recruiting done differently

I wrote this for Elevated HR’s blog but thought some of my job searching and HR readers might enjoy this too!

Recruiting Done Differently

By Jillian Walker, Vice President Client Experience, Elevated HR Solutions

In my past life, recruiting meant activating a job posting on recruitment software, filtering through applicants based on points, looking at 10 resumes out of 200-500, formal phone screening, structured competency based interviews, ranking employees against each other with points and putting out a formal offer about 8 weeks later. It was fairly mindless and no stress. We often hired multiple applicants for the same job and if someone didn’t last – oh well!

Nowadays I’m leading a recruitment process that is highly personable and culture-driven.

The goal is always to find a rockstar candidate for one of our exceptional clients. It’s about finding the right fit for the candidate AND the right fit for the company — not one or the other.

The process begins with writing a job description that is actually interesting and reflective of the company’s culture. In my words, we write them straight up. Here is what you need, here is what we would love and here is the nitty gritty. They are written in a way that intrigues a candidate — but would also scare off the wrong candidate.

As the candidates come in, we review each and every application. We respond back to candidates with questions about their education and experience. We pull out applications that may not be a right fit for this company, but could be a right fit for another one. After a quick phone screen, we ask each short-listed candidate to complete a culture-fit questionnaire. It further determines if the candidate and the company are a match.

Throughout this experience, we continually learn about the candidate and the company. The focus is on building relationships, while achieving results. Sometimes the candidate opts out of the process, sometimes the company changes the title or job duties. We adapt as we go along.

Once the candidate has passed all the paper work and brief phone calls — we meet them either in person or via Skype video [we are recruiting for multiple cities these days!]. Candidates have an opportunity to showcase their personality and explain their passions.

Eventually we make it to the point where the candidate gets to meet the client in person. By this time, they know the company inside and out and we have worked with them to shine on their resume and questionnaire. We provide them tips on how to be successful and do our best to ensure minimal surprises!

We usually hear back from the candidate immediately after the interview. They provide feedback on the company and the process — and it’s in their court to send thank you’s to those involved! The company gets in touch with us to discuss the final candidates and determine if an offer will be made. Often last minute questions come up and we go back to the candidates if needed. If the company decides to do a second round of interviews with a different level of management, we book them. It’s important to keep momentum in the process [A-player candidates are often interviewing at multiple companies!].

Lastly we check references, complete skills testing if required (computer skills etc) and ask the candidate to complete Strengths Finder 2.0. We utilize Strengths Finder with of our clients. Why? Because we totally believe in it and think that it is an effective way to assess employees. Strengths Finder showcases an employees strengths and further determines if they are the right fit for the role and the company. It is a reflective exercise for the candidate and a refreshing perspective for the company.

This type of recruiting isn’t necessarily a long process – it’s just thorough. Our process creates so many touch points with the candidate that you truly start to understand who they are — strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. We invest a lot of time in the process to ensure we have truly found the right fit.

Does it backfire? Sometimes. People change, plans change… but we wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t work the strong majority of the time.

All the time we place candidates at our clients and they say things like “I’ve never been happier. This is the perfect job for me.” Would I have heard that in my last life? Absolutely not. Perhaps once in a blue moon if a candidate got lucky.

The candidates that I’ve had the opportunity to meet have truly been a breath of fresh air. I’m impressed by their honesty, drive and commitment. When I give a candidate a call, they are expecting me to be a no personality Recruiter wanting them to enter into a structured archaic process. Instead, I explain how we do things differently at Elevated HR and look for them to be adaptable. Sometimes they’re caught off guard, but often they laugh and immediately turn casual. When people interact with each other casually, you generally see true colors. Matching for fit just got easier. :)

All the time people ask me “What is your favourite HR function?”  I used to say Organizational Development and Effectiveness. Now though? Recruitment is growing on me. Matchmaking A-players with fabulous companies makes my heart smile.

4 years in the making

On March 22nd, I blogged. I wrote a post about ‘life done differently’. At the time, I was frustrated. Frustrated with process, politics, and corporations. I thought I knew what I was looking for… but for some reason I just couldn’t find it. I yearned to do what I love; to make a difference in the lives of organizations, employees, and the community.

Later that night I received an email with the subject “Wow – look at this opportunity.”

This was attached:

I read the posting – over and over again. After I saw the word ‘administration’ and rolled my eyes, I smiled. My heart melted as soon as the posting referred to someone who wanted to ‘change the world.’ From a human resources standpoint, the position sounded basic… but I knew that it would evolve and I would have the opportunity to utilize my strengths in a challenging and creative organization.

My response to Michelle via text:

2011-03-22 10:38pm

I totally don’t know what to say re: that posting just magically appearing in my inbox.

Is it time to stop being difficult?


Some background:

What you don’t know is that I first met Michelle in October of 2010. We connected through Twitter over discussion about the Human Resource Institute of Alberta’s mentoring program. She was a mentor, I was a mentee, yet we were not matched. In fact, she told me ‘we could never work together.’  On January 10, 2011 we went for some after work eats at Una Pizza and Wine. We talked human resources, transparency, social media and the community. Michelle said she would love for me to join the company.

Over the weeks and months that followed, I interviewed. Everywhere. I flew across the country meeting executives, managers, and recruiters. I received offers. I received mixed messages. I met a lot of amazing people, but most importantly I was overwhelmed. My entire being. How would I make a decision? Is it completely awful to say that I was overwhelmed with opportunities?

I needed a ‘to remain unnamed’ company piss me off on March 22, 2011. I needed to stomp my feet and demand answers. I needed to have an inspiring and enlightening conversation with John Wilson at Wilson Human Capital Group later that afternoon. That night, I needed to blog about it. I needed to do all of that in order to determine what was next…


On March 29, Michelle and I met. I had been thinking about the future and my career every single day since March 22. I was ready to start learning about a potential role with Elevated HR Solutions. Not surprisingly, I was hesitant and had questions. [I have been in a ridiculously secure job with a pension for the last 4+ years]. We talked about job responsibilities, logistics, relocation, growth of the company and what we could begin to change in the human resources profession. I asked her for time to think about what I wanted and potential next steps.

On April 1, I went to TEDxYYC. My name tag said: JILLIAN WALKER<NAME OF EMPLOYER>… in big bold letters. As soon as I saw it, I thought “that doesn’t describe me…” “that’s not why I’m here today…” After discussion with a girlfriend, I listed my position/organization as “HR GAME CHANGER.” TEDx asked us what does Calgary need more of? I answered “ENTREPRENEURS.”

[I was obviously on my quest to figuring out what I wanted… but a few more pieces needed to play out…]

TEDxYYC – April 1, 2011

I remember being so hard on myself on April 3. I kept on telling myself… “just figure it out…” “what do you need…” “what are you actually looking for…” “you are wasting time…” I had some sort of weird revelation in the hours that followed and finally I found it.

I am not meant to be an employee.

I am not meant to be that typical 8am-4pm who is bound to rules, policies and past history.

I want freedom to create, discover, engage, grow, learn, teach and live life to its fullest.

I want to have opportunities to challenge my profession.

I want to be the absolute best version of myself.

I want to do what I love.

I want to change the world.

[That’s it… I swear.]

On April 4, I texted Michelle and said:

May 20 is the date I’m thinking. Sound ok?


You may have seen this:

Or this:

Or maybe this:

[I accidentally posted this on @elevatedhr instead of @jillianwalker. :) – oopsie.]

Lastly this:

… we have been a wee bit excited. :)


Today I resigned from my employer of 4.5 years.

Today I feel free.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII

This whole career transition has been a long time coming. I started with my employer on January 8, 2007. I was fresh out of Mount Royal College and keen to apply all I learned in my post-secondary education. Six months into my entry-level HR role, I was bored. I didn’t feel challenged and begun applying on internal roles.

On March 10, 2008, I applied on my first external role. Was I ready to leave then? Unlikely. As I have been working for a large organization, I’ve had the opportunity to transfer to new departments and go on projects within Human Resources to continually broaden my skillset. In the last 5 years, I have had 5 roles. With that comes 5 managers that taught me an incredible amount about human resources, life, family, and friends. I learned about what I value in an employer/manager, and what drives me absolutely up the wall.

A 4 year job search? Of course there have been ups and downs. Obviously there have been ups and downs. But at the end of the day… I am grateful.

Grateful for being given the opportunity to learn, to diversify and to truly discover what’s next.

I am thrilled to announce that effective May 20, 2011… I will be the Vice President of Client Experience for Elevated HR Solutions. I will remain in Calgary over the summer months, relocating to British Columbia in Fall 2011 to run the Vancouver and Seattle division.

Official press release:


Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Whether it be hours of laughs, a quick text message to make me smile, much needed lessons in entrepreneurship or talking me off my ledge, I appreciate every ounce of advice, support, and love.

Thank you to everyone involved in Focus 2040 and KPMG’s What Makes a Top Employer competitions.

Thank you to the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, Human Resources Association of Calgary and Canadian HR Reporter for continually supporting me in my career.

Thank you to my mentors, Alida, Dawn, Doris, and Joan, for encouraging me to dream big.

Thank you to John Wilson for giving me that final push and belief in my abilities.

Thank you to the inspirational women at YWiB.

Thank you to two beautiful Vancouver souls – SA and WT.

Thank you to my best friend Haley Lonsdale who has put up with a good few years of crazy.

Thank you to my family back home and my second family in Calgary.

Lastly big love to Aaron, Alex, Amanda, Bethany, Brandy, Brenda, Carolyn, Christine, Dan, Darci, Dionne, Erin, Gillian, Heather, Izabela, Jay, Jeff, Jen, Jessica, Joel, Judy, Kait, Karen, Kendal, Kim, Leo, Lily, Lisa, Madi, Maeghan, Mandy, Mason, Melissa, Shawn, Steve, Tacita, Teang, Tony, Trace, Troy, Val and so many more.

I couldn’t have done this without you.


Michelle, I can’t wait to see what we will create. Thank you for inviting me along on the journey.

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

With absolutely all my heart (and a whole bundle of nerves and excitement),

Jillian Walker

PS – If I can offer any ounce of advice… trust your gut. Don’t settle for anything less than everything.