Our approach is a positive candidate experience, where potential hires leave interviews wanting to work here, even if they ultimately don’t get an offer.
Asa part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Amber Bouchard.
Amber Bouchard leads Maven Wave’s North American Talent Acquisition. Preceding Maven Wave, Ms. Bouchard focused on hiring experienced professionals for the Information Technology department at Grosvenor Capital Management, and managed the campus recruitment program. Having begun her career at an executive search firm, she brings recruitment experience within Technology, Finance, Accounting, Sales, and Operations. Ms. Bouchard has a passion for creating and implementing strategic and innovative practices to ensure Maven Wave is recruiting and retaining the industry’s best talent.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
You mean that not every child dreams of growing up and becoming a recruiter?! I had big plans of being an attorney but knew I didn’t have the patience for that many years of schooling. Being a lawyer is all about selling your story and persuading an audience; similarly, in recruiting, you are selling opportunity and persuading candidates. You have to be a strong communicator, exude passion, empathize, and most importantly, believe in the opportunity you are selling. If you don’t, it’s time to find a new job…we’re hiring!!
Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started working at Maven Wave, I was the only recruiter. I hired six people my first year. Fast forward five years, our revenue has grown 477% in one year alone and I lead a team of four recruiters. Last year, we hired 121 new Mavens. This ride has been interesting, fun, challenging, scary at times, and oh so fulfilling! Work for a leadership team that you believe in — it will motivate and inspire you on a daily basis. The only person limiting your career growth and development is you!
Sounds like a ride! Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?
We have recently started to invest heavily on diversity and inclusion efforts. Here at Maven Wave, we believe that workplace diversity plays a critical role in the culture, creative thinking, and technological innovation of our firm. We also recognize that in order to retain great employees, we need to create a safe workplace where our employees feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. In parallel to our TA team focusing on recruiting diverse talent, Mavens have started subgroups within the company — one focused on women (WAM) and another focused on LBGTQ+ (Wavelength). We are still small(ish) but one small step, or group, is still a step in the right direction to create inclusive communities! It’s been so great to see how many people, from the top down, are willing to support other Mavens’ passion to create awareness and visibility. Find your voice and use it; you just might be surprised how many people will get behind you!
Every step helps! Let’s now jump over to the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example for each idea.
1) Identify Current Employees’ Best Qualities:
We’ve looked at each group’s top performers and identified what makes each of those individuals successful. We have then been able to search for those qualities with potential new hires. When you understand and can formalize your top talent’s commonalities, organic sourcing and interviewing becomes much more efficient.
2) Get to Know Your Hiring Managers:
We implemented a Horizontal Recruiter Rotation that allows our recruiters to spend one full quarter with a single horizontal (department). This allows our recruiters to spend quality time with the Managing Director of that group, hiring managers, and employees within that team in order to build rapport, learn exactly what they are looking for, learn how to better articulate the day-to-day of the role, report on our candidate pipeline, and so much more. As a growing company, we understand that each of our Horizontal Lead’s and hiring managers have different ideas for how to effectively achieve growth within their group. At the end of the day, we all believe that our people are our greatest assets!
3) Post-and-Pray No More:
We are very focused on organic sourcing. Being a candidate’s market, there is a shift to fewer and fewer applicants. Our goal is to organically source at least 50% of our new hires, so we’ve had to get creative with who we reach out to and how. The most important factor with our outreach is that it is authentic and true to who we are as a company and as individual Mavens.
4) Promote Employee Engagement and Make it Fun:
We have gamified the employment referral process. We have a Recruit-a-Palooza where we invite Mavens to join us in a large group setting for lunch and ask them to turn to their LinkedIn networks in a fun way with searches and games. We reward responses to that outreach with fun gifts and giveaways. We also have an after-hours meet-and-greet where we ask our Mavens to invite anyone that would be a qualified cultural fit. It gives those potential candidates, and us, a comfortable space to learn more about one another — not as formal as an interview, but formal enough to get a taste of who we are as a company and as a team and vice versa. We have about a 33% referral hire rate via these programs.
5) Continuously Improve Your Process:
Recruiting is not a set-it-and-forget-it sport. We are constantly brainstorming on ways to be innovative with our recruiting processes, strategies, and candidate experience. We survey every candidate that moves past a recruiter phone screen — we love, love, love feedback! We meet once per week to discuss what is working and what is not within sourcing, interviewing, feedback meetings, on-boarding, etc. If something isn’t working, we need to know. We like to fail fast so we can pivot and try something new.
Thank you for sharing those tips. With so much noise and competition out there, what are the top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?
Candidate experience is everything! From the moment a potential candidate interacts with our brand, the recruiting process begins. As humans, we tend to believe what we can see; we want to offer a look into our culture, leaders and team members through our recruitment marketing videos which essentially showcase daily ‘Life as a Maven.’ We have embedded these videos into our website, candidate emails, and online workplace review sites.
During our interview process, we also like candidates to ‘test drive’ their potential new role. We have interview exercises — case studies, presentations, whiteboarding — that allow candidates to gain a hands-on understanding of what they would be doing on a daily basis. Candidates either love this, or they disqualify themselves by saying ‘this isn’t what I’m looking for.’ Our approach is a positive candidate experience, where potential hires leave interviews wanting to work here, even if they ultimately don’t get an offer.
Whether a candidate is hired or not, we survey them all the time to make sure we are utilizing the feedback provided to make ourselves, processes, and candidate experiences better.
Always nice to hear about a company open to feedback from everyone to improve the candidate experience. What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?
In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? Can you give some examples of what this looks like?
We love to be in the know, especially when it comes to what is happening within people analytics, talent sourcing changes, benefit offerings, innovative HR practices, and smarter recruiting. We join webinars, attend various meetups and networking events, and try to hit at a few big conferences. We have also found that you can learn a lot by simply listening to candidates and their experiences of interviewing, previous or current employment, what competitive offers look like, and additional perks. If you listen, you can gather a ton of insight into the market and within the industry!
Listening is huge! Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?
We’ve started having bi-monthly lunch-and-learns that all Mavens are invited to. Sometimes the topics are about a technology, sometimes they’re about client projects. Any Maven can submit a topic to HR and request to present. Learning opportunities are invaluable! By doing these lunch and learns, we can focus on continued training and development for our employees, and drive overall engagement — all we pay for is lunch!
Sounds fun and helpful! You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to find a home for every homeless dog. Dogs provide unconditional love which makes you a happier person, happier people are just… well, happier. Fast-forward and we maybe, just maybe, have world peace! Kidding aside, I am super passionate about animals, specifically dogs. My Great Dane would have been put down if he did not find a home — a perfectly healthy, adorable baby Great Dane! I think the world would be a better place if everyone could experience the sense of well-being, love, emotional support, and joy that a dog provides!
My two pups and I are big fans of that answer! Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” I have weekly meetings with Partners of our firm and weekly meetings with our recruiting team; both conversations challenge me, drive motivation, and make me feel so proud to work with such incredible people. Work for leaders you respect, hire people who will help you grow as a professional, and surround yourself with people who make you better — professionally and personally!
Speaking of smart people, some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?
I would love to dine with the Jill Ellis, Coach of the US Women’s National Soccer Team and now back-to-back World Cup Champs. Sports in general can teach a person so much teamwork and life, and Jill is the ultimate woman of power! I would love to learn more about how she leads an elite set of individuals both on and off the field.
Great choice! Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!