Tony Le is a seasoned Talent Acquisition executive with over 15 years of experience in leading recruitment teams. He started his career as a recruiter for a leading tech staffing agency and quickly worked his way up to managing the recruitment process globally for some of the most recognizable tech brands.
Throughout his career, Tony has developed a passion for identifying and recruiting top talent for organizations across various industries. He has experience in developing recruitment strategies, operational and data excellence, developing partnerships with stakeholders, and leveraging technology to streamline the recruitment process. He is dedicated to ensuring organizations have a diverse and inclusive workforce and is committed to creating a positive candidate experience.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonykle
What do you think is the key to being successful as a Talent leader in the current business environment?
The key to being successful today as a Talent leader, in my opinion, two things.
- 1 – Being flexible and open to change. As Talent leaders, I feel that is in our nature but between COVID, the Great Resignation and now recession, layoffs, and inflation, the demand for hiring is having extreme waves peaking and disappearing. How do you continue to add value as a Talent team when you’re not hiring? And how do you balance what’s important to quality hiring when you are hiring a lot?
- 2 – Like any other department, but in my opinion even more critical when you lead a team who builds departments for others – is how do you balance goals (OKR, KPIs, metrics) with people development? How do we continue to grow, inspire, and develop the people who hire other people? Who every day are asked to “upscale” and “raise the bar” for other departments or encourage referrals and internal movement when they themselves have their own careers and goals to achieve.
As a Talent leader, what is your key advice for managing your teams and people?
The key advice I have for managing teams and people is communication with a purpose. What does that mean? In a world today where likely your situation is hybrid, remote, or onsite but different than 3+ years ago – you’re likely more disconnected. What’s kept me connected with my team is never forgetting the 1-on-1’s. Continue to show you’re there and available, even when you’re not. I know we want fewer meetings, fewer zooms, and fewer slacks/emails but some communication is critical.
And then meet with a purpose. It’s good to have a personal connection but the problem with 1:1’s is they become repetitive, and you FEEL like they’re not necessary if you have nothing to talk about. So set an agenda, use data/insights, and refresh them for every meeting. Create a foundation and a basis to talk about that’s predictable but inherently different (the data) every time you meet.
How has the role of a recruiter changed and what new skills do you think they need to possess and develop?
The role of the recruiter traditionally is probably most commonly compared to Sales. You often have a hiring goal (quota), sometimes bonus/commission, metrics, “touches”, measured on your outbound activity, etc. Most recently people would then say recruiting is becoming more like marketing where you have drip campaigns, build talent communities, focus on talent branding and an EVP, and job fairs/events.
I would add that today recruiting is now, in addition to Sales and Marketing, are data analysts. We’ve become market experts who should know the health of the market, market salaries, time-to-fill, predictive analytics, the health of your funnel/pipeline, balance time-in-stage, and analyze the quality-of-hire.
The success of a recruiter today is focused not just on how well they can close a candidate or build a talent brand but on understanding the success of their talent function through data.
What do you think is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity facing Talent and Recruitment?
The biggest challenge facing Talent today is not necessarily finding talent but finding the RIGHT talent. And that’s always been the case but in a digital world where there are case studies, presentations, assessments, statistics, bar raisers, core values, and many more non-technical skills and competencies being evaluated, many places make it almost impossible to make a hiring decision quickly and too many reasons to say no. The bigger issue isn’t the evaluation process but more so that everyone is on the same page. Someone may say “I would love to learn skill x while I’m here” and in the same panel, one interviewer may say that’s a great growth mindset while another will say they’re underqualified.
The biggest opportunity for Talent is setting the foundation early. What is your teams’ Operations and Enablement strategy? As in foundationally what measures do you have in place to review and improve on your process throughout every stage? And what foundational interview and evaluation practices are you instilling on your hiring team? If you don’t define what a “good hire” looks like at your company, you leave it to interpretation and most hiring managers will hire the way they know how. What are the important core values for your company? What are the competencies and skills that define success for your team? Are you looking at a diverse talent pool to see what different perspectives there are? Are you setting yourself up for unconscious bias?
Develop an interview training upfront and agree with leadership on what hiring success looks like at your company. And setup time to continuously evaluate. Don’t set it and forget it. Build a way to review it and adjust. If the world keeps changing, so should your process.
What is the next stage of transformation for Talent functions?
I suspect this will be a common answer, but AI will be a huge transformation. I’ve seen “AI” exist in the past with tools that scrape the internet, rank stack your profiles, and use machine learning and search to try to build you talent pools to reach out to.
But today, AI is very real in a different way. With AI, Boolean is becoming extinct. How we used to search for talent will be different and AI will come in to help automate how we have conversations with candidates, how we present to leadership, how candidates look for us, and definitely how we search for talent. That’s the exciting, but also likely overwhelming and complex, part of the future.
LinkedIn is already building AI into their InMail to help candidates customize a direct message to the job poster that sounds very human, pulling personal details about the company and themselves into the message. Gem is building AI into building drip campaigns and a lot more is coming!
Would you like to share any other opinions or thoughts about Talent acquisition and recruitment or the wider business world?
At the time of writing this, Talent Acquisition is dealing with a lack of work. Large tech is shrinking and hiring in a lot of sectors has pulled back. No less than 18 months ago, there was an article where Talent and People were in the Top 5 most sought after positions. Today we’re the least needed role in a company that is not hiring and potentially scaling back.
It’s a difficult time for the Talent space but ultimately the world keeps moving, innovation will always happen, and the demand for talent will always exist. My opinion and advice to businesses, if you were listening before, is utilize your Talent teams when hiring demand is high or low. We’ve become sales, marketing, customer service, administrative support, people partners, and data analysts. We likely know more about the company and your teams than any other cross-functional team because we hire and spend time with you and your teams.
In addition, as hiring demand is down, the opportunity is huge to build your talent brand, understand why your employees value and work there (EVP), solidify your foundation for what a quality hire and successful employee are, and utilize your Talent teams to prepare for the next wave of Talent.
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