Struggling to close the deal when hiring? Give Experiential Hiring a try!

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This year marks my 25th year in Executive Search.

It is still mind-blowing to me the number of changes that have taken place as it relates to finding, hiring and retaining top performers.

During my tenure to date, we went from looking up companies at the library with the Thomas Register and ordering Yellow Pages from every city we worked in, to popping on the internet to find anyone and everyone we would want to have a discussion with. My “bag phone” in my car was way ahead of the times and my rollerball fax made the need to mail resumes obsolete. Today’s generation has no idea what it is I am even talking about.

While we have had much innovation and it truly is so much easier to communicate having tools like InMail, texting, video chat, posting on social media sites, etc. some of the successful competencies of finding, hiring and retaining talent remain exactly as they were 25 years ago. Those that challenge this can still be successful, but are they really doing all the right due diligence to find the best hire, or just an “acceptable” hire that is easier to find?

So, what is it that has stayed the same with all this innovation around us? In a nutshell, the fact remains that this is all about people. Our “product”, thinks, breaths and can change their minds at any given time. Changing careers is a huge decision. It is one of the top five stressors behind death of a loved one, marriage, moving and major illness. We need to make sure we help them through every phase of this critical life decision.

So, after all these years, the piece that is critical to top talent success is what I like to refer to as “Experiential Hiring”. Life is about experiences, and the finding, hiring and retention of great people is no different. Here are a few things I believe will never change:

  • You need to be a great storyteller – obviously not a false tale, but sharing what it is that makes the potential new place to work, one that should be further investigated. What have they done that makes them unique and special in the marketplace? How do they take care of their people? Why do their customers love what they do?
  • You need to make interviewing and gathering of information seamless and easy for the candidate to obtain. Flexible interview times and sending briefs on the role and the company help with the investigation process. This should be part of telling their story – especially their purpose and their “why” to those they provide products and/or services to.
  • Critical point – you need to show them how they can duplicate their current life (the parts they would miss and love currently), wherever they would be going. This requires an investment of time, but whether we’re talking about the candidate or the trailing spouse/significant other, wouldn’t you want to know what the company’s community involvement is, geography offerings in housing, amenities, etc. where you are going? Are there sports teams? Art/culture? How far am I away from activities I enjoy? Schools – if their kids like certain activities, where should they look for housing to be part of the right school district? Make introductions to coaches, teachers, real estate agents, bankers, hairdressers, etc. And if they are a diversity candidate, spend time in introductions to build a circle of like-minded individuals and recommend mentor acquaintances so they immediately feel a sense of belonging.
  • And speaking of the trailing spouse/significant other – is there a way to help them out as well? Can you help them to network into a new career or introduce them to like-minded people?  
  • Is this person going to be in an influential position in the community? With senior leaders, we set up a meet-and-greet with other business leaders before they leave town. Shows the candidate that the area they are moving to has tremendous bandwidth and brainpower and will keep them relevant in their community and career.
  • Once they accept – send them something that makes them feel like they already belong. Could be logoed attire, something that the state is known for (like a cheese basket here in Wisconsin) or something as simple as new business cards.
  • From day one – assign this new hire two people – a mentor and a sponsor. The mentor helps the new hire to know where the “skeletons are buried” and makes connecting to the people and culture less of a climb. The sponsor helps to “sell their new ideas ahead” much like they do in passing a bill in Congress. A sponsor makes sure you have the votes prior to presentation and pulls one along with them within their career.

I know what you’re thinking. This takes WAY too much time, and they can find all this information on the internet. And you would be right. However, if you want to find, hire, and keep high performing, successful people, experiential recruiting works! My suggestion – start small and build out your experiential recruitment process. Over time, not only will your “no’s” turn into “yes’s”, but your reputation as a firm, your ability to bring in amazing talent and the growth of your firm are dependent on this.

Bottom line, this is a people business. Twenty-five years later, this has not changed.

Let us know if there is anything ERG can do to help your business close the deal – email anytime at or give the office a call at 920.996.9700!


Sharon Hulce is President/CEO of Employment Resource Group, Inc. (ERG) based in Appleton and a 25-year veteran of the Executive Search industry. Sharon is known in her industry as an innovation leader who works tirelessly on finding the right talent for her clients, while also focusing on the empowerment and retention of that talent. Sharon understands the emotional intelligence, competencies, knowledge and social interaction necessary to integrate new hires into a corporate culture for success. She recently was honored for her innovation as Management Recruiter International (MRI) Person of the Year.

Sharon has served on numerous boards including: Fox Valley Technical College, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Theda Clark Medical Foundation, YMCA of the Fox Valley and United Way. She has also been involved in many national boards throughout the staffing industry and is a proud member of The Pinnacle Society, a consortium of the top 80 recruiters in the country. Sharon is a sought-after speaker, sharing her thought leadership at countless corporate presentations, national conferences and even a TEDx talk. She has received many awards for her work and recently became a Forbes published author of her first book, “A Well Done Professional Midlife Crisis” available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or

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