Jacqueline Diaz Of Strategic Talent Acquisition On On How To Identify and Engage The Best Talent For Your Organization
…Simplifying the process is key, with communication being crucial and honesty paramount. Make each candidate feel like they’re the only star in the sky. When speaking to a candidate, I aim to dig deep and make them feel like they’re the only one. This approach often leads them to share information they might not otherwise, like work history, who they worked with, and how they got along with those people. You get a sense of their ambitions and goals, helping you understand if they’re right for the position. People can look good on paper, but seeing beyond the resume is very important. Even though some resumes aren’t great, everyone tries to put their best forward, and it’s essential to look beyond that.
I had the pleasure to talk with Jacqueline Diaz. Jacqueline is a thought leader and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She believes passionately in the uniqueness of every talent. She advocates for neurodiversity in the workplace and educational equity, combining her background in recruitment with a strong desire to coach and develop others. Jacqueline’s dedication to helping people to reach their full potential extends beyond her professional career, and she aspires to be an inspiring figure. Her love for dogs has created a deep-rooted passion for giving back to pet-related causes.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for joining us. Before we dive in, readers would love to learn about your personal background and your origin story. Can you share with us the story of your childhood and how you grew up and what eventually brought you to this career in recruiting?
Jacqueline: I come from a strong Pentecostal household. My dad was very strict, and we spent a lot of time in church. We were there on Sundays, for youth services, and for adult services. This gave me a strong foundation in my morals and values. While I consider myself Christian rather than Pentecostal, it definitely influenced me. A lot of what led me on my career path was my dad’s reaction when I started working in the liquor industry. He was disappointed and urged me to find something else. This led me to leadership roles where I was responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, coaching, and developing. I enjoyed it, but often found that my vision for coaching and development didn’t align with the organizations I worked for. I believe in a personalized approach, recognizing that each person has unique needs and ways to shine.
After leaving the industry, I struggled to find fulfilling employment. I interacted with recruiters, many of whom either ghosted me or were dishonest about job prospects. This experience led me to become a recruiter myself, initially on the agency side. While successful, I found more value in being genuine with candidates and clients, rather than following a strict protocol of calls and postings. My approach was to deeply understand the candidate’s story and the client’s values, mission, and culture.
Eventually, my brother and my husband encouraged me to start my own firm. I was hesitant at first but decided to take the leap after becoming disillusioned with the agency model. We founded Strategic Talent Acquisition A Recruiting Firm, and I’m very happy they encouraged me to do so. Here I am today.
Yitzi: It’s been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a humorous mistake you made when you were first starting your recruiting career and the lesson you learned from it?
Jacqueline: At the time, it wasn’t funny, but I find it hysterical now. My first client in the recruiting agency, I was thrilled to sign him on. He was too eager to sign, didn’t care about the cost, and needed to hire three to five people immediately. That should have been a red flag. Normally, clients want to avoid buyer’s remorse and know what they’re getting into. Ignoring this, I sent him three stellar candidates, confident he’d hire them. But then he ghosted me, and so did the candidates. Something felt off, but I wanted to impress this client, so I sent another candidate. This one called back, mentioning the client wanted him to fly down, but he was unsure about the opportunity.
A month later, one of the original candidates called me, upset. He and three others I sent were hired, but the client’s practices were questionable, and he had quit. He asked for another job through my agency. It turns out the client had instructed the candidates not to speak to me if they were hired. It’s funny now because I went against my gut to impress the client. The lesson learned is to always trust your instincts.
Yitzi: So are you working on any new exciting projects at your company now and any new initiatives? Anything exciting you want to share about your company?
Jacqueline: Yes, we’re enhancing our service offerings for both candidates and clients. I’m also working on personal projects that I’m really excited about. I founded a non-profit called the Steven Spectrum Career Project, named after my nephew. It empowers neurodivergent individuals who have aged out of programs at 21, leaving them in limbo. For instance, my nephew couldn’t afford a college with an autism program due to high costs and lack of financial aid. He’s 28 now and was struggling to find purpose. Our project helps high-functioning neurodivergent individuals find purpose and employment. As a recruiter, I use my skills to support this cause. We provide workshops to train them in interview skills and etiquette, along with job training in areas like digital marketing, coding, and graphic design. After finding them employment, we assign a mentor to make their transition comfortable. We also educate employers on including neurodivergent individuals in their diversity and inclusion initiatives, creating a sense of belonging in the workplace.
My second project is a children’s book for kids aged two to five. It’s a picture book with rhymes about an autistic child who discovers his voice through music therapy. I plan to self-publish it by February 2024.
Lastly, I’m exploring the tech realm, despite not being technical. It’s in the early stages, so I can’t share much, but it’s a platform aimed at making the hiring process unbiased and promoting diversity and inclusion, while also addressing pain points for both employers and candidates.
Yitzi: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about recruiting. What would you recommend to employers as the top strategies and approaches to retain high-quality employees? What’s the best thing they should do to retain employees?
Jacqueline: They definitely need to make them feel included, like they belong somewhere. Creating a strong employer brand is essential. This could be through celebrating birthdays, having a barbecue on 4th of July, holiday dinners, or including their family, but it’s about making sure they feel that they belong. Many candidates leave because they feel unappreciated. Another key point is to support those who want to progress and have ambition. Whether it’s helping them grow into the next position or providing additional training, it’s crucial to support their goals. Lastly, ensuring that employees fit within the company culture and mission is important. It’s hard for them to feel that they fit in if you didn’t align this from the beginning.
Yitzi: That’s great, beautiful. Once you engage with talent, with a potential candidate, what’s your advice for creating a great experience where the right people go through the process? How can you make sure the right candidates match up with the right clients?
Jacqueline: Simplifying the process is key, with communication being crucial and honesty paramount. Make each candidate feel like they’re the only star in the sky. When speaking to a candidate, I aim to dig deep and make them feel like they’re the only one. This approach often leads them to share information they might not otherwise, like work history, who they worked with, and how they got along with those people. You get a sense of their ambitions and goals, helping you understand if they’re right for the position. People can look good on paper, but seeing beyond the resume is very important. Even though some resumes aren’t great, everyone tries to put their best forward, and it’s essential to look beyond that.
Yitzi: So, what are some techniques to learn more about a candidate past their resume? What are some good questions that are very revealing?
Jacqueline: When it comes to questioning, it should always be behavioral-based, not just yes or no answers. For example, asking them to describe a time when they faced a particular situation. This approach reveals if the person knows what they’re talking about. I once spoke to a candidate who claimed to have extensive project management experience. However, when asked about the number of projects he worked on or the clients he managed, his answers were unconvincing. It became clear he wasn’t a project manager but had tailored his resume to fit the job description. So, it’s essential to ask detailed questions to uncover a candidate’s true skill set.
Yitzi: In your experience, what character traits create the best employee experience? Is it intelligence, hard work, getting along with others, or being a hustler?
Jacqueline: Character traits depend on the job. Some roles require a more laid-back approach, while others might need a hustler or someone who is quiet and focused. However, one trait that stands out in every job is integrity. It’s challenging to gauge, but if you feel a genuine connection with a candidate and their background checks out, combining that integrity with their experience usually means you have a winner.
Yitzi: That’s great. When you mention integrity, does it refer to following through on commitments and keeping your word, or being honest about your experience and yourself, or both?
Jacqueline: I believe it’s both. As an employer, if someone requests to work from home, you need to trust that they will do their job. Similarly, if they say they have a doctor’s appointment, you trust it’s true and not an excuse for something else, like attending another interview. So, integrity involves a combination of both keeping commitments and being honest.
Yitzi: So this is what we call our matchmaker question, and sometimes it works. We’re very blessed that prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the US with whom you would like to have a breakfast, lunch, or coffee with? Because he or she might just see this if we tag them, maybe we could connect you.
Jacqueline: It’s a tough question because there are so many influential people who inspire me. It’s hard to choose just one without feeling like I’m missing out by not mentioning others. However, if I had to pick two, the first would be Melinda Gates for her philanthropy and focus on women’s empowerment, particularly in global equity. Her work really resonates with me. As a Latina, I hope it doesn’t sound too cliché to mention Jennifer Lopez as my second choice. What stands out about her is not her movies, dancing, or music, but her philanthropic work, especially with children and poverty relief. She made significant contributions during the hurricane crisis and advocates for women’s empowerment. Her journey from humble beginnings to becoming a successful businesswoman is truly inspiring. I have a lot of admiration for J.Lo.
Yitzi: So, Jackie, how can our readers continue to follow your work online? How could they engage with you if they want to hire you? How can they get in contact with you?
Jacqueline: My LinkedIn page is Jacqueline Diaz. I also have a personal website, JackieDiaz.info, where everyone can see all the websites. Additionally, you can visit STArecruitingfirm.com.
Yitzi: Beautiful, wonderful. Thanks so much for these amazing insights. I wish you continued success and blessings. And I’m excited for our readers to read this.
Jacqueline: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. This was super fun and I hope that I’ve inspired someone or shared a bit of knowledge.
Jacqueline Diaz Of Strategic Talent Acquisition On On How To Identify and Engage The Best Talent… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.