Episode 342: Changes in Hiring and the Workplace With Crystal Romero

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Episode 342: Changes in Hiring and the Workplace With Crystal Romero

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:26.40] Welcome to the Workology Podcast, sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. Today, we’re going to talk about scaling your recruiting efforts, data, and analytics, and more if you are looking at up-leveling your recruiting analytics, game, and automation, this is the podcast for you. Today we are talking with Crystal Romero. She’s a Talent Acquisition Manager with Community Dental Partners. Crystal has a background in office management, finance, and marketing strategies and she oversees the entire recruitment cycle, from sourcing to creating candidate pools to ATS implementation twice and analyzing data through the process. Crystal. I’m so excited. Welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Crystal Romero: [00:01:12.93] Thanks for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:15.15] I want to get a little background from you on your career trajectory with Community Dental. And just so folks know I will link to your, to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes over on Workology.com. But I am so interested in learning how your career has grown from management to HR and, well, your current position as talent acquisition.

Crystal Romero: [00:01:38.19] Of course, so when I was a manager in 2020, it was when COVID hit, and we all know that that impacted everyone in a big way. So the way it impacted me was I actually have four children and when it hit, our summer care actually went away and we, we initially thought, like we can, we can kind of work past it. We have really good family in town, and so we, we kind of made things work. And then when things didn’t normalize like we thought they would, we actually ended up having to make a decision. And the decision was basically going to be, I’m going to have to stay home and be a stay-at-home mom. So I, you know, put my notice in and it was my last week of work and our HR manager actually reached out and said, You know, we’re looking for a recruiter, would you be interested? It’s remote. You can still work with us, stay with the company, but, you know, help us find great talent because you’ve done a great job with your office in helping to staff up and find a really good hires. So I accepted, I took on the role.

Crystal Romero: [00:02:42.69] My husband was disappointed because he was like, I finally had you at home and now you’re not at home again, you’re working. So when I transitioned over to HR, it really was just so exciting to be able to be to be in a role that you can affect so many more people, like when you’re, when you’re running a team, you know, you can help grow your team. You can help grow your employees, work on the engagement factors and making sure that things are going really good there. But when you’re working in the HR scope, it’s just, the horizon’s really brought in and you’re really able to help strategize and think of ways that we can really improve the quality of life for our employees. So it didn’t take too long. After probably almost seven months in the position, I transitioned into a Talent Acquisition Manager and had a team with me. So once again back in a management role, just in a different scope. But I’ve really enjoyed learning all things HR related and just jumping in and, and helping our company continue to drive forward.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:45.45] Amazing. I love stories like this because you’ve been able to, to leverage and use your experience as someone in the office and in the Dental offices and be able to now look for those kind of great candidates, not just for your office, but for all the locations. One of the things I wanted to ask you is tell us a little bit about Community Dental Partners, and I’d love to know the size and then how your team and the HR team is really structured.

Crystal Romero: [00:04:16.62] Yeah. So currently we have about we’re pushing at around 800 employees, probably beginning 2022, we’ll have doubled in size will be over a thousand. So our HR team is currently structured, we have our HR executive director, who’s Jackie Brown. We’ve got our HR manager, Sean Tessa, and then she’s got her HR ops team, which works on kind of more tactical things, HR operations. And she’s got two, three generalists, one generalist. That’s best, that is more specialized in benefits. She’s got an HR coordinator and an HR assistant, so she’s got a pretty big team under her. And then we’ve got our talent acquisition team that focuses on all kind of, all recruiting. So we work on everything except for clinical. We work on front office, back office, practice managers, sports center teams, call center reps, you name it. And we have a team of four. So it’s myself and I have two specialists and a coordinator. We have a clinical recruiting team that’s also part of our HR scope. It’s Tiffany Green and she’s our clinical recruitment manager. And then she’s got a recruiter under her, a coordinator and a marketing specialist. And then we have LND, and LND has one other person in that department, and that’s Hayley, and she’s our LND Manager. So our team is, is, is growing pretty fast. But as you know, when we scale, we just have to have that support there to to bring everybody on board. So it’s, it’s structured a little different. We don’t have a specific recruiting team like I know some other companies have departments that are they just do recruiting. Ours is more unlike the HR realm, so we’re all still under that umbrella.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:59.01] And how many locations do you have right now?

Crystal Romero: [00:06:02.25] Oh, OK, so we have 37 practices throughout the state of Texas. They’re all over. So we’ve got El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Antonio. We just opened our first one in Houston and then we actually are going to be merging with the company and we’re going to be bringing on about 30 more. And and then, yeah, so we’re we’re growing pretty rapidly moving into January 2022. We’re going to have probably 70+ practices.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:33.12] Wow, what an exciting time. And so much work for you and the HR team. How have you seen the workplace change since March of 2020? And how is this a different world for you? I mean, we heard about your transition into to recruiting a talent acquisition, but maybe and how you’re recruiting and supporting your organization?

Crystal Romero: [00:06:56.79] Yeah, absolutely. March of 2020, we actually had like our Indeed posts. We would just like post a job on Indeed and action the hiring managers so the practice managers were the ones going through those resumes and then they’d call and contact and then HR would just close the requisition. So it was a little different. But it was actually perfect timing when I ended up moving into recruiting because as things started to open up, you know, talent pools got a lot smaller and then competition just boomed. So thankfully what I ended up doing is I took the, we took the Indeed posting and we actually move to an ETS. The first ETS we moved to was no good. It didn’t work out. It was not helpful and it was not functional. And so we ended up moving to a different ATS. Well, when we transitioned everything to this ATS, it really streamlined all the processes and made it to where we weren’t just kind of posting and praying. We were really able to post, see where we were getting traction, traction for those jobs. And then we were able to focus more time on sourcing candidates. And it feels like sourcing candidates has really helped get us through filling a lot of these pipelines that otherwise are pretty dry. I think right now, compared to 2020, people are, especially recruiters, where they’re getting a lot more aggressive in having to go out and seek that talent and realizing like, you can’t just sit on your hands and wait for them to come to you because there’s so much competition, especially in like DFW, this area is it’s number one right now in job growth.

Crystal Romero: [00:08:24.21] And so that just means that there’s so much more competition for this area specifically. And I think if we weren’t sourcing, we probably would still have tons of positions open. We’ve been able to, to really hone in on those skills and get candidates interested in positions that maybe they weren’t even looking at before. So I think just even, even in the workplace, like I feel like people have, they really come to understand like what is important and what can I live with and live without. You know, for my instance, for example, you know, I was willing to just bite the bullet and stay home and just say, Hey, well, this is my life now. That’s what it is. And I feel like if I had gotten into that phase of just being home, I probably wouldn’t even be in the, you know, I wouldn’t even be working. I probably just would be, you know, settled in, gotten happy, and just done that. But, and I think a lot of people probably got into that mindset of like, Hey, I’m home. This is where, this is what matters, I’m here with my family. You know, Covid kind of taught us all a lot about what’s important and what matters.

Crystal Romero: [00:09:23.28] And I think to be a company that’s going to take individuals who are already in that mindset and convince them to go to work, you have to have a really compelling argument because not, nothing really competes more than just spending time with your family and being with your kids and not missing out on those moments. So I think it’s really forced just the workforce in general to understand that these candidates, they hold a lot of the cards and we’re not the ones holding them all anymore, so it’s just made people, especially recruiters and leaders, have to understand that we’re not, we’re not the only ones interviewing them, they’re interviewing us as well because they have options. And some of those options sometimes are spending time with family being able to be home, being able to have that flexibility. So I just think that the, as far as the workplace really just moving in that direction of understanding at the end of the day, we’re all people and we’re all trying to get through this as best we can. It’s something that I think people probably thought about in, or before March of 2020 but they didn’t really feel the impact until after

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:26.91] What a busy 18 months you have had, with your team moving away from a post and prey strategy to being more proactive in your outreach, sourcing actively engaging candidates, and then not one but two applicant tracking systems that you have had to, to implement in the organization. So and it sounds like, especially with this upcoming hiring that you are really building towards, you have been able you and your team have really been able to set the organization up to succeed. I can’t wait to come back and hear from you and, you know, 2024 or 2026 and, and see how this work you’re doing now has really transformed the business.

Break: [00:11:12.96] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you were listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. Today, I’m talking with Crystal Romero, Talent Acquisition Manager with Community Dental Partners. We’re talking about data in recruiting.

Break: [00:11:29.52] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training, community, and over one hundred on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.

The Role of Data in Recruiting 

 

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:45.72] I mentioned we’re going to link to your LinkedIn profile, and I love that your LinkedIn profile describes you as a data diva. Can you tell us how your work with data has made maybe your recruiting more actionable?

Crystal Romero: [00:11:58.14] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I actually love data so much that for a minute I actually was taking like a sequel course that I was like jumping in and like getting super into it. And then I realized, like, I don’t really need to know all of this stuff. I mean, it’s, it’s good to know, but I don’t really need to take all these courses and learn this. But it was super interesting just understanding how you can really make it like a tangible argument for something when you have data that really builds that argument. So what are, we use for our, for our data, like some of the things that we track. Some of the usuals, you know, time to fill, a number of applicants that have come in, where they progress in the, in the funnel, and all of those things. But we actually have partnered with the HR team and we’ve been tracking turnover. We’ve been tracking turnover by all of the different categories you can imagine. So like voluntary versus involuntary, what region are they in? What location is it in? Where are the trends out there? How can we get down and understand where turnover is happening and why it’s happening and then where we’re seeing specific items happen? So we also track is, some of the things we also track is going to be the candidate experience. We send them out of survey post-hire and we want to get their feedback because we want to see how is your interview, how was your screening process? How is it? You know, how easy was it to apply? Like, give us all of the feedback you can give us, and then I structure the data by month and then I like to do just a standard deviation as well to understand, like even if there is a kind of a different factor or people are answering those questions with either a favorable or unfavorable response, what’s the deviation between those and then that helps correlate, you know, most of these people were around the same, even though we had a couple of people that said, you know, it wasn’t a favorable and a lot of people that said it was rather than an average, a standard deviation just kind of helps you look at the data and say, OK, yes, there were some different responses, but overall, like they didn’t deviate much from, from where those numbers started.

Crystal Romero: [00:14:01.17] So we like to look at that so we can help understand that not only are we doing a good job, but understanding that from the employee experience, they’re still having a positive one because we know recruiting is the first touch for those employees. So we structured that data. We, we pull that data, we pull turnover, we pull new hires, we pull all of the recruiting data. So anything that’s like these are the funnels where people are coming in from. Here’s where they’re converting from. So are we getting most of our conversions from Indeed? From ZipRecruiter? From LinkedIn? And that’s specifically important because we know that there’s more players in this game.

Crystal Romero: [00:14:36.30] So like LinkedIn now, has, you know, they’ve had some really good recruiting tools, but we want to understand like, is it actually going to help us convert into new hires? Or is it just going to get us a lot of leads that aren’t really qualified? So we want to know where those new hires are converting from. So if we start to see things trend in a different direction, we can shift and we can be dynamic instead of being stagnant and waiting until we’re not getting candidates to, to find that. And then the other question was about presenting it in an actual, actionable way. So there’s some really cool tools out there. Some are a little more expensive. So if you’re like looking for like something with a data pool, that’s going to be something more expensive, you probably need to get IT involved because that’s more of like a company-wide type of like a data sourcing tool or data visualization tool. But some really neat ones is like data wrappers, really neat for just making like if you need to make like a quick visualization of kind of what’s going on in a certain metric that you’re presenting, that one’s really quick because then you can just make your visualization, you can copy it, put it into an email, and it’s you can still type out whatever it is that you’re trying to, to share. And then there’s also Infogram, which I really enjoy. Infogram is really nice because it can tie to your Google Sheets.

Crystal Romero: [00:15:50.40] So if you have your data in a Google Sheet, you can tie to your Infogram and then every time you update your Google Sheet, it’ll update your Infogram. So I’ve got some really cool dashboards built out on those that track all of the different data points that we use in talent acquisition to show how performance is going, where our candidates coming from. I even put in there like our metric, so we do some market analysis and we’ll kind of look at the market and say, OK, based on this specific area, this is the average pay for an RDA. So we know what we’re looking at when we’re looking at hiring new candidates and then we can see the competition in that market as well. So when we go into hiring for a specific market, if we know it’s a high competition area, will we know going into it what that’s going to look like and that we probably need to make sure we ramp up efforts in that specific area for a specific role? So we put those things into our dashboard as well just to help make sure that everybody’s understanding what, how talent acquisition is functioning and how it is affecting everyone involved, including cost, of course, which is very important. And then just really and I feel like from my experience, executives really like seeing the visualizations. I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback from, Oh, this is easy to see. This is very clean and clear.

Crystal Romero: [00:17:05.39] Like, I can see what’s happening, and I don’t have a lot of questions surrounding like, what about this? Or what does that mean? Or how you, just sent me a big spreadsheet with a bunch of info like, usually the visualizations are a lot easier for having those conversations, especially because executive time is precious and there are so many meetings and they’ve got so much going on. It just seems like it’s the, the quickest way of getting that story built and having them understand what’s happening. As far as making things actionable, I really like to aggregate the data, so I like to have like the data or cast it out at least a year if we can, maybe six months or at least. And then from there, being able to say instead of saying, I’m making a snap judgment based on this data that happened only this month, you’re able to say based on the data for the past year, we’re able to see these trends or we’re able to see that this impact has made a positive or negative impact on the team. And so therefore, these are my recommendations. But I just feel like it has more power when you’re able to say and see that this has happened over time versus like this is happening just now, especially from an executive-level, like it seems, those are questions that come up a lot or kind of not just what’s happening now, but how have things been progressing or how have things been trending in this direction.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:26.18] This is all great, and I, my HR data nerd heart is just swelling up because this is totally, totally for me. And I made a note for this Infogram because I’m not familiar with it and I want to make sure and check it out. But as you’re talking, a saying came up in my mind, which was “We eat with our eyes,” and I think that that’s true when we think about business forecasting and looking at the business case for recruiting and hiring. The best way to help tell the story is with the visualization so we can see the start, the starting line and then where we are currently now in the race and then what the finish line is going to look like for us and especially for your team in supporting the organization, which is going to be growing very rapidly because of the merger and acquisition, as well as new locations that are opening.

Crystal Romero: [00:19:17.45] Yeah, absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:19.28] I mentioned I love data. I wanted to ask you about what you’re doing with all these rapid, rapidly changing labor conditions. I feel like things are moving so quickly, whether it’s COVID-related or the market and also candidates. So what are you, how are you dealing with that?

Crystal Romero: [00:19:39.05] I did talk about sourcing, so sourcing is huge to find passive candidates so super important. And even if somebody is not interested in building up your pipelines and having outgoing communication and creating those campaigns is even more important because then you’re not just paying for leads, but you’re actually using them tangibly for potential future positions and keeping them interested and engaged. So that’s one of just one of the real quick things that I’d throw out there for something we should be focused on for kind of the changing labour market is don’t just wait. Don’t just strike when it’s, when the, when the iron’s hot, but like continue to build your pipelines and continue to talk to those candidates and keep them engaged. Because the more you do that, the easier time you’re going to have when you have an opening versus waiting until you have an opening and then going out and posting an ad and then trying to source when you should have a list of people there, you can at least reach out to and talk to. And I mean, I think it’s just it’s a really helpful way to kind of get things moving forward.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:38.35] Can you tell us about how you fill positions internally and or how sourcing new hires, how do you help train them for the open positions or the positions as they open?

Crystal Romero: [00:20:51.13] Okay. So filling positions internally, we do have just ongoing communication that we send throughout the company. So if we have positions open, we send out emails to our just our employees and just kind of let them know like, Hey, we’ve got these positions open. If you’d like to see more details, follow this link. And we always have our landing page where they can go to see any open positions. And we have a specific place where employees can actually log in and they can apply as an employee instead of having to go to the front-facing page. And then we have a text messaging pool where we text message our employees if we have an internal position as well, because although we, we don’t want a ton of movement, we don’t want everyone moving out of roles, and then we have a bunch of roles to fill, we do want to grow our talent in-house just as like just for good practice. Like, it’s always smarter to build your talent and make your talent in-house than always having to go out and buy it. You’re just going to have a better result, especially if that person is in line with your culture. They’re, you know, bought into the company values and organizational commitment. It’s just going to make, it’s going to make it just that much easier.

Crystal Romero: [00:21:54.55] And then as far as training, our new employees positions open. So we have, like I said, our LND department and they’re really good at making sure that we understand when employees come on, what are their skills and capabilities, and then where do we need to kind of grow them and make sure that we’re continuing to improve, you know, the process? So when we get them onboarded, we have a training period. We have an initial, you know, 30-day check-in period and then check-in periods from there. And the LND, they, they track kind of where they come on at and then where are their skills growing and their capabilities growing as well so that we can make sure that we’re able not only to just hear that they’re growing, but we’re able to see their growth in a way that is fluid. And it’s not something that’s just, you know, it’s like a check-in and this is what they say they’re good at or anything like that. So we, we try to get really good at understanding the skills and capabilities and then continuing to ramp up the in-house growth to keep our, keep our employees on an upward path.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:58.59] I love that. You know, as you’re talking and I’m thinking, wow, you moved into talent acquisition and you’ve been able to really learn quickly, absorb make changes, lead a team, it’s all very impressive, Crystal. I wanted to ask you, what resources do you feel like have been the most successful as you’ve stepped into this new role in talent acquisition?

Crystal Romero: [00:23:21.45] Yeah, of course. So I, so the first thing I did when I stepped into talent acquisition, of course, is there was so much to learn. I really started out Googling like, what is talent acquisition versus recruiting? Like what are some good practices and things like that? Just to be completely honest, I googled a lot and then I had my bearings under me, and I just really wanted to continue growing because I understand that talent acquisition is one, kind of one part of the wheel but there are so many more other things to learn, like just HR. Like there’s, it’s just so, it’s so varied. Like, there are so many things. So I did actually go and get my SHRM-CP. I studied for that, learned a ton. I took some, I didn’t take like a crash course or anything, but I did look at some really, really good ones and I ended up getting that 2021, I got that in June, and then I take some courses online. But I looked at AIHR, which is the Academy to Innovate HR, Human Resources. And I took some courses, I’ve taken courses on there and they have a lot of courses. I think it’s like the courses are kind of expensive. They’re like 1200 dollars or something for one certification. So I ended up just doing like the, the annualized plan, and so I could take all of them if I wanted to. I did take one, of course, the first one I took was about data. And then there was another one, a talent acquisition certification. There’s organizational development certifications. They’re continually continuing to add more and more certifications there. So I just kind of that’s a good place where I like to go and learn new things, especially because their courses are, they’re kind of lengthy. They’re little long, but they’re very detailed and in-depth.

Crystal Romero: [00:25:05.78] So I’ve learned a lot there, even some new tools that maybe I hadn’t heard of other places. The nine pieces of HR, I found out I’m an assassin, so basically I like to jump in and get things done and get things started. I’m not afraid of change. I’m not afraid of jumping in and changing processes or anything like that. But I’m also, understood from just what I read from that book is that I also have a low threshold for staying in the same position for a very long time. So that’s just something that I really enjoy about HR because there’s so many things to learn that I don’t have to worry about that I’m going to get, about getting bored because the law is going to change tomorrow or the market’s going to change tomorrow. So, so it was really neat to learn a little more about kind of my quote-unquote face of HR. I do actually follow a lot of Workology blogs as well. That’s kind of high. I think I attended the first Workology Retreat and it was actually 2020, and I attended that with my HR manager and we were like, This is amazing. Like, This is so inspiring and cool. And there was just some really great sessions on there. And so I continue to follow Workology. HR.com, HR for HR, Tim Sackett’s got some really great recruiting tips and tools, and then I’ve just got like, I’ve got a never-ending list of things that I want to read or learn or continue to, continue to, to grow from.

Crystal Romero: [00:26:27.17] But I’ll say my probably my, my top, the top thing that I’ve learned from is just other people. I’ve had some really, really great people in the recruiting field that are just so open to teaching and learning and talking through, you know, challenges together. There’s one specific person that comes to mind and her name’s Priyanki, and she’s, she’s also in Dental recruiting in the health care space. And I know I can always call her and like, kind of give her like the rundown, like, Hey, this is what’s going on with me. Like How are, how are you attending? How are you attacking that or what are you seeing? Is that happening with you? And she’s just so open to providing feedback and, you know, saying like, Hey, let me look at that or let me see what we’re doing, or, you know, you’re on the right path. Like, just keep doing what you’re doing, like you’re doing just fine. Because I think even when you’re someone who is good with change and you enjoy taking on challenges, there’s always that, you know, that thought in your mind if like, am I doing enough or am I not doing enough? Am I in the right space? Am I not thinking of something different because new technologies are coming out daily? So, yeah, so it’s just there’s been a lot of different resources that I’ve learned from, and I’m just really like right now, I’m a sponge, just soaking it all up and continuing to just grow in the HR field and, you know, learn what I can learn and figure it out from there.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:51.51] Well, I have to say congratulations to your head of HR because she made a great hire by, by bringing you on for sure and like, seeing the vision and maybe how you could help support her and then all the work that you’ve done personally and professionally over the last 18 months to really learn and grow. It’s incredibly impressive to me. And again, I can’t wait to catch up with you again and, you know, another 18 months or 24 months and, and hear how everything has changed even more and how you’ve continued to be able to support the organization. So I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. Crystal, I know your resources and everything you’ve shared, we’re going to help so many recruiting, TA leaders, whether they’re in the dental or the health care space or somewhere else. So thank you again for your time today.

Crystal Romero: [00:28:46.62] Awesome. Thank you, Jessica. It’s been great.

Closing: [00:28:49.49] Proactive recruiting, proactive sourcing, all these pieces are so essential in this tight competitive talent market right now, and that is even more true when you are trying to double in size through a merger and acquisition or just massive growth. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to talk with Crystal today on the podcast, and I know that you are too. Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast, sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, you can visit Workology.com to listen to all our Workology Podcast episodes.

Connect with Crystal Romero.

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           – Crystal Romero on LinkedIn

 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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