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Executive Search

Head of Talent Job Description + When & How To Hire Them

Michelle Han-Taylor
6 min read

Having the right person in charge of talent acquisition can be the difference between success and failure for a company. A great Head of Talent will help attract, hire, and retain top-notch employees — who are key to driving growth and achieving organizational objectives. 

A not-so-great hire, on the other hand, can cost up to $240,000 in expenses. With so much at stake, it’s essential to take the time to find a Head of Talent who has the right experience, skills, and attitude. 

But where do you start? How do you go about finding someone with all of these qualities?

We’ll cover what a Head of Talent (sometimes referred to as a Director of Talent Acquisition) is, their duties and responsibilities, and strategies for finding the right fit.

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Head of Talent Job Brief

A Head of Talent (oftentimes interchangeable with a Director of Talent Acquisition) is a senior-level HR/People professional responsible for overseeing the recruitment and hiring process. They are the go-to person for all things related to staffing, including building talent pipelines, developing recruiting strategies, sourcing candidates, talent management, interviewing, and onboarding new hires. 

They work closely with the organization’s leadership to identify staffing needs, develop sourcing strategies, and ensure the organization makes strategic hiring decisions. They are also responsible for staying current on industry trends, employment laws, best practices, and the competitive landscape to develop and execute the most effective recruiting strategies. 

Head of Talent vs. HR Manager: What’s the Difference?

While sometimes mistaken for one another, the Head of Talent/Director of Talent Acquisition role is distinct from the position of Human Resources Manager. While the Head of Talent focuses on all aspects of talent acquisition, an HR manager takes on more broad-based responsibilities related to organizational development and employee relations. The HR manager also focuses on developing a healthy internal culture to retain current employees.

HR managers focus more on the “people” side of an organization, such as policy development and enforcement, employee engagement and relations, payroll, benefits administration, and performance management. In contrast, the Head of Talent/Direct of Talent Acquisition tends to focus more on external candidates and how they’d fit into the overall organizational structure.

What Does the Head of Talent Do? Key Duties and Responsibilities

The role of a Head of Talent/Director of Talent Acquisition is to strategically source, recruit, and hire new employees for an organization. They oversee talent pipelines, develop recruiting strategies, and lead the hiring process to onboard high-potential candidates. 

Below are the common duties for a Head of Talent, but note that specific daily responsibilities will vary by company and/or industry.

  • Leading other recruiters and hiring managers that make up the talent acquisition team.
  • Reviewing an organization’s staffing needs and developing efficient recruitment strategies.
  • Developing and managing robust talent pipelines.
  • Building relationships with external talent sources, such as universities, employment agencies, and job boards to identify potential candidates.
  • Evaluating job descriptions, posting job ads, screening resumes, and leading interviewing processes.
  • Managing the onboarding process, including orientation and training of new hires.
  • Forecasting hiring needs based on organizational goals, budget, and workforce trends.
  • Tracking talent acquisition metrics, such as cost per hire, time to fill, and quality of hire.
  • Creating and delivering reports to senior leadership and other stakeholders upon request.
  • Staying up to date on industry trends, employment laws, best practices, and the competitive landscape to guide recruitment strategies.
  • Building succession plans to ensure the organization is well-positioned for future growth, including developing career paths and succession plans for key positions.
  • Creating, organizing, and deploying employee training programs and workshops.
  • Developing a people analytics strategy to track data points related to employee performance, retention,  and turnover.
  • Promoting and upholding an inclusive work environment that fosters equal employment opportunities, embraces diversity, and leverages competitive advantage to align with the company's strategic plan for diversity and inclusion.
  • Conducting research and providing support in developing training programs for project management that specifically target addressing key organizational challenges, empowering the workforce to achieve impactful improvements.

Main Skills

While a Head of Talent should be proficient in several areas from interpersonal communications to strategic hiring, there are some skills they’ll need to have regardless of company size or industry:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication.
  • Strong interpersonal, networking, and negotiation skills.
  • Proven ability to design, build, and manage full-cycle performance management programs.
  • Superior organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Strong knowledge of recruiting methods, best practices, and techniques.
  • Thorough understanding of HR laws, policies, and procedures.
  • Proficiency with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS). 

How To Know When You Need a Head of Talent

Knowing when to hire a Head of Talent is vital to a successful recruitment strategy. Unfortunately, many organizations wait too long to bring on a Head of Talent, resulting in poorly managed recruitment processes, poor candidate experiences, and high turnover rates. 

On the other hand, hiring too soon can be a waste of resources. If your organization is struggling with any of the following, it’s time to hire a talent acquisition manager.

  • Rapid organizational growth: Rapid organizational growth comes with an increased demand for talent and the need to quickly source, recruit, hire, and onboard employees. A Head of Talent Acquisition will help you strategically source and hire qualified talent quickly to support your growth. 
  • Talent acquisition challenges: You may struggle to source qualified candidates, manage a high volume of applicants, or create and execute a solid recruitment strategy. A Head of Talent Acquisition will have the expertise to develop and implement an effective recruitment strategy, including sourcing strategies, job postings, interview processes, and onboarding of new hires.
  • Lack of talent development initiatives: Talent development initiatives, such as succession planning, mentorship programs, and career pathing, are essential for employee engagement and retention. A Head of Talent Acquisition will help you create tailored initiatives to support the professional development of your current and future workforce. They will create an action plan to develop a talent pipeline of qualified and high-potential candidates, identify training opportunities, and invest in ongoing employee development.

Strategies For Finding and Hiring a Head of Talent/Director of Talent Acquisition

You want someone who is a leader, innovator, and strategic thinker with exceptional interpersonal, problem-solving, and management skills. 

Here are some strategies to consider when searching for the right fit.

1. Tap Into Networks and Warm Referrals

Networks and referrals are invaluable resources when searching for a Head of Talent/Director of Talent Acquisition. Tap into your professional networks, alumni associations, and industry events to find potential candidates. 

You can also ask colleagues, business partners, and existing employees for referrals. Personal recommendations inspire trust and are more likely to produce quality leads. 

According to recent Hunt Club data, warm referrals result in a 32% higher offer acceptance rate than cold outreach. Hunt Club’s warm outreach model can help you cut through the noise with a 55% response rate compared to the traditional model’s 33%.

2. Involve Key Stakeholders

Hiring a Head of Talent Acquisition is a huge decision, so it’s best to involve key stakeholders for better transparency and accountability. Gather input from the executive team, including the CEO, Vice President, CFO, HR managers, department heads, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the recruitment process aligns with organizational goals. This will help you create an effective job description and a comprehensive list of desired skills, qualifications, and work experience.

3. Highlight Your Company Culture 

A Head of Talent isn’t just responsible for the hiring process — they’re a key contributor to the organization’s culture and values. They’re heavily involved in shaping the company’s ethos as they are pivotal in picking the individuals who will uphold and enrich it

Each hire they make is a strategic choice that impacts the collective mindset and dynamics of the organization. Essentially, they’re HR professionals steeped in the People function, actively building, nurturing, and influencing the company culture through talent acquisition efforts. Therefore, the person you hire for this role must understand and align with your company’s mission, vision, and values.

4. Offer Benefits They Care About

Heads of Talent have their own set of benefit expectations, developed from their experience in the frontline of talent acquisition. With a deep understanding of what attracts high-quality candidates, they have formed a unique perspective on what constitutes meaningful benefits. 

They’re likely to consider aspects such as work-life balance, continuous learning opportunities, a supportive work environment, and other value-added benefits that promote employee satisfaction and engagement. 

Therefore, when crafting your offer, highlight the unique benefits your organization brings to the table. Tailoring your approach this way could be the difference between attracting top-notch talent or missing out on a potential game-changer for your company.

5. Partner With an Executive Search Firm

How do you find a Head of Talent… without a Head of Talent?

Enter: Executive search firms.

Executive search firms find and recruit top talent to fill executive, C-suite, and other high-level positions. 

They leverage their personal networks, social media, job boards, and other recruitment channels to source, vet, and identify the perfect talent for your organization. This saves time, money, and stress on your internal recruitment team.


Find Your Future Leader With Hunt Club

A Head of Talent can help you overcome talent acquisition challenges, develop talent development initiatives, and create effective employee engagement and retention strategies. 

Unfortunately, finding and hiring a qualified Head of Talent/Director of Talent Acquisition can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful. At Hunt Club, we help streamline the process by connecting you with pre-vetted, high-caliber candidates with years of experience and excellent organizational skills through our innovative network recruiting model.

Our powerful model also includes specialized recruiters and automated sourcing technology to help you fill open positions 6–8x faster than traditional recruiting methods. 

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