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Wealth Shared: How to Pick the Top Talent for Your Business in a Challenging Market

CWB’s Carmen Pollock breaks down some of the challenges she has faced in her career as a recruiter and shares her best advice to business owners looking for new talent.

CWB’s Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition, Carmen Pollock, has recruited many, many people. She has worked with recruitment agencies in the past, and when she first joined the CWB team back in 2012 it was during one of the biggest hiring endeavours the bank had ever embarked on. CWB was about to go through a full systems upgrade, and needed many people with specific skillsets in technology that the bank didn’t normally hire out for. Carmen cites this important project as a strong example as to why it’s so important to be purposeful when it comes to recruiting.

“We were thoughtful and strategic in our approach then, just as we are now,” says Carmen. “There’s a level of responsibility that comes with employing someone; it’s not something we enter into lightly. We need to explore all the options to resource the work: Do we hire? Contract out? Train and develop an existing employee or a new employee? What’s the right move to make? It’s critical to ask a full spectrum of questions to help ensure you get it right.”

Taking the time to ask thorough questions has been pivotal to CWB’s success in its recruitment efforts. Carmen’s extensive experience has helped give her a perspective on recruitment that she’s happy to share to help other growing businesses find the right talent for the right positions.

Recognizing and uncovering hidden recruitment opportunities

Part of Carmen’s approach to recruitment is seeing opportunity in individuals who may otherwise never have considered a career in banking. She points to talent markets in places like Edmonton where a lot of people who were previously employed in oil and gas and construction are looking for new work and though they’ve never worked in a financial institution before, have a wealth of experience and a unique perspective that could be applied in a new environment.

“I encourage hiring managers to hire a diverse range of people with different experiences and perspectives, with different strengths than their own,” says Carmen. “This leads to a stronger organization overall. We want someone who’s going to add different value or more value to who we are and not just mirror the existing value we already have. We want to progress further and the only way to do that is to continue to hire people who will challenge us in the way we think and do things.”

These values are weaved throughout CWB’s inclusive and diverse culture; the bank actively looks for opportunities for better conversations and better solutions to challenges to help ensure that every employee can bring their whole self to work. Carmen elaborates that spotting these opportunities to diversify and complement will be a key facet of successful recruitment over the next year. One essential skill that many businesses — especially smaller businesses — should be looking for, Carmen explains, is the ability to be flexible.

“Especially in smaller companies, you can never wear just one hat,” says Carmen. “You want someone who can learn and grow with your business. When opportunity arises, the business might have to shift and if someone is hired and can only perform in one role they may struggle to shift with the company. But if they can successfully pivot with the business and demonstrate their ability to learn and grow, they become an even more valuable resource.”

Seeking flexibility in skill and the work environment

The need for flexibility doesn’t end with the employees themselves, Carmen points out. She explains that CWB is looking at a few more big recruitment projects for 2019, and part of the thoughtful approach they’re taking is looking at what’s being offered for a work environment and making sure it can attract the right talent.

“We’re looking at our relocation and remote recruitment practices, making sure candidates know what kind of flexible arrangements we have,” says Carmen.
"How people think about work-life balance and working arrangements has evolved over the years, so we have to look at how we can be flexible as an employer to meet the changing needs of candidates."
"Sometimes that means we may have to go where the talent is and not try to bring the talent to us, while making sure this aligns with our culture and our corporate strategy.”

Considering the impact on the organization’s cultural fit

Carmen also recognizes the truth in the concept of hiring for character first and then expertise. She stresses that new hires need to add to the company’s culture as a personality and not just the necessary skillset. She points to new recruitment technologies like artificial intelligence that can automatically refine candidates based on skills but also observes that nothing can ever replace the personal, human element in recruiting.

“Connecting and engaging with a candidate in an interview gives us insights about a person that wouldn’t translate through technology, which will always play a role in recruitment,” says Carmen. “And in small businesses, it’s even more important."
"The effects of hiring an employee impact the business as a whole. So that new person really has to be the right fit for your team."
"Business owners have to consider beyond whether the person has the skills to do the job; are they also going to be a positive cultural addition? Are they going to help support your team in a broader way beyond just their job duties?”

Tapping your internal networks for talent scouting

Despite differences in local markets, Carmen reiterates that there are always opportunities. And some of the best opportunities could also come directly from your own business’s internal team. “Employees can be powerful talent scouts,” says Carmen. “Good people know good people. At CWB, we have a robust internal referral program. Our employees know what it takes to be successful and when they recognize that in others, they refer them to us.” Social media networks have become a game changer when it comes to referrals and recruitment — allowing employees to build a network of potential candidates.

Looking to the year ahead

No matter the job market a recruiter is facing, the best approach is to be thoughtful first and foremost, Carmen notes in closing. Think strategically and see the bigger picture. Recognize the opportunity being presented to you and make the most of it — you want to get it right. Hiring an employee is a significant commitment and investment for any business owner/employer.

Regardless of the job market, there is always a fight for top talent — every organization wants to hire the best. Knowing who you are as an employer and understanding what differentiates you from other competitors in the marketplace is important. Building your employment brand and communicating it effectively will help candidates that share your values find you.

CWB is here to support companies throughout every stage of their business when it comes to their business banking needs. Speak to a CWB advisor today to see how they can help your business grow. To learn more about working at CWB and to view all of our available opportunities, visit