The first expert we get to meet in 2024 is Jan Tegze. Jan is an acclaimed recruitment thought leader, LinkedIn Top Voice (over 90 thousand followers), author, and Talent Acquisition Leader with a proven track record of leading high-performing teams across multiple locations (EMEA, AMER, APAC).
Jan has published 8 books and written over 600 articles. His bestselling books like “Full Stack Recruiter” and “Job Search Guide” synthesise his approach to high-velocity sourcing, data-driven hiring, and invaluable advice for job seekers. And this is just one of the outcomes of his career, which has spanned over two decades.
Jan’s extensive expertise encompasses full-cycle recruiting, international recruitment, branding, and pioneering sourcing techniques. As a speaker, he’s shared his insights at global conferences, covering a spectrum of topics from sourcing methods to analytics.
How did you get started in recruitment/talent management/HR? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I actually stumbled into recruitment and talent acquisition unintentionally. I didn’t really know what the job entailed or even what sourcing and recruiting truly was. I simply thought working closely with people seemed interesting and took a chance on this opportunity that came my way.
Boy, was I wrong to assume this would be an easy job! Once I began making calls, building networks, sifting through resumes, and learning firsthand what an agency recruiting demands day in and day out, I realized just how complex, challenging, and competitive this field could be.
Talent acquisition was nowhere on my career radar growing up. But through an unexpected twist of fate, I’m now devoted to growing in this dynamic, challenging field for the long haul.
What would you say is a common misconception about the work of a recruiter/TA manager/HR professional?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about recruiters and talent acquisition professionals is that we simply post job ads and collect résumés. The reality is that modern recruiting requires a much more strategic, consultative approach.
An expert recruiter evaluates the deeper talent needs of the business, benchmarks compensation and benefits, develops meaningful relationships with both hiring managers and candidates and advises on longer-term workforce planning. We aren’t just paper pushers or middlemen – we provide crucial insight and counsel every step of the way during the hiring process and beyond.
Many people also underestimate the amount of influence a skilled recruiter wields in shaping the future of an organization. By identifying, assessing, and securing top, diverse talent that aligns with company values and culture, recruiters play a key role in driving innovation, productivity, and growth. The relationships great recruiters build with new hires even support better retention and employee engagement over time.
The work of recruiters extends far beyond just the transactional tasks.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve managed to overcome or improve on during your career so far? How did you do it?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career thus far has been overcoming impostor syndrome. When I first entered talent acquisition, I was laser-focused on honing recruitment fundamentals – sourcing, qualifying applicants, coordinating interviews and closing deals. Yet when I began publicly sharing my knowledge via LinkedIn posts, speaking gigs, and even several books, those persistent doubts flooded back.
Who was I to position myself as an industry expert worthy of others’ attention, given my short tenure in the field? Every podcast invite or opportunity to get published triggered that inner voice questioning if I had adequate knowledge. Impostor syndrome really sinks its teeth in when you put your ideas out there to be judged.
What helped transform that mindset? A few pivotal changes made overcoming self-limitations possible. I established mentoring relationships with several TA professionals who started small just like me.
Lastly, realizing that expertise isn’t binary but a lifelong journey was freeing. I began viewing every speaking engagement or piece of content not as needing to ‘prove’ anything but rather as progress toward better articulating ideas and engaging communities. My confidence now stems from excitement to keep learning in the open rather than seeking validation.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences or achievements you’ve had in your career so far?
I know this might not sound like a groundbreaking achievement that people usually share, but for me, it’s the most rewarding one. During COVID, an international law enforcement organization asked me to collaborate with them on their OSINT training. To be honest, it feels really great to know that it is being put to good use.
What kind of experiences have you had as a candidate yourself? Any experiences that stand out?
I’ve definitely had my fair share of ups and downs as a job candidate and like many, I’ve had experiences with ghosting after interviews where the company inexplicably goes silent. I’ve gone through final round interviews only to ultimately hear the frustrating “we went with another candidate” without any feedback on strengths or areas of improvement.
However, one episode stands out for how bizarre and frankly unprofessional it was. I interviewed with an HR manager at a company where the agency recruiter who had submitted my resume also sat in. Afterwards, the recruiter pulled me aside to say that the HR manager would likely reject me. Why? Because she apparently felt threatened that I could take her job and didn’t want that internal competition.
I was stunned and was expecting official feedback from them, but it never came. But the story gets weirder – weeks later, I ran into the same recruiter on a flight to London. We made direct eye contact, yet he pretended that we hadn’t met before the entire flight. It was so awkward and disappointing. But it taught me a valuable lesson – the importance of transparency, communication and empathy in recruitment. It shaped my approach to building trust and advocating for candidates as partners.
What recruitment and talent management trends are you most excited and/or worried about? Why?
I’m excited about the increased use of artificial intelligence and automation in recruitment and talent management. However, I do have some concerns that these technologies could lead to biased hiring if not implemented carefully. It will be important to audit these systems regularly to ensure they are not inadvertently discriminating against certain candidates.
While AI tools can help scale candidate sourcing and screening, we cannot forget the human element of hiring. I want to ensure assessments of soft skills and culture add don’t get lost in the quest for efficiency. The candidate and employee experience must still be nurtured.
Another trend I’m following is the move towards skills-based hiring and talent mobility within organizations. Assessing candidates on their actual skills rather than just credentials can surface more diverse and qualified applicants. And empowering employees to move across projects and departments based on their interests and strengths, rather than siloing them into predefined career ladders, can increase engagement and retention. The challenge will be changing rigid corporate structures to support this agility.
Overall, this is an exciting time in recruitment. However, we need to keep the human element of hiring and management front and centre. Technology should enhance, not replace, the connections and conversations that turn a candidate into a valued employee.
What tools that you use in your day-to-day work are the most valuable to you? What do you use them for?
The combination of connectivity via LinkedIn, seamless communication through Slack, Grammarly, and AI support from ChatGPT covers so many daily needs on the job. They are absolutely essential to me now.
In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities a recruiter should possess to be successful in this field?
There are some of the most critical skills and qualities I believe a successful recruiter should possess:
- Interpersonal Skills – Recruiting involves constant communication and relationship building with candidates, hiring managers, colleagues etc. Strong verbal and written communication skills, emotional intelligence and ability to connect with diverse personalities are extremely important.
- Sourcing Expertise – Whether it’s mining existing databases or candidate networks, leveraging social media, job boards or other platforms – strong sourcing skills to locate qualified, passive candidates is critical for a recruiter.
- Negotiating Abilities – Recruiters often have to negotiate job offers and compensation packages on behalf of the company with candidates. Strong negotiation skills to represent the company’s interests as well the candidate’s needs are important to close deals.
- Adaptability – Recruiters must be adaptable enough to try out new approaches while leveraging existing best practices. An innovative, flexible mindset goes a long way.
- Consultative Skills – Top recruiters act as advisors to both candidates and hiring managers. They understand stakeholder needs to craft win-win solutions. Sharp consultative skills allow forming partnerships across the board.
- Time Management – Juggling multiple open job requisitions while moving candidates through the recruitment funnel is challenging. Superior organizational and time management abilities help successful recruiters handle the pressure.
- Tenacity – Recruiting is often compared to sales, requiring persistence and discipline to source new candidate pipelines and see the process through. Grit and tenacity, even in the face of rejection, are vital.
Recommend us 3 books/TV shows/podcasts and let us know why you love them.
Here are 3 of my favourite shows and why I love them:
- The Office (US and UK) – Both versions of this mockumentary sitcom perfectly capture awkward office dynamics and humour. The talented actors portraying delightfully quirky characters always make me laugh.
- Person of Interest – This sci-fi crime drama has a compelling good vs. evil premise, with the machine predicting violent crimes. The stories highlighting technology’s dangers and promise fascinated me. The themes around ethics and relationships between the leads are also thought-provoking.
- Vikings – As a history buff, I enjoyed this action-packed dramatization centred around Ragnar Lothbrok and other legendary Norse heroes, especially since actual records are scarce. The stunning locations, sets, costumes and gritty battle scenes transport you right into medieval Scandinavian life.
How do you know when it’s time to take some time off to avoid burnout? How do you recharge?
I don’t know about others, but for me, it’s time to rest when tasks that are usually easy become difficult or dreadful, motivation and energy levels drop, or when I start feeling cynical and disconnected. Taking a few days off to relax, spending time outdoors, reading, or doing activities I enjoy always does the trick.
What motivates you professionally?
I know this might sound cliché, but for me, it’s all about the people. The team and other colleagues I’m working with are my main source of motivation because we’re building something together. Plus, seeing the company thrive because of the people I’ve helped bring on board is incredibly rewarding.
Thank you, Jan, for participating in our ‘Meet the Expert’ series.
To learn more about Jan, visit his LinkedIn profile and website.
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