‘Top Recruiter’ Taps Local Talent for Global Challenge


By Kyla Nicholson, CHRP

Over the past decade, HR has come a long way in the minds of business leaders. More recently, it has been winning over the hearts of an ever-growing audience.  At least part of that success might be attributed to the efforts of Chris LaVoie, creator and executive producer of Top Recruiter: The Competition.

Yes, HR reality TV has arrived. You may have heard of it through the Huffington Post, Forbes or Details Magazine. Over 2.2 million viewers tuned in for the first season and now Top Recruiter: The Competition is back—with an infusion of BC HR talent.

Amongst the global pool of competitors is Vancouver’s Yvonne Wu, senior recruiter at AbsoluteSoftware. A veteran with over 10 years of recruiting experience, Yvonne “fell into” recruiting when she took her first job at Blast Radius. She stuck with it because, she “loves seeing people grow and being part of someone’s journey to success”

As you’d expect from reality TV, there will be drama, but there’s also healthy competition and valuable advice. Whether you’re a job seeker, a hiring manager, an HR practitioner, or a recruiter you’ll find this online reality show provides something for everyone.

PeopleTalk chatted with LaVoie Wu to get some insights into the competition and tips for your recruiting practices.

PT: Where did the idea for a show about recruiting come from? What can people expect to see?

Chris LaVoie (CL): I was watching the presidential debates and it was all about the recession and jobs and the lack of jobs. And then I’d talk to people that had access to opportunities. So it was really about educating people that there are opportunities out there while entertaining them.
The job advice is really the golden nuggets but you have to deliver it in unique ways so the audience absorbs it. How do you make your kids eat something healthy if they don’t like the taste? You put the vitamin in peanut butter. People are attracted to the combination of drama, substance, and solid advice.

PT: Last season the contestants were all North American, this year they’re from around the world. Why the change?

CL: This season there’s more substance to the characters. These are major players from companies globally. It’s a global economy. It’s a smaller world because of the internet and social media, and every company’s affected by that. Everyone’s connected.

Bringing together the backgrounds, personalities and philosophies, and bringing in the cultural learning was another element to enjoy.

PT: How did making it a global competition affect you as a contestant?

Yvonne Wu (YW): The [recruiting] process is generally the same, but how situations are handled and what’s said to candidates is different based on culture. There are some things that we couldn’t even do here.

PT: What are some things to keep in mind when recruiting from an increasingly diverse talent market?

YW: Companies need to make sure they don’t hire the same people all the time. It’s important to make sure there’s a cultural fit with the organization and that people bring new things to the table that are valued. The way people communicate or share perspectives shouldn’t rule them out – you have to keep an open mind.

PT: When people think about diversifying their organizations, cultural diversity is often the focus. How does introducing HR help diversify the perspectives at an organization?

YW: Our company started out without an HR department. Now we have HR and a recruiter—that’s me. As an HR team, we partner with managers and introduce them to new things they’ve never used before. Sometimes we expect people to understand the value of something because we do. They might not be familiar with it and they might not see the value until they know how to use it.

PT: What are the best social media tools for recruiters? Anything new that people should keep their eyes open for?

YW: LinkedIn. You can search, connect with people, join groups for industry networking, brand yourself and your company—and they come up with new things all the time.
Twitter’s great for branding. It lets you know about the company culture. It gets out information about jobs and helps your company be visible.
HireVue is something that I wasn’t exposed to before the show. It’s an online interviewing platform to check out.

PT: What piece of recruitment advice would you give to HR?

YW: Don’t judge a book by its cover. If a resume doesn’t read well it doesn’t mean the person isn’t qualified. Consider having a conversation, at least over the phone. They may just not know how to write a resume.

PT: Advice to candidates?

YW: Don’t inflate information on your resume. If you can’t give examples or back up what you’ve said people will know it’s not true. Recruiters will catch you when you’re not truthful and it’ll hurt you in the long run.

PT: What are three recruiting tips for organizations that don’t have HR?

YW: Network. It’s an affordable, easy way to meet people, and they’ll have friends, and they’ll know people. Use social media. It’s time-consuming, but it’s free to join groups, sign up for news, and get yourself out there.  To save time, prescreen so you don’t need to spend hours and hours in interviews. All it takes is a 10 minute call.

PT: Yvonne, some people might be nervous to put themselves “out there” on TV, what made you decide to?

YW: I found out about the show through Twitter – a tweet from [season 1 contestant] Alysse. I clicked the link, loved the show, and tweeted about it. Chris re-tweeted me and we started chatting through twitter and he asked if I’d be interested in auditioning.

My first instinct was “not really”, but the team here [at AbsoluteSoftware] and my manager were so supportive. I figured it doesn’t hurt to try. I saw the work last season and it was tasteful and I felt I could handle it. I knew there were over 4,000 videos to see so I thought, “there’s not a huge chance”…

When Chris called with the news [I was on the show] everyone was around my desk – it was Christmas time. It was like winning American Idol.

PT: Why should people tune in?

CL: In the first 10 seconds you’ll see that it’s more than a show about recruiting. It’s an entertaining show about the industry. Recruiters are important. They choose the people that impact companies and their growth. There’s a lot of things that people can take away. It’s not completely politically correct, but it has a lot of human spirit.

HR is stepping into the mainstream spotlight the first week of September at www.toprecruiter.tv. To see how it all began, check out season one at the same location. A third season’s already in the works. Audition information is available online.

(PeopleTalk Fall 2013)

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