Tin for Ten Years

What that means for Talent Function and the Tribe behind it

According to etiquette, the traditional 10-year anniversary gift is tin. If we take a closer look into the definition, breaking down the words malleable and ductile, we are left with something that is able to undergo change of form without breaking! This represents Talent Function perfectly!

In the last 10 years there has been a substantial change, adaptation, and endurance that come with growth. And still, Talent Function has remained durable and pliable. It has bent in a few areas but has remained unbroken. This symbol not only defines Talent Function as a business, but it symbolizes the tribe as well.

One of our Senior Partners, Tracey Middlemas said it best, “we’ve created a team of some of the best consultants I’ve ever worked with, both past and present. We lean on each other and want each other to succeed. Equally important are the clients we have been blessed to work with; from small companies to large, global companies, each comes with its own set of challenges to help grow our skills.” When asked of Tracey one word that defines Talent Function, she uses the word dynamic. It has all come full circle, in 10 years Talent Function has changed, overcome, and endured; and with all that has come great growth and we have yet to scratch the surface.


The Woman Behind It All!

Part 1 of 2

As we raise our glasses on 10 years passed and look forward to another decade, we can’t help but feel indebted to the CEO and Founder behind it all, Elaine Orler. She had the vision to build the company from nothing, the vision to build our capable team, and the vision to continue to build moving forward. We asked her some direct questions as we reflect back on how we got here:

What was the recruiting industry like when you first got started?

I started my recruiting career in 1993 – before the internet, when email was a luxury and only used internally, recruiting technology was on UNIX as a platform, and you hired staff to open – sort – prep – scan and verify the resumes into the database before recruiters could review candidates.

I launched Talent Function in 2009 – after working for several other boutique consulting firms focused on recruiting consulting and talent management consulting. I started Talent Function because I wanted to only focus on recruiting consulting needs and the technology that was exploding around talent acquisition. It was the bottom of the ‘correction’ recession at the time and very few companies were recruiting – it was the most insane time to start a consulting firm focused on the one thing no one was doing – recruiting.

Where did you get the drive for the business and what made you not give up on it?

I’m passionate about seeing recruiting successfully. It is core to my being. There is a point of intersection in life when work is life and life is work – in a good way. I get to live that every day. At the end of the day – everything we do to help companies in recruiting boils down to helping people get the best job possible to provide for their families and increase the way in which contribute to society in a positive way. Nothing is more fulfilling than having a direct impact on the quality of someone’s life for the better.

Giving up isn’t an option – course correction, modification of expectations, shape shifting – we have done that every year we move to where the work is, the work needed and the pay available.

What were some significant challenges you’ve had to overcome and how did you get past them?

1. Impostor syndrome – we all have it – but our Tribe seems to carry it in a way that we have learned not to let it hold us back. The concept is when we’re sitting with an amazing client and wondering – why are we here – clearly, they don’t need us and yet we’re getting paid to be here – to help – to lead – to move them in the right direction. It can be paralyzing to consultants – even ME – at times. But the reality is we do have value – great value to add to the situation, circumstances, or plans for change and once we dive in, the greatest compliment we get is the recognition for ‘creating a reality that wouldn’t have happened otherwise’. In other words, leading our client to an outcome that they can achieve that we could see for them.

2. Operations – We’re a tribe of individual contributors that all work well together, but the area that always got left behind was the aspect of business operations. We get so invested in our clients that we lose the time and attention to the day to day. Learning this early and bringing on a team to do that work has helped us keep our focus on our clients needs and the work. Everything from Sales, Marketing, Accounting, and the like is delivered by experts now so the consultants can focus on their true craft – client success. Tied to that is our open reporting structure, where we pair up different consultants based on skills, expertise, and location on different projects so you’re constantly creating new relationships and work balance – in a way that a higher up organizational structure could not support.

Is there any event that has drastically affected you in your journey, something that has had a big impact on your entrepreneur life?

1. I attended an entrepreneur workshop back in 1999 and the most profound thing the presenter said was “unless you’re willing to take out the trash you won’t make any money.” What he went on to explain and demonstrate is that the companies that last and add value are the companies willing to do the work that someone else doesn’t know how, is afraid of or doesn’t want to do. That is exactly what we do. WE get down and dirty with all of the recruiting process and technology, we ask the tough questions, and then we guide and coach to a better outcome and then we get to do that over and over again for amazing companies.

2. I finally accepted the fact that I can’t report to someone. I’m an activator, and visionary type and need to space to create – and so often I was tied to a box and not able to expand out of it. That narrowed my ability to create change and pushed me to find an opportunity where I could lead in a crazy way and stay out of the way of others that are super smart and have the power to create.

Is there a person that has drastically affected you in your journey?

Several people have been instrumental in my career thus far but a few that come to mind are:

Michele Fleck – she was the head of recruiting at Qualcomm when I was there – and she imprinted on me the importance of space and protective instincts. She always lead with the mindset of ask forgiveness not permission – we were trying to change the world (and we did) but it required the ability to take risk. She would say I hired you because you’re smart and have common sense, don’t ask me permission, ask forgiveness if it doesn’t work, but don’t not try something. And then she always 100% of the time back anyone on her team up if some effort failed. The number of times leadership would come at her with issues/concerns with something the team might have tried, and the number of times she would just stand up and say we tried it didn’t work – fire me -it stops at me – and if you don’t like that we’re working hard then let me go, and they would always back down. Such an inspiration that to this day I try every day to live that same mindset – with my team (s) and work.

Ed Newman – he was one of the only people that understood I needed space to create and gave it to me in many ways while at The Newman Group. I was the odd ball on the team but he managed to find a way to make it work, give me a safe place to grow and helped me hone in on my craft and expertise. Ed set the pace for how to run a consulting firm of smart people, and also taught me how to set realistic boundaries in working relationships. I would tend to make everyone my best friend from first introduction and trust them in every way and Ed was the first person to help me master the range of relationships in this industry, because everyone being your best friend is only a receipt for disaster emotionally. I credit him for giving me the inspiration to lead and the support when I always needed it most. From the multiple times he tried to hire me very early in my career, to the constant sound advice and friendship we have today. I wouldn’t be ½ the consultant I am today without his guidance and mentorship.

My Dad – Growing up we were not friends – he was a strong man, and very dedicated man and I didn’t realize the number of life experience he was giving me until I got to know other people. He included his kids in all types of things, learning to bleed the brakes in the car, changing the oil, the tire, fishing, camping, taking care of the animals, all while he worked a 50 – 60 hour a week engineering job. He didn’t take second best as good enough – he pushed for better – not for the A’s but looked for the attitude and attention to the task. If we tried to do something half-baked, he knew and would make you do it again – only harder. Reflecting on all of this, it became very clear to me he always treated me as an equal to anyone – he didn’t see a role difference between boys and girls (my brother and I) and he expected both of us to know how to do things equally. In a day and age where gender bias exists, I come from a place where it never existed, and for that I am grateful beyond words. Well that and the fact that I know how to drive a 30 ft motorhome, change a tire, and ride bareback, when necessary. He never said I couldn’t do anything I set out to do – just always promoted do whatever you want but give it your best.

Part 2 of this interview will be featured in our November newsletter.

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Read Human Resource Executive Magazine’s list of top 100 HR Tech Influencers and you’ll spot a familiar face, our very own Elaine Orler.

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Case Study

A multinational software company engages Talent Function to identify risk in the current state and build a compliant future state process.


Welcome to the Tribe

Talent Function welcomes our newest tribe members Steve Mercer and Brooke Glennon. These two new additions have already hit the ground running and have proven to be vital to our team. To learn more about them and their roots please click on their photo below.

Steve Mercer Brooke Glennon


Upcoming Events Talent Function to Attend…

Jobvite’s Recruiter Nation Live
Date: September 9-11, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

Date: Sept. 30- Oct. 03, 2019
Location: Seattle, WA

RecruitCon 2019 Fall
Date: Nov. 14-15, 2019
Location: Nashville, TN

See More Events

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