This top talent exec 'accidentally' fell into HR

The war for talent is an ongoing, not to mention frustrating, challenge

This top talent exec 'accidentally' fell into HR

The war for talent is an ongoing, not to mention frustrating, challenge. As organizations continue to grow and thrive, new skills and abilities are needed in order to keep ahead of the competition. But where, and how, are HR leaders hunting down these candidates?

HRD sat down with Emma Hunt, head of talent at , who offered some compelling advice for ambitious HR leaders and revealed the secret to a super-successful retention.

HRD: How did you start your career in HR?
EH: Accidentally! I started off in recruitment after a recruitment agent friend found out I was working a sales job on 100% commission, six days a week and thought I'd be great working with clients. Then, seven years later, I started at a company in talent acquisition and accidentally became HR. I had to adapt and learn quickly – but now I can step into both worlds very easily.

HRD: Can you tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you overcame it?
EH: There's so many. I've been fortunate enough to be presented many challenges in my roles over the years. A more recent one was having to oversee the whole spectrum of talent and bringing that in from scratch. This has included everything from benefits, learning and development, policies, performance reviews, employee relations, recruitment and everything in between. I'm not from Canada, so I had to accelerate my knowledge of Canadian law and policies very quickly. Thankfully publications like HRD, HRDownloads, Slack groups, going to HR events and the trusty Ministry of Labour site equipped me to do so.

HRD: What’s your role at Looka – what does it entail?
EH: I'm the head of talent, so I'm basically responsible for all of the above. I brought in an HR and recruitment function from scratch when we were early days in a co-working space. Now we have 45 employees in a beautiful two-story office to ourselves. A main focus over the past two years has been recruitment. We're a funded startup which means growth and the tech space is competitive, so we have an in-house sourcing and headhunting function. The rest of the time my time is split across everything in the HR & culture spectrum.

HRD: What’s the secret to a killer recruitment strategy?
EH: Having a strong direct sourcing strategy and knowing where to go to find potential candidates is essential. Whether you’re recruiting developers or designers, you need to enter those communities in order to find the best talent. That could be via entering Facebook groups or Twitter forums – just really utilizing the internet in a niche way to find these people. I’d also highly recommend getting yourself to industry events.

Social media is great for resourcing. I’m a massive advocate for it, having utilized it a lot over the years. I think in the digital age, where you’ve got everything at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to not have an online presence. Recruiting in this age, you really have to protect your brand. When you think about sites such as Glassdoor, you should never just ignore negative reviews – you should address them. If your company is giving a bad candidate experience during the recruitment process, then people are more likely to talk about that online

HRD: How do you keep such a high retention rate at Looka?
EH: We pay attention to our people. Our managers are at the forefront of checking in on their team and in the talent function, we're solving any people issues and taking feedback to the founders to help support any changes that need to be made. We've also worked very hard to foster an inclusive and diverse environment and team.

HRD: What advice would you have for someone looking to be a leader in HR?
EH: Advocate for your people. You're in a unique role where you can actively help make change. This means equal salaries, creating a safe space, moving along progression etc. That's what will make you stand out in the HR space.

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