Recruiting: Making moments that matter

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on recruiting strategies and priorities for HR leaders–from HR’s top experts. The interviews were conducted prior to the impacts of coronavirus on the workplace.


Michele Mavi, director of internal recruiting for staffing firm Atrium, says she understands all too well what’s at stake during the hiring process.

“You can poison the well with one bad hire,” she says. “It’s better to not make a hire at all than make the wrong one.”

For Mavi, getting the right person is especially critical. She is in charge of finding people to establish new Atrium offices in various cities around the country, as the company expands into providing staffing services for clients in the fashion retail industry. The ideal candidate, says Mavi, is a person with executive-level experience and a start-up mentality.

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“The type of person we’re looking for typically already has a stable position with a good track record, so we’re asking them to take a bit of a risk in joining us and that requires us to entice them by showing them who we are as a company,” she says.

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“Once a candidate accepts an offer, we do a lot of things,” he says. “We share internal memos and documents with them that are relevant to their new role. We get them set up on email and Slack so they feel connected to their new teams, and we get their clothing sizes so they’ll have company swag waiting for them at their desks on their first day.”

At Graham Co., one of the nation’s largest insurance brokers, Vice President of HR Karen Boyle is focused on hiring sales and client-service professionals who may not have insurance backgrounds yet possess the attributes that the company values.

“We pride ourselves on being the gold standard in the insurance world,” she says. “We hire good, kind people and teach them our way of consulting.”

Finding the right people for these roles includes ensuring not only that they’re committed to maintaining Graham’s strong reputation but that they’re also comfortable with the less-glamorous aspects of the work, says Boyle.

Related: How HR can rethink workforce planning, hiring

“We want to ensure people have a full, honest picture of what to expect,” she says.

Finding a job is often a fraught process for candidates, similar in some ways to buying a house or even getting married. The organizations that are the most successful in attracting and retaining good hires, say experts, are the ones that prioritize building strong relationships with them at the outset. This includes familiarizing them with the company and its mission, providing realistic job previews and helping them get to know the people they’ll be working for and with.

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“I often compare the candidate experience to dating: The better the date, the better chance there is of a long-term relationship,” says Jen Clark, vice president of talent acquisition at staffing firm OperationsInc.

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Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.