Becoming a Talent Magnet: Highlights from Transform 2023

April 5, 2023

min read


Kerry Wang

In early 2023 the HR space is, to borrow a movie title, a mad mad world. Strong hiring here, increasing layoffs there, slowdowns everywhere, bank failures, inflation sticking around, candidates ghosting, employees still leaving – the list goes on and on. How can organizations become magnets for talent in such a chaotic environment where the rules seem to change every three to six months?

This was just one of the questions my co-panelists and I discussed at HR Transform. I was lucky enough to be part of a conversation with Dr. Maisha Gray-Diggs, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Eventbrite, and Joey Lee, Head of Talent Acquisition at Virgin Orbit. Talent Board President Kevin Grossman moderated our conversation. It produced insights into what some of the smartest companies around are doing to attract, hire and retain top talent.  

Here’s a recap of our Q&A:

What are the primary recruiting and hiring initiatives that you and your team have been focused on in the past 6-12 months? 

Maisha was focused on getting back to basics. In her words, “This year was a transition from a more candidate-focused market to a less candidate-focused market. We focused on continuing to treat candidates well - because they’ll remember who was good to them when the market turns around again.” Joey and his team are working on a world-class hiring experience for candidates and hiring managers. They have doubled down on training for hiring managers that focuses on the candidate experience. So far, this has produced good feedback in candidate and new hire surveys. 

Remember, hiring is a flywheel that doesn’t end after the hire. First you hire great people, then you help those people perform at their best, help them grow and develop, and then they refer all their friends to work for you too! At Searchlight, we help customers start this flywheel by defining what greatness looks like for their specific organization. This leads them to recognize those qualities in hiring and nurture them in employees. 

Other specific programs that our panel found to be successful: Bias training and cultural training for global organizations, a great intake process, and building data-driven criteria for hiring.

What internal mobility initiatives are you involved in and how have they helped?

Organizations have to re-recruit constantly, especially in times like this where headcounts are low. One of Joey’s internal mobility programs at Virgin Orbit was simple: pick ten hot jobs and blast out to all employees to re-recruit internally. For Maisha, the key to internal mobility is manager capability. In her words, “People aren’t leaving companies, they’re leaving managers.” She partners closely with HR business partners and TA to improve this. 

Searchlight has actually moved up internal mobility capabilities on our product roadmap because of high demand from customers. My suggestion is to build competency ladders by job family. These ladders will help you categorize your jobs, and then you can match people to those jobs based on skills both externally and internally. 

What specifically are you doing today to continuously improve your candidate experience journey for external as well as internal candidates?

Joey’s answer was simply, “Continuous follow-up with candidates.” In a similar vein, Maisha makes sure every one of her new hires gets a call before their first day, and all new hires get time with the CEO on their first day. From my perspective, the experience in the first 90 days is crucial. When we measure Quality of Hire around 90 days, we can predict first year attrition pretty accurately. Making this experience positive is largely up to the hiring manager. Inaccurate communication and job expectations set by the manager is a major cause of bad onboarding. 

And finally, what are some examples of great communication with candidates?

I’ve noticed that the best companies in the world check in with hires after they come on board and then loop what they learn back into the hiring process. Joey highlighted the practice of giving final candidates feedback, including feedback on why they chose not to hire them. Note that legal issues can make this difficult to do at some organizations.  

Closing Thoughts

Attracting and retaining talent is a particular challenge right now, but it’s business critical for organizational success. At Searchlight, we’ve noticed that Boards of Directors are asking for more talent productivity metrics, like “What was the quality of the hires we made?”

It’s my hope the insights from this panel contributes to the overall conversations around productivity, engagement, and efficiency. We’re in a crucible moment in HR right now, and I’m 100% confident that when we look back, we’ll all be amazed at how much we all learned and created together during this experience!

The panel with the best shoe game

Kerry Wang

Co-Founder & CEO

Kerry, our CEO and co-founder, merges Org Psychology and Computer Science expertise. Passionate about people, psychology, and tech, she enjoys weekend reading and reality TV.

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