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5 Tips on Recruiting From Michelle Obama

I had the great honor and pleasure of attending Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama at the SAP Center in San Jose on December 14th with my mom. We treated ourselves to an inspiration-filled night, one that sparked our New Year’s resolutions for 2019. Now, reflecting on those takeaways, I couldn’t help but find correlations between what Michelle Obama shared in her discussion with Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s All Things Considered, and the recruiting organizations and people functions so critical to the long-term success of any business.

After all, great hiring drives the business forward. Which is why I’d like to share these takeaways, in hopes that they inspire you as much as they did me. May they help you take your talent to the next level and hire the best people more efficiently in the coming year!

1) Schedule Yourself, Then Your Work

As one of the only African-American females in a law firm, Michelle Obama had to learn to advocate for herself. She shared with the audience how she was always vocal from a young age, but that her mom really instilled the value of doing so in a respectful way. But in doing so, and in all the work in advocating for herself, she quickly lost sight of what mattered to her. She often put work before herself and even her family’s needs at the time.

Now, she adopts an approach to schedule herself first, then work. All of her exercise, plus family and personal obligations are on the calendar. She then layers work on top.

How to apply it to your recruiting:
Are you scheduling yourself and all the tasks you need to achieve to make the best hires in enough time in 2019? Data from our Science of Sourcing eBook shows that 1 in 152 total applicants gets hired. Whereas, 1 in 72 sourced candidates get hired.

Sourcing can help make you much more efficient in 2019, freeing you up to do the things that matter most. Ensure you have sourcing jams scheduled and regular check-ins with hiring managers to hit your hiring goals this year.

2) Be Sure to Swerve

Michelle Obama’s career story is one of transition. In a recent interview with Oprah on her new new book Becoming, she says, “I wasn’t a swerver. I wasn’t somebody that was going to take risks. I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be. It took loss—losses in my life that made me think, have you ever stopped to think about who you wanted to be? And I realized I had not. I was sitting on the 47th floor of an office building, going over cases and writing memos.”

How to apply it to your recruiting:
In recruiting, are you enabling your employees to swerve? We recently launched our Internal Mobility product allowing you to easily post internal positions for employees. Source within your own company, and allow your employees to swerve to a position that’s built for their long-term growth and success at your company.

3) Own Your Story

Michelle Obama talks a lot about owning her story. She advised the 12,000 people at SAP that evening to get out of their comfort zone. After all, her and Barack were never in their comfort zone all the time. Use that discomfort to push through your fear and don’t be held back by it. Push through it!

How to apply it to recruiting:
Half the battle in recruiting is owning your company story with conviction and selling your company to top talent. Especially when unemployment rates are so low and the pressure is on to sell your company to the best.

If you’re having trouble selling your great company story to top candidates, fear no more. Check out our Always be Selling: A Recruiter’s Cheat Sheet for expert advice on selling your company’s unique story.

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” ~Michelle Obama

4) Build Your Own Fan Club

Michelle Obama also talked about her fan club. “Go where your fan club is,” she advised the audience at SAP. “They are your champions and support group.” She even shared an intimate story of how she and her fan club would go to Camp David for boot camps during her time at the White House. It was a workout-filled retreat for her and her gal pals filled with quality bonding time. She said she quickly needed to incorporate wine into this rigorous retreat built for health and wellness to ensure she kept her fan club coming back every year.

How to apply it to recruiting:
For recruiters and heads of recruiting and people teams, staying connected is a critical component to success. Lever enables you to nurture previous candidates and maintain those connections across LinkedIn and other sources all in one place. That way you can easily market to the ones you know are fans of your company, but may not have been ready to make a change during your past outreach.

5) Take the Time to Show Young People That They Matter

Michelle Obama recounted her own upbringing and how her mom and dad were very strict, but that the best thing they did growing up was ensure that her voice mattered. Again, her mother asked that she do this in a respectful way, but never quieted her voice. This simple fact led her to the amazing work she has done ensuring that young people across America know that they matter.

How to apply it to recruiting:
Are career fairs in your plan for 2019? How often is your organization spending time coaching and growing fresh new talent? Are you ensuring that all the voices within your organization matter, so that those employees can further your recruiting in 2019? Recognize employees and ensure they know their voices do indeed matter.

Recent research by Deloitte shows that companies with high-maturity TA functions bring in 18 percent more revenue than their low-maturity counterparts. Further, when it comes to profit per employee, organizations with high-maturity TA functions enjoy a 30 percent advantage over their low-maturity counterparts.

Final Thoughts: Achieving Successful Recruiting in 2019

There is much that can be learned and applied from the former first lady to recruit the best in 2019, just as there are many recruiting platforms to help your teams maintain and improve upon their efficiency. It takes an incredible amount of grit to source and recruit strong talent to scale the business and not burn out in the process. Leverage systems that improve task management and scheduling to ensure no deadlines get skipped.

It could also be as easy as utilizing Lever Recommendations, which recommend talent for roles that you are trying to fill, or sourcing from a past talent pool. Ensure those connections are seamlessly stored in one place, and be sure to attend a monthly demo to ask questions to ensure your process is most efficient.

And when in doubt, swerve to allow your career to reach new heights!