How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Ralph Chapman of HR Search Pros

Kage Spatz
Feb 24 · 7 min read

I would like to inspire a new recruiting movement. One in which companies and candidates really connect and ensure the right person is hired.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Ralph Chapman.

Ralph Chapman served almost 4 years in the US Navy as a Commissioned Officer, earning several awards. After the Navy, Ralph joined Schneider National, one of the larger trucking and logistics companies in the US as Regional Recruiting Manager. Past experience also included LEADERS Inc., a search firm that specialized in placing Junior Military Officers and MRC, an Executive Search Firm. He moved on to start his current company, HR Search Pros, Inc. in 2007. At HR Search Pros, he specializes exclusively in placing HR professionals all over the US, and beyond on occasion, in any industry. He and his wife Danielle are the proud parents of 8 children.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was getting ready to leave the Navy I was interviewing for a wide range of roles. The opportunity that intrigued me the most was as a Recruiter. I took the role and fell in love with recruiting. I have been in recruiting ever since (25+ years) starting out in corporate recruiting and then moving to agency recruiting. Ultimately, I started my own executive search firm, HR Search Pros, Inc., and for the last 12+ years I have specialized in placing HR professionals.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

This is a tough question, as I have seen many interesting and funny situations. If I had to pick just one, I would say the most interesting one was when a candidate sent me their resume and a week later sent me their resume again. The only thing that was the same on the two resumes was the person’s name, address, phone number, and email. Everything else was different — every job, degree, etc. I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

I am constantly adding new HR searches all over the US and in all types of industries — which is always exciting. It is a blessing to be able to help so many people over the years land their next great HR role.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example of each idea.

  1. Utilize a great search firm — Forgive me for listing this first, but a great search firm can be an invaluable asset to a company. For example, I specialize in placing HR professionals. I get to know each client so I can best represent them. I also get to know each candidate I am working with so I can give great insight into that person when we present them to a client. This is a huge help to the company we are serving because we are able to give them so much more information than if the person applied directly with a resume. I can give additional context and details that a 2–3 page resume can’t cover as well as make sure they are a good cultural fit with the company.
  2. Questions, questions, questions — This is so important. You can’t just ask the same old questions; you must get to know the person and truly evaluate them to make sure they are what you are looking for. For example, the old “tell me about yourself” questions just don’t give a company all the information they need to make the right hiring decisions.
  3. Reference checks — This is a great way to learn more about the candidate. For example, as you talk with references you can find out more about the experiences they had and how they align with what you are looking for. You can also get a great insight into whether the person will be a good cultural fit.
  4. Referrals — This too is very important. Your current employees can be excellent resources to find talent for your company. For example, your current employees, more than likely, hang out with similar people who could be great for your company — whether it be their friends or members of associations they are part of. You must really tap into this potential talent pool.
  5. Scan social media — People’s social media profiles give great insight to the person. Don’t discount the importance of not only looking at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile but also their Twitter, Instagram, etc. The more you can learn about a candidate the better.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. Community involvement — Getting your name out there for people to see is important. Join and be a part of a variety of community organizations you care about. Show people you are there to help the community be better. Your current employees can share organizations they are interested in and you can offer them a chance to volunteer there. Plus, you will find like-minded people and they can interact with your current employees and get to learn more about them and your company.
  2. Social media — You must be engaging and communicating with the talent you are looking for and the talent you have. You can see who they are connected with which can be a great pool of candidates.
  3. Truly care — You must truly care for the employees you have and the people you want to hire. Treat everyone as a person — not just a number or an employee. Take interest in what is happening in their lives. This goes a long way and people love to brag about how their employers care.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

  1. Thriving atmosphere — Provide an atmosphere where a person has the opportunity to learn and grow in their career. This can’t just be something talked about it — it must be evident and lived out.
  2. Compensation and Benefits — It is very important that your employees are compensated fairly and have strong benefits. If a company is known to consistently pay below-market or have sub-par benefits, you will lose employees.
  3. Flexible work schedules — More and more people are looking for work schedules that are flexible. This doesn’t have to mean allowing them to work from home every day. It can be as simple as letting them come in early so they can leave earlier or coming in later and leaving later. Allowing people time to see their kid’s activities, go to doctor’s appointments, etc. is huge.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? If so, please share an example of what this might look like.

Most definitely and it is critical for HR to do so. For example: in recruiting, laws are changing all the time in regard to what can and can’t be asked. It is critically important to stay up to date with the laws. This can be done in several ways. The easiest way is to join a strong HR association in your area that is focused on the latest trends and issues.

What are some creative ways to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

A few things come to mind (1) just simply acknowledging a job well done goes a long way in making the person feel valued. It doesn’t have to be a monetary thing; it can be as simple as thanking the person for what they did. Maybe even sending out a company announcement about what the person did, (2) companies can work with local vendors to offer discounts on their products or services with no cost to the company, (3) lots of employees like to volunteer; so, allowing them so time to do so is very important to them, and (4) offering opportunities to explore other career paths within your company. This can be very valuable to an employee who wants to continue to learn and grow.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would like to inspire a new recruiting movement. One in which companies and candidates really connect and ensure the right person is hired. I feel this would be such a benefit to everyone as it could eliminate hiring the wrong person and this would be great for both the company and the candidate.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is Colossians 3:23–24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” This has been very important to me throughout my career as it helps me to focus on what is truly important and keeps my heart where it needs to be so I can best serve the companies and candidates I work with.

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Donald Trump — no matter what your impression of him is, I think it would be fascinating to spend some time with him.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!


About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-ft 3x Entrepreneur — now giving your business the same Fortune 500 Marketers used to scale some of the largest companies in the world (without the same overhead). Apply to leverage Spacetwin today to rescue more potential clients from your competitors tomorrow. You are also welcome to connect with Kage on Linkedin to strengthen your network anytime.

Kage Spatz

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