What Does It Mean to Be Strategic?

Four Ways to Drive Strategy as a Talent Acquisition Business Partner

It’s no secret that talent acquisition can be a rigorous process demanding your time and energy. However, working with hiring managers and business partners who don’t see the value in your role as a recruiter can be even more frustrating. Ryan Escher, Human Resources Director at Avalign Technologies, recently shared valuable insights on gaining buy-in and leveraging leadership teams as partners to gain the best candidates for their teams. 

Stay Up To Date with Market Trends

It’s critical to understand what’s happening in the business. Which companies are hiring, conducting layoffs, or restructuring? Suppose you don’t understand where the business is; it will be difficult to influence at the strategic level and guide the company from a Talent Acquisition (TA) standpoint. Be intentional and educate business leaders on the latest market trends and labor statistics.

As a TA partner, you can help bring information about the market to the table so that meaningful decisions can be made based on concrete, verifiable data. For example, understanding the state-wide unemployment rate and unemployment rate within the occupation you’re hiring for will help drive direction for a search strategy when meeting with the hiring manager. Perhaps, if the talent pool is shallow, the best candidate is an internal employee who would be easier to train rather than wait weeks or months for a unicorn candidate that may never come along.

You can master the market quickly by taking five minutes each morning to learn something new and track the latest trends. Making an effort each day to absorb these facts will help you quickly apply the information to your conversations with business leaders. 

Master the Business You Support

Developing a deep understanding of the business and the positions you recruit for is imperative to drive credibility, trust, and results, especially when working with your hiring managers. They need to see you as a partner rather than a resource. A mindset of “I’ll just wait for the hiring manager to tell me what to do” will not serve you well in TA. Intentionally develop your knowledge of the business and the positions you recruit. Here are a few great ways to do this:

Observing existing employees:

Let’s say you receive a requisition for an Event Planner position, but this role is entirely new to you. Consider asking the hiring manager if you can attend an event as a guest, shadow the events team, or attend a planning meeting. Nine times out of ten, they will welcome it and appreciate you taking the initiative to learn the role. You’ll build trust and credibility while acquiring the knowledge needed to fill the position. 

New to industry education:

You’ll likely need to learn quickly if you’ve recently started recruiting in a new industry. So what better way than jumping right in? Carve out 30 minutes a day, an hour a week, or whatever timeframe works for your schedule to visit the various work environments. By building relationships with the supervisors and team leads, the knowledge you gain will be integral to conversations with hiring managers when staffing challenges arise. 

Headcount planning and organizational design:

We all want to be influential regarding headcount planning and design. Organizational design can be really rewarding! It allows you to influence how businesses and departments are shaped, how they get work done, and how workload is distributed amongst teams.

Let’s say you’re working with a business experiencing staggering growth, and they’re doubling the size of their warehouse team. Naturally, the organization will need to make multiple hires. Still, before you post jobs, it is imperative to think strategically about the future structure of the team: How many individuals will they need? Do they need leads? Do they need new supervisors? How will the structure of the team look? Talent Acquisition can be integral to strategic planning for future headcount and organization design.

Lean into Intake Calls

Intake calls can feel like a “check the box” step before posting a job, but they can be so much more than that with the right approach! If you find yourself unfamiliar with the role later, you’ll look back and wish you had been more intentional. Leaning into the intake call and soaking up as much information as possible will pay off dividends.

The intake call is your opportunity to capitalize on building a hiring profile. While the job description is essential and obtains all core responsibilities, it won’t necessarily capture the complete picture of who is needed to round out a team. A hiring profile is a chance to look at the role holistically. For example, if an organization hires its eighth or ninth engineer, all the job descriptions may look the same, but we don’t want carbon copies of the same individual. Each person brings their unique talents and traits to the table. By spending the extra 10-15 minutes on getting the full picture of the current team, you can help the hiring manager think strategically about desirable qualities they’d like to see in the next hire to bring the team’s performance to the next level. 

What happens when the hiring manager doesn’t want to take the time for an intake call? This is your opportunity to show your value. Set a boundary and let them know you won’t post the job until you have an intake call. Then, take the initiative and create an agenda so they can understand the process is more than just clicking “post” to LinkedIn. A proper intake will help them find better candidates sooner – if they insist they’re strapped for time, ask if a delegate or next-level leader could step in to advise. 

Once the intake call is set, make it count by utilizing these strategies:

  • Complete the intake form live on the call together to ensure you’ve captured everything and build the hiring profile
  • Treat your recruitment like a project by agreeing on a timeline for each phase to help establish expectations
  • Establish a check-in schedule (literally, put it on the calendar!)  and a communication preference with the hiring manager to be sure you’re getting timely responses from them – you don’t want them to miss out on the perfect candidate!
  • Send the final intake call form to the hiring manager and their supervisor to serve as a functional departmental plan – it shows you’re a team and ready to execute!

Leverage Mutual Metrics

Mutual metrics are the idea of sharing “time-to-hire goals” as one goal shared between recruiters and hiring managers. This helps build it into the business objectives, shares the responsibility, and strengthens the bond to meet the hiring needs as a team.

It can be discouraging when it often feels like hiring managers don’t care about the end goal. You may be working long hours to find the right fit for their company, only to be ghosted by emails for days at a time. Sharing goals and regular check-ins with the hiring manager and their team helps to share accountability and feel like you’re working arm in arm. 

So, how do you introduce mutual metrics? Here are some ideas:

  • Assess the readiness of the business – does the organization have a formal goal-setting process?
  • Talk to your manager about introducing the idea to senior leadership for your targeted hiring managers. Then, start small and consider a pilot with leaders you’ve built strong relationships.

Once you’ve introduced metrics, you’ll want to create and maintain a tracker you and the hiring manager can access, such as a shared teams folder to store intake forms, resumes, and other pertinent information. Then you’ll need to agree on a metric review cadence to ensure progress is being made. For example, if you look back at last week’s activities and see that you’re stuck in the same spot, or have regressed, use the check-in time to create a plan to move forward. 

While TA is ultimately responsible for recruiting talent, driving to closure is a shared responsibility with hiring managers. Therefore, it may require additional effort on the part of TA to get the ball rolling. 

If you have follow-up questions, contact Mulberry Talent Partners or Ryan directly through his LinkedIn page

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