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Why a Billion-Dollar Retail Company Hires for Heart and Resume, and You Should, Too

It seems everywhere I turn lately, people are having honest discussions about talent in line with business. Take the most recent podcast episode Boss Files with Poppy Harlow, for example. Her guest was jewelry designer and billion-dollar business owner, Kendra Scott, and I was excited to hear how much of their discussion revolved around interviewing and talent.

Out of curiosity (based on my own background of nearly ten years in the HR tech industry), I wanted to learn more about the company’s unique approach to hiring for both heart and resume. So I was delighted to have the honor of interviewing Danielle Nicholas, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Kendra Scott. During our conversation, we got personal on what it means to hire for heart, how Kendra Scott’s approach to talent has shaped Danielle’s own values, and the impact working at the women-led company has had for her.

How did your journey in HR & talent acquisition begin?

I went to college at Florida State and several of my friends went into the staffing industry after graduation. Realizing that I could leverage my networking and people skills in a recruiting capacity, I followed suit. I was quickly able to build a solid skill set in sourcing and interviewing and realized that I had a passion for connecting people with amazing opportunities. I was able to join the recruiting team and Kendra Scott in 2016 and never looked back! It has been the perfect combination of networking and relationship building at a company that has values that are similar to my own.

Tell me more about the recruiting team at Kendra Scott.

The recruiting team at Kendra Scott operates as one of our many functional areas of HR. We recruit for our retail stores nationwide, our Home Office and our distribution center. In addition to hiring initiatives, we support campus recruiting and internships as well as employer branding strategy to position Kendra Scott as an employer of choice across the US.

Where has your team been focused in growing talent?

Over the past year, we have placed extra emphasis on hiring for our technology team in order to support major systems implementations and help us scale as an organization.

You mentioned HR and recruiting sit on the same team. How do you feel that supports Kendra Scott in hiring the best fit for your company?

HR is the heart of every organization and as recruiters, we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that. We are lucky to share an amazing, authentic story with jobseekers across the country and help build a team that enhances our unique culture.

Tell me about your 3 core pillars.

With our three core pillars of Family, Fashion, and Philanthropy, we create more than beautiful jewelry – we create joy. We treat our customers and employees like family, focus on products that make people happy, and are committed to positive, impactful causes.

Why were these pillars were established?

Kendra started this brand because she wanted to do three things: support her family while being the best mom she could be, fill a white space in the market for beautiful jewelry made with colorful gemstones at an affordable price, and make a positive impact on the world around her. It’s was only natural that the three things that pushed her to start Kendra Scott act as our North Star through every phase of the business.

After your three-year tenure, what success have you seen in how and who you hire?

We are lucky, like Lever, to be a female-led company. That alone has provided us with a more diverse candidate pool. When I started with Kendra Scott, approximately 98% of our employee base was female– today we’re down to 95%. Kendra is passionate about maintaining a culture that empowers women to thrive both in their careers and in their personal lives. We recognize the value of different perspectives and increased innovation that a diverse workforce provides and have placed a number of people in senior leadership roles who share that same mentality.

How do you continue to prioritize hiring for heart and resume through massive company growth?

A candidate could have every technical skill required in the job description, but if our core values don’t align, it likely isn’t the right fit for either party. It’s about the perfect balance of experience, authenticity and passion in order to be set up for success long-term.

What are some examples of that other companies might be able to implement that have helped keep and maintain that heart inside the organization?

Every year, we roll out a new mantra that sets the tone for our annual company initiatives. This year, that mantra is “Own It,” encouraging each employee to embody an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for everything they do. As a way to recognize employees who are “owning it,” we implemented gratitude cards, which are handwritten notes of thanks or appreciation. HR facilitates an “all hands” meeting at our Home Office on a monthly basis, and the most impactful notes are selected to be read aloud.

There seems to be a correlation between how companies treat their front-line employees and how they, in turn, treat our customers. How do you ensure that employees are happy and engaged and able to exemplify that with customers?

We have created a culture of empowerment across our organization and encourage our employees to treat customers like family. We like to implement fun incentives for our store teams that get them excited to provide the best customer experience. For example, our teams have monthly selling contests with prizes, and we highlight customer compliments to the entire company via our monthly newsletter. Our Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer even sends personal hand-written thank you notes to stores that receive kudos from customers.

I have to imagine your candidate experience then follows suit?

We definitely stay connected to our candidates who didn’t work out the first time around. It’s critical that we have this tracked and measured within our talent pipeline. These are relationships we really try to nurture over time. Checking in every month or so, sending them potential job openings they might be interested in, etc. Our end goal is for each candidate to have an amazing experience that they share with others. Lots of companies are doing that today, but sticking to your word is the key differentiator for long-term success.

Final Thoughts: Hiring for Heart and Resume

My interview with Danielle caused me to reflect as well on my interview with Lever. As a Director of Marketing, Lever screened my traits and attributes in detail and I remember when I joined realizing immediately how thoughtful the culture was and would be throughout my tenure. The value in not only creating company traits, but living them daily, can reap dividends in recognition, retention, and competing to hire the very best for your great company.

For more on creating an amazing candidate experience, download our Streamline the Interview Guide.