– Jamila Harley, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, Director, ASHA Career Management Services
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 228,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. (www.asha.org)
Therefore, one may find it interesting that a staff person from ASHA was selected by TA Tech as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Talent Acquisition Thought Leaders” in 2023. However, as with most sectors of industry, recruiting and retaining talent in the professions is a goal of the association. As the Director ASHA Career Management Services, my role is to generate non-dues revenue through recruitment advertising, enhance the value of ASHA career related resources, and improve member engagement with the ASHA Career Portal.
To achieve this, my goals are to implement innovative content and marketing opportunities for recruiters, elevate the brand awareness and visibility of the ASHA Career Portal, create engaging resources, connect members with subject matter experts to help navigate their career journey, and improve the user experience with the job board. As a trained speech-language pathologist (SLP), I had a steep learning curve. First, I had to increase my knowledge of technology platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) software that were contributing to the success of past and current marketing and advertising campaigns.
While I had experience in other areas of the industry, I had to quickly learn how to navigate these tools to help analyze trends, data, and set strategies to meet our revenue objectives, marketing objectives, and to enhance our content to meet our members’ needs. As an agent of talent acquisition, it was also important to understand how the market has shifted. The unemployment rate is down, job seekers are not solely motivated by salary, and the culture of the company is important when deciding where an individual desires to work. The COVID pandemic resulted in many of our members desiring to work remotely, have a better work/life balance, and prioritize their overall wellness.
I am fortunate to be a part of an amazing team. I am surrounded by a fabulous group of professionals, including my Associate Director, Eli McLean, who analyzes the market to make sure that our advertising opportunities are priced competitively and manages the relationships with our employers and most of our vendors to ensure that we have the best technology to meet our TA goals.
His keen approach to identifying recruitment opportunities and commitment to customer service has contributed to meeting and exceeding our annual operational goals. I also have colleagues whom I collaborate with for B2B and B2C marketing, creative asset creation, social media engagement, and so much more. I am also grateful to have a supportive mentor and coach in our Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Leslie Katz. She supports and encourages my innovative ideas and gives me the latitude to take risks but provides guidance and resources to increase my chances of success.
Prior to joining ASHA, my predecessors worked to identify a job board vendor who could provide a more agile system, better reports and analyses, improved CRM integration, and an enhanced user experience. They attended TA Tech as part of this discovery process which helped them to evaluate the function and utility of various job boards. In addition, due to the COVID pandemic, the team quickly shifted to a virtual model for our annual hiring event. This switch resulted in increased non-dues revenue generation and decreased expenses, while creating access for more members and employers to attend.
To build on this, one accomplishment that I am proud of is adding networking/member engagement workshops to the virtual hiring event, which helped to increase attendance, member satisfaction, and meet recruitment goals for employers. These workshops also provide members with tools and resources to help enhance their career and leadership skills and promote their value during the hiring process. As a member of the association and the professions I understand the importance of elevating the “value” of our disciplines to our membership and to those that wish to hire highly skilled and trained professionals.
As an agent of talent acquisition, it is also important for my team to understand the challenges employers/hiring managers may face with their recruitment objectives, offer solutions, educate them on how our members consume content and marketing, and how members search for and evaluate potential career opportunities. Educating recruiters on strategies and opportunities to get in front of our members in different formats (i.e., social media, workshops, content marketing) to share more about their company culture, which helps to attract and retain potential employees, has contributed to our success. ASHA’s job board is a niche board, therefore our approach to talent acquisition must not only be strategic but personal and meaningful to our members. While being a niche board may pose a challenge, I look at it as a strength. Given the right tools, and a strategic plan, we are poised to meet the needs of a highly competitive field. Our membership boasts a 1.2% unemployment rate; therefore, many are passive job seekers. My role is to help recruiters understand this and educate them on ways to attract our members. My role is also to prepare our members to navigate their career journey by giving them the tools and resources they need to market themselves, identify fulfilling opportunities, and receive fair pay. I wholeheartedly believe that enhancing the value of our career related resources will increase the engagement of top talent, which will lead to more quality applications for job postings and successful hiring, and job satisfaction.
One of my most memorable moments from the most recent TA Tech conference was a presentation that went through the evolution of talent acquisition. I recall a small ad placed on a bulletin board and then a small ad placed in a newspaper. Now, it takes a technological ecosystem to attract and hire one candidate. The TA Tech conference this summer also helped me to begin to learn the implications that AI may have on talent acquisition. Often, candidates “talk” to technology before they even talk to a human being. This certainly helps make the hiring process more efficient, but we must not forget the human element. Educating job seekers on how to write resumes and cover letters that will help them navigate and stand out in applicant tracking systems; how to prepare and succeed in interviews; and how to evaluate job offers will help to ensure that top talent is not overlooked. It is also important that those who create the technology consult and collaborate with HR professionals, hiring agents, communications experts, and other industry stakeholders to ensure that the machines are accessible and work effectively to attract, hire, and retain top and diverse talent. TA Tech also exposed me to the need for increased diversity in the field of TA technology specifically. While attending, I was one of very few women, and the only African American woman in the room. This was interesting because I am also one of the just more than 8% of the ASHA membership that identify with an underrepresented racial group, and one of the just over 3% that identify as Black or African American.
While our professions and membership have an opportunity to increase diversity, I am grateful to work for an association that is committed to achieving equality and respect for cultural and demographic differences. I also appreciate the association’s commitment to non-dues revenue generation, which helps keep the cost of membership down for our members, and to providing a platform for employers to recruit the top talent in the association through our job board. TA Tech impressed me with their candor on the need to recruit and retain diverse talent as well in the industry of talent acquisition technology.
My path to the field of talent acquisition was fueled by my own firsthand experiences during my career journey. While only 1.2% of our membership identify as unemployed, there is still untapped talent in the professions. TA technology has a significant role in creating access to career opportunities and increased efficiency for hiring professionals. I believe one should be empowered and enthusiastic about the work they do, and that satisfied employees and diversity of thought and talent contribute to a healthy, happy, and productive work environment. As TA professionals our roles should contribute to creating this “perfect match” by creating and utilizing the best technology and empowering the workforce to navigate it successfully.