An Interview with Jenifer Lambert

Recruitment and talent acquisition strategies was the theme of our recent August Chapter meeting. We were lucky to have a knowledgeable presenter, Jenifer Lambert, Chief Revenue Officer at TERRA Staffing Group, who delivered an educational presentation at our meeting. Jenifer has over 25 years’ experience in recruiting/staffing under her belt. She fell into recruiting/staffing right out of college and has worked both in consulting roles and directly placing talent with client companies across a broad range of industries.

There were some great lessons learned at our Chapter meeting. We also used the opportunity to ask Jenifer her thoughts on few more recruiting questions, including her tips on how to avoid biases in the recruitment process and important considerations when selecting the right candidate for the job.

Can you describe what a well-coordinated recruitment process is for you? 
JL: As with most things, a little planning up front followed by a lot of execution leads to success. Upfront, there should be clarity about why the role is open, what business result this role needs to deliver which then feeds into the skills, experience, and qualifications necessary to deliver that result. This informs your sourcing/talent generation strategy. In terms of selection, having clarity up front about who will be involved in making the selection and what their role will be is critical. Who will screen the candidates? Who needs to be involved in the interview(s)? Who has the authority to approve or veto the hire and why? Who needs to be involved to help sell the opportunity? The war for talent is real and we have seen that an uncoordinated process that feels clunky or confusing is a real turnoff to candidates. Just last week, we had a candidate nearly turn down a job because additional interviews kept getting added to the process. He had an offer from a competing firm with a much smoother process and that nearly made the difference. The company that hired him had to get more aggressive with compensation to overcome his concerns generated by a bad process.

What are the biggest challenges that you face in your work as a recruiter? 
JL: So many things come to mind, but the reality is that I love the challenge which is why I keep showing up every day excited to do what I do. Right now one of the biggest challenges we face from the agency side is companies who forget that the process is two-sided. As much as the company should vet talent, talent is also sizing up the employer and the best talent has many, many options. It’s a candidate’s world and their needs, concerns and motivations need to be considered. I recommend that any employer do a quick online search for the same title they are recruiting for to get a sense of the reality of the competition out there for talent.

What are the characteristics of a great recruiter? 
JL: A great recruiter knows how to create great outcomes and built connections with and between people. I believe that recruiting is equal parts HR, marketing, sales, project management, counseling and data science. Gone are the days of the friendly, “people person” recruiter. It’s an essential business role. Great talent can make or break a company and the best recruiter is going to bring business savvy, influence, research skills, negotiation skills and so much more to the table.

What are your tips on how to select the right candidate for a job? 
JL: I recommend a methodology that starts with identifying the business results the role needs to deliver, the skills and experience necessary to deliver those results and the personal attributes (soft skills, culture fit) necessary to be successful in the role. Too many times hiring managers believe they can just trust their gut or they place too much emphasis on the person without looking at skills, experience and fit with the KPIs of the role. Gut shouldn’t be ignored but it should be validated.

What are some of the techniques you use to avoid biases in the recruitment process? 
JL: The process I described above helps minimize bias because you are focusing on skills, experience and personal attributes that all support an individual’s ability to achieve established, clearly defined and articulated business objectives. Having multiple people involved in the hiring process can also be helpful provided there is a willingness to engage in healthy debate and hold each other accountable for any perceived bias. I also recommend a documented candidate evaluation matrix to bring rigor to thinking and move beyond gut feel and opinion that could be influenced by bias more than evidence that would support a judgment about the likelihood of success in delivering the business objectives required of the role. Awareness of bias is a big first step and being willing to self-reflect on the biases you might have and invite others to challenge you when those biases are getting in the way of a good decision is huge.

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