Leadership, the first step to transforming your talent acquisition team

by Derek Gracey

Throughout the seemingly endless stretch of recent growth and record hiring lies a common theme critical to all organizations: talent acquisition. As we alluded to with our Four talent trends we're expecting in 2022” article, organizations are continuing to put a critical focus on hiring to keep up with rapid growth and to replace critical talent leaving for other opportunities.

Talent acquisition teams are growing and transforming to meet this increased volume, and many companies are racing to hire more recruiters, but what’s often lacking is effective and strategic leadership within the talent acquisition function itself.

We’ve heard from countless organizations that have built out their talent acquisition teams and hired more recruiters, but these organizations now need someone to develop and lead that team. Hiring more recruiters is a quick fix that could potentially cause further challenges, if you don’t have the right leadership in place for that group.

Our recommendation is to start with a top-down approach when seeking to transform your talent acquisition function. But what does a strong talent acquisition leader look like? Here are a few defining traits:

  • First, these individuals must have a strategic mindset. You need someone who can work cross-functionally with leaders in the business to really understand their needs and help drive their agendas forward by developing and implementing a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy.
  • A recruiting leader must also bring marketing and employment branding skills to the table. This team is often the face of the company, and this leader is the “VP of First Impressions,” so it is imperative for your talent acquisition leader to be thinking about how to go to market as an employer. Getting in front of the right talent, building strategic partnerships externally and controlling your employment branding in an increasingly digital world are all imperative.
  • A strong process orientation is another key attribute for any talent acquisition leader. In a competitive market, candidate experience is a huge component of landing the people you want for your team. Gaps and inconsistencies in the recruiting and interview process can be detrimental to your hiring efforts. A strong talent acquisition leader should be able to quickly identify these problems and implement a strong, full life cycle recruiting process to ensure maximum success. In other words, you can’t have a team of a dozen recruiters each doing a dozen different things a dozen different ways.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to build and develop a high-performing talent acquisition team. With a top-down approach to talent acquisition, you allow this leader to shape the function and team as they see fit, rather than doing a complete overhaul and course correction. But even if the team is already in place, you need a leader who will develop and coach that team. Internal recruiting teams too often rely on the “post and pray” approach of waiting for candidates to come to them. A strong talent acquisition leader should develop that team into a high-performing group of “hunters” rather than “farmers.”

In such a competitive market, simply posting your open jobs on LinkedIn may not be enough, and not all recruiters will have developed the necessary muscles to find their own talent; that’s where a strong leader makes all the difference.