How Companies Identify Talent with Michelle Keefe & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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iCAD Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Be kind to one another. It is simple, but if more people could think about this and make a shift in their mindset, imagine the possibilities!

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 Michelle Keefe, VP of Human Resources at iCAD.

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

I started out in my professional career working in administration and office management, and HR just kind of fell into my lap. I joined a Canadian software start-up and I was one of the first U.S. employees hired and the only non-sales US hire, so I just grabbed the bull by the horns and worked my way through setting up some of the normal expected things that needed to be done such as U.S. benefits (CDN health insurance was just not going to cut it in Boston!), U.S. holiday schedule, and we had to hire many sales and support people, and being the only non-sales person, I just navigated my way through it all to make sure we were reaching our goals. Before I knew it, I was running all of the HR functions for this company in the U.S.

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?

I have learned that just when I thought I’d seen it all, I haven’t. To name a few, I have dealt with internal romantic relationships turning into marriages and some tough break ups, navigating the logistics of restraining orders between employees, and inappropriate behavior from an employee on a golf course during a company outing. On the flip side, and more recently I was able to help spread the word about an employee who is adopting a 13-year-old girl from another country. His family already consists of 6 children (4 biological and 2 adopted), and they were looking for help to raise some of the costs of the adoption. All I did was forward the email along, but I received so responses from employees who were so thankful to learn about it and be a part of it. I love to see these amazing employee stories.

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?

  1. Intuition: Experience is important, but it has to be matched with chemistry. At another company I worked with, I once had an employee tell me that the company had such a great culture, it was like a psychologist hired everyone. Now, I can’t take credit for that, but it is one of those statements I’ll never forget. We spend so much time at work, it is important to really have good chemistry with the people we work with.
  2. Industry experience: We work in a very niche industry and people with our industry experience can get up to speed and make an impact much faster.
  3. Leveraging HR Tools: I post job opportunities on our website, which spiders to Glassdoor & I review the online applications and resumes with the hiring managers and select candidates for phone screens if their backgrounds look like a fit.
  4. Social Media: For the hard to fill positions, I use LinkedIn to post jobs and do outreach to potential candidates via LinkedIn Recruiter Lite. I also use the resume database to search for potential candidates. Once in a while, we post to user groups and associations.
  5. Networking: Networking is one of the best ways to find great talent. We also consistently leverage the employee referral program. In select cases, we utilize staffing companies or other vendors.

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?

Our HR team is amazing, assertive and we don’t give up easily! We do a lot of outreach through our own research, and we also try to tap into our own employee referrals. Lastly, never miss a networking opportunity, it can be at the next pool party you bring your child to!

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Be kind to one another. It is simple, but if more people could think about this and make a shift in their mindset, imagine the possibilities! Something I learned and I work really hard to live by in my role is that you treat people the way you want to be treated. Human decency is really important to me.

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

Many years ago, one of my HR mentors said to me “It’s not you, it’s them.” The lesson she was trying to give me was that I needed to learn I was never going to please everyone and not to take things personally when someone didn’t like what I did. This is something I use almost daily in my own personal and professional life but also when I coach others through tough situations.

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?

I’m a big Boston baseball and hockey fan; a few of my favorites are Jason Varitek and Brad Marchand. I would love to have lunch with them because I believe the conversation would be so much fun. They both have done a ton of community work within Boston, but being a sports lover and watching them for all their years, I’d love to just get to chat with them over a burger!

Great to see a hockey player get a mention, I’m a huge fan as well. Thank you so much for sharing so many fantastic insights!

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