Melissa Richardson

Vice President of Team Success (HR) at Kleer

Unleashing Talent Acquisition Brilliance: Meet Melissa Richardson, the Maverick!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” Here’s Melissa Richardson’s interpretation of these words through her actions as an enigmatic force in the world of Talent Acquisition. As a strategic talent and human resources business partner, she takes talent acquisition and employee retention to the next level by wearing many hats, including coach, strategist, advocate, counselor, investigator, writer, marketer, and matchmaker. Throughout her professional journey, she has continued to innovate unique ways to bring added value to every candidate, new hire, hiring manager, and team member at every stage of the company’s journey. Her actions stand as a testament to a strong mother and a leader who echoes Emerson’s words.

Melissa started her career as a recruiter in the staffing industry. She made her way with the help of a for-profit education recruiting company before landing her first recruitment manager position in the financial services industry a few years later. From the ivory towers, she  decided to build a hiring department from scratch with a small ERP tech company. With her drive, commitment, and expertise, she tripled the size of that company over 7 years, and earned the position as their Director. She was an integral part of getting the company’s first international office in Germany staffed before the company was sold. Her success at the previous company earned her the position of Vice President of Team Success (HR) at SaaS start-up, Kleer; a company focused on disrupting the dental industry. Why that title? Melissa believes that people are the organization's most crucial capital asset. They are not resources. Therefore, her role is to ensure that members of every team in the company have the support and resources they need to be successful. 

As a woman leader in a predominantly male-dominated industry, Melissa faced her share of challenges. She felt the need to prove herself to earn the respect of her peers and has even outworked her male counterparts on her way up the ladder. Eventually, her results spoke for themselves. Let's dive into the core of Melissa Richardson's remarkable professional odyssey and understand the aspects that propelled her to where she is today.

“I've held back my "feelings" so that I can be taken seriously and not be seen as "emotional". This became even more challenging when I decided I wanted to become a mom and have a career in leadership, as traditionally, society frowns upon successful working mothers. I pushed even harder to be the best in both aspects of my life to not only prove to my peers but also to myself and my daughters that women do not have to choose one over the other."

Facing the challenges of the modern Talent Acquisition landscape head-on, Melissa acknowledges the competitive edge of fully remote employers. According to her, full remote openings take up roughly 14% of online posts but receive 40% of the candidate's views. Also, due to fully remote openings, the competition  for talent is with companies across the globe and not just within their backyard.

In a world filled with job openings and a limited pool of active candidates, Melissa emphasizes the importance of awareness. Making the candidates understand what the company stands for, the identity of the company, and what they stand for This takes precedence when reaching out passively to candidates by helping us stand out, amidst the onslaught of competitors. 

To assess candidates effectively, Melissa's team follows a unique method that combines subjective conversations with objective skill assessments. Candidates are able to talk to multiple team members in various roles to get different perspectives about expectations, responsibilities, culture, and so on. Melissa’s team also includes a homework assignment for each position that directly relates to the work they will be doing on a daily basis.

Her meticulous hiring process has paid off, resulting in a 5% turnover rate and 12 internal promotions within their 34-person company. Melissa understands that mis-hires are very costly to the business from a time, resource, training, candidate acquisition, and backfill cost perspective, so there is tremendous value in taking time to find the right candidate rather than just filling a seat.

“Authenticity is one of our company's core values. We celebrate the diverse backgrounds of our employees through various culture initiatives throughout the year and  encourage them to openly speak up and give their perspectives because we know that collectively our differences spark innovation.”

Melissa's organization takes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) seriously. And in the corporate world, policymaking is the beginning of putting words into action. And Melissa ensures that DE&I is at the forefront of every policy created, process implemented, or decision ever made. She ensures her team is up to pace with the help of her overarching strategy, which incorporates training for her team that covers comprehensive wellness benefits, career advancement opportunities, as well as equal, fair, and transparent compensation. And it doesn't stop there, as she focuses more on mentality than training her team to stick to mere procedures and toolkits. 

Usually, Companies hire talent acquisition professionals, give them profiles, and expect them to schedule candidates for interviews. Melissa believes that time should be taken to comprehensively train TA's so they can learn the business and how to sell it to candidates, build in-depth position profiles, and ask meaningful interview questions. This will empower the TA to better engage with and screen candidates so that only high-caliber talent is put through the hiring process.

As a part of the training and hiring process, Technology plays a crucial role by streamlining various procedures and saving time. They use an ATS to organize and manage all of their job postings, automating the candidates' journey through the hiring process. They also use an HRIS tool for managing all employee data and performance evaluations. Online job boards are used to ensure that their openings are advertised and seen by candidates. Even Social media outlets are used to continuously post about the company and have prospective talent engage with their culture.

Melissa Richardson's journey in Talent Acquisition exemplifies resilience, innovation, and commitment to creating inclusive and successful workplaces. As a woman leader, she continues to inspire others, proving that passion and hard work know no boundaries. Her dedication to promoting DE&I and her strategic approach to hiring have made her a true maverick in the world of Talent Acquisition. Her words of encouragement to Talent acquisition leaders across the world are enough to leave the lasting impression of someone who gives every bit of herself to the betterment of her company’s ecosystem and future women leaders.

 "Stay true to who you are. Candidates will feel it and appreciate it when you are genuine and they know you aren't trying to 'sell' them a bag of goods. You are the first introduction a candidate has to your company - make it a positive and (most importantly) memorable one."