The right reputation

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Hire Power helps you recruit, hire and retain the best talent for your company. We’ve got a rotating panel of sources ready to advise you on staffing.

The key to building the right team is to have a plan in place to attract top candidates in their respective industries to join your organization. As vice president of talent acquisition for Park West Companies, my objective is to help our organization grow with candidates who fit in with our company culture, believe in our mission statement and subscribe to our core values.

How do we find these talented individuals?

Posting a job description that accurately describes the opportunity is vital. When done properly, this will generate a list of qualified candidates. Another method is to keep an ongoing post for positions within the company open to generate a consistent flow of incoming resumes.

Reviewing resumes can be time consuming and that is why it’s important to identify key words on a resume that may help you fill other positions within your organization.

Establishing a line of communication with your candidate is key. This will result in a positive outcome for both parties. For example, thank them for their interest in the position with your company. If a candidate’s skillset or background does not match the job description, tactfully explain that the role requires specific qualifications.

Interviewing a candidate over lunch has proven to have successful results. The principle theory behind this approach is to allow the candidate to lower their guard and reveal their authentic side. This has helped me determine if the candidate can blend well with the personalities in the department that I am seeking to fill.

Another method I learned to be helpful is to introduce the candidate to several key people within the organization who can provide additional feedback regarding whether the candidate would fit in with the culture of the company. For example, a candidate applied for a job that was posted on our website. After a series of long conversations and feedback from my colleagues, it was apparent that this candidate was better suited for another department.

A good rule to follow is to treat each candidate like a client. Whether or not they are hired, giving them the best experience during the interviewing process will only increase a positive perception of your company in the marketplace.


Hiring and retaining is always the long-term goal with any organization. Park West developed five pillars of retention that has improved our new hiring experience.

  • Talent search involves industry networking with the purpose of finding the right candidate.
  • Orientation is designed to create a welcoming environment to acclimate a new hire into the company.
  • Employment assessment surveys are sent out to the new hires approximately 45 days after employment asking them to rate our hiring process.
  • Employment education, known as the Learning Academy, is an institution that enables us to educate our internal employees.
  • Employee mentorship ensures that the legacy is passed down to the next generation of employees.

Building a reputation as a company that promotes from within builds a positive employment brand. In our case, we have been fortunate enough to identify within our organization key people that possess a quality and drive that Park West has built their reputation on for over 40 years.

We encourage our business leaders to recognize these individuals and develop a sustainable pathway to a long-lasting career at Park West.

Recently, we developed the Learning Academy. Our employees are invited to participate in courses designed to develop their soft and trade skills. This platform has enabled us to identify future leaders in our organization.

Another great channel in building the right team was to partner up with Chapman University. They provided us with a talent pool of candidates who share our core values: innovative, people, accountable, passionate, ethical and reliable.

In 2016, Park West established an internship program. Chapman University’s resource center presented us with a candidate that filled a need and fit into our company culture. After completing a year in the program, our intern proved to be of value to Park West and was placed into a full time position.

In the same year, Park West developed the Landscape Trainee Program. This forward-thinking approach was designed to give a candidate a pathway into the green industry, but more importantly an occupation that will turn into a fulfilling career at Park West.

If you do your homework and apply these practices to your process, you should have no problem becoming a company with a desirable employment brand. This will only increase your reputation and help you to find the right candidates to join your organization and ultimately strengthen your overall retention as well as minimizing turnover.

Robert Gavela is vice president of talent acquisition at Park West Companies.

October 2018
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