Realogy’s Chief Human Resources Officer on the biggest challenges hiring managers face today and virtual hires

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Ladders recently spoke with Sunita Holzer, Realogy’s Chief Human Resources Officer on how the hiring manager helps determine workplace culture, the future of recruiting and the biggest challenges hiring managers are dealing with currently. 

sunita holzer
Sunita Holzer; Courtesy Realogy

How important of a role does technology (such as data science, for example) play in the field of HR and recruiting, and specifically in your work?

Technology plays a critical role in the way we source, attract, engage and retain top talent. The various platforms and tools that exist today give us greater access to talent and marketplace insights than ever
before. Data science enables those tools behind the scenes. Tech and automation also enable recruiters to focus on the most value-added aspects of the process, such as coaching and advising hiring managers
and candidates.

Technology is also changing the way we work, and the expectations employees have of the way we operate—all of which impacts how HR and Talent Acquisition needs to function.

What technology/innovation/platform has had the most profound effect on the field of HR/talent acquisition in the past year or two, and why? 

For Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn has changed things from a marketing and sourcing perspective. There is more data on candidates available and recruiters can target candidates more precisely. Tools like Yello have greatly improved the candidate experience compared to what it used to be.

What are the biggest challenges, from a technical and/or business standpoint, that those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays?

Candidates have access to a lot of information and choices given the tight labor market. With these dynamics, one of the biggest challenges is having hiring managers think less about what skills they need now and more about the skills they will need in the future. Communicating these skills effectively through job postings and the various social platforms where potential candidates can be found is another challenge.

The best talent for a role may also only be available virtually or through the gig economy. That virtual hire may not work for a hiring manager—it’s our job to help find the right balance.

What key steps should businesses take to secure top talent? What criteria should they focus on?

Employers should be transparent about challenges and opportunities of a role so that a candidate can make an informed decision, while also being flexible to meet the needs of the candidate. In terms of criteria, companies should be thoughtful on the competencies that would make a candidate successful and focus on those in their screening process. Hiring managers can easily swing their decisions based on what the prior incumbent didn’t exhibit vs. thinking through all the competencies that would make a person successful in the future. Given the constant change that companies now face, it behooves everyone to focus on competencies such as agility.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to talent retention, and why?

The biggest challenges in retaining top talent are the real and perceived options that candidates now have in the marketplace. Even if the reality is that there are trade-offs in perks they may get elsewhere
or in the gig economy, those options are still a challenge to retention.

What elements are necessary to create a strong office/workplace culture?

The hiring manager and all the workplace talent create the culture. The culture of the Company is an output of everyone who works there and their shared common values, goals and purpose.

What are the key steps that recruiters should take to develop and strengthen relationships with job candidates?

Recruiters need to be curious, empathetic and, most importantly, authentic. Recruiters are often well trained on behavioral-based interview questions to assess specific competencies, yet the harder part is being genuinely curious enough to dig further into a candidate’s responses to get at the crux of a candidate’s developmental self-awareness and needs. Doing so, while also being empathetic so as not to disengage or discourage a candidate, can sometimes be tricky.

However, that’s necessary in order to make the shift from recruiter to true Talent Advisor that can provide both the Hiring Manager with a thorough assessment and a candidate with meaningful feedback.

Today’s digital environment has led to more savvy job seekers, with access to more information than ever. Couple that with a tight labor market and a gig economy, candidates also have more options than ever. A candidate can easily be turned off by a recruiter who is not authentic in what they know and don’t know. Being honest and coaching the candidate on who else in the organization can best address specific questions can help the recruiter develop and strengthen that relationship with the candidate.

Where do you see the field of HR/recruiting/talent acquisition headed? (Your “crystal ball” view)

As more tools and technology flood the market, hundreds of job boards targeted recruiting firms and automated systems will continue to create information overload for potential candidates. Concurrently, better automation of tasks will enable HR and Talent Acquisition professionals to focus more of their time and energy consulting, advising, and coaching vs. handling the tactical. This will lead the recruiting field to be a more strategic resource within a company, not only for hiring but also for proactive talent planning.

What has been the most satisfying moment of your career/proudest career achievement, and why?

One of my proudest career achievements was being the Chief Diversity Officer of a larger financial services company. I was in that role for five years, and it was very fulfilling to be able to make inroads for the under-represented and overlooked talent in the company. This work set the cultural tone for the organization and I was personally gratified to have been a part of it.