Unique levels of success aren’t achieved by being anything less than unique. While this idea would appear to be fundamental and obvious, millions of corporations and professionals remain content to perpetuate the status quo and make only minor tweaks to their current processes, continuing to get passed up by the outliers—those who look at an old problem with new eyes and find a different and better way to do things.
Aviva Kraizel and Wendy Kerkhoff are such outliers. When the two innovators began Intellidig, a recruitment research and people intelligence firm that specializes in identifying passive candidates, they did so because they saw a unique solution to a common problem: the highest-quality candidates are typically the people who aren’t looking to be found. Using a fresh perspective and research as a primary tool, Intellidig finds top talent and is able to deliver uncommon results.
with Aviva Kraizel
1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
The idea that drives us is that there is a better way to recruit. The end goal is the same—the hire—but the means to which we get the result and the way in which we support our clients has to evolve to meet their changing needs.
2. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
Innovation is in our DNA. It’s how we approach every opportunity and everything we do. We do not provide cookie-cutter solutions to our clients, and the process in which we approach our business is fluid rather than rigid.
3. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years?
We hope to continue to satisfy the market leaders’ need for accurate information to support strategic decision-making related to improved candidate sourcing, effective organizational change, strategic relocation, and geographic expansion, as it relates to talent shortages in particular sectors and/or geographies.
4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce?
Quality and creativity are the drivers within our organization. This means they each must be inquisitive and willing to take risks. Every person needs to grow in order to have a place—and maintain their place—within our environment.
5. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
Innovative companies are the ones that have remained nimble and flexible. They prize creativity and nurture inquisitive thought.
Kraizel was with Deloitte Canada, one of the “big four” global consulting firms, for six years. The trend when she arrived at Deloitte was to outsource all of recruitment to search firms. “My job was to ensure that the process for recruitment within the HR function became more specialized: build the internal process, grow the corporate recruitment team nationally across Canada, and reduce the overall budget the partners had to spend on hiring through executive search and contingency search firms,” says Kraizel.
The advent of the Internet was also transforming the way company’s sought candidates and hires, with the use of sites like Monster and Workopolis becoming common practice. But Kraizel found that, as the national senior manager of strategic recruitment for the tax practice, Deloitte was encountering an all-too-familiar obstacle. “We found that the people looking for work were the people we didn’t necessarily want to hire,” Kraizel says. “They weren’t the high-quality candidates we needed.” This lack of top talent led to positions remaining open for long periods of time after the job was posted, and the administrative costs to sift through the high volume of unqualified résumés was becoming wasteful. It was such a consistent issue within the recruitment industry that it earned the phrase “post and pray.”
Kraizel saw this failing strategy as unacceptable and also an opportunity to create a different way to recruit. “While at Deloitte, I sourced out research as a mechanism to identify passive talent—the quality candidates who were employed and not looking,” she says. “My partner today, Wendy Kerkhoff, was that research vendor. She had a similar vision.”
The two began to see that other organizations could also benefit from this type of research, but it was unavailable, especially in Canada, so Kraizel left Deloitte to join Kerkhoff and create Intellidig Research Group Inc. The question of how to attain this data required a fresh approach and methodology, as the common employed individual might not even have a résumé, let alone have it populating searchable databases. Kraizel cultivated lead names from public information and housed the data in a new system, a custom-built software that stored names without résumés, while most applicant tracking systems at the time, such as Taleo, didn’t.
After the database was built with searchable names, titles, locations, and qualifications, Kraizel needed to populate the database with new leads and additional relevant candidate information, which brought in the research component. This is where Kerkhoff excelled with her technical expertise and professional approach. As a research partner, she also helped Deloitte abide by certain compliance guidelines. “Companies often need a third party to recruit passive candidates—either to be at arm’s length, so they don’t have to make calls to their competitor’s people, or, more often, to support their internal recruiters,” says Kraizel.
The primary reason most internal recruitment teams haven’t adopted Intellidig’s methods is the lack of time and resources. “Most don’t have the capacity; their recruiters are stretched thin with a multitude of other HR functions,” Kraizel explains. “You need to have the time to develop deep technical skills and continuously update those skills, constantly identify candidate pools, build relationships, and continue to cultivate that information. That takes time and commitment.”
Typically, research is used by executive search firms and is not offered to corporate recruiters. “We cut out the middle man; we offer recruitment research directly to corporate, which is very different from any other researcher in Canada,” says Kraizel. “Information is power. Our goal is to enable our clients to out-maneuver their competition by applying real-time people intelligence, which can be used for higher-level decision-making—not just for recruitment purposes, but to do so with information that is collected ethically and treated with the utmost integrity.”