By Marge Lennon
As the Senior Director of Talent Acquisitions for Welk Resorts in Escondido, California, Tom Schmid leads a recruiting team that hires over 550 sales and marketing associates and support staff each year for five Welk Resorts in multiple states and one international location.
Much like “matchmakers,” Tom’s team of seven takes tremendous satisfaction in matching people who will flourish in the perfect position. The secret is how they find them. For starters, they are huge at networking and social media. Tom has more than 16,000 contacts on LinkedIn plus his own timeshare professionals page with 5,000+ exclusive subscribers and over a thousand Facebook followers. His team hired 40% of last year’s work force utilizing these venues and believes social media is their most powerful tool.
Team members include Dianna Fisher (Senior Recruiter, Sales), Mike Vargas (Senior Recruiter, Corporate); Shelia Gray, (Senior Recruiter, Owner Services); Venus Becker
(Marketing Recruiter); Paradyse Miller (Marketing Recruiter); Audra Chadwick (Recruiter Sales), and Eva Mayfield (Recruiter, Operations).
Adds Tom, “I truly enjoy the people I work with. We have built a culture of fun, integrity and hard work. Everyone on my team has a ‘Just Say Yes’ attitude that supports each another and makes me very proud. Welk is a family owned/run business and our team treats each other as if we were family.”
In conjunction with non-stop networking meetings and passing out business cards – which they zip through at the rate of about 500 a month – this amazing team gets the job done with stunning results. As an example, one recruiter gave his card to a waitress he felt would be a good sales person, never thinking she’d respond. Today, she is among the top 5% of sales people in the entire company!
“We understand deeply that our company is only as good as its people,” says Tom, “and if we can recruit the right person the first time, 98% of our challenges can be eliminated. We look at each selection decision from a ‘big picture’ perspective and how that person will fit into the entire company far into the future. Knowing that the right person can greatly impact the entire company adds a greater sense of responsibility to the selection process.”
Tom believes that recruiting is best accomplished away from the desk, in front of prospective candidates, taking them to lunch and becoming the face of the company. His team often speaks at large networking events, mixers and chambers of commerce meetings, demonstrating why Welk Resorts is a great place to work.
After having utilized the same recruiting practices for some time, Tom and his team implemented dramatic outside-the-box interview techniques that deviated from generic question and answer guidelines. They now focus more on how well a candidate can hold a fascinating conversation … examining body language, drive, passion, vacation lifestyle and dreams.
This system has enabled the team to target individuals blessed with the two most-important characteristics a person can have: heart and passion, which they believe are attributes that cannot be taught; just improved. Once they identify that a candidate has these qualities, the team can train them to become great, no matter what job they perform.
Because of strong competition in their area, Tom’s recruiters let prospective hires know they provide a better compensation plan with the largest number of tours. Unlike competitors, they don’t always seek sales people with “traditional” timeshare backgrounds. They prefer to utilize a group-interview process where they can see how a candidate interacts in a group setting, allowing them to witness points of passion after asking their “heart and passion” questions. After the group interaction, a one-on-one interview is conducted, with a series of exercises and questions that provide a peek inside the qualifications, job history and candidate’s lust for life.
During their tours of potential candidates around the property, they gain additional insight into characteristics of cordiality, confidence, and manners (like opening doors and even picking up trash). These are tiny nuances that reveal the character of a candidate. They may seem small at the time but often it’s the smaller details that help make the perfect hiring decision.
Tom earned a BS in Business Management from California State University, Fullerton and holds many recruiting certifications including the ECRE (Elite Certified Recruitment Expert). A professional recruiter serving multiple industries since 2002, Tom has been in timeshare for seven years and with Welk resorts for past three years. Originally from Dearborn, Michigan, Tom’s family moved to Southern California when his dad accepted a job at McDonald Douglas – now Boeing Corporation – and he grew up in a small town called Brea, CA. Now a scratch golfer, he played ice hockey for many years, winning a California state championship when he was seventeen.
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