Talent Acquisition Tips & Takes with Melissa Grabiner

Melissa Grabiner is an award-winning talent acquisition and HR leader — she’s currently the senior talent acquisition leader at OneDigital working with biotech and pharmaceutical startups to help them build out their TA infrastructure or fill their open positions. She’s also a LinkedIn leader, posting insightful and helpful content about how to create better hiring processes and candidate experiences to inspire the future of talent acquisition.

Melissa shared some of her best recruiting tips with Cangrade on how to improve hiring and what’s ahead for the talent world, plus her top career advice that’s helped her become the inspiring leader she is today.

The candidate experience is broken at many companies. What tips do you have to build and maintain a positive candidate experience?

The first is providing clear and transparent communication throughout the entire recruiting process. And it’s really as simple as keeping candidates informed about the status of their application and any changes in the process.

From a candidate’s perspective, it’s really stressful looking for a job, and they appreciate knowing where they stand in the hiring process at any given time. Even if they’re not selected for the position, let the candidate know that. Don’t ghost them. Don’t leave them in the dark.

I also think companies should have a user-friendly application process. So many of these applications are so cumbersome and so long, and it doesn’t need to be that way. If a company has a complex and lengthy application, it could really discourage and deter potential candidates from even submitting their application.

Personalized interaction is another thing — customizing your communications, not just sending a standard email to 50 different people. It really helps show that a company values their individual contributions.

People remember how they’re treated as a candidate. And the way a candidate is treated during the process is very indicative of the culture of the company. We have tools like Glassdoor and other tools where people are talking about their experiences. And if a company wants to be an employer of choice and a company where people want to work, they need to start with getting the candidate experience right.

What do you believe is the biggest upcoming challenge facing recruiting and HR teams?

There is a huge, rapid integration of artificial intelligence, there’s automation, and there’s other technologies that companies are using within the recruiting process, which can pose challenges. And I think HR teams need to tackle what those challenges are, and then adapt to those changes with the purpose of ensuring that technology is not hindering them, but helping them.

As a recruiter myself, the number one question I’m asked by all candidates, even before salary, is if the role is remote. And the widespread adoption of remote work and even hybrid work models, bring new challenges in terms of maintaining a company’s culture, employee engagement, and even addressing the needs of a geographically dispersed workforce.

The companies that allow remote work and even hybrid work are the companies at the end of the day that are going to win the war for talent. But for companies that allow this, they have to make sure that they are managing it effectively to make sure that the company culture is able to stay with people that are working outside of the office.

And I think that many industries right now are also facing a skills gap where there is the demand for certain skills, which unfortunately exceeds the talent that’s available. So it’s important that HR teams develop effective strategies to identify, attract, and retain skilled professionals.

When someone leaves an organization, there is a hole in that position. And then by the time you post the job, interview people, hire the person, and train and get them up to speed, that is incredibly costly for companies. It’s important that companies try to stay ahead of that and to develop those strategies to identify, attract, and retain skilled professionals to try to lessen the amount of turnover that a company has.

Another challenge is continuous learning and upskilling. The pace of change in so many industries is requiring companies to make sure that their employees are constantly and continuously updating their skills. So HR teams really need to get on top of this to facilitate continuous learning, and then creating or working with an outside vendor in any sort of upskilling programs to keep their workforce competitive and adaptable.

What technology are you most excited about for HR and why?

We have applicant tracking systems (ATS) that companies use to manage their recruiting. And a lot of ATSs now are becoming advanced or enhanced by artificial intelligence.

What AI does for ATSs is it helps to streamline recruiting processes by automating tasks, such as resume screening, matching candidates to job requirements, and even conducting initial interviews. And what this does to help companies is it helps to enhance efficiency. It can help to reduce bias. And it allows HR professionals to free up their time to focus more on the strategic aspects of hiring.

And then I would say predictive analytics — in HR, it uses data to forecast any sort of trends, identify patterns, and make decisions. This can be applied to talent acquisition teams to make sure that they retain their employees, and even with workforce planning. It helps HR teams make more of those strategic and proactive decisions based on data because data, in my opinion, tells a story and data doesn’t lie.

Technology is only going to continue to evolve. And HR professionals, if they leverage the tools in the right way, can create more efficient, inclusive, and engaging workforces.

What’s one piece of advice you’ve received in your career that everyone should know?

I think networking is critically important, especially because in today’s day and age, employees are getting laid off all the time. What I always say to people who reach out to me on LinkedIn is you always have to prepare for A, B, and C.

Even the people that have been at their company for years and think that they’re safe, it doesn’t matter how top of a performer you are or how much revenue you’re generating for your company — always plan for A, B, and C. Always have your resume updated, always have your LinkedIn profile updated, and always network with as many people as possible.

So if you are hit with a layoff, you’re not scrambling, and you can just broaden your network and be there to help other people too. Networking isn’t all about what someone can do for you, but it’s what you can do for that person as well.

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