We speak to Will Staney who is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Proactive Talent, a modern talent strategy consulting company based in Austin, TX focused on recruiting optimization, employer branding, and on-demand recruiting as well as the Co-Founder of Talent Brand Alliance, a professional community for employer branding and recruitment marketing professionals.
So we wanted to speak to him about why his experience and background as a talent brand practitioner is helping other companies nail their own talent brand strategy.
Why should clients work with you and your firm?
Our company is made up of a coalition of freelance Recruiting and Talent Brand practitioners. As former Talent Acquisition and Talent Branding leaders, every one of us has been in the position of our clients and we work with our clients as an extension of their team, in order to help them attract and hire the best talent. Our ability to scale and partner closely with clients as an extension of their team is what really sets us apart from our competitors. We have a holistic approach and we don’t want clients to become dependent on us. Our goal is to help clients build a modern recruiting strategy–or “Recruiting Machine” as we call it–and empower them to become self-sufficient in the long run.
Why should candidates work with you?
We earnestly have the candidate’s best interests in mind. We aren’t a third-party recruiting agency that is going to make money off the placement of a candidate at one of our clients and we aren’t throwing their resumes to every company we are trying to work with. Another factor that sets us apart from our competitors is that some of our recruiters also act as career coaches preparing them to put their best foot forward. We consistently receive positive feedback from candidates we’ve placed about the experience. We’re a staffing firm but also a Talent Brand consultancy and we take the candidate experience seriously – it’s a core value to who we are.
What are some of the biggest challenges that your clients are facing when it comes to hiring talent?
The biggest challenge our clients face right now is competition. The economy is strong; unemployment is currently at a 17-year low. Companies are growing, and they are having a hard time finding talent to fill their open positions and need to build out a proactive approach. Another challenge companies face is simply having a lack of awareness of their employer brand. Companies need to change their mindset and realize that they have to put effort into hiring and retaining their talent now. On top of that, it can also be a challenge for companies to attain the necessary skills and provide the internal resources for what it takes to hire today’s talent.
What are the most common mistakes you see recruiters make?
The most common mistake I see recruiters make is sacrificing their company brand and their effectiveness to save (perceived) time. They take short-cuts, such as mass-emailing candidates the same template rather than sending out a customized one. Instead, if they tried selecting 20 top-tier candidates and created a personalized outreach they’d enhance their brand with 20 people at a time rather than ruin it with 100 people at a time. Another mistake I see recruiters make is resistance to learning new skills, strategies, and technology. Don’t be a one-trick pony. If LinkedIn Recruiter is your only way of finding talent, you will be left in the dust.
The best source of hire? (job boards, career site, social, referrals etc)?
The best source of hire depends on your talent strategy and whether you value quality over quantity. If you’re looking to maintain the culture you have and want to focus on candidate quality and culture fit, employee referrals are always your best source. However, if your goal is to shift your culture and attract more diversity in regard to the backgrounds of your candidates, referrals may not be your best source. If you’re looking for diverse people in order to change your culture (and profitability) for the better, it requires a very proactive outbound recruiter-led sourcing approach. In that case, directly sourced candidates are likely your best source.
What hard lessons can you share with us?
Don’t over complicate what should be simple. It’s easy for us as recruiters to get too wrapped up in the latest tech: artificial intelligence (AI), open web sourcing tools, etc. As a recruiter, sometimes a simple well thought out process and a little bit of automation can really help you be more productive. Think of it this way: the tech you use is the vehicle you’re driving, but process and best practices are the road you’re riding on. Whether you’re driving a Cadillac or a broken-down Ford, you’re moving, but if there’s no road paved before you, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
What are your top 3 tips for recruiters?
- Shared Learning. Join online forums, open-source communities and networking happy hours to share your knowledge and learn from peers. There is power in community.
- Stay humble. No one is an expert. Even people who are seemingly on top of their game are there because they are constantly building a network of people they can learn from and test out new ideas with.
- Always do right by the candidate. At the end of the day, this is a human business and we are helping human beings make life-changing decisions, so focus on the candidate experience. It’s an honor to help get people excited and passionate about their future.
What’s your tech stack?
I’m a bit of a tech junkie, but a few of my favorites are: Clinch, Smashfly, Entelo, Greenhouse, SmartRecruiters, Lever, Hootsuite, Mixmax, and VideoMyJob. My favorite tool right now is an AI gift bot: EvaBot. It’s a great way to send gifts to a referral, employee, or client to show appreciation.
Who inspires you and why?
Personally, my wife inspires me. She makes it possible for me to pour myself completely into my career and always has my back. As a stay-at-home mom, her job is much harder than mine – and I run two companies! Professionally, I’m inspired by Bryan Chaney, Director of Global Employer Brand at Indeed. As both friends and colleagues, we’ve grown in our careers together for nearly 10 years now and we’re always pushing each other.
What’s up next for recruiting?
I can tell you what’s not up next: AI is not going to take your job, it’s going to enhance it. These tools are enabling recruiters and human beings to focus on the things we’re uniquely good at – being creative, managing candidate and client needs, the human touch our industry needs – and leaving the machines to do the repetitive, monotonous things that we don’t want to do and frankly, are pretty terrible at. As a whole, the technology landscape is changing rapidly, and most companies haven’t figured out some of the things we’ve been saying will be coming next for the last 5 years or more, like how to build the right talent attraction strategies, and are still depending on the old, outdated model of “posting and praying”. Adding AI and automation to a reactive recruiting process and strategy could just amplify your problems.
Connect with Will on LinkedIn.