The candidate experience is defined by interaction — either direct or indirect — with a mix of people in different staffing roles. From recruiters to hiring managers to HR, talent acquisition professionals are responsible for creating the kind of environment that attracts and retains employees.
Whether you’re a job seeker, or looking to get into the talent management industry yourself, you may be wondering how each function shapes and impacts the hiring process. To paint a picture of what a typical “day-in-the-life” looks like in the staffing world, we asked five local experts about their responsibilities, goals and challenges.
Let’s dive in!
Recruiters can work either in-house for a single company, or at a staffing firm representing many companies. Either way, when their employer is actively hiring, it’s their job to source qualified candidates. External recruiters may specialize in particular locations, professions, industries, or job levels; whereas in-house recruiters typically recruit across the board.
However, if a very large company has a whole team of recruiters, each may specialize in a particular function.
It’s the recruiter’s job to understand the qualifications of a job req and be able to match a resume to it. More than that, this role centers around the ability to assess culture and team fit. If a candidate makes the grade, a recruiter is responsible for facilitating interviews with various hiring managers, but is not the ultimate decision maker (more on this later).
At the end of the interviewing process, recruiters are the ones tasked with delivering the decision — good or bad — to the candidate.
A Day in the Life of an Internal Recruiter
"As a Lead Recruiter, my day consists of:
- Following up on resumes
- Recruiting candidates online
- Talking to candidates about life at edX
- Assessing their match to our open roles
I work closely with managers to determine how new hires can help their teams to grow. I also spend time with my recruiting operations team to schedule on-site interviews that allow candidates to meet with the teammates they'd be working with. We think this is especially important in helping candidates to understand what their new position would be like on a daily basis. Our one-on-one interviews are focused on identifying skills and values, but we also encourage candidates to ask questions to help them make a good decision on working at edX.
If we don't end up hiring a candidate, we make an effort to help them by connecting them with local companies and recruiters that might have a better match for them."
2. Talent Acquisition
Talent acquisition professionals and recruiters may seem like they have a lot in common, but there are a few key differences between the two functions. Whereas recruiting is focused on filling current job reqs, talent acquisition requires a longer-term outlook on the company’s hiring trajectory.
Typically, talent acquisition involves identifying people who meet the requirements of tougher positions to fill, such as highly technical roles. A technical leadership position — like a CTO, for example — is one of the hardest jobs to fill. Predicting that need ahead of time, talent acquisition pros will start to identify qualified candidates — even if they aren’t on the job market yet — and begin nurturing relationships. When the time comes to fill the role, the candidate pipeline will be full.
The talent acquisition function also plays a key role in building the employer brand, creating buzz about the company, and ensuring current employees are happy, too.
Companies in competitive hiring markets, or that require very specific talent, often have talent acquisition pros on board to handle longer-term hiring needs. Depending on the company’s hiring needs and volume, there may be both a talent acquisition pro and a recruiter on the team, to meet both long- and short-term hiring goals.
A Day in the Life of a Talent Acquisition Pro
"While my primary responsibility is ultimately to fill jobs, I try to plan my days more like a marketer. Here are some of my day-to-day tasks:
- Opening the talent funnel, mostly through referrals
- Creating raving fans, both internally and externally
- Constantly optimizing the candidate experience — even if we don’t end up hiring them
Our team spends its time focused on people, not paper or process, so every opportunity I have to evangelize this amazing company is an opportunity to amplify our reach. We're building a machine, and we approach our hiring just as we approach our technology — disruptive and innovative.
The results have been pretty outstanding: This past year, Cybereason quadrupled its global headcount, and 46% of those hires were the result of referrals.
With that in mind, this month we’re running a referral campaign called "Referral Madness" that plays on the March Madness theme. Any employee who refers a candidate gets a raffle ticket to be entered in an all-expenses-paid evening at TD Garden to see a Chainsmokers concert. This celebrates and rewards employees who are contributing to our growth, ensures that the quality of candidates I'm dealing with is exceptionally high, and boosts employee morale."
3. Hiring Manager
Hiring managers can be full-time HR professionals devoted to the hiring process — but in many cases, they are managers within various departments who need to fill an open position. They are responsible for initiating the hiring process, and they are also the main decision maker since the new hire will report directly to them.
Hiring managers work closely with the recruiting or talent acquisition team (depending on the type of role, as explained above) to discuss the requirements for a job, including compensation. The more detail the hiring manager can give, the better a match the recruiter or talent acquisition manager can make, so it’s critical these meetings are detailed and strategic in nature.
Once resumes have been combed through by the talent team, the hiring manager will review the top resumes and be involved in many, if not all, phone screens and in-person interviews. The purpose of this is to ensure the candidate meets not only technical and tactical requirements, but that they are a culture fit, team fit, and would bring something unique and valuable to the company.
Their exact level of involvement, of course, will depend on the size of the organization and who else is part of the hiring process.
A Day in the Life of a Hiring Manager
We spoke with Gwen Betts, Director of Customer Experience at Komand, who is heavily involved in the company’s hiring process, to find out what an average day looks like for her. Here’s what she had to say.
"As a hiring manager, I’m involved in:
- Proactively filling the pipeline by going to meetups, grabbing coffee or drinks with people, and conversing with various communities on Slack groups
- Writing job reqs
- Attending the three interviews in our interview process
Recruiting is about building relationships, so to ensure you have a steady stream of good candidates, even when you’re not hiring, you need to be building relationships now. The candidate pipeline is often a forgotten piece of the hiring process, but it’s important be a part of the professional community and aware of the talent out there so that when you’re ready to hire, you have candidates lined up.
When it comes to creating the job description for a new job req, I follow a particular format. Using this req as an example, the description includes a high level explanation of the role, the type of work the candidate will be performing, the experience we hope they will get working with us, and the skill set and experience we need from the candidate.
Once we have some good candidates in the pipeline, we go through a three-step interview process — a mixture of phone or coffee meetings, a challenge or small project, and an in-depth, in-person interview. During this process, we’re assessing the candidate for technical fit as well as culture fit, according to our core values — adaptability, transparency, empathy, and accountability."
4. Human Resources (HR)
HR is often an umbrella term that includes many hiring, recruiting and retention functions. Traditionally, HR has been viewed as a more administrative and regulatory function that involves developing and distributing employee handbooks, managing benefits, developing employee training processes, and handling conflicts. However, this function is rapidly evolving. HR professionals are becoming more critical business partners, working to evolve their practices alongside the organization’s needs.
The job of an HR professional is to design systems for employees and management — including hiring, compensation, performance evaluation and career development trajectories. When properly aligned with business goals, HR can develop strategic personnel goals to ensure employees are happy and engaged, incidents are handled appropriately, and teams are well equipped to succeed day-in and day-out.
A Day in the Life of an HR Director
"There is no 'typical day' in HR, however these are the most common projects, tasks and challenges I work on:
- Designing performance management training classes
- Help managers develop a performance evaluation plan
- Aiding in planning compensation packages
- Helping to welcome and onboard new leaders
- Handling day-to-day complaints and issues in the office
- Dealing with harassment complaints and other inter-office situations
It’s my job to coach and connect people in my company. I coach senior leaders, managers, and individual contributors who are all working to balance competing priorities. I coach them through issues, whether it be insufficient resources, poor systems, shifting goals, or changing competitive market needs. I am then able to help them by connecting them with people who can work with them to overcome these challenges. I do this all within the constraints of our strategic plan and budget, as well as the expectations of our board.
I also get to work with people, whether directly or indirectly, through their entire employee experience. It starts as early as before they join the company and continues during their onboarding and development within the company.
HR is often branded as the 'police' or 'the people who let me go.' While most managers and employees will inevitably come to me with problems that they need help navigating, my approach is that which Stephen Covey first coined, 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood.'"
We’ve written before about the rise of the PeopleOps function. While it is a new term that encompasses a wide range of human resources functions, it also touches on many recruiting tasks. PeopleOps is all about ensuring that the right candidates are hired, and that employees are happy and successful in their jobs.
PeopleOps is very much a data-driven function, leveraging information such as how long it takes to hire someone, the cost of a new hire, and the impact a new hire will have on the business. Bringing this data to the table, the leadership team can make informed decisions about hiring goals and improve processes.
Engrained in the people side of the business, PeopleOps teams are often responsible for building the company culture, distilling the culture into every function of the day-to-day of the business, and putting a process in place to ensure candidates are a good cultural fit, among other key requirements.
This function differs from talent acquisition in that PeopleOps isn’t typically sourcing new candidates; they’re focused more on the process and data side of the hiring equation, so it wouldn't be abnormal for a company to have both of them on their team.
A Day in the Life of a Head of PeopleOps
We talked with Becca Van Nederynen, Head of PeopleOps at Help Scout about what her typical day looks like. Becca has had an interesting career trajectory, because she actually started off as a product marketer at Help Scout. She was asked to start the PeopleOps team soon after the company raised a round of funding in 2015 and needed someone to drive culture and hiring initiatives. Here’s how Becca explains her day-to-day:
"We have three people in PeopleOps today, so every day changes and brings on a new challenge. We’re typically involved in:
- Hiring and recruiting activities
- Polishing and iterating on our employee onboarding process
- Working with the leadership team to develop hiring goals and
- Training hiring managers and others on interviewing skills
Because Help Scout is a remote team, the unique part about this for us is that a lot of our PeopleOps infrastructure needed to be in place a lot earlier than you’d think to enable the team work effectively from anywhere around the world. Whereas a company with a physical office would hire an office manager to keep everything running, PeopleOps serves that function at a much broader level and for all remote employees. In that way, it’s about getting to know our people at a deeper level, doing things like making sure we celebrate their birthdays and the like."
The Future of Hiring: Putting People First
The hiring process has evolved a great deal just in the last few years, and it’s clear that each of these functions have, too. From adapting to today’s candidate-driven market, to embracing remote employees, to becoming more transparent, it’s clear we’re in the midst of a big and important transformation that puts the employee experience at the heart of every company’s mission.