Recruitment as a Strategic Business Partner: The First Steps

By Lisa Forman Johnson

There’s been lots of media buzz lately on top 101 ways HR can “get a seat at the table” or “be more strategic.” As a Recruiter, I read these articles and think to myself, I don’t want a seat at the table, I want to be leading the meeting.  After all, the most important obstacle to a company’s success is securing and retaining the right talent.  Can we agree that without a strong recruitment team, a company would fail and fail quickly? 

There is one way to help secure this leadership role: STOP thinking the primary function of recruitment is to fill requisitions with quality talent!  Instead, transform your mindset; the job of a recruiter is to partner with the business to ensure the departments and the organization as a whole have the strongest talent on their team to fulfill business obligations.  Yes, that may mean sometimes, filling requisitions.  Though, the majority of the time it means- being a strategic business partner!

So, how does a recruiter become a strategic business partner?  The answer is simple:  record and communicate the value add to the business.  How, you ask?  Let’s look at a few ideas:

  • Visually align recruitment goals with business goals
  • Understand the financials of the department/business you are supporting; be able to articulate how the people you are hire finically impact the success of the team
  • Lead the long-term workforce planning conversations
  • Stop worrying about time to fill & attrition and focus on metrics that drive business results;  cost per hire,  interview to hire ratio, revenue per employee, quality of hire
  •  Study the impact of pre and post-employment assessments on quality of hire

  • Measure how employer branding efforts increase website traffic
  • Collaborate with the business to ensure both the recruiter and hiring manger are duly responsible for the quality of hire
  • Communicate, communicate and communicate. Line charts, pie charts, heat maps…find what works for your leadership team and plot the recruitment analytics needed to solve a business challenge.  Remember, you are leading the meeting now, rows and columns of EXCEL data don’t drive business results.

As a Talent Acquisition function, we can become more of a strategic business leader, if we successfully measure and communicate the value add to the business.  Challenge yourself to think differently and make it happen!’


Lisa Forman Johnson is the Director of Global Recruitment for the USO, As the recruitment leader, Lisa is responsible for the talent acquisition strategy, employer branding and social media efforts needed to attract and retain talent that embrace this mission and embody the USO values. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn