‘Recruiting Is Waiting for the Next Hashtag’

Meet ERE member Kim Jones, always fearless, always telling it like it is.

Article main image
Aug 21, 2023

Welcome to the first installment of a new series that spotlights talent acquisition professionals within the ERE community. The series’ aim is to showcase individuals not so much for what they do but for who they are. In other words, the focus is less on what people are doing in their roles and more on how they view work and life.

Think of the series like a Recruiting Proust Questionnaire, loosely based on 1800s French writer Marcel Proust’s parlor game of interesting and introspective queries designed to reveal people’s true character. In highlighting ERE members, the ultimate goal is to nurture spur connections. We hope you’ll reach out to featured people and form relationships — professional or personal (is there really a difference?). So let’s get going with our first ERE member profile.

Kimberly Jones is senior director of enterprise talent strategy at the University of California, Irvine, where she also teaches about technology applications in talent management. Additionally, Kim is chief executive officer of Kelton Legend, a talent acquisition and diversity consulting organization, which she founded after having spent 20+ years working for companies such as NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northrop Grumman, GE Aviation, Raytheon, and Nationwide.

Kim is often provocative and always 100% real, key reasons why she continues to be a regular writer for this site, a contributor to the ERE Facebook Group, and a recurring presenter in ERE webinars and at the ERE Recruiting Conference. Simply put, Kim will always give it to you straight.

ERE: What’s your best personality trait?

Kim Jones: My friendliness. I have friends all over the world. I do lots of traveling and have also met so many people in airports and stayed in touch with them. I now find that I have friends literally everywhere I go.

What is your worst personality trait?

I’m quick-tempered. I am my father’s child that way. Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more self-aware, so I try to prepare myself if I’m going to a situation that can possibly trigger my temper — especially because I’m very aware that displaying  it can be distracting or defeating in the moment. Still, though, I have the kind of face that gives away how I feel. So I guess you can’t ever call me a liar!

What is the biggest assumption people make about you — be it wrong or right?

That I’m always willing to help others, which I am. I’m very free with information. I’m not one to hoard it. Life is so much better when you share, partly because when you share, you are often shared with. There’s reciprocity.

What do you love most about working in talent acquisition?

It will never get old to me to call to extend an offer. That is such a joyous celebratory moment, offering someone new employment. You hear the joy in the person’s voice too. Maybe the person was unemployed or underemployed, maybe this is their dream job, so knowing you are helping that person reach their goal is very fulfilling.

What do you like least about working in talent acquisition?

That people think that HR, and by extension TA, people are social workers, that we must find ways to accommodate bad, unprofessional, and rude behavior by hiring managers, candidates, and other colleagues. We deserve to be respected in what we do. Being demeaned and devalued should not be an inherent part of working in HR and talent acquisition.

Part of the problem is something I’ve heard people say for generations: “I want to work in HR because I love working with people.” Morticians and corrections officers also work with people. Then you have others saying, “Recruiting really is just sales and marketing.” So is prostitution. Then there’s the widespread belief that anyone can be a recruiter. Well, anyone can be anything — a police officer, a cashier. The notion that what recruiting professionals do can be minimized is very frustrating.

What do you most value in team members?

Camaraderie. Also, a cohesive team should have people who will be willing to close each other’s blind spots.

What is the most overused or overrated belief that recruiting pros hold?

They believe that robots will not replace them, but there’s now a degree of automation that can handle highly repetitive tasks. It’s already happening. and people need to realize that it’s already happening.

How do you define success?

Happiness and accomplishment, but not to the detriment of others.

How do you define failure?

When there’s a lack of psychological safety, when anxiety is prevalent in a job or environment. It’s toxic and harmful. And when this happens, as a leader, you have to be mindful about the role you play in creating this toxicity. But then again, you will also find people who have talked their way into jobs they weren’t qualified for. And now that they have to do the job, that creates anxiety.

What is your greatest failure?

There was a team that I managed that I wasn’t connected to. I wasn’t patient enough with them, and it became the perfect storm of dysfunction. After I left that organization, I felt bad about my relationships with some of the people, so I followed up with them because it was important for me to apologize to certain people for my role in creating that dysfunction. Not enough people do that — apologize.

What is your current state of mind as it relates to the current state of recruiting?

Post-Covid, we are still wandering. We haven’t figured out the new normal. Instead, we keep talking about the same stuff with no real utility to the discussions. Take the Great Resignation. People talked about this as if this was really new, but it wasn’t. It was nothing more than people shifting around in the job market, which has always been the case. Yet people talked about it as if this were an aberration and not just another shift in the culture. And so now we are left with no clear vision or path. We are waiting for the next hashtag.

Who is one person in TA that people need to know, besides yourself of course?

Maisha Cannon. She is just a gem of a person. Maisha is brilliant in the most disarming way. If you spend an hour with her, the wisdom and knowledge you will gain will help make you feel like a more fabulous recruiter.

Most important question: What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.”

Finish the sentence: Kim Jones is…


Get articles like this
in your inbox
The longest running and most trusted source of information serving talent acquisition professionals.