TALENT ACQUISITION MANAGER, CONSULTING AND SERVICES
Trish Dunn is the talent acquisition manager for consulting and client services at Norstella. Her team is responsible for sourcing and interviewing candidates for open roles. By partnering with hiring managers to identify qualified candidates who are an ideal match for each business unit’s needs, Trish works to build a stronger organization.
Tell us a little bit more about your role.
Norstella’s talent acquisition (TA) team operates under four main pillars: consulting and client services, commercial, tech, and product and corporate services. My team focuses on consulting and client services, which covers a range of positions in consulting, data operations, market research, strategic advising, and other groups.
We also have a lot of synergies with the commercial organization. When I talk to a candidate who’s a great fit for Norstella but not necessarily for the role I’m trying to fill, I’ll reach out to one of the other TA teams to see if they’re a fit for any other positions. Working collaboratively really helps us identify the best talent out there.
What does your day-to-day usually look like?
One of the best things about my job is that there’s a lot of variety! On any given day, I could be screening and interviewing candidates, working on a salary negotiation, setting up internal processes, or providing guidance and support to hiring managers or team members.
We spend a great deal of time sourcing candidates by flipping through profiles on LinkedIn, which is the site where we spend the majority of our money and our time. We also do a fair amount of market research to see which companies are having layoffs and which companies are ideal for a candidate’s past experience.
What are some of those larger projects that you’re working on?
Our TA organization was created when all five brands came together under the Norstella umbrella. As we’re relatively new, we still have many global procedures and policies that we’re creating and standing up.
We’re also working on implementing a new applicant tracking system. The one we use right now is acceptable, but it’s not intuitive. The new one will bring greater efficiencies, as it automates many of our manual tasks, like scheduling. It will also let us use AI to source candidates. By taking some of the administrative burden off of our plates, we’ll have more time to get out there and talk to more potential candidates.
What are some of the common challenges of your role?
The market has changed so many times in the last three years since I’ve been here. During COVID, everybody needed a job, and then the market became extremely competitive. And now, people are getting laid off again.
In addition to all these market fluctuations, organizations are approaching hiring quite differently; they’re offering a much wider variety of benefits and work-life balance, and they’re offering higher salaries for roles that haven’t historically commanded that kind of pay scale. Our team works between the hiring managers, the candidates, and the business to make sure that we’re arriving at a mutually agreeable, equitable salary, which can sometimes be a challenge.
While each of Norstella’s companies is competitive with industry standards, negotiation is more common now. As the recruiter, I focus on making sure that the business doesn’t overpay for a role, but I also focus on ensuring that the person I hire is going to be genuinely satisfied with their compensation, as that makes them much more likely to stay here. It’s not just about getting the person in the role, but about positioning them for long-term retention.
Outside of that, we’re working in a very niche market, which is always challenging. We might do a search and discover only 30 qualified candidates in the U.S. who are right for a given role, and none of them may be looking for a job right now. Finding people who have very specific experience takes a lot of nurturing. You have to keep networking and reaching out. Many times, the hiring managers we introduce to a candidate will also stay in touch, which makes it easier to hire these people down the road, because they’re already more engaged with the organization as a whole.
How did you join the company?
Ironically, I came to Norstella through an external recruiter! After college, I worked in fashion in New York, which was fun but didn’t pay well. I moved into sales, and at one point I had a promotional marketing company with my sister, where we recruited people to do events. At another company I worked for, they needed a recruiter, and I became part of their hiring team. I realized that while I really liked recruiting candidates, I didn’t want to recruit for entry level positions—it wasn’t challenging enough.
I took an agency position, where I specialized in creative digital marketing for healthcare and pharma clients, before taking a risk and joining a startup. Then COVID hit and I was laid off within a few months. Honestly, that was the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my career, because this job is so much more rewarding than my previous roles. It was definitely a learning curve, as market access is such a specific niche within healthcare, but it’s been a great opportunity so far!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As an in-house recruiter, I do enjoy competing against other companies and agencies and coming out ahead, making the hire—it’s always satisfying to win. But chiefly, I enjoy bringing in the right people for the right role. Not only can I provide this candidate with an amazing opportunity, but I can strengthen the team at the same time.
There are times when I will have a strong gut feeling right from the first conversation, and I am convinced a person is perfect for the job. Then that person gets hired, I see them flourish, and I hear glowing feedback from the team, which is really validating. Whether a team hires frequently or infrequently, I always like to check in and see how new employees are doing. When I hear that a hire has taken a team to an entirely different level, that is incredibly gratifying to me.
What trends are you seeing across the industry right now?
While I’m not an expert in what Norstella does, I do have a unique perspective on how we’re perceived in the industry, because I talk to candidates so regularly. I talk to people who work for our competitors, and they’re always impressed with what we’ve got going on, how the Norstella brands are fitting together. It’s clear that we’re creating a unique offering for our clients.
People will tell me that they’re not actively looking for a job, but they’re interested in one of the brands, often because they use our data. They want to stay in touch. I leverage our reputation for innovation to hire people who are eager to make a bigger impact in the overall pharmaceutical landscape.
What company principle speaks the most to you?
For me, I think resiliency, mettle, and grit. In this role, you need to have a thick skin because it comes with a lot of rejection, either from candidates or hiring managers. We’re essentially selling jobs to people and people to jobs, so you have to get to “yes” twice, which isn’t always easy.
You just have to keep trying and digging deeper, and eventually you’ll find the right person. I learned how to pivot and strategize to achieve a “yes” when I was working in sales before I became a recruiter, and these skills have really helped me be successful in talent acquisition.
What would you tell someone just starting their career with Norstella?
One of the ways I sell the organization to our candidates is by telling them what a high-growth company we are; there are so many opportunities to be had here! You can’t just confine yourself to your job description. If you’re willing to think outside of the box and do what you can to make an impact, your initiative is going to be well recognized within the business. If you have good judgment, great ideas, and a good work ethic, you’ll have the opportunity to continue to grow.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Well, I have a two-year-old, so he occupies quite a lot of my time! Also, my husband and I recently started investing in real estate. We’re currently renovating a house that we purchased, so we spend quite a bit of time doing hands-on work with that. In my free time, I like to travel, run, and hike with our two dogs in our local state parks. Of course I also enjoy cheering on all the Philly sports teams and going to games with my family!
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