How to Be a Talent Advisor

May 15, 2020

Photo of woman sitting at table and looking into camera

While it’s always important for recruiters to keep their skills sharp, whenever reqs are put on hold it becomes even more critical. This means assessing where you are today, where you want to be, how to bridge the gap, and — critically — how to ensure your business understands your value.

I’ve found the most valuable thing recruiters can do for their business is deliver a strategic talent advisor experience. At Recruiting Toolbox, we’ve seen first hand (as former recruiting practitioners turned consultants and trainers) how much demand there is from hiring managers for us to operate more as talent advisors. To help you self-assess where you stand as an advisor, we’ve put together this free Talent Advisor Diagnostic Tool for you to download.

  • Screenshot of the cover of the "Talent Advisor Diagnostic Tool"

This will help you evaluate yourself (and your team) in eight key areas:

  1. Engaging your hiring manager 
  2. Leveraging external insights
  3. Leveraging internal insights
  4. Having more strategic pre-sourcing conversations
  5. Getting more ROI from your sourcing strategy 
  6. Building a more effective interview plan 
  7. Improving your decision-making process
  8. Closing candidates more effectively 

Once you’ve rated yourself on these eight areas and identified your opportunities for improvement, check out these resources below to up your game.  

1. For engaging your hiring manager:

Anyone who tells you they know the secret sauce to great recruiting is likely trying to sell you something. But, if there is a secret sauce, it’s likely around how you engage hiring managers. Creating a culture of recruiting, where everyone — not just recruiters — sees their job as getting great talent into the org is the ultimate competitive advantage. For recruiters, that means engaging hiring managers effectively and providing real-time coaching at each stage of the recruiting process — from kicking off a requisition and screening candidates to interviewing and making the final decision about who to hire. The resources below can help you get started:

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2. For leveraging external insights:

Many recruiters have a keen understanding of the external market. Some of us have access to tools to help us — like LinkedIn Talent Insights — while others gain their insights from sourcing and screening candidates all day. As recruiters, we (should) know what’s going on — what companies we should target, how our job titles and compensation map to the market, what top talent wants, and what the available market looks like. 

Bringing these “outside in” insights to the table will help position us as talent advisors. They’ll help us get invited into planning sessions, allow us to set expectations, and, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to create so many more PowerPoint decks (wink).

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3. For leveraging internal insights: 

OK, how many years has every talent guru on the planet been telling us we need to know our data? 42. 42 years. But seriously, we must know our metrics to be successful talent advisors. What sources will generate the best quality and most diversity? What’s the average time to fill for this kind of req in this market? How many screens and interviews is it going to take to get those five hires made this quarter? 

These are examples of important internal metrics we should know for our most critical jobs. They make us more credible when making recommendations, they allow us to push back when hiring managers are unrealistic, they allow us to influence strategy and process changes, and they give us even more opportunity to use Excel. I mean, who doesn’t want to be in XLS or Google Sheets, all day, everyday. 

It’s unlikely your ATS produces perfect insights, ready to share. So, you’ll likely need to do some of your own heavy lifting. And it all starts with getting curious.

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4. For having more strategic pre-sourcing conversations:

When it comes to kickoff meetings, we need to lead two-way conversations, rather than just “take orders.” In fact, please do me a big favor, and remove “intake” from your vocabulary. Why? It’s so “order taker” to call it an intake. 

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5. For getting more ROI from your sourcing strategy: 

Do you know what sources generate the best, most diverse candidates for each of your critical roles? You should. Talent advisors employ the READY, AIM, FIRE approach — with an emphasis on AIM. Before we launch into sourcing, we should pause, and ask ourselves: What are the right outbound and inbound sourcing tactics I should employ for this role? How can my hiring manager help us generate leads and referrals? And lastly, are we better suited looking internally for talent?

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6. For building a more effective interview plan: 

Throughout the hiring process, talent advisors co-create their interviewing strategy and plan with their hiring managers.

At the interview stage, this often involves determining the optimum number of interviewers and interviews to avoid false negative hiring decisions, bad candidate experience, and S L O W time to fill. Talent advisors know that misalignment is the root of all evil in recruiting, so they ensure all interviewers are prepared and aligned on “what good looks like,” have focus areas, and know their role in the process. 

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7. For improving your decision-making process:

While the final decision about which candidate is hired is heavily driven by the hiring managers, recruiters who are seen as talent advisors often play a core role in keeping those decisions fair, objective, and transparent.  We are not note takers — we are facilitators or part of the decision making process, bringing our own point of view to the hiring decision.

And sometimes we lead by putting quality control mechanisms in place, like Bar Raisers or Debrief Facilitators from the business, so that we avoid both false positive (bad hire) and false negative (missed out on a good hire) hiring decisions.

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8. For closing candidates more effectively:

Talent advisors have a deep understanding of their target candidate motivators. Investing time upfront to go beyond (ineffective) job description keywords and really understand the work — what will this person build, design, sell, scale, and deliver, for example — will help them reframe the job around the IMPACT they will make, and better connect a candidate’s purpose to the opportunity.  

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Final thoughts: Hone your craft

Becoming a strategic talent advisor isn’t about thinking differently as much as it is about doing things differently. It takes courage and confidence to insert ourselves into conversations that maybe we weren’t part of in the past, to push back on unrealistic hiring managers, and to move out of note-taker mode and into point-of-view mode. 

Honing our craft takes time and requires some risk taking. That’s something you can work on at any point, but if you have a little more bandwidth than usual right now, this is a valuable way to use your time. Not only can it improve your hiring process, relationships with hiring managers, and recruiting outcomes (more speed, more quality, more diversity) in the short term, but it’s one of the best ways to invest in yourself and your career.  

Ping me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you have suggested resources to help elevate us all to true talent advisors. And sign up for our blog if you’d like to see more content like this.

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