V.P. Human Resources, Hollywood Casino, Baton Rouge
Maura McElhone, Producer
K.C. Donovan, Editor
Like many people, I just sort of fell into it and fell in love with it and stayed.
For my first job out of school, I went to a recruiting agency for help in finding a position, and they hired me to work for them. I was a gofer. I assisted the recruiters and did a lot of behind the scenes activities. It was my entrée into interviewing and placing candidates, taking job orders and recruiting. They let me set up the skill-testing program. I was even doing payroll. It was fascinating, and I really enjoyed it.
From there, I moved on to my first in-house role working as a recruiter for a regional bank and have stayed in it ever since.
I think one of the things that was key for me, was I moved back and forth from in-house Recruiting roles to HR Generalist roles, and I did this very purposefully throughout my career. I’ve been an HR Director, Regional Business Partner and a VP of HR, so I have had all responsibilities in HR under my umbrella, but I’ve also gone back out and spent several years periodically running in-house recruiting programs. I think that’s molded my thinking. It’s very clear and it’s very important to me that we not be siloed within HR, especially when you get to large enterprises where it can be very easy to silo.
I think it comes down to reminding people you’re interested in them. Especially for a targeted candidate that you really want to nurture. I once had a finance candidate, and he was sort of looking but not seriously. We connected, LinkedIn, the whole thing, and we stayed in touch. Every several months, I’d send him a “Hey, how you doing, how’s your job doing.” I’d forward him a news article every now and again. These weren’t huge conversations, they weren’t diving deep into anything, but we were just staying in touch. Eventually, several years later a position did open up and he was ready for the move. I wasn’t coming out of the blue. It’s not like he was my best friend, but it was somebody we had that connection with — just these really simple little pieces of communication made the difference.
I’m of the opinion that nobody’s ever really truly passive. Most people are open to some sort of discussion about their career. More individuals are taking charge with a plan for what they want to do, so they’re not really as passive. Just because they’re not going out and searching for jobs, I think they’re open to career conversations. In my industry, we do a lot of community awareness events from a customer marketing standpoint. I find these are perfect opportunities for my team to go and just be available for conversations. Something like, “oh, by the way, if you think this is a fascinating industry, hey, we work in recruiting, and yes, we also have opportunities.” So, we get at those passive candidates sometimes that way as well.
I was an in-house recruiter at a bank, and I actually went around town and opened five or six accounts at our competitors. I’d go in, do a transaction, and start to get to know the people there. At the teller window it usually became very conversational, “oh, yes, I work at XYZ bank and boy if you’re looking to make a change, hey, remember, I work there,” very much a passive candidate type of thing. The key was really going to where they were, not being obnoxious about it, but building relationships as a customer, as a person, and just letting them know we’d be interested. It’s old-school recruiting, right? I think it’s about being human, being willing to have that personal conversation.
I work in the casino industry, it’s food service, entertainment, and lots of high-volume hiring. We’re constantly keeping that pipeline filled, and it’s not just the job of our recruiting team, it takes a village. This is how a company can stand out. I gave business cards to all employees to give out to people around town that provided them with exceptional customer service. On one side it says, “You’re a star. We should talk," and has a link to our careers site. On the other side it says, “Thank you for the great service. You’re the kind of person we want on our team. If you’re happy where you are, then again thanks for the great service, but if you’re thinking about a change, we’d like you to check us out.” We’ve had a number of conversions from this effort.
Find them, talk to them, be real, be truthful, be authentic. Have a conversation, and allow them to understand the opportunities that may be available to them and move them down that path when they’re ready to move down that path.
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