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Discover Key Strategies for Advanced HR and Talent Sourcing

Written by:

Mark Stewart is the in-house Certified Public Accountant, an accomplished author and financial media specialist.

Reviewed by:

As a seasoned HR professional with over 20 years of experience, Keca is an expert in various aspects of Human Resources.

Discover Key Strategies for Advanced HR and Talent Sourcing

Discover Key Strategies for Advanced HR and Talent Sourcing

Join us as we explore the career insights of Jim Stroud, a seasoned HR and recruiting expert. Jim shares his journey, revealing how daring to experiment led him to success. From captivating stories about innovative recruiting hacks to adapting in the fast-paced world of tech, he offers a treasure trove of wisdom.

Jim emphasizes the power of embracing change, the art of attracting top talent, and the importance of personal branding. Dive into Jim’s experiences for lessons on navigating the evolving landscapes of HR with creativity and resilience.

Career Journey

HR – Reflecting on your career in HR and recruiting, what pivotal moments or decisions do you believe were crucial to your success and why?

Jim – The key moments of my career success came from taking measured risks rather than asking for permission to experiment. For example, I remember one hiring manager who wanted an experienced software engineer to perform (essentially) technical support duties. Software engineers would accept the job but transfer to other departments to do cooler stuff.

On a whim, I created a podcast about the opportunity and used reverse psychology to make it sound appealing. “We don’t want just anyone doing tech support. We only hire a special breed of geek.” (I am paraphrasing, but not by much.) The podcast was posted on the company blog and shared on the blogs of software engineers, and it went viral. Result? We hired the help we needed and retained them longer. I worked for a major corporation then, and if I had asked for permission first, it’s unlikely my request would have made it through all the red tape.

Challenges in High-Profile Recruiting

HR – What are some unique challenges in recruiting for top-tier organizations, and how can they be effectively addressed?

Jim – Keeping up with the rapid rate of technological change! For example, when ChatGPT first caught the public’s imagination, many companies offered huge salaries for prompt engineers. They certainly had the budget, but the talent supply was very low since the role had just been invented! Some organizations understood that reality, whereas others I could name insisted they be hired immediately. The remedy was to focus their hiring on candidates capable of adapting to emerging tech and growing with future advancements.

Innovative Recruiting and Sourcing Techniques

HR – With the evolution of recruiting techniques, what innovative methods do you believe are most effective in attracting top talent today?

Jim – There are many tools out there that can find purple squirrels, but what about the ones who don’t share their details online? When it comes to innovative recruiting and sourcing methods, I think we can learn a lot from political strategists. So much of what they do correlates to sourcing. Below are the strategies they often use and their HR equivalents.

  1. Demographic analysis — Analyze voter demographics (age, gender, race, education level, income, etc.) to tailor messages for specific groups. Correlation: Analyze the talent market for experience, supply, and demand. 
  2. Geographic targeting Focus on particular geographic areas known to be supportive or could be persuaded (including swing states or districts). Correlation: Target your job advertisements where they will be most effective.
  3. Behavioral targeting Use past voting behavior, purchasing history, and online activity data to predict voter preferences and create proper messaging. Correlation: Understand what matters most to the candidate you are targeting (e.g., sharing info on patents the company has won with software developers).
  4. Psychographic profiling Segment voters based on personality traits, values, opinions, and lifestyles to develop highly personalized campaign messages. Correlation: Create job descriptions based on personality types.
  5. Issue-based targeting — Identify the most important issues of specific voter segments and address those concerns with appropriate messages. Correlation: Show videos that depict a day in the life of a worker.
  6. Social media targeting — Use social media platforms to target specific demographics with ads and content.
  7. Data analytics and modeling Utilize advanced data analytics and predictive modeling to identify potential supporters and select the most effective ways to reach them. Correlation: Analyze how you are promoting your jobs and what is delivering the most traffic to your career website. 
  8. Peer-to-peer campaigning — Leverage personal relations to influence voter behavior by encouraging supporters to reach out to their friends and family. Correlation: Employee referral program.
  9. Microtargeting Combine various data sources to target individual voters with highly personalized messages through direct mail, phone calls, and online ads. Correlation: Chatbots to answer questions on your career website, automated ATS responses, and re-engaging corporate alums and former applicants.
  10. Engagement through interactive platforms — Use apps, websites, and interactive platforms to engage with voters, gather feedback, and mobilize support. 

Competitive Intelligence for Better Sourcing

HR – Could you discuss the importance of competitive intelligence in sourcing and how to develop these skills?

Jim – I think one of the biggest advantages is unearthing hidden talent. For example, I had a client who represented a major semiconductor company, and the competitors were constantly poaching their employees. It was a continuous game of employment musical chairs. As soon as they worked for us or a leading rival, they were called upon by recruiters.

What helped us get an advantage was researching where people tended to work before working for a major competitor and analyzing their promotion rate. For example, if someone were at senior level X, they would have six years of coveted experience. We targeted candidates with more than five years of experience and were able to find top talent on the verge of being promoted before our competitors could find them. Sweet!

Leveraging Media in HR

HR – How can HR professionals effectively use video and podcasting to strengthen their recruiting efforts or employer brand?

Jim – I’m a big fan of videos, so all of my suggestions lean that way.  

Create videos that capture the work environment, employee interactions, and team dynamics. This gives candidates a realistic glimpse of what it’s like to work at your organization.

Feature employee testimonials in videos. Let your employees speak about their experiences, what they love about the company and their opportunities. This builds authenticity and trust with potential applicants.

Create “Day in the Life” videos showcasing a typical workday for different roles within your company. This will help candidates understand the day-to-day responsibilities and allow them to see if the work aligns with their interests. It is a must, as it will spark candidate attraction.

Company Culture Integration in Recruiting

HR – How do you integrate an organization’s culture into your recruiting process to ensure a good fit between candidates and the company?

Jim – Here is what you can do before an employee applies, during the application, and during the interview.

Before they apply Use language in your job descriptions that reflects your company culture. Avoid generic phrases and instead use terms that resonate with your company’s personality. Avoid using templates! 

During the application stage Include a few culture-based questions in your application form. These can assess a candidate’s fit with your values and work style (e.g., “Describe a time you collaborated effectively in a remote team environment”).

During the interview — Weave real-life examples and stories into your conversations to give candidates a more tangible sense of what it’s like to work at your company. Ideally, many of those examples will be from personal experiences. Be upfront about your company culture, both its positive and negative aspects. A realistic picture helps attract candidates who are a genuine fit.

Remote vs. In-Office Recruiting Strategies

HR – How do remote recruiting strategies differ from traditional in-office recruiting?  

Jim – Here is the difference:

In-office recruiting:

  1. The talent pool is limited to local or regional talent
  2. Strong emphasis on location suitability
  3. In-person interviews are more thorough, less likely to “cheat” on assessments, and non-verbal clues are better identified
  4. Less emphasis on online presence
  5. In-person orientation gives a chance for a deeper personal connection with new hires

Remote recruiting:

  1. The whole world is your talent pool
  2. It’s all about the skills and experience
  3. The recruiter has to probe deeper into personal experiences that cannot be provided by stealthy tech tools (webcams that hide eye movements, for example)
  4. Very strong emphasis on employer branding
  5. Without personal interaction, there is an increased chance of flight risk, with candidates quitting for greener and more welcoming pastures

HR in Startups

HR – What essential HR advice would you give to professionals navigating the dynamic startup environment?

Jim – Be adaptable and focus on building a strong employer brand.

Startups pivot often, so be prepared to adjust your role and responsibilities as the company grows and evolves. Embrace a “get things done” attitude and be comfortable with ambiguity.

Craft a compelling employer brand that highlights the startup’s unique culture, mission, and growth potential. What do you want your employees to say on Glassdoor? Is it that your company has a great work-life balance? If so, implement policies that prove that.

Adapting HR Strategies for the Future of Work

HR – How should HR professionals adapt their strategies to address the changing nature of work, including the rise of gig work, remote work, and AI’s role in the workplace?

Jim – Focus on continuous learning and build an agile and resilient culture.

Automation may displace some jobs, so you should prioritize reskilling and upskilling programs to help employees adapt to changing needs. Offer training opportunities, encourage knowledge sharing, and support micro-credentials to create a culture of lifelong learning. 

Develop effective change management strategies to guide employees through workplace transformations. Prioritize employee well-being by offering programs that address mental health, work-life balance, and social connection in a remote or hybrid environment. 

Foundational Advice for HR Careers

HR – Based on your extensive experience, what fundamental advice would you offer to those aspiring to excel in HR, especially in sourcing and recruiting?

Jim – I suggest you spend significant time building your personal brand. Being the most qualified person for a role is useless if no one knows about you. Toward that end, I suggest the following:

  1. Figure out how you want to be recognized and boil it down to a very short sentence or phrase. There is more to Colonel Sanders than chicken, yet that is how people remember him. He successfully branded himself, and it paid off dividends for him. Do likewise.
  2. Whatever short sentence, phrase, or keyword you use to describe yourself, repeat it everywhere and often. This is your personal brand. It should be on your LinkedIn, website, and social media — pretty much everywhere online. When a recruiter does a Google search on you, they should see your brand and instantly know who you are professionally.
  3. Create content proving that you are an expert in your field! Producing blogs, videos, podcasts, and comments on other people’s social media is a great way to self-identify as an expert. Plus, it gives you the added advantage of giving Google something to find when recruiters are searching for talent.