An effective talent management strategy is a must-have for any growing business. It helps attract, develop and retain one of the most important assets in your company – your people.

Whether an organization has 100 employees or 50,000, a recruiter is often the first person a prospective employee connects with. That recruiter can make or break the candidate experience and heavily influence whether a game changing candidate signs with you or your biggest competitor.

But too many business leaders ignore the importance of developing their recruiters’ own careers as part of creating a successful, long-term talent management strategy. Instead, they limit recruiters to being ‘order takers’, expected to fill roles and nothing more.

With the market at near full employment, 67% of recruiters say their biggest challenge is finding skilled, high-quality candidates. To stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market, companies need to empower their recruiters to move from passive order takers to proactive strategic advisors.

Recruiters can do more than just check the box

Hiring managers: think back on the last position you fulfilled. Did you spearhead the search, dictating what the process should be and when the role needed to be filled? Or did you partner with your recruiter and ask for their expertise in building a thoughtful and comprehensive search strategy? And did this strategy include market data, historical analytics, and potential challenges with similar past searches?

Most companies find themselves in the first scenario, constraining recruiters to a basic, functional role and assigning them to fill a particular need as it arises. Functional recruiters begin their work when an employee gives notice to leave or when a hiring need is already a pain point. The problem? Recruiters are expected to quickly understand the role, function and job market and to fill multiple, unrelated openings simultaneously in unrealistic time frames. They’re given limited information with the intent of sharing these data points with candidates to sell them on the role.

And when recruiters are busy fighting fires and putting bodies in seats, they’re less likely to be engaged and unable to perform their job to the best of their ability. Focusing strictly on the tactical aspects of hiring leaves recruiters with less time to find the right people for the job and to understand the why behind each role.

This reactive mode is a surefire way to miss out on unexpected moments that help scale your company and unblock growth opportunities.

Influential recruiters can uncover those ‘aha’ moments

When recruiters transition from a functional role to an influencing role, employers can catch important issues before they become serious problems.

Consider the potential impact of an influential recruiter at an organization that prioritizes minimizing bias from the hiring process to create an equal playing field for every candidate. At Sprout Social, bias busting is a company-wide value and our recruiters are empowered to be stewards of this initiative throughout the hiring process. Sprout’s recruiters encourage hiring teams to go through unconscious bias training and regularly challenge interviewers to clarify feedback rooted in assumptions.

Influential recruiters can also provide valuable insight into how hiring needs can impact a team’s roadmap or growth goals. Your head of sales, for example, might operate under the assumption her team can meet their quarterly goals because a new sales hire can be added in 30 days but in reality the average time to hire is closer to 60 days. An influential recruiter can push back on this unrealistic timeline and work with your sales leader to realign existing resources to meet her targets. Opening up a two-way dialogue with recruiters and team leads creates a valuable feedback loop that keeps both parties aligned on expectations without interrupting key business operations.

From problem-finders to problem-solvers

Recruiters have firsthand insights into what your hiring process and internal culture is really like, and just like any other employee on your team, have unique skills and capabilities. How in tune are you to the skills your recruiter possesses? Simply applying some of the same principles of people management to the relationship with your recruiter (having regular 1:1’s, asking and giving feedback regularly, and offering opportunities for career development) will quickly unlock new opportunities for both your business and recruiting team.

In the problem solver role, recruiters help you catch and solve problems before they cost you candidates or employee exits. At Facebook, for example, recruiters use predictive analytics and social signals to identify when certain employees are most likely to enter the job market. This analytical approach gives recruiters a better understanding of industry norms and the ability to address opportunities like when passive top talent might be most receptive to outreach.

The key to developing recruiters into problem solvers is to 1) keep them in the know on your business’ biggest people challenges and 2) give them opportunities to leverage their strengths. Seeking specific input from recruiting in critical human capital decisions provides recruiters the insight they need to move from a reactive to a proactive role. Their ability to contribute ideas and solutions across the business then exponentially grows.

The strategic advisors you didn’t know you had

At the most advanced level, recruiters are empowered to serve as strategic advisors in your talent management strategy. That means giving recruiters a seat at the table from the very start to help in the creation, ongoing development and execution of your business goals and to further develop their own capabilities.

Recruiters in a strategic advisor role provide a clear window into the external talent marketplace and give clear guidance on how to attract and retain talent and capitalize on hiring opportunities. They don’t just view recruiting as a process of building other’s teams. Strategic advisors understand the impact and significance of their own knowledge and expertise as a continuous thought partner to other leaders.

Empower recruiters to take responsibility for initiatives like proactively identifying candidates to fill talent gaps and refining talent assessments to yield better hiring decisions. Create a culture of trust, inclusion and open access to give recruiters what they need to grow into the strategic advisor role. Strategic advisors need:

  • Clarity on business goals. Recruiters need a firm understanding of the business’s strategic goals, so they can create talent strategies that drive meaningful business growth. For example, for a company to establish itself as a diverse, forward-thinking company, recruiting must be made aware of this priority in order to build diverse initiatives into the talent acquisition strategy.
  • Access to data. An effective hiring strategy relies on data. Giving recruiters full access to data, and the right tools to analyze data, will help you improve workflows and reduce unnecessary costs. Skilled, data-driven recruiters can look at the hiring process and quickly remove redundant steps that don’t add value, reducing cost and time to hire.
  • Investment from leaders. When you take the time to learn what drives your recruiters and what they’re best at, it’s easy to leverage their strengths to enhance your talent management strategy. Scheduling weekly 1:1’s with your recruiter or providing constructive, actionable feedback can provide the coaching needed to develop them into one of your most valuable strategic partners. For example, one of my previous recruiters was a whiz with data and spreadsheets. Asking her to develop a complex dashboard and analytical report not only provided me with insightful data but also motivated her to continue to develop this valuable skill.

The gift that keeps on giving

An effective talent management strategy is only as good as the partnership between you and your recruiting team.

Your recruiters are on the frontlines of the hiring process; they hold the real-time insights organizations need to create a forward-thinking and scalable talent management strategy. When you invest in your recruiters like you would any other employee, your organization has the best chance of attracting, developing and retaining talent to truly support long-term business growth.

As you look at your own organization, take a step back and really evaluate the role your recruiters play in building a talent management strategy. If you find they resemble order takers more than thoughtful advisors, you’re missing out on all your recruiting team has to offer.