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Differentiating the Approach to Talent Acquisition with Phil Wilhelm of SHI International Corp.

Hiring top talent, while arguably the most time-consuming job, is inevitably the most important job tasking your organization’s leaders. With unemployment rates across the country at an all-time low, Talent Acquisition teams are faced with defining questions: “How does your company engage employees post-hire?” “How are your employees supported at the organizational level?” “How does your company differentiate to retain talent?”

According to Entrepreneur, “Recently, attracting employees hasn’t been the only challenging task, but also keeping them motivated and giving them the feeling of responsibility.” 

Forbes tells us that creating an impeccable digital experience is more important to your new hires than ever before, not only helping to personalize the employee experience, but can also result in a positive shift in company culture. “Organizations everywhere are feeling pressure to bridge the HR tech gap that prevents them from delivering the effortless experiences employees demand.”   

With candidate expectations higher than ever, where should recruiters begin?

Take it from the Austin, Texas team who has been able to maintain their hiring efforts, in Business Insider’s number one city with the most work opportunities and hottest business growth, amidst the current 2.9% unemployment rate.

We spoke with Phil Wilhelm, Manager of People, at SHI International Corp., to learn more about how they’re differentiating their talent game to attract winning candidates.

In your talent acquisition approach, what are some things that you've done differently to stand out?

We established a candidate profile for potential high-performers in sales. By rearranging or reestablishing the candidate profile and focusing it on a desire and a commitment, we could absolutely find enough quality candidates that fit that definition to bring more of the right people into our organization.

Can you share an interesting revelation from this adjustment in your search for talent? 

When hiring younger professionals that are college grads or within the first couple years of graduating, those younger professionals simply don't know what they want to do with their career. Over the last 15-months, Zach Roberts (SHI Corporate Recruiter) and I have been finding outgoing folks with the thought that we could convince them and then train them on how they can and should have a career in sales long-term. 

What are you doing to mold that candidate experience to appeal to that particular candidate profile?

We'll bring groups of candidates together, as small as six to eight people all the way up to about 30 people. That's something that SHI's never done before. We bring them into our office, have a highly-interactive, four-hour session with them where they get to better understand SHI. We get to observe them interacting with their peers and it helps us expedite the entire candidate experience.

Canvas is enabling us to have large-scale recruiting events as we communicate at scale with so many potential candidates and go through the first two or three levels of a screen via text. It allows us to weed people out pretty quickly so that we get the right people at our recruiting events.

So great to hear! Once employees are officially on-boarded, what types of things does SHI do to maintain and increase engagement?

Anything we can do to build relationships among the group quicker, we do that. The Friday before an on-boarding group starts, we have everybody meet up for the first time, go out to dinner and create a social setting. They're all together for two full weeks. Then there's multiple social events such as, paddleboard, yoga, and other fun activities after hours to keep the new hires in situations to build relationships with each other.

What about non-entry-level hires? 

We're also very intentional about the way that we prepare new sales managers to step into leadership. Our leadership development program helps employees understand our principles of leadership to inspire, organize, develop and execute for sales results.

Our teams are capped at a certain headcount level so that there's an ideal manager-to-sales-rep ratio. That increases employee engagement significantly because the employees truly feel heard by their manager and they feel coached and helped in an authentic way.

What differentiates SHI from other teams recruiting talent?

We pride ourselves on being a little bit different. Doing things like having candidate events, and engaging candidates through texting, for example.

I believe that, in business, all you're really trying to do is to be your own, authentic self at an organization that respects you and accepts you, because then and only then can you truly do amazing work.

Moral of the story? If you train them, they will come. If you trust them, they will stay. If you challenge them, they will grow. 🌵