How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Chris Dardis & Kage Spatz

Kage Spatz
Jul 19, 2019 · 7 min read
Chris Dardis

If you are having a hard time finding the exact candidate you are hoping for, drop the least important “requirement” and watch what happens. Talent you hadn’t considered before might be exactly what you need.

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 Chris Dardis.

As Division Vice President of HR Consulting & HR Search at Versiquein Minneapolis, MN, Chris Dardis has more than 12 years of experience in agency and corporate executive recruiting. He has helped dozens of companies ranging from startups to fortune 500 enhance their human resource practices.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Back in 2001, I was an IT consultant who was laid off because the Y2K scare came to an end, and my consulting company was cutting costs. I reached out to a recruiting company and asked for their help finding a new job. I explained I was looking for something that contained more relationship management. I wanted to have a career that allowed me to make a difference in people’s lives. They explained how the recruitment and staffing industry focuses on both of those keys and the rest is history. Everyday, I am able to create new relationships and cultivate existing ones all while helping people make monumental changes in their lives.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career?

I have learned that candidates can become clients and clients can become candidates. It’s because of this fact that I never burn bridges and am always open to a conversation with someone.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company?

Within Versique, we are working to implement new software tools that help us with our core value of collaboration! If everyone at Versique can selflessly share their network and gifts with each other, it will continue to drive our success to great heights.

Let’s now 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?

1. Eagles fly with eagles

I am consistently connecting with my most talented and favorite people in my network asking them about some of their favorite people. Your best employees know your best potential employees.

2. Be open to conversations

Networking is an all-the-time thing. Conversations can go in a million different directions, and if you approach these conversations with a “give in order to get” attitude, I promise that good things will come back to you.

3. Let the software do the work

Applicant tracking systems and LinkedIn have functions that allow you to stay in contact with good candidates. They allow you to set search agents that will bring candidates to you based on specific filters and deliver candidate ideas to you every morning.

4. Be flexible with your “keys”

If you are having a hard time finding the exact candidate you are hoping for, drop the least important “requirement” and watch what happens. Talent you hadn’t considered before might be exactly what you need.

5. Create a repeatable process

Winging recruitment plans and interview processes leads to inconsistent results. If you have a successful, repeatable process documented, you’ll be able to audit the processes from time to time to maximize efficiencies.

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

1. Develop an honest online brand through social media. Allow people to see behind the curtain, and show off the best parts of your culture.

2. Be specific regarding why you are interested in them. When you are recruiting passive candidates, be specific as to what caught your eye about their background. Don’t blow smoke.

3. Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Make sure your company website tells a story, and when you are engaging with potential hires, share your story of how you came to the company and why you like it.

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

1. Soft Benefits

There are inexpensive offerings you can give to your employees that create large jumps in engagement.

2. Be Consistent

Be consistent with how you treat your employees. Hire and fire based on your company’s values.

3. Talk about the future

“Career pathing” is a topic that many leaders don’t like to talk to their employees about because they fear the employee will grow out of their current role. If you don’t talk about career pathing, those employees will not only leave their role, they’ll leave the company. Talk about career pathing and gain more control over the strategic employee movement in your company.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends?

It is very important for HR professionals to keep up with the latest trends of recruiting and engagement. It’s equally important for those HR professionals to educate all leaders within the organization as to what these trends are and how they could help the business. If retention and engagement tactics are only contained within HR, the company’s retention rate could suffer.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Here are a few examples of inexpensive, soft benefits that companies are offering:

You are a person of great influence. 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 love to encourage people to look at issues/other people/challenges and all things through a lens of love instead of fear. This simple change in perception can change your world. When we negatively react to issues, it’s typically triggered by fear. We often suffer more in our imagination than in reality.

That would be wonderful. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” — Eckhart Tolle

This quote, and this way of thinking, has helped to ease the stress and worry in my life. It also has allowed me to “move on” from things that would have previously lingered in my mind and distracted me from focusing on what I’m presently trying to accomplish.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Because of my industry and his mindful leadership, I’d love to connect with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. His passion around connecting professionals would be a commonality of ours. I’d love to talk to him about how he creates an employment brand and leadership style based on pausing to think versus constantly reacting.

Thank you for sharing so many valuable insights with us today!


About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-featured Strategist & 3x Entrepreneur — most notably Spacetwin & Milburn Shaw. Kage’s latest project is connecting employees (and their families) with additional voluntary HR benefits at zero cost to them or their company. Connect with Kage on Linkedin or at Kage.pro to strengthen your network anytime

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