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How Companies Identify Talent with Robin Throckmorton and Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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strategic HR inc. Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Pay it forward. Think of all of the little things that made your day, which then inspired you to make someone else’s day, and so on and so forth. It costs nothing, it’s easy to do, and it lifts other people up when they would normally feel low.

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 Robin Throckmorton.

Robin Throckmorton is the President & Founder of strategic HR inc., bringing nearly 30 years of human resources experience in healthcare, manufacturing, service, and non-profit organizations.

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

I started a strategic HR inc. twenty-five years ago in 1995. I grew up in a family-owned business, which taught me how to be an entrepreneur from a young age. In my last “real job”, one of my projects was to write a voluntary reduction-in-force package that would entice someone like me to take it. I was working at an environmental cleanup facility, essentially working myself out of a job (plus, I was 8 months pregnant). As you can predict, I did take the voluntary reduction-in-force offer, and due to further encouragement from my Master’s Program professors, I started my own consulting business. I can proudly say I had my first client within just a few months, and twenty-five years later, I’ve never looked back. I’ve grown my consulting business from a one-woman show in my basement to a company with twenty-plus employees in our own office.

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?

When I first launched strategic HR inc., I actually obtained my first client by responding to a job ad in the newspaper. When I met with the VP of HR, I actually told him that I wasn’t interested in the job at hand but a slightly different one. In the end, he did hire me for the job posted AND what I wanted to do for them — which resulted in a business relationship that has lasted for over 20 years. Responding to a job posting in the newspaper is the last thing I’d ever tell someone to help start their business, but keeping all your options open and speaking honestly does help to build business relationships.

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 make sure to include a pre-screening questionnaire early on in our process, typically before we ever speak directly with the candidate. This allows us to quickly address some of the logistical questions or issues that may tie us up later on in the process, as well as assess writing skills if related to the role. Plus, since we’re an outsourced HR firm, this allows us to quickly narrow in on the right candidates for our clients rather than wasting unnecessary time.

We utilize assessments such as OutMatch to assess a person’s strengths and opportunities in relation to the job opening, but also to provide ways that we (as managers and leaders) can help them grow should they join the team.

We’ve also begun to use a tool through the OutMatch assessment program that allows us to integrate video interviewing into our process. This allows us to compare candidates against the same question, back to back, and the platform provides more opportunities to share with multiple managers on their time (rather than having to schedule multiple people in multiple interviews).

We rely on background checks and reference checks. The latter may feel a little outdated for some, but I stand by them. You can learn valuable information about a person’s work performance by having a brief conversation with a reference. You would be surprised by the number of conversations I’ve had with references who were expected to give a glowing review of someone’s work, only for them to raise some serious concerns about the individual’s fit for the role.

If the role is going to require training, managing, or working with external parties, consider having your candidates pull together a presentation on your product or something within your industry. This presentation will give you insight into how they carry themselves in a professional setting, if they can clearly communicate and teach unfamiliar concepts, and if you would trust them to represent your company externally.

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?

The first way is also the way that we attract clients — by positioning ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, and in our area. People want to work for companies and leaders who can prove that they are experts, or that they’re the best at what they do. We utilize our LinkedIn network (of almost 46,000 followers) to share information, articles, jobs, etc.

The second way is to put “good” out into our networks with the hopes of receiving “good” back. If there’s a connection I can make for someone, if there’s a bridge I can build or a direction that I can point someone in, I’m willing to do so. Not only because it’s a part of my natural values, but because I’ve seen how goodwill can come back around.

Get reviews! Candidates will dig into company reviews just as your customers do. Encourage all of your employees (not just the most successful ones) to leave reviews on places like Glassdoor, Facebook, and Google in order to get the word out there. Candidates want to see if your customers are having good experiences if your current and past employees had good things to say, and how your company responded if you didn’t receive a stellar review. These reviews can speak volumes for your internal culture, ultimately attracting more candidates.

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

Pay it forward. Think of all of the little things that made your day, which then inspired you to make someone else’s day, and so on and so forth. It costs nothing, it’s easy to do, and it lifts other people up when they would normally feel low.

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

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.” — Dolly Parton

This quote aligns well with my own mission — to guide myself and others to obtaining happiness and success across both their professional and personal lives. With every client, we work with and every network contact I make, I offer to help them in any way I can to succeed.

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?

To be honest, my answer is more of a wish close to my heart. My grandfather, George Vaught (or “Papa”, as we called him), was an amazing man who did so much for so many people. He was a very successful high school band director. Not only was the band itself very successful, but he touched so many lives with all he did for those kids and their families. I hope that I inherited some of those traits from him. Unfortunately, he passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 55. I was much too young to really get to know him, and I would treasure that private lunch with him like no other.

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

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