Today, on The RecruitingDaily Podcast, we welcome Maureen Carroll to discuss how to attract top talent from globally recognized brands.
Maureen is senior director of global talent acquisition at Vista, where she leads the global talent acquisition function for Vista, Cimpress Technology and Cimpress Services organizations. Like so many other recruiters, she did not begin her career in people operations. Maureen was in advertising for nearly 10 years before relocating to Boston. Since that time, she has worked for Spencer Steward and Addidas and has now been at Vista for two years with the goal of becoming the design and marketing partner to millions of small businesses around the world.
Vista (previously Vistaprint) collaborates with millions of companies worldwide. Considered a global, remote-first company, Vista has been in operation for over 20 years and employs team members in more than 25 countries. VistaCreate, 99designs by Vista and VistaPrint collectively represent a full-service design, digital and print solution, elevating small businesses’ presence in physical and digital spaces and powering them to achieve success.
A few questions we answer today: How seriously should we take past successes, pedigree, etc., when determining whether or not a candidate will thrive in a role? What are the dos and don’ts of candidate outreach if we only have one shot to make it happen? Does top talent actually apply? Or do you have to find it?
There’s more, of course! Listen in and please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Listening Time: 30 minutes
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Leads the global talent acquisition function for Vista, Cimpress Technology and Cimpress Services organizations reporting to the CFO. Executive Talent Partner and owner of Employer Branding, Future Talent Programs and Talent Operations (Systems, Experience and Analytics).Follow Follow
This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast. Where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host William Tincup.
Ladies and gentlemen this William Tincup, you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Maureen on, from Vistaprint. We’re talking about, how to attract top talent from globally recognized brands. And she’s got some tips and tricks for us. Before we get into the topic, Maureen would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Vistaprint
Sure. Great to be here today. I’m Maureen Carroll. I lead the global talent acquisition function here at Vistaprint. I also support Cimpress services and Cimpress technology, our parent company. And have been with the organization for two years today. But like most recruiters, I didn’t start my career in people operations. I worked for almost 10 years in advertising, on the publisher side of the business. And in 2010, when I relocated to Boston, I was looking to pivot a little out of media, had spent some time at a software development startup and got certified as a Pilates instructor. And eventually through some initial networking decided to join executive search firms, Spencer Steward. And so spent five years learning a lot about the search business and ultimately wanted to work for a brand and leverage maybe some of my earlier marketing and creative experience in an in-house role.
So I joined Adidas where I was leading the Reebok global headquarters for recruiting and all things, talent acquisition. We also supported store hiring across North America and ultimately as any good recruiter would respond to a LinkedIn message about the opportunity at Vistaprint. And to share more about Vista print. Vista print has been a globally recognized brand, very famous for our business cards, but we are really on a journey to rapidly expand our business and become the design and marketing partner to millions of small businesses around the world. And it’s just been an exciting time.
I joined two years ago today, and no despite, some of the volatility of the pandemic for our customers. We’ve really stayed committed to our strategy and continuing in this ever-changing world to partner with small businesses. Whether that’s new products like masks or the ability to be more digitally forward. And of course, with some of our investments in our design capabilities and the acquisition of 99 designs about a year ago. To really deliver all things from a brand identity to their digital presence, to any of their marketing and printing needs. We want to be that partner to small businesses globally.
I love that. And again, you’ve got some great brands in your background, which is really nice. But as the topic is, how do you and how does a company then go after some of the big brands that are out there, how do they bring the talent in? So, you can’t divulge all your secrets, of course. However, how do you go about the conversation? How do you generally start that?
And I think, I’m all supportive of open source. Because they think we are all in this together and it’s really about finding the right team members for the right organizations. And so, some of the things that I’ve seen as a trend and I think have been successful for us over the past two years, are really, ensuring that we’re talking about our purpose. I think we’ve learned from millennials how important purpose was in their work. And I think as the pandemic hit and, or, as we’ve seen companies and how they position themselves. I think it really matters that you’re highlighting your purpose. When I joined Vistaprint, the tagline on our career site was fueled by innovation “we’re so much more than business cards” and we’ve really started to refine that message, to be helping small business owners succeed together.
And so you’re coming to work every day to help that coffee shop that you love or that taco truck or that accountant, that’s just starting out. To feel really good about their brand identity, about their website and their printed collateral. And so I think, talking to candidates about our mission or purpose, what we do here every day. Has really been a good way to have someone open to a second conversation.
I think the second thing is really talking about impact and how a leader, how a team member is going to be part of this transformation journey that we are on. And I think, candidates or job seekers, they want to have impact. They want to know how the work they’re doing every day is going to ladder up to that larger strategy. So things like creating a pitch deck has been really powerful for us, because not only does it allow so many team members to adopt that “we are all recruiters” mindset, by having them share it with talents or individuals that they’re talking to in their professional networks. But also giving the candidates the transparency into what we’re trying to achieve, the investments we’re making and really having them see themselves in that and seeing where they can be successful.
I love that because you’re bringing it back to purpose. It’s all alignment of this fit. You either fit this or don’t. We’re going in this direction. We’re trying to achieve these goals. That either makes sense to you and you love that, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s actually… that’s fine. I mean, we can still be friends. That’s cool. And I think your experiences and as an executive recruiter really helps you kind of frame this up. Now, how do you suss out that, someone’s been successful elsewhere, that they’re going to be successful here?
So I think, we try to have a balance of one past performance informing future performance.
It sounds like it’s an investor bid. So Morgan Stanley just that performance is not an indicator if,
But I think it’s also situational. It’s how would we have so many really exciting problems that we’re working on. And so, trying to get a sense of how someone would approach them, the problem solving and just the motivation. We talk a lot about motivation. And I think that speaks to what you’re saying around, if you’re excited and you see the vision or not. And I think it’s okay if someone ultimately spends a few conversations with you or your business hiring managers and decides, “I just don’t see it.” I think that’s okay. Because I think you want people who are motivated by the vision, who connect with some of the purpose and then see how they can have that impact.
So, first of all. I love motivation. Because your motivation has changed through your career. What drove you in your 20s might not be the same thing. So, when I look at LinkedIn sometimes, I’ll see someone’s profile and I will see ex Googler or ex Facebooker or whatever. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I look at it, I try to be objective. Is that… Do I care? And would I care? When I talk to town acquisition professionals, I’m like- because, I’m always trying to peel this onion. -Are you looking at pedigree? Are you looking at experiences? Are you looking at skills that they have now? Are you looking at kind of coachability? What’s the secret sauce? What are you looking for? Because, that ex Googler thing. Which again, I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just saying, I’ve seen it a lot on LinkedIn and I’m not sure how I feel about it, you know what I mean? What do you look at that? When you see stuff like that, Are you looking at it and evaluating pedigree?
I think it’s one data point. I mean, it’s one data point. You worked at this company, maybe during this certain time when they were launching this product that’s very similar to what we’re launching. And that’s one data point in our decision. But ultimately there are so many other factors and we really try to run a thorough, fair and equitable process. In that we’re evaluating against behaviors, against technical skills. We’re coming together and talking live about, what evidence we collected, what, using our judgment of how they may performance certain situations. And really as our recruiting team does is, coach people to think about those, that hiring framework and how motivation and behaviors can really propel some of the best talents in the absence of maybe specific experience they’ve had in the past. So we’re… That works in some instances. In some instances it doesn’t. But that’s a little bit of a philosophy we’re trying to infuse and adopt here at the Vistaprint and Cimpress.
Yeah. I love the way you said it’s a spoke, it’s not the will, it’s a spoke. And it says much about the larger will. Top talent as the way that we think of it currently, that at least. Historically we’ve thought about it as high performers, high potentials, a talent, top talent. They have options. These girls and guys, they’ve got plenty of options that they… How do you approach them? What’s the best way to approach someone that you know they’re leading sales at Salesforce. Okay, so it turns out they’re probably pretty good at what they’re doing. How do you recruit? How do you go after that person? What’s the communication strategy? And how do you get them to fall in love just like you did with Vistaprint two years ago? Well, how did they attract you?
I’ll speak to how I was attracted because I can get as relevant in this situation and then can share any other detail on what our approaches have been. But for me, I knew this was a strong, profitable business that had seen tremendous growth since its founding. And so I thought it was very interesting in terms of where they were and where their future state was going to be. So I was open to the call because I thought Vistaprint is a great company. They were very well known in the market, Boston, other tech companies that come into the market. And so maybe they lost a little bit of shimmer in terms of attractability. But when I really heard about the strategy. And the second layer was, the engagement from our executive team on not only hiring the right head of talent acquisition, but their commitment to needing, talking with, having relationship building with candidates. Is a huge tool in my tool kit that I leveraged regularly.
To have such an engaged CEO, founder, CFO, CMO that will have a conversation with anyone, has been really impactful for us, for me in joining, but also has worked with talents. And I think the approach is really “Hey, we’d love to tell you about what we’re doing here and have a conversation” because these are relationships that we’re building. We hope to have an enduring and lasting company for the next 50 years. And so even if it’s not right now, this person, if we can say “Hey, let’s just have a conversation. We’d love to introduce you to our CMO Ricky Engelberg are you up for it?”
It’s a very easy way to engage someone, have it be, conversational. And then we kind of go from there. If we feel like there’s interest a second conversation, and then maybe it’s a formal interview. But we really try to keep it fairly informational, a little bit of selling in those conversations. But we really just try to tell our story. And we’re looking to scale that we’re actually launching a new career site next Monday, but we’re looking to scale that story and have it more digitally available to individuals. But in the meantime, there’s been a great investment from senior leadership to network, build relationships and just be there to help close and go to dinner with candidates when we need it.
So the two things. One is, do’s and don’ts with top talent. So, again, you’re experienced both on the executive search side and also, leading what you’ve led in at your last experiences. You’ve probably run into the do’s and don’ts. And you still probably get recruited constantly yourself. So what are some of the do’s and don’ts when you talk to your talent acquisition team, on things that you’re reaching out to somebody that you might only have one shot at? So do’s, and don’ts.
I think the do’s are; be respectable. We have a little bit of a rule of three. We don’t want to- if someone doesn’t get back to you three times. I think you take a break and you can revisit it in six months. Make the conversation feel inclusive. Where we might ask how someone, what pronouns someone may use, or what they like to be called. And so you just sort of ensure that they recognize that we’re here as an inclusive recruiting team and we want people to be who they are in a conversation with us. And we’re looking for unique individuals to be part of this journey. And so I think the do’s are; be respectful, be inclusive in your language and in your approaches, and let the story speak for itself.
And again, it’s okay if you have a great conversation and it doesn’t lead anywhere today, maybe it will 6, 12 months from now. I think in terms of the don’ts. I think that, that aggressive follow-up strategy, I don’t think that works for your employer brand. Or your efforts as well. So I think we try to not be super aggressive in that approach. And I think it’s also, not leading with the sale, but it’s leading with getting to know someone, trying to understand those motivations. On the outset, would you be open to something? I mean, we went to a remote-first organization one year ago today, and we were really out ahead in making this decision. And not only did we make the decision quickly, but we also had a strategy. We built a remote-first handbook, we train managers on remote manager effectiveness, mental health awareness training in remote settings, asynchronous working. We’re getting the organization to adopt more asynchronous style of working.
We immediately hired almost 10 new executives that were not in our core markets, Barcelona, Boston, and other places. And so, not only do we immediately execute on a distributed leadership team, but we also had a story with clear milestones and progress that we had made. And I think being able to understand, being able to meet people where they are in this environment the last 18 months and say, this is our plan? And are we going to hit roadblocks down the line potentially, but for now your primary place of employment is your home. It’s neither an advantage or a disadvantage to you. And when it’s safe to do so, we’re reopening our collaboration centers and we’re going to get together for meaningful in-person work. But I think understanding where people are on remote and not remote in today’s climate is really important. And I think we try to tap into their mindset or their… what they’re looking to have their future state of work be and provide that choice [inaudible 00:17:45]
You hit on a number of really great points for the audience. And one of them is humility and being humble in the process when you’re recruiting top talent. One of the things that I coach recruiters around is, don’t assume that they know you or that they want to work with you, don’t be arrogant on any level. That’s just great life advice. But in this particular instance, it’s just, you don’t have to start with a sell. Which I think you nailed on a couple levels. You just start with, how are you doing? Are you open? Are you open to having a discussion? And if not now, would you ever be open to having a discussion? Maybe the timing is off. You’re about to have a child, you just don’t want to go through any type of change.
Okay, cool. Can we get back in six months and would it be okay? Is it appropriate? I like the idea of consent, it’s so important here, especially with top talent. No, I mean, I think it’s probably true of all talent. We can talk about that, but with top talent, because they have options. You handle differently. The way you manage that process differently. Because again, their LinkedIn inbox is full of great opportunities. Europe [inaudible 00:19:11] of one of those opportunities. I wanted to get your take on… does top talent in your experience, does top talent apply to jobs?
Occasionally. Yes. I think if you get them on the right day. You know William, its so much about… it’s catching the person on the right day. But no, I would say traditionally, or at least during my tenure here at Vistaprint. We’re not typically seeing a candidate slate of top talent through our applicant tracking process. We may have one that might be in that mix. But if I’m thinking three to four, you’re not seeing that through the application process yet, but you will be surprised. I think it’s easier than ever to apply on mobile sites. And again, I think if you catch that person on a bad day or they feel particularly inspired by something they see about your organization. I mean, remote-first has definitely been a motivator for individual candidates that we’ve spoken to. They have changing policies at their own organization or they head back to work for a week or two.
And then you see an application come through and that’s what they lead with, when you reach out and say, “Hey, tell me a little bit more about how you heard about Vistaprint and why you decided to apply”. It’s a little bit of the changing mindsets on remote work and what companies are deciding to do. And I think it’s very clear. We have a position and we’ve had one and we have evidence of how it’s been successful to date. And we have a strategy on what it’s going to look like in the future. So occasionally we see some towns apply, but I’d say for the most part, we are finding them through the typical sourcing channels.
Oh yeah. It’s active candidate versus passive candidate.
Yeah. And search firms. We are working with- we still work with search firms. They do this all day long. And so I think they’re, they are a great resource on select roles.
Well, especially because you’ve worked in that industry you know how they work. So you’re a good buyer of that type of service. Because they’re going to be able to-
I know what to expect.
Yeah. You’re going to know how to kind of keep them in line and also ask the right questions. So the candidate experience, because you mentioned experience. I wanted to ask you a question. Is your take on the candidate experience for top talent. Is it a lot of height or is it different than the candidate experience for other talent?
I think, you want the experience to be premium for everyone. Anyone can go on a channel like Glassdoor or other sites and really harm your employer brand reputation if they don’t have a great experience. And so, I would say we treat all candidates the same. I think that the, maybe executive or top talent level, you do want to work hard to go the extra mile, if there’s something you may want to do for one of our executives. We had printed a product, a calendar that she had printed during her process and had some feedback on as part of just her assessment of our capability.
And so, when we were working to kind of get to a place where we were going to hire, we redid the calendar in a different way and sent it through. And so I think there’s those small touches that you may need to leverage when you’re really trying to get a candidate over the line. But for the most part, we do try to mean a consistent, have a consistent experience for everyone. And, but at the same time, every individual is unique. So if we feel like there’s something that an individual may need, we’ll try to work to accommodate that or show, go that little extra mile to ensure.
And because you’re a consumer brand, this is important on another level. As you mentioned, you want everyone to have a good experience because they’re also potentially Vistaprint customers and at least they know Vistaprint customers. And so you want them to have a good experience. It’s one of the best compliments you can receive as a recruiter is “I didn’t get the job, but I love the experience”.
Yes. I think you’re investing time.
Yeah. You’re investing time. These prospects and candidates are investing a lot of time. To have conversations and for us to have this assessment on their side and them to assess us and, you just want, again, it goes back to being respectful and meeting them where they are. And having this be a relationship that again, to your point. Even if they aren’t selected for the role or they decide it’s not the right time for them, they will still respect you as a brand and as a customer. And our brand health depends on that as well.
I love that. Two questions left. One is; top talent as it relates to TA. So anyone in the spectrum of TA, I found that not only are they judging the kind of a job. But they’re also judging kind of all of the things. So all the follow up, the cadence, the expectations, communications. And you probably did this two years ago-ish, when you either consciously or subconsciously. How do you set your team up? Because you’re growing [inaudible 00:25:21] your TA team as well. And you want the best. How do you create a great experience for TA top talent?
I think a lot of transparency. I want to tell them exactly what data they’re going to have access to. I want to tell them about our compensation philosophy. You want to be very clear with them, what our challenges are in the market so that when they join, they know “Oh, this is a sourcing engine I’m joining and we are going to be out there. And, but also this is the access I’m going to have to data, to find insights and make pivots and deliver those top talents to the business.” And so, I think a really important aspect of recruiters is transparency because they are joining a people function.
They will, on day one, they will see it all. And so that is, that’s something that I think has been really important and well received as we’ve built our team. And I think the second is, expectation setting and sharing a lot about the learning and development plan that we have for our team. Whether those are skills building sessions or our DNI learning circles. But really sharing what they can expect, what is going to be expected of them quantitatively and qualitatively. And then also sharing a lot about our learning journey and our support for learning. Because a lot of recruiters, they do want to grow.
Of course. The good one’s do.
So those are probably the two things, the transparency, and then the expectations and the learning.
Its nice, you nibbled around the edges. But that brutal honesty. Because they’re going to see it. So talking about the tech stack, talking about the career side, talking about the process and just making sure that they know. Because on day one they’re going to know. And so the last thing you want to do, it’s not lie. You just want to make sure they understand everything. And so that’s that transparency, which I love. Last question, your favorite question from top talent. Because top talent ask, typically, ask different questions during the experience. So what’s your favorite question that you’ve received from candidates? Top talent candidates, that either you like to ask, if you want to go that route or candidates asking you questions. What’s your favorite?
That’s a tough question. That’s a good question. A favorite question. I think a favorite question I like is, when they turn it kind of back on you relative to the strategy and they say, “what do you think?” And I think it shows a trust. It shows that they value your opinion. You’re on the inside, you’re seeing day to day metrics or you’re seeing the leaders that are driving this strategy. And so I always feel like that’s a good milestone because it feels like you’re crossing over into “okay, they see it”. They want to know, do other people believe? And they want your honest opinion and I will give it to them. And I’ll say “I think this aspect is really exciting. This is where you might be frustrated based on what I’m hearing from you.” And so I guess for me, it’s really when they want to understand your view as a team member inside perspective on the ability to achieve the strategy that we set apart. I think that’s always just a great question.
I love that. I love the way that you phrased it because it’s like “okay, we’re peers in this journey, I want to be successful. What? Obviously they’ll tell you everything. What would hold me back? You know! You’re on the inside. You know everything. So what would I have to change? Or what would I need to work on to be successful?” Because, it is about fit. It’s about all of that other stuff, but it’s also, people want to be successful. Not shocking. They want to be successful in their job. So, we could talk forever, and I know that you’ve got to get on with the rest of your day. So Maureen, thank you so much for coming on the RecruitingDaily podcast.
It’s been great. Thanks so much, William.
Alrighty. And thanks to everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.