly improve our organization.

[00:23:02].680] – Alex McKeown
And you know sometimes where we haven’t been effective at hiring for culture fit all the time especially because we have thirty five some new people who’ve only been part of the culture for for a year to two years. And so sometimes it’s a learning process on a hiring process. So so you get some mismatches and you know you have to deal with those unfortunate circumstances that when you lose people. But you know we just constantly go and push forward and we have a great core of people that that love the company and just are firing on all cylinders and you know unfortunately for us we can’t hire all the referrals that we have sitting on our desks.

[00:23:47].800] – Gene Hammett
Well that’s a good problem to have because I talk to a lot of companies that struggle in this area and they don’t understand and I typically come back to tell me about your values and they’re like well you know we haven’t we did this once and really know what they are. Let me let me kind of. They’re not living by it truly. I want to give you one last question Alex. Is there anything else in the hiring process where you’re where it comes to values that you think would be important for our listeners to know about.

[00:24:15].940] – Alex McKeown
I just think transparency. You know I think I think having always worked in startups and you know having also worked in the hiring world and I’ve read a lot of job descriptions right. Like our are our products. We currently have like hundreds of thousands of jobs posted. We read and it’s one of the things that we do as a service for our clients is we help them optimize their job titles and job descriptions to convert candidates you know from really what our auction based landscapes right there. They’re competing against other companies. So there’s there’s a ton of marketing conversion aspect but there’s you can read it in the job description.

[00:24:57].350] – Alex McKeown
There’s an honesty that’s detectable in that you know people feel when they read through are you just saying you’re a startup based company and that you’re young and fun and you’re innovative and you have ping pong tables are you just doing those things because you think it’s going to be easier to convert a candidate or do you really live by that and do you have real examples of that. Could you just sit them sit this candidate in a room with any employee from your company and know that that employee will we’ll be able to back up what it is you do.

[00:25:27].880] – Alex McKeown
So you know I think you just have to be genuine in whatever you do. I’ve always been a really bad liar and I learned that as a really young kid. And I’ve just generally found it’s easier to stay away from from being dishonest or at least you know not being completely honest we’re upfront about what our challenges are as a company and where we are and we don’t want to make any but we don’t want to convince somebody to work with us. We want somebody to want to work with us. And so we just do our best to filter for those opportunities and and and try to be as transparent as possible about what can be gained from this company.

[00:26:05].440] – Alex McKeown
We don’t offer you know unlimited steak dinners and ping pong tables at our company. It’s it’s it’s not something we have the additional funds to do where we’re. Pretty much bootstrapped. So you know we want people to know that we are just going to give them the best opportunity to learn as much as possible and really try to find things that can you know touch on their passion and that that can help them get to the next place to where they want to be in their career regardless of whether that’s with us or if they want to move on to something that they find to be more inspirational we’re fine with that but we just try to be as as open and transparent as possible about what it is that we can do for them and let them decide whether or not they want to be with us.

[00:26:50].800] – Gene Hammett
Well I appreciate you sharing with us how you use core values. We didn’t get into all the other aspects but let’s let’s. It’s safe to say that you live by these core values you expect them to operate day in and day out. So I really appreciate you being here Alex and sharing your insight wisdom at growth think tank.

[00:27:09].440] – Alex McKeown
Awesome. Thank you very much Gene.

[00:27:11].740] – Gene Hammett
What a fantastic episode. I really love the fact that we went deep on this business core values aspects of hiring one of the things that we didn’t talk about much was about ownership. That’s one of his core values. I just. If you’ve listened to any podcast you probably heard me say how important ownership is. Which is the feeling that we have as employees when we feel really connected to the work and we take ownership for the projects the client experience and leaders are the ones that have 100 percent ownership of making sure that that is present inside of our culture.

[00:27:48].760] – Gene Hammett
Well all of this hiring process means hiring people that have similar values to you that you really are being intentional about that. And I really appreciate you tuning in today to the podcast. Make sure that you continue to share this episode if you want to give us feedback. I would invite you to send me an e-mail [email protected]. It would be fantastic to hear a little bit more about what you are getting out of these episodes get some feedback so that can continue to improve the kinds of guests the topics we have. Make sure you reach out to [email protected]. As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next.


Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


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