Look Again: How to Find Top Talent Among Those Who Didn't Make the First Cut

BY Wanly Chen | November 29, 2023

Delphine Carter checked all the boxes. She had a robust background in product and sales development and thought she found an opportunity that she could be successful in.

But like many, Carter’s nonlinear work history caused her resume to be initially rejected. “I applied but I didn’t get an interview. A friend of mine was friends with the hiring manager though, and said that I was a great cultural fit and they ended up hiring me.”

Carter called herself a “trash can hire,” a term referring to a candidate whose resume was tossed out in the initial screening but rescued in the end. Now, as the CEO and founder of Boulo Solutions, Carter speaks about her business of helping employers break out of their traditional hiring processes to adopt a more open-minded approach. Carter spoke on the subject during a thought leadership spotlight at From Day One’s November virtual conference.

Avoid Looking at Titles and Education

Traditional hiring practices look primarily at linear work experience, with employers scanning resumes for key titles, education and company names. However, this method removes candidates with nontraditional resumes who may be prime candidates as well, Carter says.

“Ask recruiters to ignore titles, industry and timelines and focus on what’s needed. Put these candidates in front of a panel that represents people from different areas of your organization,” Carter said. “This can help ensure a fair evaluation process and expand the type of questions that the candidate might receive.”

At Boulo Solutions, clients are already embracing this change. For each candidate, Boulo Solutions creates a profile of their work experience and skills to present to employers.

“We create a 360-degree profile of our candidates with the information that shows off their capabilities in a nonlinear fashion, to eliminate the bias that’s caused by hyper-focusing on titles, timelines and industry,” Carter said. “This helps the candidate stand out because it calls out hard and soft skills that they’ve gained through job and life experiences. Our customers feel like they’ve had a mini interview, and it makes it easier to compare the hard and soft skills of one candidate with another.”

Grow Your Referral Pipeline

Delphine Carter, founder and CEO of Boulo Solutions, led the thought leadership spotlight (company photo)

82% of employers rated referrals as their top source for yielding the best return on investment, showing referrals from employees can be a reliable source for employers to get top candidates.

“Referrals come from people within your organization or a personal network, who are familiar with both the candidate and your company’s culture. As hiring managers, you can elevate this element of trust and credibility to identify candidates who are more likely to align with your company’s values and expectations,” Carter said.

For employers, 45% of referral hires stay longer than four years, compared to only 25% of job board hires, and can cost less to hire than other hiring sources. Having a referral pipeline from employees and industry peers can diversify the hiring pool and help employers look at candidates beyond just the ones that come from the job board, Carter says.

“Grow a referral pipeline from industry peers or companies with cultures similar to yours,” Carter said. “This method leverages personal and professional connections to find individuals who possess qualities that are essential beyond what’s written on their resumes and can contribute to a more robust and culturally aligned workforce.”

Break Out of Tradition

As a former “trash-can hire,” Carter isn’t afraid to go dumpster diving. “The best reason for dumpster diving is that these candidates are in the dumpster because they applied and they found your company and that job interesting,” Carter said.

Looking at rejected resumes with a different mindset can help change traditional hiring practices and give top candidates a second chance. When evaluating these resumes, employers should look for the value proposition that the candidate can add to the company.

“Some exceptional candidates may not have the most conventional resumes but there’s a chance of uncovering those diamonds in the rough who may not have typical paper qualifications but possess the skills and potential your organization needs,” Carter said. “Look for the diverse perspectives and backgrounds that are missing from your team and find how they could add value.”

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Boulo Solutions, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.

Wanly Chen is a writer and poet based in New York City.


Embedding DEI in Grantmaking: From Vision to Action

Embracing our differences and lived experiences enhances innovation, creativity, decision-making, and better problem-solving. But it’s not always easy to turn aspirations into tangible actions. In a thought leadership spotlight session at From Day One’s Denver conference, Tanya Odom, director of equity and inclusion at the Walton Family Foundation, shared practical strategies and real-world examples of embedding DEI principles and practices into philanthropy, both internally and externally.Odom painted a vivid picture of the Walton Family Foundation’s legacy, tracing its roots to its founding by Sam Walton and Helen Walton in 1987. “We’ve been in the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion for over 25 years,” said Odom. In 2020, the foundation awarded $749.5 million in grants. “We actually fund in three very specific areas that are determined by the family, which are education, which has taken different pathways and ways of looking at it, but that’s been since the beginning. Another is the environment, more specifically oceans and sustainability. And the third is the home region, Bentonville, Arkansas, and Arkansas’ Mississippi Delta,” said Odom. “We infuse all of them with a sensibility about diversity, equity inclusion.” “Our framework centers around three key pillars: embed, align, and amplify,” said Odom. Through these pillars, the foundation aims not only to incorporate DEI principles into its own operations, but also to foster similar initiatives among its grantees and partners. This holistic approach reflects the foundation’s recognition of the interconnectedness of issues, and its commitment to driving systemic change. “It's not just about what we do internally,” she said. “It's about how we leverage our influence to effect change on a broader scale.”Navigating the Last Few YearsThe conversation turned towards the challenges faced during the pivotal summer of 2020, a period marked by widespread social unrest and calls for racial justice. Odom reflected on the intense global efforts during that time. “Many of us had never worked as hard as we did in the summer of 2020,” she said. “That summer and I would say the year after that. And I think there was a sense of people finally understanding what we did.”Tanya Odom of the Walton Family Foundation was interviewed by From Day One co-founder Steve Koepp during the thought leadership spotlightDespite the challenges, Odom recalled this period as a catalyst for change. “We’ve been saying this, this is not new. Odom mentions the curb-cut theory, an awareness that once you find a pathway to address some of these inequities, or structural issues, you usually find ways to address other issues. “So while the summer of 2020 was called a racial reckoning, in Europe, it was also often called a social reckoning. It just highlighted so many other things.”Leadership Buy-In and the Importance of CourageOdom underscored the importance of courage in leadership and the willingness to take bold action. This call for courageous leadership highlighted the need for organizations to confront difficult conversations and actively engage in the work of dismantling systemic barriers to equity.At the Foundation, Odom says, they held an interview with their board chair on the subject of diversity. “And that was very unusual. Our comms department actually got permission to have that go out onto social media. What was really important was that our board chair talked about how DEI connected to the thoughts and beliefs of Sam Walton. Sam Walton wasn't saying ‘diversity, equity and inclusion.’ But Sam Walton talked about access. So how do we connect it to the mission of the organization?”Philanthropy's Roadblocks and Future ChallengesDespite the foundation's commendable efforts, Odom acknowledged the roadblocks and challenges facing philanthropy in its quest for DEI integration. “Dr. King has a quote,” she said. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances, economic injustice, which makes philanthropy necessary.”Odom remained optimistic about the future, emphasizing the importance of collective action and ongoing dialogue. “While the road ahead may be challenging,” she said, “I firmly believe that by working together, we can overcome these obstacles and create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, the Walton Family Foundation, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight. Cynthia Barnes has written about everything from art to zebras from more than 30 countries. She currently calls Denver home.

Cynthia Barnes | February 09, 2024

Getting Ahead of Attrition Through Career Equity and Recognition

In the age of hybrid work and digital transformation, companies face the challenge of meeting rising employee expectations despite strained profits. Aside from wages, how might companies ensure that their employees’ needs are being met?At From Day One’s recent Atlanta conference, Jeff Cates, CEO of Achievers and Kumari Williams, VP of belonging and diversity at Workday, discussed exactly this. According to research from Achievers, the number of people who are job searching in 2024 is going up by 10%. For most people, the number one consideration is wage, which makes sense given today’s cost of living and expenses.How do we solve the wage problem when most organizations are actually looking to reduce wage increases this year? Research shows that on average, in the U.S., employers are looking at wage increases of about 3.9% in 2024 compared to 4.4% last year.Emotional salary supports retention. Two-thirds of individuals reported that if they felt supported and connected at an organization, they would take that over a 30% increase in wage.This cultural environment fosters a strong sense of belonging, increasing the likelihood of individuals pursuing long-term careers within their organization. Belonging creates the difference between ‘I work at an organization’ versus ‘I’m connected; I have a career at this organization.’Creating a sense of belonging is ultimately what helps create the stickiness that can help offset the lure of wages. For Williams, belonging is an output of inclusivity—and building inclusive spaces and inclusive leaders are the cornerstone workplace belonging.“It’s even a KPI for our organization. And so at the highest level in the organization, we are focused on increasing belonging, not just maintaining it,” she said.Williams, left, and Cates, right, led a thought leadership spotlight titled “Getting Ahead of Attrition Through Career Equity and Recognition, Using HR Tech” (photo by Dustin Chambers for From Day One)So, how do you create an environment where people feel connected and fulfilled? At Achievers, equity and transparency are vital in creating employee-friendly talent practices. “Individuals that report a feeling of career equity are two times more likely to not job hunt,” Cates said.One key area where they dialed in on transparency was performance ratings, where workmates were free to share performance ratings as well as their ratings from a potential standpoint and how they could do better, he says.It’s time to shift the idea of recognition from a reward to a sustainable practice that nudges people forward. It’s not just about using money (but you can, in small doses), but about using recognition to drive behavior, Cates says. It’s also important to use data to draw relevant insights regarding employee performance and how recognition can further propel that.“It’s really when we think about recognition that’s not tied to the monetary that we can drive behavior—and if we are going to use monetary rewards, then it should be used in very small doses,” said Cates.When you think about all the things you can do that drive behavior, such as recognition, gamification, and things that create a sense of accomplishment, it’s important to note that even micro-nudging or micro-rewarding can add up to help build positive habits. By helping to create habits and drive behavior, you can really drive scalable impact on how people feel. By accomplishing smaller tasks and micro-rewarding, you help people achieve a sense of fulfillment and action.It also comes down to leadership accountability. “Oftentimes, we’re focused on the message at the top of our organizations and making sure that our executives are aware of what we're trying to drive,” said Williams, “and it just doesn't permeate the layers in the middle.”For Williams, being intentional about how you drive accountability among leaders in the middle of the organization is essential so that they can carry the work forward. Most of your employees’ experience is shaped by your middle managers, not the executives, she says.Staying competitive in the job market and reducing attrition is challenging, especially now that employees are increasingly focused on finding better wages. However, the one thing that employees do value more than higher wages is company culture, particularly a sense of belonging where they see a path forward career-wise, where they’re being recognized, and feel that they are seen and heard.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Achievers, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.Keren's love for words saw her transition from a corporate employee into a freelance writer during the pandemic. When she is not at her desk whipping up compelling narratives and sipping on endless cups of coffee, you can find her curled up with a book, playing with her dog, or pottering about in the garden.

Keren Dinkin | February 08, 2024

People, Place, Purpose: An Employer’s Role in Employee Mental Health

For Nivati Founder and CEO Amelia Wilcox, the issue of mental health hits close to home. When she discovered that her sixteen-year-old was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, she became acquainted with the difficult realities of mental health. “She had to undergo a whole year of intensive treatment outside of our home,” Wilcox said. “This was one of the hardest and most gut wrenching experiences that I have ever had, and it actually triggered some of my own issues with anxiety.” According to the American Psychological Association, 81% of workers consider mental health support an essential factor when looking for a new job. Even college students are looking for colleges with strong mental health support programs. Wilcox approaches the subject of employee mental health with a level of passion and empathy that can only come from someone who knows just how important it is. She spoke about the important topic in a recent thought leadership spotlight at From Day One’s January virtual conference.A Brief Timeline of Corporate Mental HealthWilcox started with a simplified timeline of corporate mental health: How it started and how we got to where we are today.  It all began in the 1930s with employee assistance programs (EAPs), which were a response to workplace alcoholism. Over time, EAPs became the industry standard for HR to have in place for employees, and they've seen little innovation or change in the last 90 years.Then, during the 2000s, EAPs were considered to be part of mental health support at work. That essentially checked the box for HR, and it was good enough for most companies. In the 2010s, in many offices, mental health benefits took the form of distractions like ping pong tables and video games. Things like onsite massage and nap rooms provided distractions from work to give the brain a break to refresh, and it worked for a while.Then came 2020, when the world was on fire. We learned that mental health is real; it affects everyone, and it needs some serious attention. But people still weren’t quite sure what to do about it.  In 2021 and 2022 trends like the great resignation and quiet quitting became prevalent to a workforce that felt failed by their companies. Employees became less connected, less engaged, less appreciated, and ultimately overworked.“I know it’s controversial to talk about it, but what I think is really cool about this phase is that workers really started to revolt against the hustle culture and set their own boundaries,” Wilcox said.The Present and FutureThen came 2023, during which eggs reached upwards of $6 a dozen in different parts across the U.S.. Inflation peaked at over 8%, and employees started adding financial stress to the growing list of mental health challenges they were experiencing. During this time, some forward-thinking companies started to get ahead of quiet quitting by proactively addressing boundaries and culture in the workplace. For the past 90 years, mental health support at work has stayed roughly the same. Before 2020, the focus was mainly on pre-existing and diagnosable conditions. But over the last four years, we’ve seen that focus start to evolve very rapidly. It includes all of us; it’s not just people who have diagnosed mental illnesses—it’s everyone. The Road to RecoverySo, how do we shift work from being a source of burnout and mental health challenges to becoming a source of mental health support? Dr. Thomas Insel, who wrote Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health, forwards some powerful methods to reverse the mental health crisis that we’re in the middle of.According to Dr. Insel, the road to recovery comprises three Ps: people, place, and purpose. With those three structures in place, people experiencing mental illness can experience the support and care they deserve. PeopleConnection and belonging are essential for everyone. In the workplace, that means employers have to find ways to foster this positive social interaction, and ensure the company culture is conducive to connection-building. For example, in “Blue Zones,” or areas where people consistently live to 100-years-old, one of the most common components is a strong sense of community connection and belonging. So, not only can this help with morale and employee mental health, but having that connection can help people live longer.PlacePlace is about the environment. It can be virtual or your physical environment in the office. It’s the space employees work, and has to be where they feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe. One of the best ways to build psychological safety is to promote vulnerability, leadership needs to be involved in this to have an impact. Leaders should be able to discuss their struggles and what helps them. That allows people to feel safe and start to open up. Purpose(photo from thought leadership spotlight session)All humans need to feel a sense of purpose. In the workplace, this translates to employees knowing what they do matters. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has also defined workplace well-being as one of his top six priorities as surgeon general. His ‘five essentials’  framework aptly illustrates the correlation between the various factors that impact workplace wellbeing.Both the three P’s and the ‘Five Essentials’ tell a very similar narrative: the ultimate goal is to bring the workers’ voice back into the workplace. The bottom line is that the whole organization requires a cultural shift to put this in place and genuinely have a safe and supportive culture for mental health at work, says Wilcox.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Nivati, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.Keren's love for words saw her transition from a corporate employee into a freelance writer during the pandemic. After having made her mark as a Top Rated Writer with over 2000 positive reviews in the extremely competitive Upwork space, and having been featured on various magazines and publications, Keren has now moved on to bigger and better with her own digital marketing agency aptly named Epic Owl. When she is not at her desk whipping up compelling narratives and sipping on endless cups of coffee, you can find her curled up with a book, playing with her dog, or pottering about in the garden.

Keren Dinkin | January 24, 2024