Recruiter, talent acquisition partner, staffing specialist ... What's in a name — or job title?

A blank business card. The traditional "recruiter" job title is going through a rebrand across many global development organizations to reflect the growing strategic and business role of the people in charge of hiring. Photo by: kruziwuten

As the role of human resources has evolved over the years, so too have the job titles for professionals working in this field. The traditional “recruiter” job title, in particular, is going through a rebrand across many global development organizations to reflect the growing strategic and business role of the people in charge of hiring.

Many global development recruiters now hold titles such as talent acquisition partner, staffing specialist or chief of people. Jackie Amoaka, international staffing specialist for West Africa with World Vision International, says that discussions on rebranding emerged when her team saw the need for a title which was more “current” and better represented the skills and competencies of recruitment professionals. Amoaka sees recruitment as a specialist area within “the bigger umbrella that is HR,” and a role which has really evolved.

Devex spoke to global development recruitment professionals to better understand their various job titles and what these say about the role of recruitment in an organization.

Critical to any organization’s operations

Global development is a sector which demands highly skilled and experienced professionals and so those responsible for sourcing the right talent are key to the success of any organization. “Recruitment is where everything else begins,” says Jennifer Coburn, global staffing specialist at Oxfam America.

“An organization can’t do anything without the people to do the work, and if you can’t find the right people for your roles, it can be extremely detrimental to a team and an organization. I think every human resources role also helps to build the organizational culture in some way. In my role, it is helping to ensure people who will make us better are joining us,” she adds.

Coburn says that, at the end of the day, she aims to have made the hiring process easier for the organization's hiring managers and to have selected a candidate who will contribute to Oxfam’s work.

A more collaborative approach

Recruitment is no longer an isolated administrative function within an organization but seen as working in partnership with other teams and departments. Inga Feldi is a talent acquisition partner at RTI International and says her role, in addition to working with the HR manager, involves a wider understanding of development issues and teams.

“My role requires knowledge of the industry, ability to engage across the organization, building capacity of other recruitment team members, and making executive decisions on issues affecting recruitment of my division,” she says.

Working with hiring managers and other employees is also important to Hillary Jenkins in her role as talent acquisition specialist at World Vision International. Jenkins aims to empower hiring managers and employees in the recruitment process while her team “act as facilitators to keep the process moving and ensure the best candidates are being seen.”

Experts on all things hiring

Many job titles now better demonstrate the specialized knowledge and skills of recruitment professionals. Feldi feels her title pretty accurately reflects her actual role within the organizations which involves being the “go-to” person for any matters related to recruitment and “serving in both execution and advisory capacities.”

“I am viewed as having the answers when it comes to recruitment, whether it’s troubleshooting the immediate needs of projects, helping out with issues on home office recruitment, or having talent come out of the woodwork for a particular proposal,” says Feldi.

Jenkins also described her team as the “go to” source for any questions regarding talent acquisition or recruitment. “We think of ourselves as the talent acquisition business partners,” says Jenkins who advises the groups she works with on everything from how to advertise roles within the own networks to conducting effective interviews.

A strategic player

Global development organizations are increasingly recognizing the need to build pipelines of future talent to fill positions more quickly and ensure minimal disruption to programs in the process. An organization's recruitment team therefore plays an important role in anticipating future staffing demands.

“Talent acquisition goes beyond the traditional role of a recruiter and just filling positions,” says Amoako adding that the role is now a lot more strategic and involves a great deal of planning  — from evaluating and tracking existing staff to knowing where you will source candidates. “You are thinking long term so you have to think in terms of sustaining relationships with candidates,” adds Amoako.

Similarly Feldi explains that her role as talent acquisition partner is about providing support to the division on a more consistent basis than ad hoc recruitment assignments. She works to assess not only the organization’s current needs but also its future needs “to align with the strategy for growth or expansion” of the two divisions she assists.

“I work with them to develop talent recruitment processes that fit their needs, advise on project and home office hires, and ensure preparedness for multiple opportunities coming down the pipeline,” says Feldi.

Do you work in recruitment? What is your job title and do you think it accurately reflects the scope of your position? Please leave your comments below.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.