Talent Operations

Recruiting Skills in 2020: 4 New Recruiter Roles

New recruiter roles are emerging in the talent acquisition space.

In our most recent webinar, we invited Kevin Blair to discuss the recruiting skills of 2020, or the skills recruiting teams need to meet the rising expectations placed on them by the rest of the business. Between the changes and growth in scope of traditional teams, and the advent of new ways of working, new recruiter roles are emerging and gaining in momentum.

*This post is the second in a three-part series. The third part will be published next week. *

Recruiter roles in the new talent operating model

We’re discussing these new recruiter roles because, essentially, the way talent teams have operated for the last decade does not suit the new decade. It’s suboptimal for a few reasons, such as:

  • No direct link between recruiting activities and business results. For example, many talent leaders currently split capacity and resources equally among requisitions, instead of in proportion with their business value.
  • Internally-focused KPIs: most traditional recruiter KPIs focus on whether the machine runs smoothly, on whether recruiters utilization is high—as opposed to optimized. With a different talent operating model, talent teams can instead link their success to their impact on the health of the business.
  • Self-directed recruiters: In the current system, recruiters and sourcers mostly have individual goals. If the talent team wants to tie back its work to commercial impact, it has to ensure that individual goals, prioritization, and resource allocation are aligned with team goals, and with the business in general.

Teams cannot correct the above without changing substantially, and adopting a new operating model that translates into new recruiter roles—among other things.

What is different in these new recruiter roles?

We like to roughly park the needed changes under two umbrellas: process, and data.

Optimizing by redesigning the recruiting process. There is so much that can be done here, from introducing simple changes in decision-making to introducing entirely new working philosophies. You can find examples along the entire spectrum between the two:

  • An adaptation of the agile methodology for recruiting activities, as we’ve discussed before in our post about agile recruiting implementation, or as HBR describes with multiple examples in this article.
  • An adaptation of design thinking principles to the recruiting process: What is the root problem or need you are solving, and what is your impact on each beneficiary of that solution? Who is currently involved in the process and what resources can they offer that you haven’t tapped into yet?
  • Grouping requisitions based on the work involved: Move from “20 reqs, 20 instances of similar activities” to “20 reqs, 5 recruiting projects” based on similar types of tasks. This allows recruiters to specialize in their expertise of choice, and deliver an overall higher quality of work.
  • A business-based prioritization of requisitions, and therefore an optimized allocation of TA resources. The recruiting priority chart below is a simple 2-axis framework that can help with that change. For example, just because a hire is complex doesn’t mean it should be given more resources, unless it is also more impactful for the business. From another angle, just because a role is senior or closer to the executive level doesn’t mean it is more crucial to delivering business goals.

new recruuiter roles prioritization chart

Moving from a historical to a future-facing use of recruiting data. This one is related to how to use candidate and recruiting data to make forecasts and reduce uncertainty, and not just to report on past activities:

  • Using data to look at past performance and measure effectiveness, but also to find patterns and experiment with new ways of working: new branding, new campaigns, new channels, new messages, new outreach… the possibilities are vast.
  • Focusing on decreasing risks around future decisions: talent teams can find patterns in the company’s propensity to hire, its ability to compete for certain roles in certain salary bands, or to find the right fit in a specific market. This will enable them to move away from averages, and reverse-engineer recruiting goals to allocate resources at a much more granular level.

This is what most talent professionals mean when they talk about new ways of working. These are not part of the typical day-to-day of recruiters, sourcers, or recruiting team managers. Traditional team set-ups don't make it easy to decide who should own which of these new processes.

Recruiter roles in the new talent operating model

It’s very rare for a talent team to be able to implement a full restructuring in one fell swoop, so the framework below should be seen as an example of what good looks like, or a guide for a work in progress, and not a final template that a team should attain in 6 months.

How can you organize the skills needed to implement improvements like prioritization of tasks, alignment with business goals, or future-facing reporting? How do you make them come together into roles that are complementary, able to cooperate, but also possible to train or hire for?

new recruiter roles 4 categories

Talent operations specialists

Talent operations as a function is meant to enable the rest of your talent team, but also ensure it stays aligned with business goals. A talent operations specialist should be able to work with different stakeholders to deliver everything from workforce plans to capacity utilization models to supporting data to inform and influence both peers and leaders.

Data analysis and technology implementation skills are a must, of course, but so is communication and collaboration. This is the function that will help you encourage adoption of new ways of working, or bring valuable insight into the feasibility of a new business initiative. Those rely on data and technical expertise far less than on communication and organizational intelligence.

Digital recruiters

The digital recruiter is probably one that is closest to sophisticated recruiters and sourcers in a traditional team set-up. They are equipped for handling high volumes and a variety of roles, which means they do their best work when handling the low-priority, high-volume roles found in the red boxes in the 2-axis prioritization chart above.

This role is about optimizing for efficient and timely delivery. Digital recruiters, as their label suggests, are skilled at both identifying candidates but also selling them on the job over multiple channels. They can hire someone over email, on the phone, or on texting apps of all stripes.

Agile recruiters

The agile aspect of recruiting is a spectrum, as every team will implement agile recruiting methodologies in a slightly different way. Even in the model above, there is a difference between a recruiter that works on individual goals and one that has team targets to meet.

Not every type of role can be neatly batched into a convenient set of team goals, where different specialists tackle different aspects of the journey. Agile recruiters who tackle those roles have to operate in a different manner than those who work in sprints with team priorities, but they still have to manage their own overlapping priorities and conduct retrospectives to iterate on the next set of roles, for examples


These 4 categories are by no means an exhaustive cover of every type of new recruiting role that should exist in a modern recruiting team. However, as a basic skeleton that is meant to be enriched by an organization’s specific needs, it’s a great place to start.

The role of recruiting operations in particular can be explored a lot deeper, as it helps bring together this new breed of talent teams. We will do exactly that in the last part of this series, "Recruiting Skills in 2020: The Role of Recruiting Operations".


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Nada Chaker

Content and Campaigns

Nada Chaker leads content and campaigns at Beamery. She writes and reads about the latest news in Talent Acquisition, but also about business strategy, startups, food and indoor plants.

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