How LinkedIn’s Recruiting Leaders Are Helping Their Teams Become Strategic Advisors

December 3, 2020

Recently, LinkedIn’s talent acquisition team unveiled the Book of Recruiter Competencies (known affectionately as the BoRC for short). A list of 12 functional and foundational competencies that all LinkedIn recruiters should aspire to, the BoRC is designed to equip the team with the tools they need to thrive in a changing recruiting landscape. And in the latest episode of Talent on Tap, Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s VP of global talent acquisition, caught up with Dan Clarkson, LinkedIn’s director of talent acquisition, to take a closer look at the first competency outlined in the BoRC — influencing and advising. 

“The role of talent acquisition has really evolved over the last 10 years or so,” says Dan. “Clients are no longer looking for that transactional relationship, but instead are looking for someone who can genuinely be a consultative partner."

While every company will define recruiter excellence a little differently, the BoRC can provide guidance and inspiration as you support your team’s growth. Here’s how LinkedIn’s recruiting leaders are defining, reinforcing, and training for the first competency in the book. 

Influencing and advising is all about building trust and helping to shape strategy

The first step toward driving excellence is defining what it looks like. For LinkedIn, being an influencer and advisor means not only demonstrating process knowledge and subject matter experience, but using it to forge trust-based partnerships with stakeholders in order to influence positive behaviors and outcomes.

“With trust, it allows [recruiters] to really influence crucial areas — such as advocating for diversity and inclusion — by understanding, promoting, articulating, and influencing strategies,” Dan explains. “As a trusted advisor, we can leverage data to develop insights and inform the business how to best address the talent market at a strategic level.”

Another area where the LinkedIn recruiting team has recently been practicing this competency is around identifying untapped talent markets. Dan highlights one untapped market that is especially important right now, which is focusing on location strategy. With remote work becoming the new normal, a candidate’s physical location may matter less and less — but it may still take some discussion to get a hiring manager to come around to the idea of hiring a remote team member in another city or country. While many recruiters are already masters at identifying those rich talent pools, they may need a little coaching before they feel confident having those strategic discussions. 

“Some of these conversations are scary,” Dan says. This is especially true for difficult topics, like diversity and inclusion, where the same old strategies simply won’t move the needle. Convincing people to get out of their comfort zone is essential: “Sometimes you have to psych yourself up,” Dan adds, “and have a conversation that is somewhat brave.”

Having these brave and difficult conversations is part of being a strategic advisor. And as Brendan points out, they may even strengthen relationships in the long run. 

“Anytime I can see that someone cares,” he says, “and I can see that they're being courageous and I can see that they're sharing their opinion, even when it's different than mine, that is a relationship that I immediately say, ‘I've got more time for this person now.’”

LinkedIn uses a combination of online courses and roleplay to help recruiters become strategic influencers and advisors

The LinkedIn recruiting team wanted the BoRC to be both aspirational and actionable, so each competency comes with specific learnings and trainings. The influencing and advising portion begins with a self-assessment, with recruiters being asked to identify a relationship that could benefit from a more strategic partnership, before being provided the tools and support to make that a reality. 

“We asked everyone that wanted to be part of this journey… to identify a specific relationship that could be impacted, and then really look at how they could unlock that with their manager,” Dan explains. “In parallel, we launched a self-paced LinkedIn Learning playlist, which includes LinkedIn Learning content, as well as some custom content.”

Recruiters are encouraged to go through the playlist at their own pace, and it includes internal trainings and a mix of courses, readings, and videos like the following:

  1. Influencing Others: Learn How to Increase Your Influence and Visibility in Your Organization (LinkedIn Learning course)
  2. How To Be a Strategic Talent Acquisition Pro (John Vlastelica at Talent Connect 2019)
  3. The Trusted Advisor (getAbstract)
  4. How to Build an Effective Recruiter/Hiring Manager Relationship When You’re Both Working from Home (LinkedIn Talent Blog article)
  5. LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting Shares His Tips for Setting Realistic Hiring Timelines (Talent on Tap episode)
  6. RAPID: Bain's Tool to Clarify Decision Accountability (Bain & Company)

And to help recruiters internalize and operationalize these learnings, the LinkedIn team nominated accountability partners. These partners are responsible for following up with recruiters as they go on this journey, helping to reinforce the desired behaviors with tactics like roleplay sessions. 

“Most importantly, managers were given really early indications that this was coming,” Dan says, “which means that they could follow up in the personal development plans of individuals and really allow them to be able to put this into practice once they finished the session.”

Follow this advice to get started — and stay tuned for more competencies

In future episodes of Talent on Tap, Brendan and fellow members of the LinkedIn talent acquisition team will dive into other competencies outlined in the BoRC. In the meantime, Dan has a few pieces of advice to help recruiting teams get started with developing their influencing and advising skills.

“First and foremost, be authentic,” he says. “The most rewarding relationships… in my professional career are those where I’m genuinely invested — I feel a shared success.”

Dan also emphasizes the importance of being intentional and deliberate. Know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it — and don’t expect to get there overnight. As LinkedIn’s executive chairman and former CEO Jeff Weiner puts it, the equation for developing trust is delivering consistency over time. 

“There are tools and techniques to help you along that journey, but these aren't always shortcuts,” Dan says, “Those relationships will often take some time to develop.”

Lastly, Dan points out that it’s okay to make a few mistakes along the way. It’s not about perfection — it's about progression.

“There is real strength in the humility of exposing the fact you're trying to grow,” Dan says, “and saying that, ‘Hey, I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to think differently. I may get it wrong a few times, but I'm trying to do this for the right reason.’”

Talent on Tap is a video series in which Brendan Browne breaks down the hottest topics and biggest challenges in the talent industry. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space.

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