Recruiters Need a Seat at the Table? Forget About It! We Are the Table

Originally Article published in LinkedIn

January 6th, 2023   
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Article published in LinkedIn Talent Blog – Recommended Read

By Phyllis Furman

Senior Editor at Group SJR

July 12, 2022

Amy Schultz had had enough.

The global head of talent acquisition at Canva was recently at a recruiting industry conference in Australia when it was time for breakout sessions. One of the topics: How talent acquisition (TA) can get a seat at the table.

“Oh my God, I am so sick of talking about this,” Amy said to herself. Then she fired off a powerful LinkedIn post that has received hundreds of likes and dozens of positive comments.

In other words, for too long, talent acquisition has not received the respect it deserves. But now, the profession has an opportunity to assert itself and become a trusted advisor to the C-suite.

The “table,” aka corporate leaders, have traditionally viewed talent acquisition and HR leaders as serving largely operational roles, Amy elaborated in an interview. “‘You help me hire people. You help me fire people,’” she said.

The C-suite tends to overlook recruiters, even though they’re uniquely qualified to help companies make strategic decisions on such matters as workforce planning, employee upskilling, and site selection. “They didn’t really see the strategic partnership value,” Amy said. “But we have the insights that can help shape not only talent strategy but a business strategy.”

There’s no better time to change those perceptions. The fiercely tight global talent market has thrust talent acquisition to the top of corporate agendas. Far from being mere operators, talent leaders are deploying strategies to meet shifting talent needs, from improving their employer branding to finding internal hires. At Canva, Amy is setting up an internal mobility team that will recruit candidates from within the company.

“You've got extreme skill shortages and labor shortages,” Amy said. “If we can't hire folks, how are we reskilling them? How are we developing them? How are we listening to them to find out what’s important to them? All these strategic levers have never mattered more.”

Talent acquisition needs to change its mindset

In what ways should talent acquisition seize the moment? It starts with a mindset shift, Amy said. Stop seeking a seat at the table and, instead, acknowledge your vital contributions. “We diminish ourselves,” she said, “by trying to jostle for this mythical seat.”

Amy recommends that talent acquisition leaders gain a firm handle on their companies’ goals and then collaborate with their HR colleagues to collectively provide critical insights. “I say to my team all the time, ‘What interests the boss, fascinates us,’” Amy said. “What are the challenges keeping the C-suite up at night? We need to truly understand business priorities and then come together to provide insights and recommendations.”

Thanks to more sophisticated recruiting tools and metrics, recruiting teams have access to tremendous amounts of data and insights into talent pools globally. By proactively reporting valuable information to company leaders, talent leaders increase their chances of being viewed as strategists, not as order takers.

Amy’s LinkedIn post has clearly resonated with her peers, who added their own thoughts on how talent acquisition can turn the tables and gain more power and influence.

“[A]lmost every organization has talent as one of the highest risks to the business right now,” commented Anna Blackett, the managing director of the Level Up Collective in Melbourne, Australia. “If it’s not already, it needs to be well and truly [at the] forefront of every overall business strategy.”

“I like to think of Talent being the legs of the table,” added Steve Gard, the founder of The Circle Back Initiative and BenchmarCX. “Without them, there is no table at all.”

Final thoughts

Changing long-standing perceptions isn’t easy, and it won’t happen, Amy says, if talent acquisition doesn’t change its own mindset first. “The business,” she says, “won’t respect us if we don’t respect us.”

Amy notes that when she speaks to peers, there is one common denominator: Everyone is busier than they’ve ever been. “I hope that companies, as well as our own industry, view us differently,” she says, “and continue to invest in and develop their recruiting talent.”

This article was originally published in LinkedIn Talent Blog.

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