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5 Ways To Identify And Retain Top Employees with Nicole Solecki & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Revenuewell Human Resources

I try to coach new employees to be mindful of the environment. I also keep my eyes peeled for anyone that might be overindulging, and help them before they do something they might regret. I want to protect my employees as much as the company.

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 Nicole Solecki.

Nicole Solecki, PHR, became the HR Business Partner at RevenueWell to help run HR initiatives in the newly opened downtown Chicago office in July of 2018. After receiving her BFA in Theater Studies, she worked as an Administrative Assistant, Office Manager, and finally as a Human Resources Business Partner. In July of 2018 she earned her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute. Nicole prides herself on incorporating a humanist employee-focused approach to her work.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Honestly, I kind of fell into it. I was working as an Office Manager doing a lot of the HR work for our company without even realizing it, and, when pursuing my next career move, I found that I aligned a lot with HR. I’ve always wanted to be in a career where I could help others, and this seemed like a great fit. HR gets a bad name at times, but I believe bringing a positive employee-focused attitude towards my career builds trust and allows me to be much more effective in the field.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career?

A few years ago, my previous company held a retreat in which we ended the week with a party. At this party, the drinks started flowing and one employee had a little too much. Poor judgment led to touching another coworker inappropriately. The offended employee merely wanted the offender talked to, but it was a sober reminder that no matter how relaxed a corporate culture is, and how freely the alcohol might flow, a certain level of decorum must be met when you’re with coworkers.

Since then, I try to coach new employees to be mindful of the environment. I also keep my eyes peeled for anyone that might be overindulging, and help them before they do something they might regret. I want to protect my employees as much as the company.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

The most exciting project I’m working on is helping open and support the newest branch of RevenueWell in downtown Chicago. It’s been an amazing experience bringing on new talent and watching the office grow to the point where we have to pause while scaling for that growth.

I love corporate culture and building an office atmosphere where people look forward to coming to the office rather than dreading it. I’m lucky enough that RevenueWell allows me a lot of freedom doing fun things for the office.

This office is also small enough that I can connect with each person on an almost daily basis. All of this keeps me in touch with each employee, and makes me much more effective in my role.

Ok fantastic. Let’s now jump 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. Background is obviously number one. I hire from entry-level to execs, so finding the right background to fit the role is key. If a candidate is looking for something more entry-level, their resume should be tailored to highlight past jobs that prepared them for this career path. The old adage about applying even if you don’t think you’re qualified can be true. If you have 3–4 years of experience and the job description is asking for 5, definitely apply. However, there is a limit. Don’t just apply to everything for the sake of getting your name out there, because you might end up getting flagged as someone we will not be hiring.
  2. A clean easy to follow resume. The biggest mistakes I’ve seen with resumes are as follows: there are no job titles, just the name of the company and dates; there’s no description of tasks completed at each job; typos — one or two can be overlooked, a bunch all over are going to be a hard no; fresh out of college putting college sports, education etc. at the top of the resume — that information should go at the bottom after your experience; too small of font — not as much of a red flag as some of the others, but the easier to read, the more likely to get read.
  3. LinkedIn profile. Many HR professionals immediately jump on LinkedIn to check out the profile. Not having one won’t necessarily rule you out, but having one will definitely give you an edge. Color in as much of your profile as possible. If you are using LinkedIn to “Quick Apply,” make sure you have what your tasks were at each job filled in as well. Otherwise, all we get is your basic profile and it seems incredibly lazy. Having people write recommendations that can speak to your work also makes you stand out. Finally, message the hiring manager or HR directly. My job postings state that I posted them; it’s easy to figure out and those candidates stand out far above the rest.
  4. Desired Salary. I know it’s a headache for a lot of candidates who don’t want to overshoot or undershoot. We utilize this information so we can easily figure out whether or not we are even in the same range. I don’t want to waste either of our time, and this is a simple way to figure that out. I recommend researching salary ranges and putting where you think your experience falls in that range. If you are $5k — $10k above my range, we typically have some wiggle room. If you’re below, you are probably more entry-level, and certain managers will entertain that — it’s even possible we meet you higher than you’re asking. View desired salary as a jumping off point.
  5. Confidence and attitude. If you’re nervous before an interview, do some power posing to up your confidence. At the end of the day, we are people and we understand you’re going to be nervous. I even know some newer hiring managers that are nervous while interviewing. We want to like you, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be talking to you.

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?

  1. Having a positive online presence. The first thing candidates want to know is how you treat other employees and if you’re a reputable company.
  2. Corporate culture. Treat employees like they matter, not like they’re just another cog in the machine to make the company money
  3. Competitive salary. Pay people what they are worth. Candidates are going to find this info on Glassdoor, and it makes you more attractive to applicants.

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

  1. Hear them. I feel the best way to retain is to listen to employees’ goals and find ways to help them reach them. The biggest complaint I hear from people looking to leave a previous job is that there is no growth potential.
  2. Build trust. I love how transparent we are at RevenueWell. It builds trust among our employees and garners mutual respect.
  3. Have fun. At RevenueWell we love to have fun while kicking a$$ at what we do! Some employees prefer to be head down, get their work done, and leave, and that’s fine too! We encourage everyone to simply be who they are while bringing their talents to their job.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

I definitely think it’s important for HR to keep up with the latest trends if we want to ensure that our company stays relevant. Corporate culture has changed immensely over the last 50 years, that and ignoring trends would mean alienating a slew of potential candidates. We need to know what everyone, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z, is looking for in a work environment and then create one that fits every need. We can’t always be 100% successful, but we can always try.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

A positive corporate culture adds immeasurable value. For example, at RevenueWell we bring bagels into the office weekly, keep fresh fruit on hand, host weekly happy hours, hold monthly pizza Fridays, and celebrate every victory we can! When the Chicago office hit 25 employees we had a party; when we hit 7,000 customers, we’re going to have a party. We pride ourselves in having an office where people feel like they might miss out on something if they’re not here, and never dread coming in.

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’d love to see the “get rid of that nasty voice in your head” movement take hold. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot over the last few years and has improved my wellbeing in a myriad of ways. I used to be so mean to myself, but now any time I get into a negative feedback loop, I talk back to that voice and reason why it’s wrong. You always hear “love yourself,” but never a definitive way how. I’ve found that telling that negative voice to shut up has helped me truly love myself, and affected both my personal and professional lives positively.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Know your worth. I didn’t for a very long time, and would get so caught up in the value others put on me rather than recognizing I was being undervalued. When I finally realized it, my career path had changed and I saw that I had more potential than my head held me back from. Don’t let people tell you your value; they don’t always see it.

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?

Brené Brown. She does amazing work on the subject of shame and how pervasive and negative it is in our society. Her work is groundbreaking, even if she would blush reading this. I would love to chat with her about her work, and pick her brain on how to best to live a life free of causing shame to others and being as vulnerable as possible.

Thank you for sharing so many valuable insights with us today!

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