Next-Generation Neal Bruce Tackles the Early Days at First Advantage

Neal Bruce, who recently departed Monster to join the Bedford, Massachusetts, office of First Advantage, will serve as the senior vice president of product management for the Employer Services division. He chatted with ERE about innovating in his new gig, his renewed focus on talent acquisition products, his blog, his legacy at Monster, and more.

ERE: Congrats on the move to First Advantage! Were you looking for a new opportunity, or were you pursued?

NB: I received a call about joining First Advantage, and the timing was right for me to take on a new challenge.

ERE: What excites you the most about this move?

NB: First Advantage has acquired several great talent acquisition companies/products over the last few years. Now we have a wonderful opportunity to drive toward a more integrated set of solutions for our customers.

ERE: What will you be doing overall, on a day-to-day basis?

NB: This is day seven for me, so I am meeting with people and learning more about our products and possibilities. My goal is to work with the rest of the executive team to clarify our long-term product and innovation strategies, while simultaneously focusing on near-term client product needs. We need to both “improve a moving train” and invent “a set of next-generation airplanes.”

ERE: Will this be similar at all to your old job at Monster?

NB: I will be focusing on innovation, among other things. We are living in a period of explosive growth in knowledge. First Advantage will convert some of this new knowledge into practical solutions for our customers.

ERE: For people who aren’t familiar with First Advantage, what’s the 30-second elevator speech about the company?

NB: The Employer Services division of First Advantage helps companies hire great people. We provide a whole suite of talent acquisition products and services, from sourcing strategy creation all the way through background investigation services. When employers say, “We have a talent challenge,” I want them to think, “Let’s call First Advantage.”

ERE: What’s the company culture like at First Advantage?

NB: Friendly, energetic, informal, make it happen.

ERE: Is this a newly created position? Who will you be reporting to?

NB: This is a newly created position. I report to Valerie Osinski, president of the Hiring Solutions Group.

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ERE: What are some products you’re hoping to launch?

NB: On day seven, I have thousands of new products to launch, but seriously, stay tuned. We will be both improving existing and launching new products and services when they are ready to go. I would love direct customer feedback so if your readers have ideas about new or existing First Advantage products, please send them to me at ideas@fadv.com. I look forward to following up on these ideas.

ERE: What are some of your “innovative” ideas you’re bringing that may shake things up there and/or change the status quo?

NB: I mentioned knowledge/information as a basis for innovation, and one obvious opportunity is the rich data sets that reside across all of our talent acquisition products. We will be working with customers to determine new products and services that can come from these rich data sets. We are exploring other ideas, that for now, I will keep super secret. Please stay tuned.

ERE: You were called the “face” of Monster, so does this mean First Advantage is looking for a new face, or are you done being a “cover guy,” so to speak?

NB: First, let’s be clear, I have a face for radio. Second, I think every employee at every recruiting vendor has a personal responsibility to be engaged with customers and the industry. How else can we know how to best serve the recruiting community? I can’t express in words how deeply I feel about this issue, so yes, I will continue to engage with the community.

ERE: Tell me about your new blog! Is it related to your new job at all? And why did you start now? What are your plans with it?

NB: For years, my friends have said, “You should blog!” so yes, I will start a new blog. I am finalizing the design and plan to launch the blog in about one month at www.nealbruce.com. This will be a personal blog with my personal ramblings and will in no way represent the views of First Advantage. I will write about several topics including talent management from both the employer and employee perspective.

ERE: What do you think is your “legacy” at Monster? How do you look back on your years there and view your accomplishments? What do you want recruiters and the industry to say was your biggest achievement there?

NB: Wow, what a question! I spent 11 years as a recruiter before moving to the vendor side five years ago. Like many other recruiters, I regularly looked at my computer and screamed, Why is this so complicated! I made the jump to the vendor side because I was, and still am, convinced that recruiting tools are often too clunky, too difficult for both employers and job seekers. I have the crazy idea that I can help make these products better. To answer your legacy question more directly, I submit that if during my career I motivate people in the vendor community to engage more deeply with their recruiter customers, my time will be well-spent. Customers often have the answers; we simply need to actively listen to them.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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