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Recruiting, A Blend of Art & Science

Julie brings a wealth of knowledge and professional experience in talent acquisition from both Executive Search and Corporate Human Resources. Starting her career in Marketing, Julie brings a unique perspective to the topic “Recruiting, A Blend of Art and Science.” We wish to thank Julie for her contribution to our guest blogger series. For more on Julie, visit her LinkedIn here.

If you are a Talent Acquisition (TA) executive, you’ve been in this spot before: tasked with leading the recruiting efforts for a high profile, senior level search that needs to be filled yesterday. The pressure is on – What do you do? Where do you start? How do you prioritize it amongst your other requisitions and how do you build credibility/confidence instantly with the hiring manager and stakeholders?

The war on talent is real, whether you’re involved in volume hiring or making key executive hires. With approximately 5.1 million open jobs posted online coupled with the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.1% (Bureau of Labor Statistics), this makes for a tight labor market. When tackling a search, your mindset and a strong start right out of the gate are critical to its success.

Trained at an executive search firm and partnered with an industry veteran, I was taught early that recruiting is a blend of art and science, heavily intertwined at every stage. Striking a balance between the two is critical in 1) making a great placement and 2) garnering the trust and credibility of the hiring manager, stakeholders and the organization.

The “art” of recruiting refers to how you manage the overall recruitment process, and this is what I believe sets a strong Talent Acquisition executive apart from a Recruiter. The focus here is on the soft skills and finesse needed to leverage your network, field referrals, and perhaps most importantly, communicate with the candidate(s), hiring manager and stakeholders throughout the search. There is an art to engaging the players of the search from the start and setting the tone and expectations. This ensures a smooth search.

The “science” of recruiting refers to what you do to recruit for the role – the stages and mechanics behind the overall recruitment process, which I consider the price of admission. They include, sourcing, engaging, interviewing, assessing, and presenting talent. Proficiency in the use of recruitment tools, technologies and sourcing techniques all play a role in the science of the search as well.

With a working definition of the “art” and “science” of recruiting and how they intersect at every stage – below are a few thoughts based on my experience.

The blend of “Art” & “Science”

In his top-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote as habit #2 – “Begin with the End in Mind.” At the start of a search, there is typically some level of anxiety and sense of urgency for all involved. The vacancy may have caused a shift in workload to others, and/or loss in productivity or revenue. The goal of the talent acquisition leader is to build partnerships, source effectively, and minimize disruption as much as possible while keeping the end result in mind, which is to hire exceptional talent to fill the open role in a timely manner.

One of the most critical components to a search is the kick off or strategy meeting with the hiring manager and/or stakeholders. They may only have a few minutes to spend with you, but make the most of them, as it is during this meeting that you will set the tone for the next several weeks. Conducting this conversation with great finesse will ensure expectations and strategy are set and your partnership can begin with a solid foundation.

By showing knowledge and interest in their business, asking relevant questions about the position and even asking about their personal career journey can go a long way and elevate you as the expert, whereby you are acting as a consultant vs. an order taker. Expectations can also be outlined in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which illustrates each party’s responsibilities (hiring manager and recruiter) in getting to the finish line. Simultaneously at this meeting, the ‘science’ or gathering of key information such as job description and requirements, interview cadence,  and feedback protocol is equally important.

Executive Search organizations have long developed the science behind recruiting. One of my most useful strategies learned was known as the “10/10/10” concept, which was designed to ‘get out of the gate’ quickly. We contacted 10 people who we knew could do the job; 10 people who could refer us to great people; and, 10 companies we should go into. How you leverage your network, contact and engage these 30 people is the art.

The search is now underway – yet, after a few weeks of sourcing, interviewing and presenting candidates, there is still no one in the queue the hiring manager is excited about, and now you have an update meeting with the hiring manager and stakeholders to discuss the status of the search. You’re likely doing everything right – contacting passive candidates, leveraging your network (and the network of the hiring manager), maintaining a strong and up-to-date social media presence – yet the ‘rock star’ candidate has not yet surfaced.

Nowhere has the art of the process been more important yet substantiated by science. In meetings like these, I have learned that less is more. Come with the facts (how you have executed the search strategy how many candidates have been contacted, interested, interviewed, etc.), and after a quick history of ‘where you have been,’ steer the conversation quickly to ‘where you are going’ to move the search forward. Finesse plays a large role here. It is your delivery of this information that instills confidence that there are still new avenues to explore.


I have learned many things while leading Talent Acquisition functions and managing recruitment teams, and one thing holds true: when dealing with the human element, you never know who will surface, the degree to which your top candidates will be engaged in the opportunity, or what unexpected challenges might surface during the process. While there is no perfect candidate, there is a perfect person for every position. It is usually up to us to help managers see this.

By using a blend of art and science at every stage of the recruitment process, you achieve success in many ways – elevating your TA function, building partnerships with senior leaders and instilling confidence in the organization that you and your team are truly the experts in recruiting.

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How Leads Become Future Hires: When Relationship Recruiting Works Best

Karen Kahle has devoted much of her career to finding great talent for organizations at all levels.  Her talent acquisition experience includes leadership roles in Banking, Specialty Retail and Commercial Real Estate. Cisso Bean & Dutch extends its sincere thanks to Karen for contributing to our blog series.  For more on Karen Kahle, visit her LinkedIn here.

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”
Jim Collins, Best-selling Author

One of my most memorable relationship recruiting moments dates back to the start of my recruiting career.  It was in Florida and I needed to hire the Banking Center Manager for a new location. Through networking, I was referred to a highly-qualified individual who also managed the bank for one of our biggest competitors and was highly involved in the community.  She was the ideal candidate. Unfortunately, she wasn’t interested in considering another role.

I kept in touch with her periodically through phone and email.  After exhausting all other local leads, and weeks before the bank was scheduled to open, I decided to call her again and asked if she would reconsider.  It was a warm call, and since we had formed a relationship, she was open to speaking further about the opportunity. The next day I met with her over lunch.  We not only hired her as the Banking Center Manager, but through her professional network I was able to bring on board several other top candidates to staff the new location. Within two years this banking center became one of the top centers in the region!  My boss bragged that it was the most amazing lift out she had seen at the bank.

While this highlighted experience isn’t the result every time, it is one example of “relationship recruiting.”  Relationship recruiting is an established connection with someone you’ve met during the active recruiting stage of a search. Many will involve casual interactions that build trust over time and eventually result in hiring the person. So, what should you consider to ensure relationship recruiting works for you? These tips are a good place to start.

1. Target your approach.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (February 2018), the unemployment rate has held steady at 4.1 percent.  This means it’s a candidate-driven labor market. Before rushing into filling an open position, plan your strategy and determine where you will target your efforts.  Ask yourself – who are the individuals who have the qualifications for the job, where are they located (e.g., competitors, similar businesses, specific industries), who do you know that can provide good referrals, and how do you gain access to this pool of passive talent?  

Keep in mind, great talent receives many phone calls about job opportunities. This is especially true when sourcing executive-level talent as well as highly skilled or sought after candidates who are typically not inclined to view job postings.  Making these connections and building relationships with this passive talent pool, even if not a match for your current opening, can prove to be a strategic connection for the future. Spend less energy researching and posting to numerous job boards and more time on a targeted direct approach to build your talent pipeline. 

2. Perfect your brand presentation (The Elevator Pitch).

You’ve probably heard the adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” As much as this may seem like a cliché, it is extremely relevant in making your first contact with a prospect.  It is critical to have a 60 second spiel (your elevator pitch) prepared that includes the career opportunity you plan to present as well as the employment value proposition. You should be prepared to highlight selling features of the company, culture, and the opportunity.  In order to capture the attention of the prospect – and eventually establish a good rapport – you have to be confident in your presentation. Rejection is always a

“It is critical to have a 60 second spiel (your elevator pitch)…”

possibility, but most prospects will be both appreciative and flattered by the call. Even if the prospect isn’t interested in the opportunity, he/she will remember you by the confidence in your pitch and will be more likely to refer you to a colleague or to reach out in the future based on how you presented your company and opportunity.  

According to this March, 2015 Forbes Article “Recruiting In-Demand Talent Is About Relationships And Trust,” an important way to succeed in your search is to ‘Focus on Brand.’  Not only does your company need to have a crystal-clear mission with a consistent message across all social platforms, you as the recruiter have to be able to authentically articulate it to the prospect on the other end of the phone.  Recruiters who do it best excel at marketing the opportunity with confidence and developing rapport and trust with their prospects.

3. Invest in Recruitment Tools and Technologies.

It would be challenging today to manage the talent acquisition process without technology, and nearly impossible when dealing with passive talent who did not apply for a job nor submit a resume. The use of mobile, video, and social media are all essential tools in the recruitment climate today.  Another key recruitment tool worth the investment is a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) System. A CRM system helps you organize your pipeline of talent, and also tracks your interactions with them over time.

Today’s talent pool expects timely, relevant follow-ups and requires more than rote, impersonal correspondences. Separate yourself from the masses by elevating the candidate experience (and potential prospect experience) while seamlessly leveraging the full capabilities of recruitment technology.

“It would be challenging today to manage the talent acquisition process without technology…”

A CRM System allows you to communicate with and market effectively to your candidate pool, and it provides reporting capability on key metrics such as time to fill, source of hire, and cost per hire.  When speaking with talent prospects, capturing their information through the use of technology eases the flow of the interaction and builds conversation history for future contact. Candidates’ status will change as their professional and personal lives evolve.  A CRM System helps you track and organize this type of information, which ultimately helps you build a Talent Community.

4. Maximize every connection.

Some of the best industry knowledge and talent intelligence you can acquire can come from direct call connections. Whether it’s a recommendation of a notable organization or business society to tap into or a great referral – the connection is invaluable.  You may also find that your search needs to be revamped because the desired qualifications and experience do not align with industry norms or the talent you’ve been sourcing.

Leads turn into other leads and referrals.  In your direct recruiting calls, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral or an industry contact that may be able to support your search. However, it’s key to close the loop properly with a prospect even if there is no job match. This “relationship” makes it easier to reconnect and introduce a new opportunity to the prospect in the future.  In addition, a courtesy offer to share best practices and to stay in contact helps build the relationship even further.

Final Thoughts

Recruiting valuable talent involves more than just using job boards or having a strong social media platform.  The best talent is often identified through the relationship recruiting process.

One of the most important factors to recognize in the relationship recruiting process is that it takes time.  Relationship recruiting doesn’t always have an immediate return on investment. It is typically a process that pays dividends over time.  If you aren’t already, get comfortable with making old fashion cold calls to a potential candidate or proactively asking for referrals. This isn’t always an easy process, but remember that most individuals are receptive to a phone call to learn about a new opportunity, even if they end up not being interested at the time. Remember, be laser focused on where to source, perfect your elevator pitch, use effective recruitment technologies, and maximize every connection to secure the most valuable talent.

Happy recruiting!

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How Your Work Environment Affects Performance

With over 25 years of human resources experience, Sue Lang has worked with iconic brands such as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue and currently operates a consulting agency based in Michigan. Cisso Bean & Dutch, wishes to thank Sue for accepting our invitation to be a Guest Blogger and for her invaluable insights. For more on Sue, visit her LinkedIn here.

An office space is much more than walls, ceilings, doors, and floors. Its condition can actually have a direct impact on employee productivity and morale; therefore, it makes perfect sense to generate a workspace that is conducive to the well-being of the workforce.

Today, employers can use the work environment in creative ways to motivate, inspire, and even energize their teams. You can create a better, healthier work environment by addressing issues you may not have been aware of. Implementing these needed changes can result in happier employees, higher productivity, and overall better well-being.

If you’re convinced your work environment needs improvement but aren’t sure where to start, here are some factors to consider.


Noise is one of the greatest distractions in the workplace and can easily lead to a decrease in productivity. While open work spaces are slowly becoming the norm for businesses, they can create situations where it’s impossible for some people to focus. One good way to combat this is by offering employees multiple spaces to go to focus and get work done, such as empty offices or designated quiet spaces. Offering different options is also a good idea because no two employees are the same—some people work better when there’s background noise while others work better when it’s completely silent.


The office lighting can actually have a significant effect on employees’ well-being. Dim lighting drastically lowers productivity and fluorescent lighting has been known to cause headaches. Being away from natural light for several hours a day can also result in a decrease in Vitamin D, which can leave people feeling depressed and even weaken their immune systems. To combat these, try incorporating both natural and artificial light. Being near windows can help employees feel more relaxed and focused, and a bright space helps facilitate a cheerful mood and increased productivity.


Just like noise, being too hot or too cold can be distracting and lead to low productivity. While there isn’t a perfect temperature for every single employee, try to find the “happy medium” that most of your team is comfortable with.


Believe it or not, the furniture in an office space can have a considerable impact on productivity. Ensuring your employees are comfortable in their chairs and desks—especially if they sit for several hours a day—can decrease distractions and make putting in the hours a lot easier. Considering the furniture could also set your employees up for healthier lives in the long run. Research ergonomic office furniture to protect your team from musculoskeletal injuries. Invest in transitioning standing desks and allow your employees to effortlessly transition from sitting to standing.


There are many studies that suggest poor air quality reduces energy levels and affects concentration. Plants can be used to connect employees to a more natural environment. Even background music, while not suitable for every work environment, can often motivate and energize employees. Installing gym equipment and changing rooms can encourage employees to exercise, which in turn can increase the energy and overall mood of your employees.

Although nothing takes the place of meaningful work, supportive colleagues, a great boss and being a part of a thriving company, don’t overlook other factors that can have an effect on performance.

There’s a good book (easy read) on engaging and retaining talent called Love’Em or Lose’Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye & Sharon Jordan-Evans. Among the many thought nuggets in the book is one about the Stay Interview. In essence, don’t wait until an exit interview to learn that a small change in the work environment could have made a difference in keeping a good employee!

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How to Create a Positive Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance means balancing the numerous demands of family, friends, yourself, and your career. Creating the perfect balance between work and home is a constant challenge especially when modern careers seem to require more from us. Schedules are busier than ever, which causes both work and personal lives to suffer.

If your employees feel a better sense of control over their own lives, they will have better success with overall time management. This will allow your employees to leave home issues at home and work issues at work. Employees who find the ideal work-life balance also experience less stress at work. They tend to be more motivated and in return increase their productivity.

When a company can help their employees reach a positive work-life balance, it will be seen as a more appealing place to work. This will allow the company to attract employees from a larger pool of candidates, as well as increase the employee retention rate. In the long run, this could decrease the time spent training new employees thus allowing more time to focus on company-wide goals.

There are a few ways for employers to promote work-life balance within the office without disregarding productivity or efficiency.

Create a Family-Friendly Work Environment

Consider offering a family-friendly work environment. As most parents know, your duties do not stop when you leave for work in the morning. Offices with a family-friendly work environment benefit both the employers and the employees. If possible, consider providing an onsite childcare facility with trusted staff to take the stress out of babysitting or daycare services. If this is not an option, think about offering your employees a childcare service discount. If neither option is possible, just be flexible with your employees’ duties to care for their children.  If the employee needs a flexible start and end time to drop or pick up kids from school, allow it.

Encourage Exercise

One of the best ways to relieve stress is through exercise. Plus, employees who exercise regularly and have a healthy lifestyle are less likely to get sick and miss days from work. Many office buildings offer an on-site gym facility or sponsored health and wellness programs. If this isn’t an option, consider offering your employees a discounted membership at a nearby gym. Encourage your employees to stay active.

Plan Gatherings Outside Of The Office

Another way to promote a positive work-life balance is to schedule occasional company outings. Plan a gathering outside of the office to allow coworkers to get to know each other in a stress-free environment. This could be as easy as treating your team to lunch at a restaurant or providing tickets to a local sporting event.

Offer Community Service Opportunities

Consider offering your employees a few hours of paid volunteer time. The amount of time you are able to offer may vary, but this is a great incentive to get your employees to get involved within the community. Offering paid volunteer time allows your employees time off that is meaningful to both the company and the individual.

Allow a Flexible Schedule

Without compromising the productivity of your company, give your employees the freedom to work remotely when they need to. Whether it be due to an emergency or a sick child, allowing your employees to work remotely shows you trust them. Plus, your employee doesn’t have to waste an entire day off.

Encourage Vacation

Many employees feel the pressure to work every day without considering their personal needs. Most companies offer  paid vacation or paid time off per year. Encourage your employees to take advantage of their vacation days! One way to do so is to not let vacation days carry over if they go unused. Vacation days are important for a positive work-life balance.

Encourage Vacation

It is important for your employees to take mental breaks throughout the day. Sitting in front of a computer screen for an extended period of time is not only uncomfortable but can lead to health issues. Encourage breaks throughout the day. This will allow your employees to do their job more effectively and with a better attitude.

Give your employees the chance to take control of their work and home lives. This will allow your employees to feel satisfied with their job, and in return increase your employee retention rate and company productivity. Contact us today and we’ll reach out to you ASAP to provide the solutions you need.

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Is “Do-It-Yourself” HR Really Worth It?

If you have or you’re starting your own business, it may be tempting to wear as many hats as possible to keep initial costs down, including a Human Resources hat. However, by doing this, you are missing out on the many benefits a human resources professional can add to your company.

If you’re trying to manage HR on your own, it’s important to understand what an HR specialist actually does. They are more than paper-pushers—they are very often strategists who impact the bottom line as well as promoters of people within the organization. When it comes to employment laws, staffing issues, accessing the latest in HR technology and innovation, and other HR-related issues, you’re going to wish you had an expert to guide you.

It may not make fiscal sense to you right now, but hiring an HR consultant will save you time—and money— in the long run. Here are a few more reasons you should get some help in your HR department:

You need help recruiting top talent.
If there’s one thing you want, it’s probably highly-qualified employees. Developing a targeted strategy to find and attract these individuals can take a lot of time and effort. By using the services of a dedicated HR specialist, you can hand off this responsibility to a professional with the time and skills necessary to find the ideal individuals for your business.

You want help with building “open door” communication processes.
It’s important to have someone in place to bridge communication gaps between company management and employees. Your employees need someone to turn to in order to voice frustrations with the company and report any wrongdoings. A lack of human resources help or a process in place to effectively communicate change, listen to concerns or establish basic work protocols can result in unhappy employees, which will most likely result in a drop in productivity, higher attrition rates and an impact to company revenue.

You need time to focus elsewhere.
As an executive or business owner, your time and effort is more than likely stretched across different departments. A quality HR representative can relieve you from the stress of HR responsibilities. He or she can reduce the amount of paperwork on your desk, develop essential processes to streamline employee issues, train and develop employees thus allowing you to devote your time to other key business priorities.

You plan on having more than 50 employees in the future.
We’re sure one of your goals is to grow your company, and you can’t do this without employees. If you already have, or are planning on having more than 50 employees, it’s absolutely essential for you to have HR guidance. Once your company hits that magic number, laws and regulations like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Affordable Care Act kick in. It will be a relief to know you have an expert who can help you navigate these often complex legal matters.

If you’re a business owner, manager, or executive who often finds yourself doubling as an HR manager, seek out the services of a dedicated Human Resources consultant. Outsourcing your HR demands can lessen your workload and improve employer-employee interactions. Here at Cisso Bean and Dutch, we’d love to help you make more time for your business. Contact us today for a free consultation.