Thanks for reading! This series is designed to shine a spotlight on Talent Acquisition professionals and highlight their career journeys and learnings so far. Today, we're joined by Dave Gittings; if you'd like to be next, please reach out to a TTC Community Manager.
I’m Dave; I’ve been in talent acquisition since 2007. Working across the globe in both agency and internal settings. For the last 3 years, I’ve been the Head of Talent Acquisition for a SaaS startup, building the TA function from the ground up.
Can you walk us through the key milestones in your career in the talent acquisition space? What were some pivotal moments or decisions that shaped your journey?
The first came in 2011 when I left sales to become an agency's Learning & Development manager. I was responsible for all training for both new and experienced recruiters. This was truly eye-opening, discovering the key ingredients to get the most out of people, adapting styles, and looking at the importance of people development.
Next was in 2017, when I left my first role of 9 years to embark on a global journey, recruiting in both the Middle East and Asia, then back to Europe. It was an incredible experience to live abroad, learn a global approach and break out of my comfort zone.
Finally, in 2020 when I made the switch to internal. Driven by a passion for tech-driven companies, drawing on consulting experience and leadership to help an organisation grow.
In this rapidly evolving industry, what strategies or practices have you adopted to continuously enhance your skills and stay ahead of the curve? Do you have any resources or learning methods you'd recommend to others?
My most recent strategy has been to immerse myself in the TA community. I’ve been blown away by the kindness and willingness of others to give time and help, in all areas of the role.
Several slack communities such as ‘The Talent Community’, ‘IHR’ and ‘Higher’ have been great. There are lots of channels to discuss areas from TA applications to processes to data and metrics. You can observe or input, learn and share ideas in a space that's truly welcoming.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career, especially when you were actively seeking work? How did you overcome it, and what advice would you offer to others facing similar hurdles?
I’m living this now as I search for a new role in arguably the most ‘challenging’ market I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in a similar situation before, and I think the best approach is to be proactive in the following ways.
Network on LinkedIn and communities. There is help out there.
Post and share. It's important to become a voice and let people hear you; many of the opportunities I’m exploring currently have come from my network.
Upskil, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, etc, all have great ideas and topics. I’ve been looking into TA strategy more and understanding how other companies succeed.
Stay positive, and don’t take it personally. Celebrate small wins.
Protect your mental health. Doom-scrolling job sites all day can be soul-destroying; plan the day, set different targets, research, and try different ways of getting your CV out there.
The recruiting world can be fast-paced and demanding. How do you strike a balance between your professional commitments and personal life? Are there specific routines or rituals you follow?
When we went into Lockdown, this was a challenge as the day wasn’t punctuated by the morning commute. You could wake up, drink a coffee and start working, then just kind of work the day away, look up and see it's 9 pm. This is also true of those working in remote settings.
I’ve always worked to a routine, planned the day, set out the goals for the week and stuck to it. Allowed some flexibility and ensured I got out of the house.
Also, ensure that all your support systems, family, friends, hobbies and health are engaged. Ultimately, this will need to be supported by your employer and manager. As a leader, I have always tried to be the first advocate for my teams to manage a work-life balance.
As someone involved in talent acquisition, you've likely witnessed various technology and trend shifts. Which technologies or trends do you believe have had the most significant impact on the industry, and how have they influenced your role?
There is so much talk of us being replaced by AI or robots, but I don’t see it. I see us like the Tony Starks of the word; for those of us a little older, we started with Ironman’s first suit. It was a simple tool, but it got the job done. Now, we have a plethora of tools, platforms and AI that enhance the ability of recruiters and TAs.
Personally, I feel the greatest impact on my role is Improved outreach, automation of tasks, scheduling tools and more complex ATS that make the mechanics of the role easier. We are now on the latest Ironman suit. It has nanotech, but ultimately, a human is needed to drive it.
(hint: I’m a big Marvel fan)
For those entering the talent acquisition space or those looking to pivot within it, what's the one piece of practical advice you'd give to help them thrive, especially if they are actively job-seeking?
I was part of the pivot community from agency to internal. So my advice would be for those in the agency space, looking at internal.
Know your reasons: the internal world is not easier than the agency world; both have targets and stakeholders that need our help. Everyone's role is the most urgent, so it’s still a balancing act. I personally enjoyed the connection to the mission and representing that to incoming candidates.
I felt the agency world is an incredible place to learn many key aspects of talent acquisition, especially on the search and candidate management side, especially if you come from a data-driven agency that values reverse engineering success.
Ultimately, go for it. It’s a rewarding career that offers opportunities in leadership, strategy, project management, data and working with people.