SeekOut's Talent Visionaries series features innovative leaders and their extraordinary work in creating and scaling high-performing teams. The personal philosophies and invaluable insights of these workplace champions offer new perspectives in an ever-evolving talent landscape.
Eric Miller is the Vice President of Talent Discovery & Insights at Paramount. Eric has over 25 years of experience as an HR executive, spanning HR technology, people programs, talent acquisition, and operations. A people connector at heart, Eric designs and delivers employee-first organizational transformations. Eric shares his perspective on empathetic leadership, navigating uncertainty, and leaning into the mission.
On being a “people connector”
Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked across the HR ecosystem—from operations and performance management to talent acquisition (TA). What I've always enjoyed about TA is the ability to act as a “people connector" between organizations and amazing talent. It’s rewarding because I get to establish rapport, but I also get to act as an ambassador for the organization. People get a sense of both who you are and the culture you're representing.
On placing candidates in the driver’s seat
A positive outcome of the pandemic is the ability to have better dialogue with candidates. We’re more comfortable speaking about the whole individual instead of all work all the time. I want to understand more about the human condition.
“When you let the candidate drive the conversation, and you stay focused on listening to ask the right questions, everything flows naturally from there.”
My first question in an interview is, “Who are you and what’s going on in your life right now?” It’s disarming because it puts the candidate in control. When you let them drive the conversation, and you focus on listening to ask the right questions, everything flows naturally from there.
“Stay candidate focused, meet people where they are, and listen more than you talk.”
The most important advice I would share with anyone new to TA is to be an active and empathetic listener. To better understand a candidate, ask about their personal story and trajectory instead of focusing solely on the role. Now more than ever people are pivoting across industries and coming from various stages in their careers. Stay candidate focused, meet people where they are, and listen more than you talk.
On 2023’s talent movement and industry crossover
I’m anticipating a lot more talent movement across organizations and industries this year. Internally, employees will want to advance their careers and will seek out new roles or gig work within the company. Externally, more people are changing industries than ever before, and leadership is increasingly open to hiring across industries. I expect to see these trends continue and become more pronounced.
“More people are changing industries than ever before, and leadership is increasingly open to hiring across industries.”
At Paramount, we’re seeing more candidate interest from industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and gaming. Industry crossover is valuable and will lead to more diversity of mindset within companies.
On staying the course through economic uncertainty
My simplest advice is to stay the course as much as you can. Lean into the mission, vision, values, and goals that you’ve created within your organization. Also try to have team members get opportunities to stretch and develop in new areas so they can continue to thrive.
As leaders, we can create an environment of psychological safety for our teams to minimize uncertainty in their day to day. It's easy to get caught up in the messaging around the unknowns of the economy right now, but having conversations with our teams strengthens connections, and makes them feel heard and excited to come to work.
Another piece of advice is to focus on the bigger economic picture to optimize your talent. We’re in a strange climate where some companies are laying people off, but the reality is that others are on the upswing. Industries like retail and construction are growing and need talent.
On making people feel valued through career growth
Whether you have an employee who wants to be on a hypergrowth path or someone who wants to focus on the job at hand, both can make a profound impact on the organization. Tailor your conversations depending on the individual’s goals and treat every team member as a high-impact contributor to the organization. Everyone should feel valued across the team.
“If you truly support people and their career goals, they're going to bring out their best work.”
I’m a big fan of staying hyper-connected to the individual through open, honest conversations around their career growth. If you truly support people and their career goals, they're going to bring out their best work.
On must-read books for talent leaders
I’m inspired by anything from Alan Watts. He's a tremendous thinker and gets philosophical concepts across in a playful manner without overly flowery language.
I have many of his books on my nightstand, but I recommend starting with “The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety.” It’s about being present in the moment and building connections through active listening.
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