Meet William Uranga, Director, Talent Acquisition at TiVo: "Talent alchemist & Curious Currator"

William Uranga, Director, Talent Acquisition at TiVo & Co-founder at Recruiting Leadership Forum


“It has been a great pleasure working for and closely with William. He is a great mentor with his knowledge of the industry and the company - I have learned so much from him! One important trait for a manager/director to have is to be approachable and he always has an open door for any questions or concerns we may have. He is the "glue" that holds our team together!”
Melissa Stebbins (Swimm)

It is something to be appreciated by your peers, it is meaningful to be appreciated among your co-workers. William Uranga has achieved veneration among both peers in the recruitment industry over the last fifteen years and within the teamwork environment he manages at Tivo.

I first met William at ERE San Diego this past spring at an evening reception as we circled around and shared war stories and we echanged emails thereafter until we met again at Kennedy Las Vegas the month after. William is passionate about talent acquisition, and has provided access to JobMachine workshops to his team. He lives and breathes social media, be it Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter. William is all of these things, and it has been my pleasure to have called him a friend and colleague.

William was kind enough to share his home world and his wealth of talent acquisition expertise with us:

Q&A with William Uranga

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

William: Married to Tracy (17 years). I have 2 two-legged kids: Emily (6 years old), Mason (4) and 2 four-legged ones, Chaps (Dalmation/choc lab mix) Maggie (Aussie shepherd)

I am regularly wrestled by my kids (WWF-style), paintball, enjoy alpine backpacking – especially climbing 14ers (14,000 ft peaks). We’re involved in small community group through our church and just moved into a 59 yo home – so I’m coming to terms with tons of “to do” projects.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

William: At a high-level, I “fell” into it. I had taken a temporary role with a not-for-profit while waiting to go overseas for work. When the latter didn’t pan out, I was offered a full-time role recruiting interns for the organization. It was a blast and eventually grew to include recruiting volunteers. That was tough. It’s much easier getting people to part with their money than their time it seemed.

My “flip” into the professional arena started when I was standing in line at a Starbucks. Not being shy, I paid the fellow behind me a sincere compliment about his tie. I had no idea I was talking to Bob Concannon of the then Bridgegate Group (a big deal in the Bay Area for retained search). He gave me his card and said “If you ever think about getting into search, call me”

The possibilities intrigued me (as did Bob) so I called. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any marketing or engineering experience, but I did have HR. Bob connected me one fateful day with Jeanne Palmer (a big name in HR in the Bay Area) and soon I joined her, conducting retained searches for HR executives. This shaped my approach to recruiting for all subsequent roles.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

William: Just one event? I can’t name just one. Outside of getting started (as mentioned above, I would say there are two:
1. Being laid off not once, but twice. It was business, but I was (and remain) optimistic. It’s grown my empathy for others who are either starting their career or are unemployed.
2. Leading others. My success or failure is based in large part on the people I pick coach, train, and inspire. It is humbling when I fail them, encouraging the organization becomes better because of their personality and contribution and thrilling to know I’d gladly face any challenge with them.

With respect to mentorship, I’ve learned tremendously while working with my manager, Nancy Kato, SVP Human Resources. In particular, in embodying the CEO’s vision while executing your respective business operations.

Six Degrees: Detail your position, responsibilities, size of your staffing organization:

William: Right now I lead the Talent Acquisition Team at TiVo. We work on all employee and contingent hires, related programs, tools and vendors for the organization. The team handles all hiring below the CXO level and across all skill sets. I’ve been busy and having fun here since March 2005.

Six Degrees: List/detail speaking events, awards, publications, where you have you represented your company:

William: ERE Conference and Expo, Kennedy Information’s Conference and Expo

Six Degrees: What is the source of the "Most Hires" collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)

William: 15% of our hires come through our website and 30% of our hires come through our employee referrals.

Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?

William: Everything we do is “niche”. Rarely will we have a run of needing to hire 5 or more similar positions. So from a business standpoint, we need to either become good at all of the skill sets or outsource the search. A recruiter could be looking for Java server-side talent one hour and the next be looking for retail marketing talent. This requires us to be better at “getting focused” for each search. To help with this we take a “project brief” approach to the search, much in the same way engineering or marketing teams do when there is something to build and deliver.

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

William: The funny thing is that I’m an ISTJ (for the Meyers Briggs folks) and the entire team is similar in being bottom-line drivers. So we’re not given to being too creative or out of the box thinkers. Don’t hear me wrong – everyone has lots of experiences which they offer to stop bad ideas or make good ones even better. I’ve had to discipline myself to read more and pass along what I learn from webinars, conferences and trainings. The group is great at “keeping it real” as to what will or what needs to be reworked to be used. Our recruiters and researcher will often present at our weekly staff meeting on what they are discovering too.

Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?

William: So we’re US-based and leverage the following:
• Jobvite as our job portal/ATS: Hiring managers love the intuitiveness. We enjoy it because the firm collaborates with us on ideas in improving it’s capabilities
• Jobster for CRM efforts: While this may seem limited, we’ve yet to see an ATS that truly leverages this critical component – and we’ve not had a chance to develop one for ourselves
• Linkedin’s Corporate Solutions: Enables us to be thorough and collaborative in our search projects

Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? In your opinion, how do people's assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?

William: I was given a desk computer and a phone. No coaching on the phone, not direction of where to go on the ‘Net. It was fun being creative. I think that is a challenge these days, most people want a formula for success or a guarantee of not flopping. You don’t learn.

Misperceptions happen in a couple of ways. Individuals who do well have broken through the assumptions to make their own recruiting reality. Some tell-tale signs IMHO:

• The job becomes a craft (there is channeled passion)
• The individual becomes a “content curator”. Beyond focusing on a particular geography, industry and skill set – they own it and naturally ask questions about things. One of the best compliments by team gets it that candidates are surprised they are recruiters due to their command of the business they recruit for
• Build loyalty. My team knows there is no “throwing anyone under the bus” and that I trust them – period. This gives them the freedom to fail. Failure isn’t fun, but it’s how we learn. Also be lightening quick to give recognition and praise to your team. I’ve learned to say “I’m sorry/was wrong” to my team, clients and manager.
• Transparency.

Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?

William: Thinking “the answer” can be found in programs, tactics or processes. The first thing is starting with “the person”. Most are obsessed with: How do we screen candidates? How do we close finalists? I think we forget to ask, “What inspires them? It is a kind of respect that defies a transaction-based mindset.:

Six Degrees: Considering all of the frustrations you have experienced in your career as a recruiter, -- what inspires you as you continue in your career?

William: Lack of accountability, people who don’t give, and people who don’t think they have anything to give (we all do)

Six Degrees: What one thing do you find most ideal given the opportunity to develop/ implementing/ invent professionally that has yet to be done?

William: I think the” customer relationship” in recruiting as it relates to the candidate has been given short shrift. The ones that don’t seem to fit we’re quick to jettison as a “dead weight”. It’s short-sided from a corporate recruiting standpoint. There has yet to be a tool to help cultivate or manage the relationship outside of a specific position being a fit. A couple of conferences have explored this “unmet” need and I think those that have candidates that could/should be customers in a buying sense are missing out in a couple aspects. It will involve some sort of tool development and I’m of the thought that it should be placed above recruiting advertisement.

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?

1. Admire the pantheon of talent around me in so many vertical areas of recruiting. I need to be more at peace so that I can’t and shouldn’t be like any of them – but I can learn from them.
2. While I’m on the corporate side, constantly experiment with strategies, tools and tactics to bring measurable value to the organization with a “will do” attitude
3. In the event of going on the solution-side of things, I’d probably look to work along a couple of lines: customer relationship/experience, recruiting as a project (versus program, process)
4. Either way (#2 & #3), I look to contributing to the recruiting conversation with time, resources and thought.strong>

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