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Talent Leaders – Matthew Ellis

January 30, 2024

With 18 years of recruitment experience, Matt has worked in various environments including Recruitment Agencies, In-House & RPO.

He has worked with founders, business leaders, and venture funds to create effective staffing solutions, having partnered with companies like Skype, Supercell, and Space Ape Games.

In 2013, Matt co-founded Scede, a flexible recruitment partner for scaling companies. Since its launch, Scede has built teams for over 100 global organizations through their Embedded Talent, Talent Sourcing, and Talent Advisory services.

Matthew is now Group CEO of Scede & People Collective, helping companies and their people reach their potential.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellism/

What do you think is the key to being successful as a Talent leader in the current business environment?

We’re living in an era where funding levels are relatively low, and companies are aiming for profitability while trying to minimize cash burn. The return on investment on their largest expenditure – the workforce – is under increased scrutiny.

Despite the reduction in the size of People & Talent teams, expectations have not lessened. We might be hiring less overall as Talent leaders generally speaking, but there’s an increased focus on areas such as the quality of hire, candidate experience, hiring manager experience during the hiring process, and post-hire areas like roles, levels, progression, compensation, and manager training.

Being proficient in one area is no longer sufficient in the current climate. As Talent Leaders, we need to broaden our skills. We must continue to excel in our areas of expertise, but also expand our knowledge and capabilities to meet the demands of our stakeholders, even with fewer resources at our disposal.

As a Talent leader, what is your key advice for managing your teams and people?

For me, two qualities stand out: empathy and objectivity. I like to liken them to the compassionate parent and the tough love parent.

Firstly, deep empathy is crucial. Being able to put yourself in another’s shoes lets you see situations from various perspectives, understand where they’re coming from, and respond appropriately. Recruitment can be incredibly tough. When empathy leads, clear communication, transparency, and respectful, balanced relationships often follow.

Secondly, and perhaps on the flip side of empathy, is objectivity. The ability to offer a “facts over feelings” perspective as a leader is essential. When you’re on the front line, recruiting and solving numerous problems, it can be challenging to step back and adopt a broader view to work towards success. Assisting your teams in looking at topics objectively – gathering facts and data for informed decisions and analyses – is, in my opinion, a powerful management tool.

How has the role of a recruiter changed and what new skills do you think they need to possess and develop?

Admittedly, our industry hasn’t always held the best reputation, perhaps due to historical aggressive sales floors and underhand tactics. However, we’ve come a long way from those stereotypes and continue to elevate our profession.

Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in companies with internal people and talent teams. This trend follows Bay Area companies where the competition for attracting and retaining companies was intense. Investors sought early in-house recruitment and people expertise.

Our role has transformed from a necessary evil or order takers to a crucial part of not just achieving hiring success but business success as well. The relationship between recruiters and stakeholders has become more consultative and symbiotic.

This change requires skills beyond tactical delivery. Building strong and trusted relationships through positive actions and excellent communication is crucial. However, a few game-changing skills include data literacy and storytelling with data. People care more about facts and impact than our opinions. Understanding the “business” side of recruitment is also essential. While a single-stage, 30-minute interview may seem efficient for the recruiter, the business risks more frequent mis-hires.

What do you think is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity facing Talent and Recruitment?

The recruitment industry’s biggest challenge is demand, driven by global job roles. Post-COVID hiring volume may not return soon, but this isn’t necessarily negative. 2021 was a statistical anomaly, with future recruiting demand based on that year’s upward trajectory, leading to recent mass layoffs during economic turbulence.

The job market won’t be as large for a while, meaning overall, we have an oversupply of Talent & Recruitment professionals Vs demand levels. Being good at your job may not suffice; we need to evolve and prove our worth in a world where talent & recruitment supply exceeds demand.

Our industry is being forced to adapt and evolve like never before, key to not just surviving but thriving. We should question if our methods are optimal and valuable to stakeholders, whether you’re an internal individual contributor or external partner. Like diamonds, we’re under great pressure as an industry, and it’s time to shine.

What is the next stage of transformation for Talent Acquisition and Recruitment?

I won’t jump on the AI wave here – even though I do think there are some incredibly exciting efficiencies we can gain through the advent of new technology.

I believe people and talent teams will become more fluid and transitory than ever before. We’ve seen complete upheavals of entire people and talent teams over the past 18 months, more than once.

First, it was furlough during Covid, then a big bounce back as hiring was switched back on, and in 2023 relentless redundancies. As a result, I think business leaders will be looking to implement a more fluid approach to achieving people and talent success. Teams will be a hybrid mix of permanent, in-house resources combined with flexible external support – and in some cases rely entirely on the latter.

Businesses will be far more conscious about overextending or over-hiring into their internal teams. Trusted, external partners that can solve for the array of challenges they face – and deliver great, tangible outcomes complimenting the existing skill sets within their teams – will be the tactic of choice for those who want to scale more sustainably.

How do you think external staffing solutions will partner and work with companies as we move forward?

External staffing solutions will become even more crucial for companies’ success, assisting with headcount constraints and preventing overstaffing of non-core functions.

Now is a great time to gain a greater understanding of what our customers and stakeholders value. And I mean truly, deeply value – outside of any of our own previous understanding. And here’s the thing, what customers & stakeholders determine as value can change over time.

I think external staffing solutions will and should be driven first and foremost by the customer. Better supporting their needs in a way that works for the mode they’re specifically operating in at that time.

This will mean seeking out and actioning valuable feedback. Taking a “continuous improvement” approach to delivering & improving upon exceptional customer service. Understanding that you might have to change the way you do things to best position yourself.

Would you like to share any other opinions or thoughts about Talent acquisition and recruitment or the wider business world?

It’s been an incredibly tough year for our industry – we’ve not been immune from that either. In my nearly 20 years in recruitment, I haven’t experienced anything quite like it. But these economic events are cyclical and they do pass.

People make or break a business and that is a fact that I can’t see changing any time soon, even with all the hype about AI.

I truly believe the recruitment industry can and will come out of this stronger and if we own our craft, adapt, and evolve, we will continue to be seen as a vital asset to any scaling business.

 

TA.guru’s Talent Leader Series seeks to share the view of leaders in the Talent space.

By sharing the thoughts and insights of these leaders will hopefully help the Talent industry as a whole as it explores new opportunities and faces new challenges.

If you are interested in participating please contact sean@ta.guru for more information.

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