Recruiter: The Strategic Talent Partner

December 17, 2015 at 9:00 AM by Jason Medley


I’ve recently found myself in a situation where I’m building a recruitment team from the ground up once again. Earlier this year I joined Imgur at their HQ in San Francisco as the Director of Talent Acquisition. As I continue to build out the team, I’m reminded how difficult it is to find great recruiting talent. I’m constantly amazed at the tunnel vision recruiters have when I meet with them.

Oftentimes, I find recruiters become so focused on trying to make their next hire that they fail to open their eyes and understand what’s really happening in the business. Hiring these types of recruiters is risky, as it could result in the wrong candidates being brought into the company – usually at a significant cost to the business.

The best recruiters, on the other hand, understand they are strategic talent partners. Simply put another way: We are builders. We are tasked to build companies. To build anything, you need to understand how every inch of the business you are creating functions and how it is currently operating. We understand how expanding teams, adding new functions or building too quickly or too slowly has a certain impact on an organization and how it affects the overall company. 

It’s no wonder that one of the best recruiters in any organization is (or at least should be) the CEO. This is because CEOs truly understand what is currently happening across the business, where the gaps are and where they are headed.

Recruiters should be advisors, coaches, partners and doers. We are successful builders.

Becoming a true strategic talent partner isn’t something that I learned overnight. For me, it took a lot of hard lessons that I could only gain from experience and is something I’m constantly working on. For those of you who feel like you are constantly spinning your wheels, perhaps not adding the value you would like or who simply want to become stronger talent partners, I’d like to share a few tips from the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Take the time to thoroughly understand your organization.

A great talent partner not only understands what key objectives the teams they are recruiting for are trying to accomplish, they also take the time to understand what strategies the teams are implementing in order to accomplish their objectives and how that affects the overall company goals. A useful place to start in many organizations is by attending product or operations meetings as frequently as possible. I find that most companies don’t make it abundantly clear what their priorities are and how they are tackling pressing issues. Product and operations meetings give huge insight into how the company is working and will better help you understand the business from the inside out. 

Become an expert at organizational structures.

This is especially important for start-ups and high growth companies.  You may find yourself working with hiring managers who have never seen or experienced serious growth or perhaps aren’t aware of alternative team structures. Becoming knowledgeable in how other companies structure themselves and understanding what structures can help your company reach their goals faster is highly valuable in an organization and may actually make your work easier. You may find that it may even eliminate some of the excess roles you are recruiting for.

Use Data to help make decisions.  

I’m willing to bet that most other functions in the organization are making decisions based on data and are communicating with data as well. You should be too. Data will help you make well-informed decisions and will help you influence your hiring managers and hiring team. If you’re like me and don’t like tracking things manually, then on-board an ATS that has strong reporting features. I personally love Greenhouse and think every company should consider both with them. Greenhouse allows you to run clean reports that you can share with hiring managers. Additionally, don’t be afraid to partner with data analysts in your company. They can help you understand what you should be tracking and how to successfully track it.

Always be learning and treat everything as an iteration.

We should always be striving to improve our recruiting processes. In order to improve them we have to understand what’s working and what’s not. A strong recruiter is constantly accessing their recruiting processes and collecting feedback from hiring teams and candidates. Always make sure that you are able to access candidates accurately through your current processes, hiring teams are aligned and that you are offering an amazing candidate experience. Tracking success with metrics and data will be crucial here. 

Additionally, surround yourself with an amazing talent community that loves sharing ideas and best practices. Meet up regularly with other recruiters and talent leaders. I would encourage you to follow blogs and talent leaders on social media so you’re always learning. To get started, I suggest for great reading and following Stacy Zapar on Twitter. She’ll rock your recruiting world!

Jason Medley is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Imgur. As an advisor and coach, Jason focuses on supporting top talent's development and retention. Building company culture, high-growth, and people strategies are in his wheelhouse. Before joining Imgur, Jason was the Director of People and Culture, and Talent Acquisition at Quirky.
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