Back to Blog

How to be a Trusted Advisor as a Talent Leader

Adam Ward

Over the last 4 years, we’ve placed nearly 50 recruiting leaders at early and growth stage start-ups. And while the industries, stage, and core values of these companies may vary, one requirement has steadily continued to be a critical characteristic: a leader who is seen as a trusted advisor to the leadership team. This applies in times of rapid growth, but even more so, in uncertain times when tough decisions and tradeoffs are part of the daily job.

Being a trusted advisor to the business means that you are seen as a valuable resource and a strategic partner who provides sound guidance and advice to the organization. You are developing a deep understanding of the business's goals, challenges, and opportunities, and using that knowledge to provide advice and recommendations that help the business make informed talent decisions that drive business results. You are also continually thinking about how to optimize the collective time the company spends on recruiting.  In short, you are a business leader first and a talent leader second.

These are the four attributes and behaviors that make a talent leader a trusted advisor:

  1. Influences with Data. It is not enough to just lead with data, but the ability to synthesize, organize and visualize the data into a compelling narrative. If you’ve seen a QBR from the Head of Sales or VP of Engineering, you know that is how your peers are representing their line of the business. In a function like recruiting that cuts across all parts of the company, this is a key skill to develop to tie it all together. Influencing with data involves getting proficient at working with messy recruiting data, understanding insights about what it’s telling you, and being able to effectively present it to drive action. We’ve designed a course around these key areas.  
  2. Brings market insights. A leader who has a formal and informal network of peers and relationships that they can tap into when needed to bring near real time insights and benchmarking data. You should be viewed as a credible and reliable source of information, and someone who can be trusted to provide unbiased advice and guidance.
  3. Builds relationships.  A business leader works cross functionally and collaboratively with leaders to drive business outcomes. They understand the business, goals, and their specific industry to recommend talent strategies tailored to their company. Sometimes that means avoiding the urge to be defensive of your team or taking the stance of recommending a lower hiring target not because it is best for your team, but in the best interests of the company.
  4. Creates shared accountability. A trusted advisor creates the case for a culture of talent where hiring managers and leaders are both empowered and accountable for effective hiring. Creating clear roles and responsibilities between recruiting and the business along with shared goals (“what gets measured, gets done”) that cascade down into teams is so crucial to getting a collective effort towards a common goal.

Ultimately, being a trusted advisor means that you have earned the trust and respect of the business, and that you are seen as an integral part of the organization's success. Over the last several years, Talent has earned a seat at the leadership table. With that opportunity comes the responsibility to show up with the same level, if not higher, of rigor, acumen, and insights as the rest of the leadership team. It's not only what Founders and CEOs ask for and expect, but what business in this climate, and going forward, will require.

More from the Blog

Unlocking the Power of Fractional Recruiting Operations

While AI took center stage, conversations among TA leaders were heavy on team engagement, recruitment ROI, and innovative approaches to getting the work done. A sense of cautious optimism around hiring growth in 2024 spurred engaging discussions on how TA teams are meeting the reality of achieving business needs with limited resources. Specifically and not surprisingly, many leaders shared that their priorities are focused on enhancing the effectiveness of their teams without the option of growing team size. This continued focus on doing more with the same team or even fewer resources has put a renewed spotlight on recruiting operations and understanding what changes will actually have an impact. 

Learn more here

Building Out Talent Strategies for Early Stage Companies

“How do I make this process repeatable, and less time consuming for me?” This is the question recently asked by a leader at one of the early stage companies we’re working with. Through our Fractional Talent Partner offering, we partner with a VC firm to give extra support to their portfolio companies and that’s how we met this leader. 

Learn more here

How Investing in Creating Career Ladders Can Make 2024 Successful

Happy New Year! As we think about what’s ahead in 2024, we’re reminded that hiring is a product of business performance and business performance is a product of market conditions and financial health. 

Learn more here