kelli wade

Kelli Wade’s Recruiting Leadership: Constructing Relationships

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In late 2022, Hill International Director of Talent Acquisition for the West Kelli Wade was promoted to Senior Talent Director, Americas. This promotion was only the latest of Kelli’s many achievements in her more than four years with Hill. When Kelli first joined Hill in 2018, she had several years of recruiting experience in finance and IT, but no background in construction. However, after her first interview, Kelli says she felt quite at home.

“I researched Hill and was interested in the company and the work Hill does around the world,” explains Kelli. “I was also interested in the types of positions Hill hires for, but the interview was what really sold it for me. I really enjoyed the people I spoke with and knew this company would be a good fit.”

While the company’s projects and global presence drew Kelli to Hill, it was the people, the relationships she started forming during her interview, and the organizational commitment to welcoming and fostering new talent that kept her here. In fact, the foundations of Kelli’s own success at Hill are illustrated in her first experience with Hill.

Driving Success with Relationship-Rooted Practice

In her former role as Director of Talent Acquisition for the West, Kelli implemented procedures and processes that helped Hill’s Western Region become a profitability powerhouse. Specifically, for the past four years, Kelli has forged strong relationships with company management to boost efficiency and enable recruiters to succeed.

“Management needs to take an active role in the hiring process from the outset,” she explains. “That boils down to knowing what Hill and our clients want and getting that information to Hill’s recruiters in a clear, precise way. Once the recruiters take over, we’re the face of the company. We’re the people talking to potential employees. So, we have to have the best, most current information on what our company and our clients need for this process to be effective and efficient.”

Kelli adds that a strong relationship between managers and recruiters is key. Rapport leads to trust, trust leads to better communication, and that leads to better talent acquisition results for the company. It’s not only important for recruiters to have relationships with management though, Kelli adds. During her time at Hill, many of Hill’s open positions in the West were staffed through Hill’s referral program. In fact, about 40% of Hill’s Western Region hires come from employee referrals. The bonus Hill employees receive for making a successful referral is an incentive, certainly. However, employees need to understand the details of the referral, understand the requirements of the job posting, and be willing to reach out to their networks for the referral program to be effective.

“It helps when employees in operations are on a first-name basis with a recruiter for their region,” explains Kelli. “It’s much easier to call or shoot a text to someone you know when you think of a good candidate for an available position. If they have a relationship with a recruiter, people are also more likely to reach out right away, saving time.”

Maintaining the Momentum

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According to Kelli, active manager involvement and a robust referral program are standard recruiting best practices. However, in any moderately sized organization, these best practices can be a struggle to implement if there are any gaps in communication between recruiters and the rest of the company.

“With operations employees and managers focused on their work, those gaps can be overlooked,” she says. “Then when it comes time to find the perfect hire, you don’t know who to go to, recruiters lack specifics, the whole process takes longer, and the results can be less than ideal.”

In her new role as Senior Talent Director, Americas, Kelli plans on rolling out the best practices she’s driven into the Western Region’s culture to the rest of the U.S., taking maximum advantage of the recruiting infrastructure already in place, and helping to close any gaps she finds. In all, Kelli wants to achieve three things:

  • Enhanced collaboration between managers and recruiters.
  • Processes that will help all U.S. regions fill roles more successfully and efficiently.
  • Increased fill rates for positions in every region.

“The first two will lead to the third, so really I’m going to be doing my best to support relationships between management and recruiters and help local teams find the best processes to promote success in their regions,” she adds. “I would also like to stress that there’s already great infrastructure in place, both in terms of relationships and existing processes. But I’m confident that with small adjustments, we can grow our lines of communication, ensure even more prompt and accurate information transfer, and contribute to Hill’s continued growth throughout the U.S.”

Sealing the Deal

“Hill is a great place to work,” adds Kelli. “People around the world know our reputation. So as recruiters, our job isn’t really about getting candidates in the door.” Moreover, according to Kelli, the benefits recruiters can offer to a candidate are good. Joining Hill means access to industry-leading experts in many different sectors. There are opportunities within Hill for personal growth and chances to work in new markets or even different countries. There are resources like Hill University and Hill’s safety programs, as well as internal organizations like the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness Committee, that can help employees make the most of their time with the company. Yet, even if a candidate knows all of that, the first interview provides an all-important first impression of the people behind the scenes—just like in Kelli’s first interview.

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“When we meet a potential Hill employee, we’re not selling them anything, but showing them Hill’s culture,” concludes Kelli. “We need to maintain good relationships with managers and other operations employees for the right specifications for new hires and a strong referral program, yes. But we also need to live the culture. We’re the first face for all potential Hill employees.

“I love my job, love talking to candidates and helping them find their next opportunity, love helping management find the right employees for our clients. I’m proud of the ways my team and I have contributed to Hill’s success, and I look forward to what’s to come. I’m also so thankful for everyone I’ve crossed paths with at Hill, whether it be candidates I’ve hired or managers/employees I’ve worked with. I cannot thank enough those Western operations managers who have supported me from the very beginning: Mike Smith, Greg Heinz, JP Villamizar, Robert Ferguson, Andy Kreck, and John Skoury. I also want to thank the amazing recruitment team that we have. Everyone has done such a tremendous job over this past year. They truly love what they do and want to see the company succeed.”

To learn more about working at Hill International, please reach out to Kelli at [email protected]. To review Hill’s available positions, please visit: