Republic Services TA leader, Shannon Taylor, looks at a moment of selfless leadership as a key part of his career. It's a lesson he's carried with him to his current position.
Republic Services, Inc is the second largest provider of non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling, and energy services in the United States, with revenues close to the $10 billion mark. They are one of the most essential service providers in the country.
Coming out of the University of Florida with a degree in economics, Shannon did what a lot of us (hi, degree in poetry over here) with liberal arts degrees do at first: he took a job in construction. Great role, great people. He learned a ton. And, one of the key things he learned was: he didn't want to be in construction his entire career. Fortunately for him, the role involved working a career fair booth once or twice a year.
“I had a great two years, it was fun, but it wasn’t my passion. So I asked myself what my joy was, and how could I find a job where I got paid to do it? I thought about it, and there was a small part of my job, 5%, college career fairs once or twice a year, and I loved it.”
After cutting his teeth as a coordinator at a boutique staffing firm, he’d built a foundation: “I was a sourcer before it was cool - before LinkedIn and all the tools, just lots of dialing into company directories, digging into the Yellow Pages, and this wild new thing called Yahoo.” The next step? Finding out what the corporate recruiters on the other side of the phone from him were up to.
“The timing worked out really well. My wife took a new role that had a relocation to Orlando, and I took a role as a recruiter at Wyndham HQ in Orlando. It gave me exposure to how things functioned at a Fortune 500 company: really good experience. After two years I was looking to move forward a level, but there wasn’t the option at Wyndham at that time.”
Here’s where that leader we mentioned earlier comes into the story:
“I’ll never forget it. I was sitting at my desk one day at Wyndham, and my boss swung by and said they’d just had lunch with the head of HR over at Hard Rock, and that they were looking for a TA Manager and struggling with the search. They’d asked if he knew anyone great, and she said: ‘I told them I did and that didn’t want to lose him - and then I gave them your name. Because this would be good for you. You should pursue it.”
“That was one of those selfless things, where someone comes along and just does that. The selflessness of a leader who does that. From there, my career took off. I was at Hard Rock, tons of great experiences. From there it’s been taps on the shoulder when it’s come to a job change. But it started there, with a great leader.”
“I wasn’t really looking when Republic reached out - but the role was, and is, fascinating. Such a great chance to expand my skill-set that I wanted to talk to them. The team I met, the vision, and the level of innovation just inspired me. And that continues to this day.”
Shannon’s team, beyond the normal mix of recruiters, sourcers, etc, has something that he thinks really sets them apart: the concierge team. “The concierge is huge - good or bad job markets, great candidates will have options. One of the key things that matter is the experience they have. Especially If you’re working, the last thing we want to create is doubt. Accepting a new job, and preparing for it, is stressful enough already. The candidate experience will either create doubt or confirm their decision. They’re [the concierge team] hyper-focused on resetting the hook after that offer letter is signed. They’re there to support the new hire through the background checks, drug screening, all of it. And then they’re a known entity to that candidate the day they start. It makes their experience so much better - and that has an impact.”
At a macro level, Shannon sees talent acquisition as a powerful agent of corporate change - for better or for ill. “It’s a role where I get to almost control the outcomes of an organization in some form or fashion. The work we do, we’re the ones who are helping ensure the people who work here align with our organization and help us meet our business goals. That’s a huge responsibility. We are the culture creators and protectors. If we fail, we fail to protect the business from people who may fit technically but damage the company in other ways. We need to focus on long-term success. That’s where we have a huge impact.
The other piece, the thing that excites me also, is seeing people come into the organization, into roles they enjoy, and seeing them prosper. Seeing them grow into their roles, keep growing, hire others, develop, is really something.
“It’s funny - I remember my first placement. She was on the overnight shift and wanted out. We got her a sign-on, without her knowing it, that allowed her to furnish her new house. I don’t know if she remembers me, but it’ll always feel great to think I had an impact on her life. That’s the piece that, I think, makes this role one that can be as much about business as it is about the heart. That’s pretty special.”
What question do your executives ask you the most, and why is this topic important to your business?
“How many driver positions do we have open, and how long is it taking to fill them?”
What is the most important quality/skill you look for when hiring a new recruiter for your team? Why?
I look for, I like drive. Inquisitive. Someone who has just a great attitude and the ability to work in a gray environment. You have to be comfortable asking questions.
What do you wish vendors understood before they contact you?
I wish they would not reach and ask me what my “2020 strategy is”. I don’t know you, why are you asking that? I wish they would stop trying to sell, and seek to understand, and develop the relationship.
What industry blogs and publications do you find most valuable?
I do read a lot of the stuff that comes out of SHRM. I do read Gartner a lot. A lot of vendors I work with will send me case studies. But a lot of it is networking with other recruiters, what they’re seeing. I get information from groups, local MeetUps.
What do you think is the biggest threat facing the talent acquisition industry today?
The biggest threat to our industry is people not understanding the work that goes into attracting and hiring the best talent. When leaders haven’t been close to hiring for awhile, and don’t understand the new normal job market, there’s a risk they’ll second guess and react.
Where do you see the talent acquisition industry in 5 years?
I think we have a more curated, personal experience for candidates. Something that’s like a concierge from all levels, leveraging technology to help. And, we’ll be taking more of an approach as a business speaking about TA the same way companies talk about, say M&A, a business activity that is strategic and planned. If we can come forward as business partners, we’ll have an impact
If your talent acquisition budget doubled tomorrow, how would you spend the additional funds?
I would create some sort of training pipeline for us to develop the next level of employees, a training tool teaching people how to do the work we need to fill, drivers, tech, the skills we’re looking for. To create more of a talent pool.
What is the most difficult role your team is recruiting for right now? What makes it difficult?
HR roles. We are the worst. We are the toughest on our own people. Getting HR people to agree on a person for a role, those are some of the toughest roles I fill. IT roles are tough, don’t get me wrong, but HR people are the toughest on ourselves.
How do you stay sane/ maintain balance?
Couple things. I have a really great team. I don’t have to do it alone. That makes the job so much easier. And, we have a great organization committed to TA, everyone’s willingness to be part of the process helps me to be more innovative. Because I have that fantastic support, I’m not fighting battles over small stuff.