We were lucky enough to have Robb Lifferth visit us at Eddy. While Robb was here, Travis was able to sit down and ask some questions about what Robb’s doing in the world of HR, his process as an HR consultant, and More.
Here’s our synopsis of the interview, but feel free to check out the full transcript.
Q1: Tell us about yourself
Robb is a Utah boy through and through who stumbled into HR on a fluke (we’re finding this to be a common trend among HR pros). In college, he started in IT, but a professor recommended he take an HR class where he did well and stuck with it.
He’s been working in HR for two decades and has found his career home in the startup sphere. Robb likes working with startups because he likes being able to really build something and get things started in the right way.
He includes a caveat that the right ay is always changing because business needs evolve as the business grows. You have to constantly be tweaking it to keep HR doing what you need it to.
Q2: What is AltaScout doing for the industry?
Robb is a Co-founder of the recruiting company AltaScout. Robb and his co-founders realized that the cost of recruiting is ridiculously high. Most startups can’t afford a recruiting company. Part of the reason for this is the commission-based pricing model that recruiting agencies use.
AltaScout was born to challenge that norm. AltaScout has a mantra that perfectly describes their purpose “Just because it’s been proven that companies will pay a ridiculous amount of money for talent, It doesn’t mean they should.”
Robb mentioned that by the time startups are calling recruiters, they’re desperate. He doesn’t want to take advantage of people in their hour of desperation.
AltaScout is giving startups access to talent that they never would have been able to afford otherwise. For example, recently, they recruited an engineer for a company for about $3,500. Their competitors would have charged about $20,000.
Q3: What are the first things you look at as an HR consultant?
When consulting for a new company, The first thing Robb does is look at the employee experience from recruiting to offboarding.
He argues that If a company is looking for talent, they’re competing against every industry and company for that talent. Because of that, companies have to make their company look attractive. In other words, the employee experience has to be excellent.
This is important no matter where an employee is during their time with you. New employees, old employees, and terminated employees can all impact your employer reputation. To safeguard against a damaged reputation, Robb advises that companies treat all past employees like alumni, not just someone you used to know.
It’s a slight mindset shift, but it could be the difference between looking like the best boss ever and a nightmare employer, especially for employees who left involuntarily.
Q4: What would you have done differently in your career if you could?
As Mentioned, Robb has a degree in IT and in HR. If he could have done things differently, he would have just gone with HR and run with it.
Another piece of career advice that he gives is pretty unexpected. Today, when people are trying to sprint to the top of every ladder they can, Robb advises people to slow down.
By trying to climb the ladder too quickly, you run the risk of taking a promotion or position that’s above your skillset and failing. Failing at a higher position is much harder to come back from than spending an extra year learning from your superiors.
Another year or two may seem like a long time, but over the course of a career, those opportunities to learn will “pay dividends.”
Q5: A bit more about Robb
At the end of the interview, they got to talking a bit more about Robb. Robb Grew up in Layton, Utah with a big family of four boys and two girls. To this day they’re still best friends and love going on adventures.
Robb Lifferth is a great example of an HR professional who truly puts emphasis on optimizing a company to help its people. In his words, “Your goal at the end of the day, as an H.R. person, is to keep their butt in a seat, so they’re able to do the job.”
Creating an incredible employee experience and removing obstacles through smooth HR processes is how that’s done.
So happy to have you here today, Robb at Eddy. We appreciate you coming down to visiting us. So tell us a little bit about yourself.
Okay! Robb Lifferth. Like I said, I’ve been in HR for almost 20 years. Always the state of Utah, born and raised, total homer. I got into it on a fluke. You know, back in college, I had a professor invite me to go do an HR class, and I did well in it and you know, it started to roll from there. I’ve kind of focused on startups my whole life, my whole professional career.
So for me, I like that because it gives you an opportunity to build. It gives you an opportunity to start from scratch and do it the way that is right. And it’s all again, it’s never, even saying that it’s never right. Like it’s always depending on your company size, you’re always tweaking on it because what you put in place for a company of 25 is gonna be different than what you put in place for a company of 250.
Yeah. Talking about companies, you Co-founded AltaScout.
Can you tell us a little bit about that company?
Yeah. So AltaScout is the brainchild of a couple, or there’s a couple of us have been in HR for a long time. Myself, Trin Stanley, who was the CTO of Applicant Pro, and Paul Ahlstrom who was over at Alta Ventures.
And the issue that we saw with, with recruiting with HR in startups, is that startup companies never really had a good resource for recruiting. They just they couldn’t afford it, to be quite honest with you. It just wasn’t in the budget.
And so we stripped it down back to the studs of what a recruiting firm should look like. We changed a bunch of things. We wrapped the whole process in technology. The recruiting process is automated, mostly automated. And then and then we completely redesigned the fees.
And so we got away from all commissions and we just charge an hourly rate the way you would with your accountant or your lawyer.
And the result has been awesome. We’re hiring people, you know, and engineers. Last time we did hiring engineer. One of the last engineers we hired was like thirty-five hundred bucks, versus our competitors are charging 20 grand.
And so we make money, the startups can afford it. And it’s the way it should be. You know, one of our, one of our things we say internally is just because people have already agreed to pay it.
The market’s proven that companies will pay a ridiculous amount of money for talent, It doesn’t mean they should. Right? Because when you go and when people are looking for or calling a recruiter, usually they’re desperate. And we just don’t want to take advantage of somebody in their hour of desperation.
And so that’s, that’s the brainchild. We’ve been going around for about a year and a half. It’s been going great.
As an HR consultant. What are some processes that a company should have in place or put in place?
You know, it’s it. So the way that I look at it is that particularly now the market’s tight. You are competing with. You know, if you are in oil and gas or you are in, it doesn’t matter really what industry you’re in, you are all competing for the same person. So if you’re trying to find an accountant, you’re competing against every different industry.
And so you have to think really people-focused. Why do people want to commit eight hours plus a day to come and be at that company? And so you need to think through how they’re treated when they’re recruited, how they’re treated once they’re in. What’s their experience when they go through things like payroll and benefits and all the different things that touch them on a day-to-day basis? And you have to make that process smooth. Right?
Your goal at the end of the day, as an H.R. person, is to keep their butt in a seat, so they’re able to do the job. Right. So that means taking care of all distractions. So it’s a good process for that.
Cool. When consulting with a new company. What are the first things you look at and why?
I start. For me, I start at the beginning, coming into a company. What does that process look like? And then you start there and you take them all the way to fruition. Like what does it look like when they terminate?
So you go through each one of the processes and you understand what that employee experience is like for all the way from candidate experience to employee experience on the other side.
How great would it be, even on a termination that whether it’s, you know, whether it’s someone that quits or someone that you end up having to terminate, that you’re thinking of that person as an alumni rather than someone that just used to work here. Right. And if you can make that, that’s a subtle switching your mindset.
But if you can do that, then you’re really helping how people will look at your company long-term and how they perform while they’re inside, and how they talk about your company afterwards. Because whether you like it or not, that’s going to happen, right? An employer reputation is critical these days you can’t get around it anymore. The internet will kill you otherwise.
Yeah, I love that. I love the thought of thinking about employees as alumni, whether they work there or not, especially after they leave. I think every company wants their company to be a dream job, but sometimes it’s a stepping stone.
And we know of companies and some of our customers actually have events and parties and pool parties, different things where they invite anyone who’s ever worked there. They welcome them back and their families, which was cool.
Yeah, I think that’s the right mentality if you can set up a culture that way. It’s I mean you’re marching down the right path for sure.
That’s awesome. What role does HR play in overall company or business objectives?
That’s an interesting question. I think this is one thing that I think HR has changed. Like if you had asked that question 10 years ago, the answer would’ve been much more transactional. HR professionals need to look at themselves as a business accelerator. Right?
So HR professionals need to know what the company strategies are, and they need to know where the company is going and why they’re going there, because if they know that, then anything that they do for a process, procedure, employee engagement standpoint, it should be fueling the direction and the success of the company, rather than just, hey, they’ve got to do these transactional items. It should be accelerating, you know, accelerating what the business is doing. That make sense?
Absolutely. Yeah. Bonus question. Ready for this one?
What’s one thing you wish you would have done differently?
in my career? I wish. I wish I would’ve. I went down the HR and IT path. I have a separate degree in information systems. And I went down the IT path first. And while it has been helpful. Right? You know. I wish gotten into HR and just ran. I like dealing with people I like that part of things. So the other thing that I wish, that I tell people that they should do different.
Don’t try. Don’t try and jump ahead in your career too soon. A lot of people are like, they try to get that next promotion too soon. What ends up happening is they get over their skis and they fail. And that’s harder to come back for than being patient and learning a little bit more, because in the grand scheme of things, another year, while it seems that. That’s a long time, in your career standpoint. It’s not, right?
So if you’re a patient a little bit longer and learn more from those that are above you, I think that pays off dividends down the road.
Where are you from? Where’d you grow up?
I grew up in Layton, Utah.
What High School?
Tell us about your family.
Family. So I came from a group of six siblings. I’m the third of six. We are four boys, two girls. And it was a fun group. We’re still super tight. Like my best friends are my siblings right now
That’s awesome. That’s rare!
It is rare. And like and like, we all get along like still like, you know, we got together on Saturday and it was just, you know, it’s just what you do. It’s fun.
Any great traditions? Things you do, things your mom or dad did that you continue to do in your family?
We love all thing. If it has to do with water, we love it. Right? So being on a lake, being on a boat, being like anywhere, ocean. Like, it’s great. So that, that’s what we do.
And we are always up for an adventure, which usually ends up in a broken bone or something like that. And like we have to remind herself how old we are because it’s like maybe we would’ve gotten hurt, you know, 15 years ago, but that’s what we do.
That’s awesome. Well, congratulations on all your success. We love you over here at Eddy, it’s been great having you in. Appreciate it.
Yeah. Absolutely, thanks.
Alright, brother, thanks for coming.