How to Develop a Training Program for Your Recruiting Team Right Now


[This blog post first appeared on the LinkedIn Talent Blog in April 2020]

In the past month, I’ve been hearing from many talent acquisition leaders who are looking for ways to develop their teams during a slowdown in hiring.

Fortunately, there are some easy and free ways to develop your team’s skills and expertise. Together with my team of consultants at Recruiting Toolbox, I’ve put together a list of steps you can take to create your own training program along with three relevant topics and resources you can cover in those sessions. These topics reinforce the talent advisor mindset — that ability to help deliver more strategic value to your business, which is especially important for recruiters to be able to demonstrate during a hiring slowdown. We’ve also included facilitating questions that will provoke discussion and encourage your recruiters to implement next steps.

How to get your recruiter training program up and running

If you’re looking for some guidance on how to get your training session up and running, you can start with this simple framework:

1. Assign topics to senior recruiters

Once you’ve decided on relevant topics and resources (more on our recommendations later), get the ball rolling by assigning a topic to a senior recruiter on your team. Ask them to do their homework beforehand and to think about how the topic is relevant to your particular team, how it relates to your team’s mission and broader goals, and how it’s helpful during COVID-19 and beyond.

2. Prepare your team in advance

Next, choose a date for the session when everyone can attend and send out an invite several days in advance. In order to let your team gather their thoughts and come prepared, include any pertinent information (such as pre-reads, links, etc) in the invitation, plus key learning objectives and what you’d like each person on the team to take away from the training. 

We’ve found it’s helpful to frame the session around something practical, like “how to engage hiring managers to invest more time in top-of-funnel sourcing outreach” so the team knows exactly what they’re getting into.

3. Set an agenda and stick to it

We’ve also found that consistency really helps with any kind of training. Here’s a sample of how you can structure each session:

  • At the start of the session, the senior recruiter introduces the topic, explains why the video or resource was selected, and the team then spends 30-45 minutes watching a video or listening to a presentation.
  • Next, the senior recruiter asks prepared facilitating questions to engage the team in discussion.
  • In the last 10 minutes of the training, the team leader jumps in. Their role is to work with the team to prioritize ideas and talk through next steps. 

A 90-minute length training might be ideal — not too long, but there’s enough time to really dig into the topic.

Recommended topics for your team’s development

Recorded sessions from LinkedIn Talent Connect is a great source for topics to cover with your team and you can find more content on YouTube and Slideshare. We’ve recommended three topics below – they’re timeless and loaded with practical, how-to information that will keep recruiters engaged, while also sparking interesting discussions and self-assessments. 

Topic #1: How to be a talent advisor

Description: There’s no skill that’s more fundamental and evergreen to recruiters than the ability to become a talent advisor. You can build this training session around my talk at Talent Connect 2019 (watch the video below and read a recap here). You’ll learn how to be more strategic by reviewing nine real-world practices of recruiting teams who are delivering that Talent Advisor experience to their businesses. 


Questions to facilitate discussion:

  1. Who on our team already has very engaged hiring managers, who invests in sourcing and outreach today? How did you influence them to invest time in top-of-funnel? What kind of results do you get from their efforts - have you seen improvements in speed, quality, diversity?
  2. What are we doing today to give our candidates access to information on how to be  successful? What else can we do (or should we do) if our goal is to target candidates who may not know how to prep for an interview with a company like ours? What else should we do to make our process fairer?
  3. What would we need to do to be able to move to a more proactive req opening process, where we're telling the business when they need to open reqs, versus waiting for them to tell us?
  4. In the past, do you think we had a lot of false-negative hiring decisions? How do we know? How do we need to coach managers to reduce false-negative decisions?

What team leaders can ask to encourage next steps:

Of the best practices shared in the video and recap, which 2-3 would be at the intersection of HIGH impact and EASY to implement for us?

Topic #2: How to implement a supply chain management approach to recruiting

Description: This topic, recommended by my colleague Ben Gotkin, highlights Glen Cathey’s solution to building successful talent pipelines: implementing a supply chain management (SCM) approach. Build this training session around Glen’s blog post and presentation deck (find them both here) and your team can learn how this approach can help prevent the “leaks” that often occur when building a talent pipeline.

Questions to facilitate discussion:

  1. What have we done historically in regard to pipelining? What successes and failures have we had in our efforts to build talent pipelines?
  2. What is our plan for when hiring picks back up? What can we anticipate in terms of the funnel (candidates to screens to interviews to offers to hires)? How can we optimize our process for speed? What information would we need from the business now? What would be the smart questions that we would need to ask? 
  3. Who should we be targeting now and why? What’s our message? How do we get these prospects engaged and keep them engaged?
  4. We can’t do this for the entire business, so what would be the areas of our business that would benefit the most from this approach? Should we pilot this? If so, with whom?

What team leaders can say to encourage next steps:

Let’s identify the areas of the business where this approach would have HIGH impact and be EASY for us to implement. Assign a Project Team and build out a Project Plan to be ready to present to the business and implement in X days. This should also include a case for the opportunity that exists here, including why we need to stay proactive in recruiting now and not repeat the mistakes that businesses have made during previous hiring slowdowns and recessions.

Topic #3: How to have more meaningful conversations

Description: With many of us sheltering in place, it can be difficult to build trust and connect with people in the same way as when we were able to communicate face-to-face. This session, recommended by Matt Grove, principal consultant at Recruiting Toolbox, is built around a TED Talk by Celeste Headlee (watch the video below). It provides 10 tips for having better conversations and will teach your team how to have more meaningful and productive conversations in today's remote work environment. After all, good conversations are key to establishing and maintaining trust with our businesses, our colleagues, and our candidates.


Questions to facilitate discussion:

  1. Self-assessment time: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being world-class), how would you rate yourself as an interviewer? How would you rate yourself as a listener? Are they different, and if so, why?
  2. Which of the tips from the TED Talk would you want to implement first and why? What value does it offer your business partner or hiring manager? What value does it offer your candidates? 
  3. What are the biggest obstacles to implementing at least one of these tips in your own conversations with hiring managers? What are the biggest obstacles to using this approach with candidates? Are there obstacles that you are creating yourself that you can remove easily?
  4. How can you use ideas like these to help coach your hiring teams to be better phone and video interviewers?
  5. Highlight 3-4 people on the team with different communication styles. What do they do that makes them unique and effective as a communicator? Get each person to share any best practices that they would like to highlight for the team.

What team leaders can say to encourage next steps:

What are 2-3 actions you will commit to implementing in the next 30 days to improve the productivity of conversations that you have with colleagues, hiring leaders, and candidates? How will you hold yourself accountable? How can your colleagues help you succeed with these? How can your business partners help? How can your manager help?

During this time, pooling resources and sharing information is key. If you have other topics ideas or have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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