Demystifying the Art of Engagement: Insights from an Award-Winning RPO

By Emily Ceskavich

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Social proof has never been more important to the decision-making process than it is today.

From shopping for a new car to planning the itinerary for your next vacation, we depend on our peers and social communities to help guide us to the best decision by providing us with useful insight and context.

For candidates whose talent and experience grants them the luxury to have their pick of an employer, choosing their next opportunity can drive them to choice overload if all they have is the company’s marketing and information from sales-driven recruiters to base their decisions on. 

No one wants to be lured to a company with visions of the recruiter’s lofty promises only to find themselves living in an anxiety ridden daydream once they begin working there.

For candidates, the goal is to narrow down their top options using the best information available, while spending the least amount of time doing it.

For 30 million candidates, has become a key part of this process.  It’s the Zillow for careers. A Zagat guide for top-performing candidates who are hungry to find their next great success for an equally great company.

A pioneer of company review sites and an evolving leader in the employer transparency movement, Glassdoor provides a community through which candidates and employees can share transparent reviews of their companies behind the comforting mask of anonymity.

From these reviews, Glassdoor’s annual “Best Places to Work” list highlights a selective group of companies who not only talk the talk but have executed their visions in a way that earns them a shortcut to the best talent.

Every year, employers read through this list with green eyes.

What can we learn from these companies? We hear about the big picture ideas and the principles behind their strategies, but what is it about their execution that puts them at the top of the totem?

To find out, I spoke with a featured company on this coveted list, WilsonHCG.

WilsonHCG is a global talent solutions leader, delivering business-impacting solutions including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), talent consulting, contingent workforce solutions and executive search, that has been consistently recognized for their award-winning employer brand, candidate experience, company culture, and employee engagement strategy.

From all angles, WilsonHCG performs in an industry that’s driven by engagement and experience.

EVP of People Operations and General Counsel Marisol Hughes and Vice President of Engagement Cynthia Cancio share their insights on these enigmas that employers face.


WilsonHCG’s Award-Winning People Practices: A Q&A


Social-Hire: WilsonHCG places a strong emphasis on your employer brand and workplace culture, but there are plenty of companies that tout great company culture and offer primo employee perks that haven’t achieved the same recognition.

What do you think makes a workplace culture and employer brand compelling from a recruitment perspective?

Marisol Hughes: Candidates, like employees, are seeking organizations that foster continuous learning and growth potential. WilsonHCG has a collaborative work environment with numerous opportunities to participate in social committees and training events that span our global locations. We’ve set about defining career paths and have encouraged our employees to forge their own path within the organization as well. 

Cynthia Cancio: We make it a point to implement solid training programs that help new hires learn a new industry, and/or a new skillset. This is very attractive to people entering the workforce or are seeking a career change. Our culture is created by our employees, we’re very transparent and represent an authentic view of what a candidate can expect if they become a WilsonHCG employee and candidates can see that. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas and everyone has a hand in building upon our employment brand. Social media platforms like Tagboard, allow WilsonHCG employees to give candidates that transparent look into the organizational culture.


SH: In 2013, you expanded into the UK. Two years later, in 2015, WilsonHCG was named to HRO Today’s RPO Baker’s Dozen Europe rankings, and won the HRO Today Services and Technology Association Award for Excellence in Engagement Strategy for Europe.

When marketing your employer brand and engaging candidates in a new location or market, where do you look to see if you’re on the right track?

CC: Data and analytics, one of the first places we tend to look is at our resume and application submission numbers. This has been a great indicator of our perception in the marketplace. We also leverage market research, particularly when marketing our employer brand in a new market. It’s critical to understand the nuances associated with a new region before marketing to those candidates.

MH: We’ll also look at referral numbers. If our employees are referring people they know in that new region, we know that we’re on the right track. From there we can gain further insight through candidate satisfaction surveys, these provide specifics on the candidate’s experience and our employer brand. We have found that it is so critical to gain feedback from candidates in order to ensure we are constantly improving and learning.


SH: Although most employers want to give candidates an experience with their companies that makes them feel more connected and engaged, many see it as an investment of time and resources that could be better spent actively sourcing and reaching out to candidates.

What is your company’s view on this? How do you manage the personal touches, such as providing candidates with interview feedback, in a large-scale hiring structure like WilsonHCG’s?

CC: We practice what we implement for our client’s – SLA’s. We have put SLA’s into place for our internal team to follow to ensure a great candidate experience. Our process includes feedback being given to the candidate within a specified time period regardless of hiring team feedback.

The biggest piece to a great candidate experience is communication – communication with the recruiter, candidate and hiring manager – are all critical. For example, we schedule regular communications with candidates, not going dark on them and being responsive if they have questions/concerns and pro-actively reaching out is extremely important.

If a candidate is rejected, our best practice is to call and give them that information live. We provide feedback and answer any questions in an effort to reduce a negative parting of ways. Candidate experience is our top priority at WilsonHCG. We conduct our candidate experience surveys quarterly so if there is room for improvement we are being proactive about it.

MH: We have a strategic recruitment marketing team that manages our talent community, ensuring the talent community is updated and interacted with on a daily basis.  This guarantees that anyone who opts into following or receiving updates regarding our company remains connected and engaged with us.

Our talent acquisition coordinator reviews every application we receive through our applicant tracking system and sends feedback to all candidates.  Even if we determine we aren’t moving forward with a candidate at this time we want to respect their job search by letting them know whether or not they are being considered. Often times candidates can be left in the dark, so it is our mission that they understand how much we appreciate their interest in WilsonHCG.


SH: What has been your most successful program or initiative in terms of attracting and sourcing new talent? Why do you think it’s worked the way it has?

CC: One of our successful and on-going initiatives is our university recruiting. We recruit for interns and entry level roles on campuses, which allows these candidates to develop a path to other areas and levels of positions within WilsonHCG. By building out our internship program and university recruitment relationships, we have been able to grow countless connections with career services departments, student organizations, and communities.

Another initiative that’s extremely successful is our employee referral program, this yields some of the best hires. The saying, “birds of a feather flock together,” couldn’t be truer. We know that we’ve hired exceptional individuals at WilsonHCG and when they refer a friend or past colleague—it’s easy to assume that person will also be a great hire. If our high performers and great employees are referring individuals over, a lot of the time they are a great fit for the company!

MH: Social media and our talent community have been two of the most successful sources at attracting and sourcing new talent.  These two strategies go hand in hand because the company has a very strong social media presence and it’s nurtured on a daily basis. Additionally, the website is interactive and informative, and as a result, more candidates tend to opt into our talent community.  By staying up to date on social media and sharing industry or company news we are branding ourselves as thought leaders that candidates will want to follow.  They then can join the talent community to have these updates sent directly to their email and in return, we have their contact information and can reach out to them with targeted communications and opportunities that might be in line with their skillset.


SH: How did the #WilsonHCGlife hashtag come to be? How is it used today in your recruitment efforts?

CC: The WilsonHCG hashtag, #WilsonHCGLife, was developed a few years ago in order to make our brand and culture as transparent as possible. The ability for our employees across the globe to share their WilsonHCG DNA via everyday moments has been incredibly powerful. We leverage the technology platform Tagboard, which makes it extremely easy to group together photos, tweet and updates from many different social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc), and places them on one platform for candidates to easily view. This blends together the employment brand messaging with the real employee voice. We encourage anyone that we speak to or reach out to, to search the hashtag and get an understanding of what WilsonHCG is all about.  We then can go to our social media pages to see who has recently viewed or liked our pages/content and reach out to engage them further and encourage them to join the talent community.


SH: Your careers page opens with the line, ”Our people define us.” Are there certain questions you ask in the interview for internal positions or things you look for in a person’s background for talent acquisition roles that have been most helpful for predicting how well they’ll fit from a cultural standpoint?

MH: We have continuously added and updated our interview process to focus on cultural fit as well as skillset fit.  By incorporating a mix of behavioral or soft-skill interview questions, we can determine by their if they hold themselves to the level of integrity, communication, collaboration, passion, and ownership that WilsonHCG expects of its employees. We understand that individuals from all different backgrounds, industries, and job experience can bring different expertise to the table, so we ensure that our interview questions reflect that.



To learn more about WilsonHCG’s work and approach to recruitment, you can visit their website to read about their solutions for employers and reach out for help in achieving your hiring goals. They are also active on social media. Links to their profiles can be found here.


About the authors:

Cynthia Cancio is the Vice President of Engagement at WilsonHCG. Cynthia has been with the company for 10 years.

Marisol Hughes joined WilsonHCG in 2013 as the RPO’s Executive Vice President of People Operations & General Counsel.

Emily Ceskavich is a former RPO recruiter and current Social Media Marketing Manager at

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