Talent Acquisition: The Secret to Successful Recruiting

By Jackie Paplaczyk

Karen Greene came to Summus Group in April of this year with a decade of experience in talent acquisition. In addition to her passion for recruiting, she brings with her a deep understanding of full cycle recruitment, the financial services industry and consulting.

Karen’s approach is simple: Connect. Align. Advocate. “I truly enjoy connecting with candidates and learning more about them. I take pride in sharing with candidates all the opportunity has to offer and together, we assess the right role alignment. With confidence and honesty, I serve as an advocate for their candidacy.”

Karen is a big believer in the positive ripple effect when recruiting is done the right way. Karen is a strong advocate for collaboration and empowering others to expand and grow. “I’m not interested in going through a resume line-by-line in an interview. What I really want to hear from a candidate is where they believe to execute and contribute at their best and from there, learn more about those experiences.”

As the firm’s Talent Acquisition Leader, Karen is responsible for helping the firm attract the right talent for the company’s culture and industries served. Karen is not only skilled in matching candidates but building relationships and working in a dynamic environment. It is Karen’s experience with shaping the candidate experience and attracting top talent which make her an invaluable asset to Summus Group.

This month we sit down with Karen Greene to hear how she leads with open and honest communication and is using this to transform the talent acquisition process at Summus Group.

As the firm’s new Talent Acquisition Leader, what attracted you to Summus Group?

When I had made the decision to start looking, I asked myself, ‘Do I want the small feel of a company or to be a part of a larger organization?’ From a smaller company perspective, Summus Group was the only company I had in mind, but it did not look like they were building their recruiting team at the time, so I targeted other larger organizations.

Recruiting is natural to me. But outside of that, what energizes me is being able to create and contribute in different ways by adding my touch or signature to a process and the culture. In larger organizations, most of that is already in place.

It was only eight months into my new role at a large company when I was approached by Summus Group. This new opportunity tapped into the entrepreneurial spirit I have always had. I knew when I stepped in, it was not going to be perfect, but with this role, I would have a blank canvas to create by taking a look at what exists, determining what works well and what doesn’t and making improvements.

Although it was a risk, I believe everyone is on their own path and I wanted the opportunity to make an impact with my work.

Based on your many years of experience, what do you believe to be the secret to successful recruiting?

Open and honest communication and level-setting expectations. This is not just the secret sauce – it is a responsibility. Accepting a new job opportunity is a serious decision; one that will have an impact on an individual’s lifestyle and family.

We strive to build a relationship before anything else and we want to ensure we are not overcommitting or overselling. During our initial interaction with a candidate, we have a comprehensive conversation to learn about the candidate, including their experience and skill set, as well as to share who we are at Summus Group in order to determine if the opportunity resonates with what the candidate is looking for at this time.

By having thorough discussions upfront, you can then come to a mutual agreement if it makes sense to move forward or not. As part of this conversation, we ask what is important to the candidate. It is usually not just the role but an overall feeling.

When talking about talent, what does Summus Group value most and look for in prospective candidates?

We value individuals who have a positive outlook, high emotional intelligence and a drive which comes from within and feeds into their entrepreneurial spirit.

As part of our process, we complete an exercise to paint the picture of the right candidate skills which asks, ‘Are you climbing the right mountain?’ One part of this is the hard or technical skills such as experience in consulting, financial services, project and/or program management, business analysis or execution. Equally as important are soft skills such as being able to work in the gray, understanding you are in charge of your own career and having the desire to pave your own way.

Soft skills can’t be measured off of one question; you get a feel for it throughout the process. We get this from the way a candidate tells their story and we peel it back by asking for examples to get a deeper sense of it. It is in what a candidate highlights, how they deliver their response and the why behind it. The questions a candidate asks can be very telling too.

When exploring new opportunities, what do you believe is most important for candidates to consider?

I think it is healthy to go through the exercise of asking, ‘What season am I going through in my life?’ Said slightly different…’What is most important to me at this point in my life?’ During one season of life, your children might be most important given the needs of their specific ages, or maybe it is your health that is most important because you have neglected it over the years.

Once you know what is important to you during your current season of life, you have to align that to the opportunities you are targeting. For me personally, being a part of a smaller organization has allowed me to tap into things like my creativity, as well as provided me with the opportunity to spread my wings. On the other hand, a larger organization would likely provide me with a more structured environment which can lend to more predictability and comfort. You ultimately have to ask yourself what is most important to you and make sure you stand firm in your values.

What about your role are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about positively influencing my team and environment overtime. I aspire to have a team that feels whole, connected and proud of the work they are doing. I hope to have a team of individuals taking care of themselves while also being extremely productive, which in turn takes care of the company. What I’ve realized is that while the work one is doing is important, who you are working with and for is of greater significance.