Ooqio Spotlight: Building a Recruiting Pipeline with Hansell Tierney

From banking to recruiting to launching her own firm, Jill Hansell McCune has had an extensive and highly successful career. Now, as one half of the founding team at Seattle’s Hansell Tierney, she helps companies build a recruiting pipeline that will keep them on a long-term path to great hires.

Jill HansellYou started your career in a much different field—banking, where you had some, er, interesting experiences.

I was a recent college graduate and went into a banking management trainee program. This was during a period where banks were getting robbed all the time. Well, I was working in lots of different banks as part of my trainee program, and I got robbed by the same guy twice in a few weeks’ time.

At the time, there was a policy in place where if you were held up at gunpoint, you were mandated to take a certain amount of time off. I used that time off to look for a new job!

Who could blame you? So, from there you found your way to the world of recruiting.

Right! I got a job in recruiting and had a great mentor. Back then you worked on commission, so you had to be on the phone making calls, finding clients, finding candidates and matching them up. It was a great way to learn the ropes.

After a couple years doing that I heard about an opportunity with FDSI Consulting, and I pursued that. We were just starting to get into the field of IT. I saw the margins in that business, which were much greater than in engineering and architecture where my previous experience was. So I got the opportunity to work in that field. My current business partner was my boss at the time!

Eventually the two of you would go on to launch your own firm, which this month is celebrating its 15th year in business. That’s pretty impressive!

Well, when we started, we couldn’t really get any worse! We had both taken some time off, and many of our previous contacts had moved on to other things. We just had to keep making calls and asking for referrals and tapping our networks to make it work.

At times we considered taking loans to accelerate our growth, but looking back we’re very glad we bootstrapped it. We run strictly on cash, and that has allowed us to make very good investments.

So let’s talk about your expertise. You specialize in helping companies form a “recruiting pipeline.” What does that mean?

We’re a small firm and we partner very closely with our clients. We understand what their needs are not just today, but what they’ll be a year from now. So we’re not just recruiting for their current openings, we’re recruiting for what they’ll have open 12 months down the road.

For example, we recently sat down with our clients and talked about fiscal year 2017. What projects are they going to have? What types of people are they going to need?

We need to be making those connections now, so that when the position is ready to be filled it’s not a complete cold call. We’ve already been talking with the right people for the job. Many times we already know that there’s a 90% chance person X is going to get the job, because we know they’re the perfect fit.

That’s what we mean by the recruiting pipeline.


And what about your own company as you look ahead to 2017? What are you excited to work on?

We joke that we don’t toot our own horn enough. There’s a lot that we do that we never really tell people about, like some of our philanthropy or projects our core team works on.

We’re excited to tell people more about those things and show why we truly love what we do; we have fun at it. There’s nothing more rewarding than telling someone they got the job.

Also, new tools are coming out all the time. For example, the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal—what will it mean? Seattle is a really exciting place to be right now with new companies moving in and a continued focus on education. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just gave a $210 million gift to the University of Washington, and I’m sure we’ll see some incredible things stem from that contribution.

We’re also at the point where we’re seeing interns we recruited going out into the real job market for the first time and it’s excited to help them take the next step in their career.

Jill Hansell McCune is co-founder and managing partner at Hansell Tierney. For more information, visit HansellTierney.com.

Got something to say? Go for it!