Companies are always on the lookout for talented people. In this interview series, we talk to seasoned HR professionals to pick their brains for ideas and insights on finding the right talent for our organizations.
Hi Miriam, welcome to the series! We‘d love to get to know you a bit better, can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
I was born and raised in Montreal, and have been working in the recruiting industry for nearly 15 years.
At a certain point, while trying to manage clients and grow partnerships at Groom & Associates, I realized that I was experiencing burnout.
This realization motivated me to create a new behavioural career coaching process that uncovers an individual's ideal career. As someone who desperately needed this guidance during a challenging time, I developed the Mindful Career career coaching process by utilizing the most innovative approaches utilized by leading industry professionals.
The process is designed to be a transformative experience for individuals looking to find fulfillment in their professional lives while avoiding burnout. This approach is the result of my own healing journey and is intended to guide others towards success and fulfillment in their careers.
It’s been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a funny mistake you made when you first started and what you learned form it?
I’m not sure if I can think of something particularly funny to share, but there have been many learning opportunities.
On one occasion, a client approached us with feedback about a candidate we had previously placed, stating that the individual lacked the necessary skills and motivation for the job.
However, upon further investigation, we discovered that the candidate was actually facing a significant interpersonal conflict with their manager and felt uncomfortable communicating in that work environment, leading to a toxic relationship.
This experience taught us that every situation is distinct, and there is no universal approach to retaining employees. Rather, it is essential to assess each individual's unique needs and preferences to ensure a proper match, as success in a job is not solely dependent on one's skill set.
I’d say that approaching every individual with a single approach or solution is a mistake many of us in this industry have made.
Are you currently working on any exciting new projects at your company?
Despite the mass layoffs we’ve been seeing, many companies are still experiencing a shortage of labour, so the focus is on retaining employees, which is why we’ve been utilizing psychometric testing and behavioural assessments extensively.
For instance, we recently assisted a Canadian pharmaceutical company in recruiting ten new staff members. We employed different psychometric assessments to evaluate both the team leaders and individual employees to ensure that there would be cohesion and effective communication among the team, which is crucial for employee retention.
Since every person has a unique stress profile, which affects their communication style differently, we analyzed this variable for each team member, enabling us to advise the team leaders on how to manage each individual in a manner that would minimize stress.
We also provided leadership training to help the team leaders improve their managerial skills and understand how to oversee their team members more effectively.
It’s commonly believed that a good manager is someone who is exceptional in their field and has excellent professional skills. However, a good leader is actually someone who understands communication and motivation.
Managers need to have a solid comprehension of human behaviour rather than just practical knowledge in a specific professional area or function.
Hiring can be very time-consuming and challenging. Can you share a bit about your experience with identifying and hiring talent? What's been your most successful recruitment-related initiative so far?
We’ve currently been helping several organizations with their DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives, and they’ve been really successful. As we know, diverse teams are better at solving problems than homogeneous ones, and diversity has a positive impact on a company’s profitability.
We’ve helped by training HR teams on how to join key online communities, reach underrepresented groups with specific marketing tactics, and more. This has been incredibly rewarding!
Once talent is engaged, what's your advice for creating a great candidate experience and ensuring the right people go through the process?
When it comes to matching talent to a manager, we always recommend psychometric evaluations.
These assessments help managers better understand their team members. For the candidate, it helps them gain better understanding into whether or not they’ll be a good match for the team or the role in the first place.
Once a candidate is engaged, a strategically-designed onboarding process is critical, and must be optimized from the employee perspective.
I often consult with companies to analyze and audit their onboarding process to identify gaps, and to help them gain new perspectives.
Based on your experience, how can HR and culture professionals work with the broader organization to identify talent needs?
To identify talent needs, organizations should invest in workforcing shaping and mapping.
Workforce shaping is an essential HR practice that involves strategically analyzing an organization's current and future talent needs.
Through this process, HR teams can identify any talent gaps and make informed decisions on recruiting, hiring, training, and developing the necessary talent.
By shaping the workforce, HR can also anticipate changes in the labour market, emerging technologies, and shifting customer demands, and adjust their talent management strategies proactively.
In addition to the workforce shaping process, psychometric testing can also help companies get a better picture of individual needs.
Is there anything you see that recruiters, internal or otherwise, do regularly that makes you think, "No, stop doing that!"?
Too many companies post job descriptions without the salary. Transparency is key, and if the salary isn’t posted upfront, it must be shared during the very first interview.
It’s also important to be forthcoming about other critical details such as requirements for in-office time, hours, vacation, and exactly what the role requires.
Lately, I’ve noticed some employers promising remote work, only to ask the employee to start coming into the office—that’s not acceptable.
Furthermore, too many HR professionals sell a role without truly understanding what it entails.
I always recommend that a recruiter or hiring manager meet with someone who has actually worked in the exact position so they can better understand its daily activities and responsibilities.
With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven't already reached out to you?
1. Social media
I would say work on your social media presence above all, because so many HR teams don’t use it to their full potential. Use multiple platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok to build your employer brand and showcase your company's culture.
You can create engaging content that highlights your company's values, projects, and achievements to attract top talent. You can also use targeted ads to reach specific audiences and connect with potential candidates.
2. Creating personas
Creating "personas" For different groups you're trying to attract can help you tailor your recruitment strategy to each audience.
A persona is a representation of your ideal candidate and includes details like their job title, personality traits, years of work experience (age) and other demographic criteria. Once you've created your personas, you can develop messaging and content that resonates with each group, making your recruitment efforts more effective.
3. Creating a strategy for each persona
Once you've created your personas, you can develop a recruitment strategy for each group that's tailored to their specific needs and interests. For example, you might use TikTok to reach entry-level GenZ candidates, or attend networking events to connect with more experienced professionals.
HR teams absolutely need to work with marketing teams or hire a marketing consultant to help them create the right kind of content depending on the “persona” or audience.
What are the three most effective strategies you use to retain employees?
1. Career Mapping
Providing career advancement opportunities and a clear path for growth and development is essential for retaining employees, especially less experienced ones.
Employees want to see how their current role fits into their long-term career goals, and having a career map helps them to envision their future with the company.
This strategy involves identifying the skills and competencies required for various roles within the organization and mapping out the development path for employees.
2. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment
Employees need to feel safe to express themselves, share their ideas, and take risks without fear of retribution.
A psychologically safe environment is one where employees feel comfortable speaking up, asking for help, and sharing their concerns without fear of negative consequences.
This strategy involves creating a culture of trust, transparency, and open communication, where employees feel valued, respected, and heard.
We also recommend that companies of a certain size retain a psychologist in-house to help with interpersonal conflicts and other issues that HR may not be fully equipped to deal with.
3. Hiring the Right People
The most effective way to retain employees is to hire the right people in the first place. Organizations need to ensure that their hiring process identifies the best-fit candidates for the company culture, values, and job requirements.
Hiring the right people reduces turnover, increases productivity, and fosters a positive work environment.
Can you share five techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?
1. Write transparent job descriptions including the salary
A transparent job description is critical for attracting the right talent for a role. Job descriptions should clearly outline the required skills and experience for the role, as well as the salary range. This approach ensures that candidates are aware of what they can expect from the role and will help filter out those who may not be a good fit.
2. Use social media to its fullest potential
Social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn are excellent tools for identifying potential candidates. HR teams can benefit from partnering with marketing teams or marketing consultants to create campaigns for various audiences.
3. Actively search resumes on free job board sites like Indeed.com and reach out
Free job board sites like Indeed.com offer a vast database of resumes for companies to search and find suitable candidates. So many employers post to these sites and wait for people to apply, but they might want to consider going this step further and searching for resumes.
4. Use your own database of candidates who applied in the past
Too many companies interview excellent candidates and then totally forget about them if they aren’t chosen for the role. Mine your own database!
5. Use psychometric testing to assess if a candidate is a good fit
Psychometric testing is a powerful tool that can help companies identify candidates who possess the right personality traits, cognitive abilities, and other essential factors required for the job.
This type of testing is becoming increasingly popular and can be a valuable addition to a company's recruitment process.
Thanks Miriam, some great insights! How can our readers continue to follow your work?
Some more insights from the series