Best Practices

Here’s how recruiters can pivot to talent advisors in 2023

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

June 25, 2023

A rickety economy isn’t fun for anyone, but recruiters especially have reasons for concern. If things go south, they’re the ones most likely to be laid off. Whether your industry is seeing strong growth or you’re working in a field that’s being adversely impacted by the market, it’s smart to shore up your position in your company.

As they’re traditionally defined in their job descriptions, recruiters may have limited value when there’s less hiring to be done—which is why you need to expand your role. It’s time to think about becoming a talent advisor: a strategic hiring partner who leverages market and hiring data, and their own expertise, to help the company make better hires. 

Talent advisors are catching on at companies across the board. Daniel Lopez, Director of Talent Acquisition at Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, says: “We refer to every single one of our recruiters as a talent advisor. Every organization has a responsibility to remain competitive, so recruiting can’t be order-takers anymore… Talent advisorship means understanding the direction of the business, aligning that to market insights and data, and thoughtfully engaging managers to cast wider nets and be more inclusive in their thinking—all without sacrificing speed.”

“We refer to every single one of our recruiters as a talent advisor. Talent advisorship means understanding the direction of the business, aligning that to market insights and data, and thoughtfully engaging managers to cast wider nets and be more inclusive in their thinking—all without sacrificing speed.”

- Daniel Lopez, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Amgen

The good news is, it’s easy to grow into strategic talent advisorship from where you are now. You already have a strong base of knowledge about your company, your industry, and the world of hiring. We identified six areas for you to focus on if you’re interested in expanding into a new, more valuable role.

1. Start building a long-term hiring strategy

The most successful talent advisors don’t see recruiting as a series of steps that starts from scratch with a job req and ends when a candidate accepts the offer (then begins again with the next req). They see it as an ongoing process that’s directly tied to a business’ long-term goals and strategic initiatives.

In other words, recruiters need to look beyond “the right fit right now for this job.” You should be thinking about whether the job req is even the right ask given where the company wants to be in one year, and in five years. And if it is, you should be looking for talent who can grow with the role to meet those future company goals. A robust talent map in alignment with your organization’s goals and strategic initiatives will help you keep the right factors in sight when you’re planning your hiring strategy.

“On a very fundamental level, talent advisorship means changing the mindset from what had been an intake process with hiring managers and business leaders to a more strategic partnering process. And that changes things dramatically. In the past, hiring managers would say: I have this exact role. I'm looking for this. Go find it for me. Now, a line manager or business leader will say: This is the work I'm trying to have done and resourced against. How would you advise me to do that? A talent advisor is expected to understand the market conditions, the talent landscape, the complexity of recruiting for certain types of roles at certain levels, and truly advise the hiring manager on that.” 

- Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Partnership @ a multinational consumer brands company & Fortune Global 500 listee

Making smart, strategic hires can help your company meet its goals just as surely as taking a short-term view of hiring can lead to stagnation or even layoffs. Get smarter about your work (and prove your worth as a talent acquisition professional) by being present in discussions about your company’s business goals and values. Talent leaders at your company may need to let business leaders know that the more they’re in conversations about long-term goals, the more strategic hires their teams will be able to make. Recruiters, if you can’t find a clear link between a step you’re taking to source/hire talent and your company’s broader goals, ask whether there are other steps you should be taking instead.

2. Become an expert on your industry and job market

As a talent advisor, you also need to be the in-house expert on what the hiring landscape looks like for your industry. Get started by finding places to listen to, and interact with, rank-and-file employees. You want to learn what they expect from a job, what concerns they have about their current positions and/or the industry as a whole, and how much work it would take to convince them to consider a new job opportunity.

“Recruiters have a bucketload of insight into supply and demand of skills that we often don't capitalize on. There's a goldmine of insight recruiters have about what market conditions are like, which reinforces the necessity of their having a seat at the table.”

- Global Head of Talent @ a global financial institution

Knowing the job market will help you share valuable insights with hiring managers and the higher-ups who take on headcount planning duties. If systems engineers or regulatory affairs professionals are in short supply, execs will benefit from knowing they’ll have to offer extremely competitive terms to make a new hire. Or maybe a manager is looking for someone to take a position in the office that you know can be done from anywhere—and you also know top candidates won’t even consider a posting that requires them to be onsite. These nuggets of information can save time for everyone by arresting ideas that are nonstarters among talent on the market. Plus, with your guidance, your company will have a better chance at landing top talent.

3. Build more efficient recruiting structures with the help of data

Talent advisors step up to improve their company’s hiring processes based on what they know about internal goals and the job market. They then determine meaningful KPIs (like time-to-hire, offer acceptance rate, and quality of hire) and work toward improving them.

Data-driven recruiting is a must-have skill for anyone who wants to level up into a talent advisor role. And we’re talking full-funnel insights, from first outreach all the way through to hire. With the right data, you can predict how much outreach you need to do this month to hire two new data analysts by the end of the year. You’ll know where to look for candidates based on historical data about source quality, and which candidate sources see the best ROI. You’ll have insights on how your outreach to passive talent performs—what subject lines see the most opens, what messaging and hyperlinks get the most interested replies. And once candidates are in process, passthrough rates and time-in-stage should alert you to the parts of your hiring process that fixing—whether by location, role, hiring manager, and more.

passthrough rates by gender

The strength of your insights will depend on the depth of your data, so have a candidate CRM like Gem in place to track every interaction from initial outreach to offer acceptance. Then compare your key metrics with industry benchmarks to see how you measure up to your competitors. 

Peer Benchmarks

Finally, make sure you share your data and analysis with those outside your department. They don’t understand hiring like you do, so show them why you’re making certain suggestions or requests (and then follow up, with more data, once the results of your changes go through).

“Talent advisors need to consider diversity and inclusion, skills and capabilities that don't necessarily show up as standard education qualifications, and where the talent is located. Younger generations are asking for flexibility for every role. How you approach these conversations requires a great deal of insight into the market. So how do we leverage tools to gather that data, understand it, and disseminate it to our leaders so they can understand what it means for the talent we're trying to attract the organization?”

- Daniel Lopez, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Amgen

4. Partner with hiring managers and internal stakeholders

It’s your job as a talent advisor to forge partnerships with hiring managers. Your work with them should start long before a given job req comes through.

Talent professionals will have much more clarity while sourcing and screening talent if they have a true understanding of the prospective employee’s place in their company. Ask hiring managers if you can sit in on team meetings to observe team dynamics and learn the nuances of what’s expected in each role. You’ll also get the chance to ask the true experts—the employees—about what they do and what traits help them thrive in their environment.

Partnerships are all about good communication, so take the time to sit down with a hiring manager when a job req comes through. Make sure you’re aligned on needs and don’t be afraid to share your expertise if their expectations don’t match the reality of the job market. You may even want to involve them in outreach or sourcing, as they likely have strong professional networks that may include the perfect candidate.

Gem allows for seamless collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters:

  • Gem’s Resume Review allows recruiters and hiring managers to calibrate on profiles from the very beginning, so recruiters can better understand what managers’ ideal candidate looks like. The picture becomes clearer for recruiters, because hiring managers are asked to articulate what they’re looking for or why a particular prospect is not very compelling to them from the beginning. 

Talent CRM resume review
  • Sending on behalf of (SOBO-ing) a hiring manager has been shown to double response rates for email sequences. Gem’s SOBO feature allows recruiters and hiring managers to collaborate on outreach to whatever degree the HM wants to be involved. This means the hiring manager no longer needs to create independent outreach to candidates on more difficult positions to fill.

  • Gem also gives hiring managers full visibility into candidates at every stage of the hiring process. Updates sent by recruiters happen with whatever regularity the manager prefers—for example, receiving alerts when a candidate’s stage changes or whenever there’s a new resume to review.

It can be nerve-wracking to change the dynamics between yourself and a hiring manager. Make sure you center your desire to share your expertise in service of improving the results they get.

5. Go beyond "typical" hiring thinking to raise the bar on candidate quality

Sourcing and screening candidates based on degree type, work history, and professional network may turn up a solid talent pool, but it’s not guaranteed to bring you the best candidate. A talent advisor understands that a certain college degree or a stint at one of the big companies in your field aren’t solid indicators of the skills a position requires. Strategic talent advisors look beyond the expected to find (and advance) candidates who are truly best fits for the company, no matter how non-traditional their backgrounds.

Try a skills-based hiring process to broaden your potential candidate pool. The perfect person for the role may not have a college education or any industry internships under their belt. Their work experience may be a near-match, but listed under a job title that’s unique to the field they’re currently in. This candidate would get tossed out in a typical screening process—and your company would lose out.

To find good interviewees, you’ll need to know the skills required to perform each role you’re hiring for. (Sit down and interview current employees in that position! What skills do they think they bring to the table? What makes them thrive in their roles?). Then find—or create—an accurate test or skill assessment to evaluate candidates. You may also want to advocate for hiring people with translatable skills, and training them on the job.

6. Take a holistic view of talent that goes beyond hiring

If you stop thinking about talent the moment they sign your offer letter, you’re letting someone else impact the outcomes of your work. As a talent advisor, you should also be thinking about retention. After all, your hires were made to fit into a larger strategic plan, which only works if new hires stick around. Use what you’ve learned about your industry and its talent pool to help higher-ups realize what it takes to keep star employees.

Talent advisors also track their company’s internal talent pool. They know that often, the best candidate is right under their noses—and that internal mobility is one of the best ways to cultivate employee loyalty. It’s worth reminding hiring managers and execs about the wealth of talent you’ve built up over the years. It’s even better if you can do so by tying these discussions into that long-term hiring plan you made.

Make sure you keep in touch with hiring managers, too, to learn how the newest hires are working out. Sometimes a good hire doesn’t work out; you’ll want to know that, so you can do a postmortem on your process and bring in a better result the next time.

A strategic view helps everyone

A good talent advisor can save the company time and resources, help hiring managers sign the right person every time, and support a company in bringing in more diverse talent. These are factors that matter in an uncertain economy, and that will continue to be important thanks to the changes the pandemic wrought on our workforce.

Companies are leaning into efficiency this year, and efficiency is all about strategy. That means there’s room for someone with your expertise and drive to make a real difference. So dig into your industry, your company, and the recruiting field—and make yourself your company’s next big talent success story.

Gem’s data-rich candidate CRM is a talent advisor’s best friend. Reach out to us today for a free demo!


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