How Companies Identify Talent with Gianine Esposito & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Shionogi Inc Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Ensuring that the words we use when exiting an employee, comforting a team or sharing in a company-wide email are carefully and thoughtfully spoken/written can mean all the difference.

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 Gianine Esposito.

Gianine Esposito is a Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Shionogi Inc, a pharmaceutical company focusing on several therapeutic areas including infectious disease. With 19 years of progressive HR experience, she has expertise in different areas of HR including recruitment, HR strategy and change management, and is a certified Executive Coach.

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

Thanks for inviting me to share my HR experience and knowledge. Like many in our profession, I didn’t begin my career in Human Resources. My first job was eight years in the fashion industry, where I held a variety of positions in buying, sales and merchandise planning. I loved the industry, but none of the roles felt quite right. While working for Gap Inc. I was invited to join HR on a college recruitment trip and I loved every minute of it. A year later I became one of the company’s college recruiters and the rest is history.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

Ten years ago, I was happily employed and not thinking about making a career move. A recruiter in my network, who knew me well, reached out about an opportunity that she thought was perfect for me. When I graciously declined the chance to interview, she called again a few weeks later and again I declined. Finally, she called and said “Gianine, I looked on a map. Do you know this job is two miles from your house?” I admit that it was the short commute that motivated me to interview for the position, but it wound up being the best decision I could’ve made. That’s the route I took to Shionogi. The recruiter knew that the company, culture, and job were a perfect fit for me. The lesson is, always be open to listening to new opportunities, especially when they come from people you trust. You never know what they may bring.

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? Please share an example for each idea.

  1. Review the company’s strategic plan and goals, and make sure the HR strategy lines up with the business strategy. Hire for the future in addition to the present needs.
  2. Develop a recruiting strategy that is specific to each vacancy. It’s key that the HR/recruiting team understands the business needs and team dynamics for each role to land a successful match.
  3. Understand your company’s culture, including the good and the bad. A candidate with the perfect skillset, but unable to work in your company’s culture, won’t be happy, and the feeling may be mutual.
  4. Consider the candidate’s specific career aspirations and motivations. Make sure you understand why the candidate(s) want this job and to work for your company. Ask them where they want to be in the next few years. Again, if the reality of the future doesn’t match what the candidate is looking for, you have a flight risk before they start the job.
  5. Build an alternate candidate profile. Sometimes the hiring manager envisions only one profile for the vacancy. Thinking through other options not only widens the candidate pool but may also provide new opportunities for other team members.

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. We have a good story. Shionogi is small and not well-known in the U.S. We’ve worked hard to create our story, and often it’s the hook on a cold call.
  2. We make recruitment personal. Often, recruiters only care about making the hire. Our recruiters are warm-hearted and try to connect with every candidate in some way. This approach is reflective of the culture that candidates will find at Shionogi.
  3. We try to understand the candidates’ perspectives. We know that an interview is just as much about the candidate meeting us as it is about us meeting them. Knowing what’s important to the candidate helps us ensure we make the best match possible for everyone involved.

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 encourage people to Listen Without Judgement. It’s a must for HR professionals and often creates connections and understanding where before there were none. The skill of listening is just as important as making sure we make our point. While we may not agree with a different point of view, we may learn something new that broadens our perspective.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A leader is a dealer in hope” — Napoleon Bonaparte

Many times, HR is involved in situations that are unfortunate, such as poor business results which lead to downsizing, the death of an employee, reacting to external crises, etc. Often HR is the one voice to all employees, and we must be aware that people are listening. Ensuring that the words we use when exiting an employee, comforting a team, or sharing in a company-wide email are carefully and thoughtfully spoken/written can mean all the difference.

We are very 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?

Marshall Goldsmith, the executive leadership coach. I saw him speak once and he was so dynamic, funny, engaging, and insightful that I’d love the chance to meet him. I could use a little coaching!

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

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