E69 Michelle Barnard: Closing The Unemployment Gap

November 30, 2020 Mike Roberts Season 1 Episode 69
E69 Michelle Barnard: Closing The Unemployment Gap
Show Notes Transcript

Happy Monday, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This new episode of SnackWalls pairs well with a helping of leftovers, enjoy! 

Michelle has noticed that the diverse talent companies are looking for can be found overseas. Our current school system is not producing enough people to match the demand of the tech jobs here in the US. She doesnt think that a CS degree should be mandatory for software engineering roles because this requirement would exclude talented people that might otherwise be a good fit for the role. A degree should be listed on the “nice to have” list and employers should incentivize these candidates with a pay bump. Michelle believes that an apprenticeship pattern in tech would help with the talent supply shortage we face in the US. The next generation of workforce employees are growing up in a different world and might do well with a more hands-on-approach to training. From her experience, the best way to retain diverse employees in an organization is to treat them equally with everyone else. 

Michelle Barnard is a results-driven human resources professional recognized for success in recruiting high-caliber candidates and repeatedly exceeding placement goals. She works as a Senior Recruiter for Kelly Services and also runs a website (MB Job Seeker Advice) with career services and resources for active job seekers. Aside from being an HR professional, Michelle is a talented tarot card reader.

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Mike (00:01):
Welcome back to the SnackWalls podcast. I'm Mike Roberts, your host, and we're here to talk about increasing and maintaining diversity in tech, beyond the perks. While companies think they can lure people in with unlimited PTO and dogs in the office. We're here to talk about how you keep them.

Mike (00:22):
All right. I'm going to throw it out for a special guest today in a few sentences. Can you tell us who you are and what it is that you do?

Michelle Barnard (00:28):
Hi, Mike, thanks for having me on the podcast today. Um, so in a nutshell, my name is Michelle Barnard. I am a senior recruiter for a staffing agency right now. Um, I've been there for about almost three years now. So I have 10 years in the HR industry and have a degree in HR as well. Um, right now I'm actually doing two side hustles as well because we have an increasingly number of unemployed, uh, people out there. So I'm trying to like help that gap in between to, to, um, get the training that they need. So I have a couple of side hustles going on too.

Mike (01:04):
So we'll, we'll definitely have you talk a little bit about that and, uh, in towards the end, so, um, let's just kick things off. So I'm hearing from some leaders in tech that finding diverse talent is a challenge. What are your thoughts?

Michelle Barnard (01:17):
Well, seeing that I'm in the industry and I've, I've seen a change drastically, dramatically and rapidly. Um, I have noticed that a lot of the talent that we need, that it is diverse is outside of our country. Um, a lot of time our school system just doesn't have the supply of the to match the demand of the tech jobs that we have here in the United States. So a lot of times I get a lot of people on LinkedIn who kind of reach out to me and they look for corporate to corporate sponsorship opportunities, but a lot of companies aren't willing to pay. It's going to be expensive, but I think it is the necessary step to start to diversify the backgrounds as far as, um, degrees and people visible and invisible as far as, um, diversity. So yeah, they knew a lot of expenses probably in the near future if they really want to bring in diverse people, but it can happen.

Mike (02:11):
Yeah. And I've had other folks kind of talk about that, like a supply and demand side and say, look, if that's really the case, if there is this need and they genuinely want to fill that gap, then it just means you have to pay a higher price. There's a premium. And so you should be paying more for women more for black, more for Latin X, more for neuro-diverse developers. That might mean some kind of investment that needs to be made in order to fix those numbers. To your point, if you're looking at it purely from an economic standpoint, it may get more expensive if they want to reach those goals. So a hundred percent believer in that message.

Michelle Barnard (02:46):
I have a lot to say about this topic.

Mike (02:49):
What do you think about the push to remove some of the barriers, like requirements for CS degrees for software engineering roles? Cause you kind of touched on that with the supply of folks with CS degrees.

Michelle Barnard (02:58):
So yeah, that's another

Michelle Barnard (03:00):
great question too. Um, I don't think that it's necessarily, should be a requirement that a computer science degree be mandatory for an engineering degree. A lot of times people, you know, go to college and they switched degrees three or four times, like we all have done. So it doesn't make really a lot of sense to try to pigeonhole or stop gate people that could be potentially a really good fit for that role. Um, they're missing out on a lot of great talent, that, you know, have that degree requirement as a must have. So I would suggest not having that as a requirement, maybe a nice to have perhaps, but you know, pay somebody extra for that degree. So it it's more desirable for them to apply, but I, you know, I've seen so many different things that, that companies could do better, but I can only say so much, so many people at one time, so

Mike (03:55):
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, do you think an apprenticeship pattern would work for some tech roles?

Michelle Barnard (04:02):
I actually think that that would actually help the, uh, supply problem here that we have in the United States. If we had, you know, people that would assist with more hands-on training with a lot of the youth that's coming up in this next generation, they have a short attention span, let's be honest. And, and they need the hand holding that they probably didn't have growing up in school or now that they're working, you know, doing their schooling from home, like they're just, it's just different. So apprenticeship, you know, you have to try something different to see what kind of different results you get. And I do agree that apprenticeship might be a good route for the internally in the United States.

Mike (04:41):
Yeah. I think it's working elsewhere and that's the part that frustrates me to no end is like you look at Europe and you look at the way that they treat it as a first-class, um, career path instead of here in the United States where we think about vocational career paths as sort of like second class that everybody's sort of like entitled or should be desiring to go to college and get a four year degree. And, you know, I, I agree. I think that's not attainable for some folks. And so you're setting an unrealistic barrier for the very people that you're trying to provide opportunities for. So, okay. So that said, we talked about the acquisition part and I'm sure another part of what you do is you help people that are trying to like, they bounce out of this place because this place is terrible. So how do you keep people? How do you retain talent? How do they put you out of the replacing people business and instead keep them inside of the organization?

Michelle Barnard (05:37):
Well, so to your question, I believe that the one thing they can do to try to retain diverse groups of people is to treat them equally. Um, I, you know, this year has been kind of like a spotlight being shine on diversity as if we weren't here already. And, you know, that's just my strong opinion behind that. Theres a way of some of the situations I've been in recently. Um, and then the groups that have emerged within organizations that, you know, and then the conversations that I'm having with clients asking for specific, you know, diverse candidates, you know, these conversations are just interesting and awkward at the same time, because I feel like we've always been, you know, looking for diverse people to fill roles. And it's never been something that we had to shine a light on that it was something that we need to work on.

Mike (06:24):
Yeah. I mean, I've been working in shops for a really long time and I've seen, I've looked around with my two eyes and seeing like, this place looks very one way. It doesn't look, it's not representative of the customer base is the most polite way of saying all I see are predominantly white male cis-gender dudes, as I survey my coworkers and that doesn't feel cool. It doesn't feel, you don't feel like you belong when you don't look the same as anyone else you're working with. Um,

Michelle Barnard (06:56):
When we shine a light on it, it's kind of like, okay, well now I can see what you see.

Mike (07:01):
Yeah, Absolutely. So who is someone like yourself that you would like to sort of like give a shout out or acknowledge as a leader and think might be a good guest to be on a podcast like this?

Michelle Barnard (07:11):
Well, I actually had a hard time choosing, I have a lot of great friends that have become leaders. I mean, yeah, I already have some memories of some times with two particular women, um, in my life that are still in my life that are super supportive of my own personal endeavors. And I, you know, we used to sit by the bean or in millennial park and dream about what our futures would look like, you know, poor broken, you know, struggling and now to see her for her fluition and her come to fruition and start her own company, you know, uh, put out job posting made by me, myself for her to find employment, uh, to find employees to work for her. So I'm really proud of Kaspar. Um, and then Lauren as well, she works at a video game company and she also has risen to the occasion, gone from an intern, working at a, um, what is a diner, I think it was. Scrapping for change, but now they both like have risen to the occasion are both very much leaders in their industries.

Mike (08:13):
Nice. All right. So I'm going to put them on the radar and see if we can get them on the program and talk about their journey and their experience and how, you know, how they could basically be, uh, you know, be a model for what it takes to, you know, be successful. So I like it, I like it a lot. Where can we find out more information about your company? Maybe you can share it, plug something like a side hustle or something. So, because the info we'll put it all in the show notes.

Michelle Barnard (08:38):
Sure. Yeah. So I actually have my own site. It's a MB job seeker advice. Um, it's a website dedicated to, you know, a lot of people that have been displaced, looking for jobs, uh, looking to get their resume rewritten, looking for an interview tips or career advice. If you want to switch careers, I have advice on that type of thing as well. So the website addresses my middle first middle and last name .com. So it's www. Michelle Tania Barnard .com. Um, and then also I do a little bit of Tarot on the side as well. So I also have a website on that it's MB Empress Tarot .com. So if you're interested in a reading, that'd be, um, the awesome too. Um, and then I also have Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn YouTube channels. So I can put that on

Mike (09:26):
So we can put that all in the show notes and I'm, I'm amazed. Are you saying that you can do like this whole reading thing, you can do it via zoom like this?

Michelle Barnard (09:34):
Oh yeah. I did a live one this past Sunday for storytellers. Um, and their Halloween edition. I did a live one. It was spot on the girl was kind of hesitant. She was, uh, concerned going into it, but it was a really good, positive reading and it was well received by her. And then after a while I got a request from one of the guys listening or watching the live show. So it was really exciting to see that

Mike (09:59):
I dont now if I'm down with that, but

Michelle Barnard (10:01):
Maybe you should try it really?

Mike (10:04):
No, I don't. I don't know that I want to know the future. I kind of enjoy like the surprise of things coming at me.

Michelle Barnard (10:13):
I don't, I can't tell the future. It's not about telling the future at all.

Mike (10:19):
Now I'm confused. So what does the goal then, if like, what is the value a value add or the opportunity for me when please don't do mine right now without tell me.

Michelle Barnard (10:31):
But the value added is that you get to see your current situation in a different perspective. It's all about healing. Um, you're, you know, having a conversation cause this started back in Italy and France, where they were just playing with these carts and it just started conversations and that's kind of how I use them.

Mike (10:47):
All right. All right. Well, I'll marinate on that then. All right. Back to the show. So question for you last, the most important question, and that is what are you snacking on lately? What's your favorite snack,

Michelle Barnard (11:01):
Jalapeno chips. I can only eat those and that is it. And they have to be the kettle crunch. It cannot be any other brand.

Mike (11:09):
Those are pretty good. I mean, I do like the kettle crunch ones and those are the flavor that I would go for. I'm not a big, you know, like salt, you know, sea salt and all that kind of stuff. It's gotta be the spicy ones for me. So that is a phenomenal stack. And I grew up on I'm from the East coast. So I grew up on the Cape Cape Cod potato chips and the jalapeno ones even better than the Cape Cod. Sorry.

Michelle Barnard (11:29):
Yeah, absolutely. Sorry Cape Cod.

Mike (11:34):
Awesome. Well, thanks again, Michelle. I really appreciate you coming on the program.

Michelle Barnard (11:38):
Thank you for having me Mike.

Mike (11:40):
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