Welcome to the latest installment of a new series in which we spotlight talent acquisition professionals within the ERE community. The series’ aim is to showcase individuals not so much for what they do but for who they are. In other words, the focus is less on what people are doing in their roles and more on how they view work and life.
Meet Brian Fink, talent acquisition partner at McAfee. Brian is an experienced recruitment professional, specializing in tooling, Boolean strings, natural language search, and raw sourcing. He’s a regular contributor to this site, as well as a regular speaker at the ERE Recruiting Conference. He’s also the author of Talk Tech To Me: The Non-Technical Guide to Technology Recruiting.
Aside from his professional accomplishments, Brian is one of the recruiting field’s best cheerleaders, known for supporting friends and colleagues to reach their goals. In our candid conversation, Brian opens up about being medically extroverted, the five people he wants to make proud, and his biggest failure.
ERE: What is your best personality trait?
Brian Fink: My eyebrows. Everyone loves them. Look at them.
Aren’t eyebrows a physical, not a personality, trait?
My eyebrows have got a personality of their own. They do weird movements and always give things away. They sell me out when I’m lying; they let everyone know where I stand. You know how people say that they wear their hearts on their sleeves? I wear my heart on my eyebrows.
What is your worst personality trait?
Jealousy. I get insanely jealous of things that don’t need to take up space in my head. For instance, I get jealous when my wife goes to do wine-and-painting nights with her friends. I don’t like wine. I don’t like to paint. Why am I jealous that she’s hanging with her girlfriends? I don’t know!
How do you deal with your jealousy issues?
I have generalized anxiety disorder, so I talk to my therapist and take medication.
What is the biggest assumption people tend to make about you — be it wrong or right?
People assume that I’m naturally outgoing, that I’m the life of the party. They also assume that I’m always fearless. But the thing is that, sure, I think I’m a cool party person and all that, but I actually have got a tremendous amount of fear that I deal with and often keep bottled up. And so again, I deal with that by talking to my therapist and medicating myself, as well as exercising. So even though people assume that I’m extroverted, I’m really medically extroverted.
What do you love most about working in talent acquisition?
This is going to sound so canned and rehearsed, but I love building up people and organizations. I like getting people into the right vehicles that take them from better to best.
What do you like least about working in talent acquisition?
Scheduling interviews. It is the biggest time-suck in the world, especially when you have great tools that should be adopted more broadly to make things easier for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers.
What is your greatest fear in the workplace?
I fear that I’m not going to finish. I’m one of those people that does not get scared of Mondays rolling around — because actually I come at Mondays like motherf–ker, let’s get this sh-t on! I am, however, scared of Fridays. I’m scared I’m losing something, about not finishing something by end of week. It could be letting candidates head into the weekend without knowing their status.
What do you most value in team members?
Reliability. I like people who say they will do something and then they do it. The team members I’ve had the best relationships with are always those who say, “I’ve got this,” and they do. They get stuff done.
What is the most overused or overrated thing that recruiting pros believe about themselves?
That somehow they are the hiring manager. As a TA pro, you are not the hiring manager. You are simply a conduit to get two people talking. Don’t let your ego get drunk with something beyond your responsibility.
How do you define success?
Can I be 1% better than I was yesterday?
How do you define failure?
Did I let down any of the five people in my life that I want to make proud? Did I do something, even if they don’t know about it, to fail them?
Who are those people?
My mom, dad, wife, daughter, and — this will seem out of nowhere — Steve Rath. Steve is someone who has vouched for me so many times as a recruiter. He got me into Apple years ago. Anytime I’ve doubted myself, felt unsure of who I am or what I was doing, Steve had my back. So even as I was writing my book, I didn’t want to let him down. I wanted to make sure every word I wrote in the book was something that Steve could stand by.
What’s your biggest failure?
A time when I chose the wrong time to stand up for people, for what was right. Years ago, there was a young lady who, by every stretch of imagination, was one of the best developers that I’d ever recruited. We were going to pay her below average for the team. And by the way, she was the only female on the team.
I stood up and said, “This is wrong.”
“If this is wrong,” I was asked by people on our team, “why didn’t you stand up when we were doing it to other females?”
I didn’t have a response. I stopped dead in tracks. Looking back at the situation, I guess that I didn’t say something sooner because I wasn’t a dad yet. I know that shouldn’t matter, but once I became a dad to a girl, it fundamentally changed how I looked at a lot of things. Seven years ago when I became a dad, that little girl saved me. I used to be a-butts-in-seats recruiter, but my daughter gave me my humanity back. And that changed very fundamentally how I approached recruiting.
Name one TA person besides yourself that people need to know?
Jenna Aronow. She is straight fire. Jenna is one of those people who makes me put data into what I do. She is an advocate for DEIB and a great tech recruiter. She’s always doing interesting experiments, like reaching out to technologists not with the intention to recruit them but just to learn how to recruit better in the space and really improve her craft. I learn something from her every time we talk.
Most important question: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. I’m a huge Gaga fan.
Finish this sentence: Brian Fink is…