Startup Stories

Ryan Naylor, CEO of VIVAHR, Discusses Recruiting During This Strange Labor Market

The rebound from the pandemic (or are we rebounding from the rebound?) has created a puzzling economy marked by surging inflation and a shortage of workers of all types. And let’s now forget the so-called Great Resignation, one result of which is workers who quit their jobs are being welcomed back. Ryan Naylor, CEO of VIVAHR, has established himself as a credible expert on small business recruiting over the past 10 years, and he has a lot to say about the current situation.

His company VIVAHR, helps small businesses acquire top talent. VIVHR software consists of candidate tracking, potential employee scorecards, and templates for creating the perfect job description. We asked Ryan about recruiting and retaining employees during this turbulent time, when talent of every sort is scarce. 

Grit Daily: Can you tell me about how VIVAHR got started and what the vision behind it was?

Ryan Naylor: VIVAHR is a hiring platform built to help small businesses hire the best candidate in the quickest amount of time. We do this with our own proprietary Culture Marketing™ framework that allows businesses to embed media into their job posts to emotionally engage with job seekers quicker. After executives and entrepreneurs began to ask me to help them build their employment marketing process, VIVAHR launched in 2016 and has now grown to be a leader within the recruiting software industry. VIVAHR is not just an applicant tracking system, but also a recruitment marketing platform that is focused on creating the best recruiting and hiring experience possible. 

Grit Daily: What is culture marketing, and how can employers utilize it?

Ryan Naylor:Culture marketing is a framework that allows businesses to attract talent, not just based on function, but also on emotional and social aspects of the company. It’s about creating a transparent way to attract better aligned candidates.

Historically, companies have leveraged opening paragraphs and bullet points- culture marketing allows a media rich experience to tell a culture’s story. When trying to attract the right candidate, you want to make sure there’s a clear alignment and expectations before even creating the job listing. The last thing you want is to attract potential employees in a bait-and-switch manor with zero company alignment. Overall, culture marketing helps with your retention rate because when you hire candidates that best align with your brand’s culture, then you’re going to have a better experience entirely.

Grit Daily: How does VIVAHR help to cultivate company culture? 

Ryan Naylor:It’s essential that businesses understand “the why.” Why are you hiring, why should job seekers want to work for you, and why are you making an impact on your customers and employees? In order to attract and retain quality talent, companies must tell the right hiring story in the right place. VIVAHR is dedicated to helping businesses focus on their company culture and core values, and then effectively communicating that to potential candidates.

Grit Daily: What tools and features do you provide to help businesses with the recruitment process?

Ryan Naylor: As a recruiting marketing platform, VIVAHR has everything that businesses could need to source and attract qualified candidates. VIVAHR makes it easy to post your jobs to 50+ job boards with just one click. Our system also provides applicant-friendly applications, candidate questionnaires, email templates, scorecards, and social job sharing. There’s also the ability to collaborate with your team, manage candidates, and view advanced insights to keep track of the entire hiring lifecycle.

Grit Daily: What can employers do to best prepare for the shift in hiring following the great boomerang?

Ryan Naylor: The great boomerang offers an untapped market right now for employers to capitalize on hiring. Now, employees who have previously left a company are starting to return to their old jobs. Employers can best prepare for this shift in hiring by focusing on tailoring their onboarding process for past employees; welcome them back with open arms, and really try to communicate and learn what worked and what didn’t for them. These insights can help to change and create a new, better company culture that best reflects what employees need and want from the organization. 

Grit Daily: Do you prefer to work from home? 

Ryan Naylor: I’d say that my preference is definitely a hybrid work environment. I’m a huge advocate for this flexible work environment; this summer, I actually worked remotely while on a trip with my family abroad in Europe. At VIVAHR, our number one core value is family first, and we’ve seen such a difference in our quality of life and respect for another’s personal space. By balancing working from home and in-office, it shows employees that you trust them and value their time. You don’t have to micromanage your employees in person to get the results you want. That said, I do also think that there is a lot of value that comes with working in an office, too. The little interactions that can happen day-to-day in the office, such as seeing how a leader reacts to a tough situation, or having a mentor encourage you with a smile, all contribute to a better, healthier work environment. There’s a lack of mentorship from junior employees within remote companies right now, and I think finding that balance is super important.

Grit Daily: Do you believe it’s important for employers to take ethics into account?

Ryan Naylor: I believe that a company’s culture is nonexistent if they can’t obey their own core values. Ethics have a certain code of conduct that you live by, and the moment that you violate that, your ethics are in question. So for any business that wants to establish trust, among employees and customers, ethics is no longer negotiable. It’s non-negotiable. In my own life, I keep a personal list of non-negotiables so that if they arise then I don’t even have to think about it. Businesses would be better if they lived by a set of their own non-negotiables.

Grit Daily: What do you have to say about ethics in the hiring process as well? 

Ryan Naylor: When it comes to ethics in hiring, I think that if you want to build a company that establishes trust, then establishing a scorecard is a good place to start. Establish a scorecard of what your required soft and hard skills are, and then use these as a benchmark when reviewing candidates. Don’t negotiate these standards because it helps to create better alignment within your team. I think this starts before you even have your first candidate; have a scorecard to categorize candidates and stay true to your set standards across the board.

Grit Daily: What lessons have you learned throughout your career that have helped to better shape your understanding of the employment marketing process?

Ryan Naylor: I’ve been an entrepreneur for 10+ years. Throughout my career, I’ve lived the pain of hiring and firing the wrong people. Through this, I learned that the power of building a successful business is on core values, clear focus, and most importantly, great company culture. This has helped to shape my understanding of the marketing process, and I’ve also found that the secret to recruiting top candidates is through communicating your hiring story. Job seekers should have a clear understanding of what your organization is all about, and why they should want to be a part of your team.

Grit Daily: How can employers best attract and retain new talent with VIVAHR?

Ryan Naylor: Having a positive company culture that prioritizes the well-being and growth of employees not only attracts top talent, but it also provides better employee retention and long-term company benefits. Initiatives like employee health, work-life balance, employee recognition, and encouraging leadership opportunities goes a long way with job seekers. VIVAHR’s platform gives employers the right space to communicate this to potential candidates through engaging job posts.

What advice do you have for small businesses right now that are just beginning their hiring process? 

Ryan Naylor: Before hiring, lay out a scorecard. This helps you to understand what you measure success on. If you’ve made the wrong hire, then you can identify it faster. It speeds up the process of not feeling held hostage to bad employees. Small businesses are notorious for hiring candidates just because they like them or feel connected to them, so when it doesn’t work out, the business has a hard time letting that employee go because they haven’t defined what the expectations are.

Grit Daily: Is there anything you want to add that I have not asked?  

Ryan Naylor: I think it’s important to note that small businesses and companies should feel a sense of excitement right now. Hiring is not dead; the media may want you to think that no one can successfully hire these days, but that’s just not true. The best companies have their pick of the litter right now because they know how to tell their culture story. They have candidates that are excited and want to work for their brands. There’s no need to be discouraged; it’s a matter of not knowing how to tell the right story or where to tell the story for your brand. That’s where VIVAHR wants to help. There is a pool of quality talent out there, and there’s no need to get discouraged.

Peter Page is the Contributions Editor at Grit Daily. Formerly at Entrepreneur.com, he began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter long before print journalism had even heard of the internet, much less realized it would demolish the industry. The years he worked a police reporter are a big influence on his world view to this day. Page has some degree of expertise in environmental policy, the energy economy, ecosystem dynamics, the anthropology of urban gangs, the workings of civil and criminal courts, politics, the machinations of government, and the art of crystallizing thought in writing.