The 5 Actions That Helped Us Become Talent Advisors

March 27, 2013

The ultimate compliment in recruiting these days is to be considered a talent advisor. So you can imagine how I felt when the following criticisms were leveled at my talent acquisition team by some of our more vocal business partners, as recently as 18 months ago:

-          Recruiting isn’t good enough.

-          Recruiting isn’t fast enough.

-          Recruiting doesn’t get it.

Uncomfortable truths can be the best catalysts for change. Realizing I never wanted to hear this feedback again, I resolved to transform our relationship with the business. Here are the five actions we took.

  1. We overhauled our req intake process. In the old days, the hiring manager would lob the job details over the fence and we’d start working on it, based on what we thought they needed. The dynamic was all wrong.

Today, we proactively work with our business partners to define what it will take to be successful in the role. For instance, if we’re hiring sales people, we start by understanding the territory, the customer base, and the team composition. We ask probing questions about what successful people in similar roles do that make them great, and how the last hire fared and why. We’ll pull up profiles in LinkedIn Recruiter during the discussion, to zero in on the right skills and backgrounds and optimize as we go.

For consistency, each team member completes a form with their hiring manager. It allows them to guide the conversation and be more consultative over time.

We also now look more holistically across all sources of talent – whether internal or external – so we can recommend the absolute right person for the right role.

  1. We involved hiring managers in the sourcing process. We replaced the old ‘them versus us’ mindset with a much more collaborative model. We now share accountability for getting the right person in the right role. We coach our hiring managers on how to engage with their networks and share jobs, showcasing our deep knowledge of key social channels in the process.
  2. We presented a united front with our HR counterparts. This one may seem obvious, but by meeting regularly with our respective partners in Learning and HR, we’ve been able to anticipate business needs.

It’s a three-way win. We get visibility into performance issues and potential new reqs, while our colleagues better understand where they’ll need to onboard and develop talent. It beats approaching our client from separate angles, and it makes our messaging back to the business more consistent.

  1. We began to instill belief in our recruiting team. Sometimes you become what you think. My team members didn’t regard themselves as equal in conversations with VPs and senior managers, and that was hurting our dialogue with the business.

To overcome that hurdle, we recently started reading a book on leadership presence and discussing a chapter as a team every two weeks. We’ve also talked about how the little things – showing up for meetings on time, choosing your words carefully, knowing when to say no – can help shape perceptions.

  1. We branded our team internally through data-driven storytelling. I’ve spent time working with our recruiters to make sure we consistently communicate our value with an eye toward the numbers. While we’ve been tracking the usual metrics over time, we now conduct regular business reviews with our business leaders. We proactively get on their calendars. We show what we know, giving them a sweep of everything related to talent acquisition on a monthly basis. It’s opened their eyes to the strategic value our team delivers.

Through these five things, we’ve transformed our relationship with the business. What are you doing to be a talent advisor within your own organization?

Cindy Harvey is Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Toronto-based Softchoice. Read the Softchoice story here