LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting Shares His Take on What the Future Holds for Talent Professionals

December 19, 2019

Photo of Brendan Browne looking directly at camera

Recruiting is evolving — and fast. To gain a clearer picture of what’s to come, we recently surveyed more than 2,800 recruiting professionals across 80 countries, analyzed billions of LinkedIn data points, and interviewed over a dozen global talent leaders. Based on the results, we created The Future of Recruiting Report, which outlines seven predictions for how recruiters’ roles will change over the next five years. 

In the latest episode of Talent on Tap, LinkedIn’s own Brendan Browne, VP of global talent acquisition, shares his perspective on three of the key predictions identified in the report:

To help you prepare, here are Brendan’s insights into what the future holds for you and your team: 

1. Recruiting will be mission-critical — so start capacity planning and focus on telling more compelling stories 

With jobs becoming more creative and less repetitive, the stakes for hiring the right person are rising. 

This trend is reflected in the demand for recruiters, which has increased 63% since 2016. Hiring is becoming mission-critical, and companies are taking notice. 

“More so than ever,” Brendan says, “it's very clear that if you do not have the talent in a world where it's all about intellectual property and the talent that you can bring to your company to produce great ideas… you are not going to be a leader in your given industry.”

As a result, the recruiting landscape is growing even more competitive. To combat this, Brendan recommends developing a capacity planning process if you don’t have one already. This involves figuring out what it will take for your team to meet its hiring goals within a specific time frame, so you can set the right expectations and secure the resources you need. 

For example, if your team was tasked with hiring 100 engineers in six months, you could figure out how many recruiters it would take to make that happen, based on how many candidates you’d need to find, screen, and interview. By bringing this data to your leaders, you could push back and propose a more realistic timeframe, or make a case for tapping recruiters from other teams to pitch in. 

“If done well, that is how we can meet hiring demands and really help our companies win,” Brendan says. “It literally can be a basic spreadsheet… or it can be a very complex model… Don’t overthink it… but definitely articulate your needs.”

Improving your storytelling skills is another area that Brendan recommends focusing on. As it becomes easier to find candidates but harder to grab and hold their attention, telling a compelling story about your company’s mission, culture, and values is what will set you apart from the competition. 

“It needs to be impassioned,” Brendan emphasizes. “It needs to be something that represents who you are. Your voice as an authentic recruiter needs to come through and it needs to be so memorable that I leave that interview or get off the phone with you… [and say] ‘I was blown away by the story they were telling me about their company. I had no idea that company XYZ was doing such cool things.’” 

2. Recruiters will be less like salespeople and more like business people — so get ready to take your seat at the table

Recruiting will always have an element of sales to it. After all, you’re responsible for “selling” candidates on your company, and once you extend an offer, you want to “close” the deal. 

As the field grows increasingly strategic, however, talent professionals will need to become less like salespeople and more like business people — helping to shape the strategy, rather than simply following it. And for Brendan, one step that can help you bridge the gap is communicating more proactively about any delays or concerns. 

“Articulating what your concerns are to a business leader, so they can plan accordingly about what's going on in their business, is something that I see recruiters often miss,” Brendan says. “Instead, what [recruiters] want to do is work harder, work faster… I want to know as a business leader the second you know that something is off or we might fall behind.”

Another strategy that Brendan recommends is using data to better understand your talent pools and educate your leaders. Brendan’s own team did this recently when it noticed that a lot of LinkedIn’s engineering talent was coming from the Pacific Northwest. Using LinkedIn Talent Insights, the team was able to pinpoint why this was happening. This region had a larger pool of engineering talent with the skills and level of experience that LinkedIn was looking for — and current employees were three times more connected to talent in this region than anywhere else.

“That's a huge piece of data that nobody knew until we brought it to the table,” Brendan says. “And what that tells us is we have a built-in network. We have a built-in referral pipeline. If we ever wanted to open up an office there, we would have people that have ties to those particular places.”

Knowing this, Brendan’s team then looked at LinkedIn’s biggest competitors to see whether it was typically beating them for talent in the region. As it turns out, it was — but leaders couldn’t have known that otherwise. 

“We were able to go back to the business and make a really strong recommendation, dispel myths, bring facts to the table,” Brendan says. “It was much more of a strategic business discussion.”

By delivering more value to your leaders, you can establish your team as strategic partners, rather than order-takers. You can then strengthen this partnership by creating a 360-degree feedback loop. Instead of just surveying hiring managers after closing a rec, the recruiting team should provide feedback about the hiring manager — such as their ability to assess and interview candidates successfully, or how responsive they were.

“Asserting ourselves to say, ‘Hey, measurement of everyone and transparency of performance is really, really critical,’” Brendan explains, “‘so we can get better, together.’”

3. Your workforce plan will need to be agile — so keep a cool head, avoid saying “yes” to everything, and be flexible with your resources

In The Future of Recruiting Report, talent professionals agreed that their number one priority over the next five years will be keeping up with their company’s rapidly changing hiring needs. For Brendan, the way recruiters react to these sudden changes will determine how successful they are in the future. 

“We all need to recognize that business is going to continue to be extremely agile,” he says. “We are only as good as how we respond when the business changes. So in those changes is immense opportunity to continue to educate.”

It’s totally normal to feel frustrated or overwhelmed when the ground shifts beneath your feet. But by taking the opportunity to step up and advise your leaders about what your team needs to be successful, rather than just saying “yes” to whatever they ask, you can prove that you’re thinking one step ahead — earning your seat at the table. 

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Related: New Report: 7 Predictions on How Recruiting Will Be Different in 2025

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This is another area where capacity planning comes in handy, giving you data to take to leaders to back up your arguments. If you’re nervous about taking this step, Brendan recommends asking yourself what it actually costs to say “yes.” Say your company’s hiring demand suddenly goes up, increasing your workload dramatically. If you only want to be liked by your hiring manager, you might say, “Yes, I can handle this.” In doing so, your own morale and performance might take a hit, ultimately making you less successful at your job — so nobody wins. 

“How you communicate,” Brendan stresses, “and how you think about managing expectations with stakeholders and business leaders is more important than ever.”

Building a pool of what Brendan calls “utility players” can also put you in good stead to navigate change quickly and effectively. These are recruiters who have the skills to rotate between different teams as needed. So if their own team is light while another is overloaded, they can pitch in and help distribute the workload more evenly. 

“[There’s] nothing worse than having a recruiting team where everyone's in their individual silos and doesn't help out each other,” Brendan says. “I don't care if you work in sales or engineering or product recruiting — if you're a good recruiter, you can recruit all sorts of talent.” 

Embrace change — and the opportunity it presents

As recruiting evolves, you have a real opportunity to elevate your role. To get your foot in the door of the C-suite, focus on working with your leaders, rather than for them — looking for ways to educate, share data, and add value to the relationship at every turn. 

“When someone brings that to me as a business leader, I am forever grateful,” Brendan says. “Because now I am smarter. I can make broader, more strategic business decisions.”

For four more predictions on what the future holds, and countless insights and tips, download The Future of Recruiting Report today.

Talent on Tap is a YouTube series in which Brendan Browne breaks down the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space. Stay tuned for the latest.

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