There have been some significant changes in the human resources industry since Aram Lulla first started specializing in HR Recruiting in 2001. A 25-year veteran of the recruiting industry, he’s now general manager of the human resources practice at Lucas Group, an executive recruiting firm, and says he remembers when “human resources wasn’t as highly regarded as it is today.” It used to be that human resources was “the personnel department,” but now, says Lulla, HR has a seat at the table with C-suite executives.
“It’s been an awesome evolution, to see HR being involved with key decisions for the organization,” he says. “It’s not just the resumes and benefits part of the organization — it’s understanding that the number one asset is your people, so you’d better have a really strong HR business partnership from the very top all the way down so that you can attract, develop, and retain talent.”
As a college student, Lulla never envisioned himself in an HR career. He studied electrical engineering but upon graduating, decided that sitting behind a computer and designing circuit boards “would have been the death of me.” He saw a recruiter’s ad for a sales engineer position and went to an interview at the recruiting firm, Mar-Tek Executive Search. “They flipped the script on me and said, ‘why don’t you come be a recruiter?’” recalls Lulla. At 22, he figured he had nothing to lose, so he accepted the offer and remained for three years at Mar-Tek, where he placed candidates in the engineering, telecommunications, IT, and sales and marketing fields.
Eventually, he developed a specialty in HR and landed at Lucas Group in 2009. The company has seven functional groups, a military transition division, and twelve offices nationwide. “We focus primarily on the small to medium business marketplace,” says Lulla. “I would consider $50 million to $1 billion to be our wheelhouse. However, we obviously have a lot of Fortune 500 organizations that we represent.”
“I think it’s been fantastic to share the article links with some key leaders and or clients,” Lulla says. “It can help set up a topic of discussion between you and the client.”
In a buoyant economy, says Lulla, the firm tends to do more work in the organizational development and training areas. “That’s when companies tend to invest a lot of money in training their employees as a retention and development strategy, to make sure they have the best and brightest stay within house,” he says. “Of course, that all changes when the economy starts to turn.”
In addition to the evolution of human resources as an important corporate strategy tool, Lulla has seen other positive developments in his industry. “One primary example is the salary history ban legislation that’s being adopted across the nation,” he says. Currently, 18 states prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. The trend will help close the gender pay gap, says Lulla. “It may sound subtle, but it’s a huge deal because in general, women are paid anywhere from 70 to 78 cents for every dollar a male counterpart would earn for similar experience. If you don’t know someone’s past salary history when you make an offer, you’re basing it purely on experience or the quality of the interview. Is it the perfect solution to the gender pay gap? No, but it’s bringing awareness to the problem and that’s really, really important.”
Lulla also notes that “people have a wider mindset when you’re talking about diversity. And I don’t just mean ethnic diversity, but also diversity in thought and what people can bring to the table.” He says that more companies are thinking holistically about the full lifecycle of the employee experiences — from the first response to the first ad all the way to the exit interview. They’re thinking about “not just what’s best for the business but what’s best for the employee from an experiential perspective. The game is to try to make sure that you retain top talent because it’s so hard to replace.”
Lulla joined Forbes Human Resouces Council because “I thought this could be a great opportunity to share ideas and thoughts and also read the thoughts and ideas of others. I’ve really enjoyed being able to write articles that we can share. It helps brand our company and it helps continue to brand me as a thought leader in the human resources space.” He routinely shares his articles with his staff and with clients. “I think it’s been fantastic to share the article links with some key leaders and or clients,” he says. “It can help set up a topic of discussion between you and the client.”
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