Recruiting at Scale - The Importance of Talent Acquisition

By Walt Xie

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As part of MitchelLake Onsite Team’s weekly training session, we recently had the pleasure to hear from Richard Cho, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Machine Zone, on how he fell into recruiting and how he’s now dedicated his life to uplifting talent acquisition.

Amongst recruiters, many fall into the uplifting talent acquisition segment and Richard was no different. A UC Berkeley dropout, Richard left to try his hand at sales and he soon discovered he had a knack for it and enjoyed it much more than what he was studying at university. The company unfortunately went bankrupt; however a friend recruited Richard into recruiting himself, and his early clients included Tivo, Intel and Kaiser as he helped them all grow at scale.

The key takeaway for me about Richard’s career is his experience in scaling companies from only a few hundred employees to thousands. Some of those who may be misguided might say that this is simply a case of putting butts in seats, but this isn’t the case. Richard was very clear about how he built out his talent organizations. He assigned each recruiter to their own specific vertical - essentially becoming their own SME - and they had to focus in that particular area, not only to hire the right candidates, but also to truly understand each position and the necessity of it. By doing so, this allowed recruiters to be able to better understand hiring decisions. They also had the ability to consult with hiring managers and their teams about how to hire the right candidate in order to succeed.

Bringing that idea one step further, a great recruiter should be able to provide candidates the career development and counseling that they are ultimately looking for in the first place; a great recruiter will have the ability to positively impact a person’s life. This was how Richard was able to scale Facebook from <500 to >6000 employees between 2008 and 2012. Similarly at Dropbox from <500 to >1200 between 2013 and 2015. This is currently how Richard is building his recruiting team at Machine Zone to scale in the same fashion.

Richard has built a replicable and scalable process from these principles. In the ever-changing landscape of tech talent, the emphasis of talent acquisition and having a strong recruiting team has become just as important, if not more important than hiring a world-class engineering team. Richard stressed the importance of becoming a “master of your craft” and that recruiting is no different. Recruiting itself is a craft and one should strive to improve their craft consistently and constantly. I may or may not have the opportunity to scale a company to the size that Richard has in my own career, but I do believe that each recruiter should have the same values as Richard. Recruiters are more than just a means to an end to grow a company, but we as recruiters have the responsibility to positively impact both potential employees’ lives, as well as positively impact the growth and direction of a company.