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by SixFigureStart | October 21, 2009


Aren't there times in your job search that you wish you could just get the straight scoop from the people likely to be making the hiring decisions at companies you're interested in? Someone who would be willing to give you an honest assessment of how many jobs they're likely to be looking to fill in the near future, and what qualities they're looking for in potential hires?

While many companies don't give any of that information out, it strikes us that their HR departments would have a far easier time attracting the type of candidates they're looking for if they'd just put the word out about what qualities and skills they value.

Thankfully, there are some out there in the corporate world that agree with us—and we're doing our best to track them down and talk to them. Thus, today we're able to bring you a two-part interview with Pete Gioacchini, the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition (that's hiring, folks) at health insurance behemoth CIGNA. He was good enough to talk to us by phone last week for almost an hour (despite our assurances that we'd only take 20 minutes of his time), and gave us a rare insight into the hiring priorities of a major company in the health care field. In fact, he gave us so much information that we were left with no option but to cut it into two separate Q&A sections: one detailing his own career and attendant lessons for those seeking to follow a similar path, and another concentrating on his outlook for CIGNA and the health insurance industry in the coming years.

Among the many observations, there were several very encouraging signs. First off, CIGNA is hiring—even if the number of people they bring in over the next twelve months is likely to be lower than in recent years. Second, Gioacchini had some good news for college students and the recently-graduated: his company has not lost sight of the fact that the current workforce is aging, and thus are concentrating a great deal of time and effort on campus recruiting in an effort to groom the next generation of workers.

For a taste of the sort of specific advice Gioacchini has on getting noticed at CIGNA (and we're assuming that the kind of things he's looking for will apply equally well at many other companies), try this quote: "From a new hire and early career type perspective, I think one of the things I would say that we do look for—and this would be across the board in any position—would be leadership attributes. Leadership skills, communication skills in terms of somebody being able to influence decisions, even without a direct reporting relationship—but somebody that could back up their proposals with facts. Somebody that's done the analysis. That could go for any role, whether it's HR, sales, information technology—it doesn't really matter, we're going to look for that skill set."

That little taste give you a hunger for more? Why not check out the full interview: Part One deals with Gioacchini's personal career journey, while Part Two gives the low-down on his take on hiring, from those desirable attributes to predictions of just how many new hires he's looking at making in the next 12 to 18 months.

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer


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