HR Administration

2011 Game Changer: Dana Aspillera

By Susan Ladika

Sep. 29, 2011

At a time when many organizations are overwhelmed with job applicants, Dana Aspillera, managing director of talent acquisition, at the investment firm Charles Schwab & Co., makes sure her team has an active presence in the community for seeking out new talent.

Last year, Schwab’s leaders recognized, “We are such a relationship-based company, to be successful filling jobs, we have to have a community presence,” says Aspillera, who has worked for Schwab for 11 years.

While some companies have retreated from recruiting events, Aspillera, 34, who oversees the client service and support recruiting team and the talent attraction and outreach team, makes sure team members from the San Francisco-based firm regularly attend career and campus events. They may host information sessions for job seekers, offer résumé writing workshops, provide tips on how to stand out from the crowd and help people hone their interviewing skills.

“So much of recruiting is networking and social networking,” Aspillera says. If job seekers stop by a Schwab booth at a job fair, a recruiter will send them an email afterward, thanking them for their interest. It’s imperative to “respect the folks who come there,” she says.

Schwab recruiters also want to increase the company’s diversity and maintain an active presence at such events as a recent meeting of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

Frank Hynes, vice president of talent acquisition who nominated Aspillera for a Game Changers award, says “Dana is one of the most accomplished directors I’ve ever seen,” because of her passion to develop her teams and score results. “The drive in her is infectious,” Hynes says. Aspillera holds weekly telephone coaching sessions with her team members, who are scattered across the country.

“Dana is a talent adviser more than a recruiting leader,” Hynes says, and she spent almost two years involved in an analysis of the firm’s recruitment practices to determine what kind of changes should be made to best meet Schwab’s hiring needs.

Aspillera and her team members are on track to hire about 1,100 employees this year, which is about a 50 percent increase over last year. By taking a far more strategic approach than before, Schwab has made recruiting and hiring much more efficient and effective, Hynes says.

“We’re moving away from post and pray” when job openings arise, he says.

Instead, Aspillera’s teams serve as talent advisers, working to understand the skills that will be needed over the next few years. For example, if a vacancy develops in the marketing area, they might recommend a replacement who has more social media experience.

By approaching vacancies “with the business solution in mind,” she says, “we’re much more effective as recruiters.”

Susan Ladika is a writer based in Tampa, Florida.

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