Build An Informal External Advisory Team to Gain Internal Credibility

Many corporate talent acquisition leaders strive to move their company into the top tier of innovative recruitment practices.  Often, however, they struggle to get executive leadership buy-in for new (often perceived as ‘risky’) strategies, technologies or approaches to employment branding, sourcing and candidate engagement.

The most effective way to gain that buy-in is to become a true expert in innovative recruitment practices.  Yes, I know that it can be difficult to find time to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations, especially since our industry in constantly innovating.

By building an informal external advisory team, you can easily stay on top of the innovation in the industry without committing to a multi-day conference or event.  There are 4 types of people to include on your team:

  1. A peer or more senior TA executive from a company you believe has highly innovative practices. The very highly innovative companies typically have at least one person on their team who is focused on staying on top of new technologies, processes and ideas.  The leaders of those organizations often understand the executive summary of many things going on in the industry, and they have opinions on what is likely to catch on.  One of the great things about our industry is that our executives are very collaborative and share best practices easily.  You can easily identify these people because they are constantly presenting about their innovations at conferences.
  2. A locally or nationally recognized talent acquisition thought leader in the areas of most concern to you. You can find these people at local and national conferences, conducting webinars via ERE or HCI or other organizations, or regularly blogging and tweeting on TA topics.  Most of these people are master networkers and are always open to discussions about corporate TA challenges.  Plus, they tend to know the most innovative companies and might be able to introduce you to someone to fill #1 above.
  3. A highly skilled or sought after individual in one of your key talent areas. This individual will not be a TA professional, but rather a professional that your company would look to hire.  This individual will be great for discussing your innovative ideas to get their reaction.  She will also be a great source of what your talent competitors are doing, as they are likely recruiting her in some way.  You can find this individual by asking your company leadership or top employees to introduce you to someone they would love to recruit or by attending conferences or events in your industry.
  4. A key player at one of the many talent acquisition software or solutions companies. Based on the pace of change in our industry and the very competitive vendor space, a key individual in sales or customer management will always know what innovative solutions are coming to market.  He will also know the merger and acquisition and talent movement rumors in the industry.  It will definitely help if this individual works for a vendor where you are a customer or are seriously considering becoming a customer.

Once you identify the right individuals for your informal advisory team, all you need to do is chat with them on a somewhat regular basis – once or twice a month.  If any of them are local to your area, you should set-up a regular lunch or coffee appointment.  Otherwise, occasional phone calls and meetings when you are in the same place can work.  Tell them about your challenges and ask them what they are seeing in the industry.  Of course, like any networking relationship, you should also be sharing information and insights (concepts and ideas you have learned from your other informal advisors, a great industry article you recently read, an introduction to someone in your network, etc.).

Once you have your advisory conversations going, you will start to build a significant amount of intelligence on industry innovations and activities.  When you are then asking for support from your executive management for new strategies, processes or technologies, you can demonstrate your expertise.  By knowing first hand what your talent competitors are doing, what the most innovative companies have tried (and what has been successful or not), and where the industry is moving, you will be even more convincing when outlining your plans for your organizations.

Who do you currently have in your advisory circle that you would recommend to others?  Are there any types of people to consider that I haven’t mentioned above?  I have lots of suggestions for you depending on your needs, but I’d like to see who you all recommend as well.