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How to work with talent partners

“I’ve been surprised how few legit senior candidates are networking with VCs.” Top GTM Recruiter

How talent partners work

In many ways, VC talent partners operate like recruiters - many were recruiters in a past life!. Read our article on recruiters first as most insights also apply to VC talent partners:

  • High bar for talent: Similar to recruiters, VC talent partners have a quick eye for backgrounds. They are looking for top 10% talent and if you don’t have the right background, VC talent partners may not be a channel you should spend a lot of cycles on.

  • Do your homework: If you have a call scheduled with a talent partner, make sure to research their portfolio. You can use the Whispered Company Insights for this (filter by Investor). Know the companies that are most aligned with your focus and come prepared to share why you are interested in them. Many firms source talent for existing portfolio companies AND hot companies they are trying to invest in, so talent teams may be aware of opportunities beyond their portfolio too.

  • A tight-knit community: There are ~50 firms with talent teams. All of them are in a Google Group together;). They tend to know each other well so, if you can build a strong relationship with one, they can introduce you to the talent teams at other firms. Unlike recruiters which can be more competitive (since they are competing for placements) talent teams are focused on helping their portfolio companies find the best talent.

  • Always have an ask: In addition to specific companies in their portfolio, VCs have deep relationships with recruiters and know which are seeing the best roles. They can be an excellent way to connect with recruiters. At the end of a good call with VC talent partner, try asking “are there any recruiters/talent partners you think highly of who you think I should meet?”

  • Connecting with talent partners: While you can try to cold-invite/email these folks, they are swamped. Here are the best ways I’ve found to get connected with them (in order):

  1. Find a portfolio company CEO: Talent partners are there to help their portfolio. If you know a CEO who is in their portfolio this is a surefire way to get connected. Also another reason to always network / meet CEOs;)

  2. Intro from Investing Partner: Talent partners respond quickly to the investing team as that is what pays the bills. If you are close with an investing partner use this channel

  3. Introduction from Whispered: Whispered has deep relationships with many talent partners. For premium members we can make introductions to top talent partners.

  4. Intro from another talent partner at another firm: Many talent teams collaborate (see above) so don’t be afraid to ask if they know other great talent teams.

  5. Other execs who have relationships with Talent Partners: If you know an exec who has a relationship this can help that exec nurture their relationship too! Any specific context / hook can make that easier (i.e. already talking to a company in their portfolio)

  • Additional ways you can engage talent teams: Talent teams don’t just help their portfolio with placements. They also help them up-level their understanding of functions, roles…. These opportunities won’t be ones you create but when asked, I strongly recommend being responsive for these opportunities as they builds your relationship with the talent teams and helps you meet great new executives.

    • Subject Matter Expert: Talent teams often get asked to help a C-level leader at a portfolio company get smarter (i.e. understanding how to hire RevOps, improve their pricing model….)

    • Content: Talent teams can leverage world-class content as resources to share with their portfolio and also may be asked to put together panels

  • Other tips:

    • Let talent partners know about hot companies raising! This helps them share valuable information with their investing partners

    • Every VC has a job board but be aware that they typically don’t list exec roles. These boards are most often just pulled from their portfolio company job boards. True executive roles are rarely posted.

    • If you find a company you want to get into (particularly if they have an open role), getting connected through the talent partners is a great strategy as a) they get credit for making the introduction b) the company interprets the introduction as an endorsement from their investor.

“Don't underestimate the power of talking to the talent team on Monday afternoon after the partner meeting. That's when all the problems in the portfolio companies are discussed and the talent team has new projects/priorities.” Talent Partner

Do you know how to leverage recruiters, talent partners and investors in your search?


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