How Companies Identify Talent with Bert E. Miller & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Bert E Miller HR Strategies, Human Resources

I decided to stop chasing what was popular and instead create and chase my own path.

As a 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 Bert E. Miller.

With over 25 years of leadership experience in the World of Work, Bert E. Miller currently serves as CEO of Protis Global and ace Talent Curators, and President and CEO of MRIN, a network-centric recruitment organization that offers consulting, training, contract staffing, and community building to over 325 search firms worldwide.

Thank you for doing this! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

Early in my career, I was part of Revlon’s college recruiting program. The program was designed to hire new graduates from Miami University, Colorado State, and Indiana University — some of the top-ranked business programs — as territory managers across the U.S.

I would travel to these universities and hold between 12 and 14 half-hour interviews each day. Then I would take the groups out for a meal to see how they operated when they were in their element. I loved it. I gained confidence and learned a lot about interviewing and reading people.

I always had an entrepreneurial dream — I wanted to build something from the ground up, positively impacting people, and write my own story. I also knew that I wanted to be home most nights to coach my children in sports and be active in their upbringing. I quickly realized that recruiting could be my pathway to an entrepreneurial future. Recruiting passive, experienced candidates for executive roles is far more complicated than hiring students. Still, my time at Revlon instilled the initial love of connecting great people with great opportunities.

Can you share a story that left an impact on you? What lesson did you learn from that?

As a recruiter, it’s easy to feel like the job is transactional. Find a candidate, fill an opening. But most recruiters have a defining moment when they realize that people’s jobs are one of the most impactful elements of their lives. You start to hold yourself accountable for making fits that benefit the individual and their families.

I learned this lesson a tough way. We were placing an incredible professional in a role in Chicago, and the whole family traveled from Michigan to Chicago to see the new office and get a feel for the new company. Their college-aged daughter left early to drive back to Michigan State and was killed in a car accident. I knew that I couldn’t hold myself responsible, but I also knew that I played a part in that outcome. I remember it like it was yesterday and have always let that situation impact my decisions as a recruiter. It’s critical that we remember we are shaping people’s lives. We need to look at the whole picture and remember that these are real people with families. It’s not just a placement win.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into 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?

We focus on the Hiring Stack Approach, a methodology coined by our Chief Vision Officer, Joe Mullings. The Hiring Stack re-prioritizes specific qualities and capabilities to help recruiters and hiring managers make informed decisions and find the people best suited to the role and current ways of working.

We focus on attributes first: cognitive intelligence, integrity, endurance, abstract thinking, and teamwork. Then, we evaluate skills and education. We don’t hone in purely on formal institutions or degrees but rather work to understand whether an individual is capable of and prone to continuous learning. We learn as much as we can about their experiences to understand the lessons, outcomes, and results the individual has acquired and achieved.

To get to know candidates in this way, we interview based on an “Individual Scorecard,” which considers a candidate’s personal, professional, and financial objectives. Breaking these three motivators apart enables us to understand a candidate’s “why” — what drives them, how they operate, and how hard they are willing to work to achieve their goals. It’s a disarming approach that leads to genuine conversation and reveals one’s EQ in addition to their technical skillset.

As a final step, we use the Wonderlic Test, a contemporary cognitive ability test, to assess for IQ.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

We use a media-forward approach. Our goal is to position our Network as subject matter experts and leading voices in their respective industries to connect with passive talent on the digital channels where these professionals are already active and engaged.

We also focus on product development to enhance and elevate the search experience. We have developed tools specific to the World of Work, such as interactive job orders that help candidates gain a full 360-degree view of the opportunity and the hiring company.

Finally, as mentioned, we focus on developing an Individual Scorecard for the candidate. This ensures that their career path is aligned with their values and priorities and makes sense for them.

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 believe that starting at a young age, we should be teaching our youth:

  • The importance of self-awareness
  • The significance of community spirit over individualism
  • The strength of humility
  • How to identify a passion
  • The difference between adaptation and defeat
  • The value of relationships
  • That we are all a continuous work in progress, undergoing change

We are blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, 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?

Richard Branson. He’s a rule breaker who is willing to take risks. His love and humility complement his drive and competitiveness. He strikes me as someone who sees caring as a strength, not a weakness, and who can be tough without losing sight of others’ feelings. He has artistic attributes, a legacy of moving people, a firm hold on the hospitality industry, and a keen interest in space exploration — I would love the chance to chat over a long lunch.

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today!

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