12 Questions with Silicon Valley Recruiter and Tivo's Director of Talent Acquisition William Uranga

12 Questions with Silicon Valley Recruiter and Tivo’s Director of Talent Acquisition William Uranga

William Uranga is TiVo Inc.‘s Director of Talent Acquisition and the founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Recruiting Leadership Forum.

Jacob Share 1) How did you get into recruiting/talent acquisition?
William Uranga By recruiting summer interns for a local non-profit. I then moved onto recruiting volunteers (much harder). One day I started a conversation with a complete stranger at a Starbucks who, it turns out, was part of the BridgeGate Group (part of Bay Area recruiting lore) and soon was conducting retain search for HR execs… things rolled from there…
Jacob Share 2) What are your favorite recruiting tools?
William Uranga My cop-out answer is the Internet. To be more specific it's the Google Apps. I could run any operation if I had to using them: research (search/rss reader), db (apps), process, documents and communication (gmail/chat).
Jacob Share 3) What do you find is different about recruiting in Silicon Valley?
William Uranga Well, I hear from folks elsewhere that we're scrappier. I'm not sure if we lack “polish” or more of a “get it done” attitude. There is a lot of diversity both in industry and in ethnicity which makes it really interesting (in a fun way) in the creation of teams and companies.
Jacob Share 4) What are some recent trends in Valley recruiting?
William Uranga A recent survey had Oakland, SF and San Jose as 3 of the top places to find a job. Social media is really growing (beyond Linkedin and Facebook). Whatever innovations are being created be it technology or thought leadership in marketing and customer connection, I think a lot of folks are asking, ‘how can that be used in talent acquisition and talent management?'
Jacob Share 5) What are the most annoying practices that job seekers are using in the Valley?
William Uranga Job seekers who mail/fax their resume. After that? Those who apply and say they know about “TiVo” – most quickly show they haven't done their homework (psst, use the Internet). Hint: TiVo went way beyond the box 4 years ago. When they don't bother to read up, I feel like I'm on a bad first date – and there's not going to be a second.
Jacob Share 6) What are the most annoying practices that recruiters are using in the Valley?
William Uranga Well, not just in the Valley, but everywhere – most recruiters think only in terms of their discipline: recruiting.  It took me a while to get beyond that one-dimensional thinking.  Several of my a-ha! moments came as I was talking with client groups, researching what tools and operations would be useful to them (again, the client, not just me in HR).  Taking classes in other disciplines, like project management and marketing will make you better at your craft and not just the process of recruiting.
Jacob Share 7) With the economic crisis in mind, how do you think Valley recruiting will change over the next 6-12 months?
William Uranga It could be longer – so beware of the “experts”! I think there are two camps of thought that are not too unfamiliar to other areas: a) circle the wagons, do our job and maybe they'll keep us longer or we should all be looking for a back up plan or b) this is a great opportunity to redefine what we do, offer more client-relevant solutions, and expand our role (to more quality, more HR).
Jacob Share 8) If someone wanted to get started recruiting in the Valley today, how should they go about it?
William Uranga Well degrees and certifications are perhaps a cute start. However the reality is that the current body of world knowledge that a freshmen in college learns will be obsolete by their senior year. So a) you need to be constantly learning, always a student and b) build yourself a cadre of mentors. I have found some in the places where I've worked, some in social media and others by joining (or creating) a helpful association.
Jacob Share 9) What would you have done differently in starting your own recruiting career?
William Uranga I probably would have changed my major to business, marketing or finance. I would have liked to have had a mentor (in a career sense) when I left college.
Jacob Share 10) Do you do anything differently when recruiting a recruiter?
William Uranga
  1. Obtain references from prior client groups, both hiring managers and those placed in it.
  2. Listen to how they problem solve. I'll give them a current search we're working on and ask them to source right then and there via a laptop or bring it back (as homework) showing their process, strings and results.
  3. Hear from them how their prior companies/agencies are better off for that recruiting having worked there.  I just can't hire a recruiter who can only demonstrate their worth by their hires.  Yes, the act of recruiting is important, but it's only one dimension of the person that will make my company better.
  4. In this age, you have to be self-directed about your learning and on-going education.  I ask about how they, as a recruiter, keep up on things in the industry and recruiting.  Taking a few classes, joining a mailing list isn't enough.  I want someone who is really engaged and is giving back what they have learned/been given.
Jacob Share 11) Can you share an unforgettable recruiting horror story?
William Uranga We once interviewed a candidate for the role of CFO who conveyed where he was in his career, “Yeah, I really don't want to work that hard…” Y'gotta be kidding me, right?
Jacob Share 12) You created the Recruiting Leadership Forum (RLF). What is it and and what are its goals?
William Uranga It started about a year ago with a peer of mine. We had met for coffee and discussed how frontline recruiters and even senior HR execs had gatherings for their kind to share and learn. Yet there was nothing for those of us who were leading the corporate recruiting function in the Bay Area. It seems to float between the tactical and the very high strategic stuff. So we started a group for us and invited our peers. It's a monthly meeting where we have a peer present a project and we discuss/critique. It's a safe place, nothing is recorded and we say how things really are and share our strategies, tools and opinions. RLF has a minimal online presence for this obvious reason (see not everything in the Silicon Valley has to be tech-based) – its about personal interaction.
Jacob Share Thanks for your time, William. Thanks also to HR pro Jessica Lee for introducing us.

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About the Author Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

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2 comments
Jacob Share
Dan Payne says

Interesting Interview with some very insightful and non-cookie cutter answers. I’m glad I read this, always nice to learn something new and also re-inforce fundamental keys to success.
Thanks!

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