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    December 7, 2023

    A Recruiter on The Future of Work: Deborah Kurtz's on Empowering Growth through Talent Alignment

    Deborah Kurtz, a seasoned professional in talent acquisition and human resources, brings a wealth of experience to the table. As the Vice President of HireMinds, a leading recruiting firm, Kurtz excels in helping organizations build agile and skilled workforces. Her expertise lies in guiding career development and empowering individuals to take charge of their learning journey. Recognizing the evolving dynamics of the employer-employee relationship, Kurtz embraces flexibility and diverse skill sets. Her forward-thinking approach has solidified her reputation as a trusted advisor in navigating the ever-changing landscape of modern work.



    Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds

    I sat down to chat with Kurtz to talk about future of work trends as part of my research to produce Season 1 of The Lever with Drew Fortin. This show highlights how the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and Web3 will shift the paradigm of humans at work for the better. I wrote this article based on my notes and transcripts from the interview. You can also watch a video of my interview with Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds, below.

    Deborah Kurtz's Journey: From Storytelling to Empowering Growth through Recruiting

    Kurtz, a journalism major with a passion for storytelling, embarked on a career in advertising, specializing in ad tech sales to Fortune 500 consumer brands. Throughout her 12-year tenure, she found herself drawn to the interview process, fascinated by the decision-making behind hiring.

    Experiencing the highs and lows of interviews firsthand, Kurtz became determined to understand how companies make hiring decisions and why. This curiosity led her to pivot her career into recruiting a decade ago. Today, she focuses on recruiting for companies in the EdTech, marketing, and advertising product sectors, drawing on her own industry background.

    Kurtz's journey showcases her ability to align talent and business strategies, leveraging technology to empower growth and success. Her experience and expertise enable her to engage readers with rhetorical questions, statistical evidence, and direct addresses, making her a persuasive advocate for both candidates and employers.

    Navigating the Complexities of the Employee-Employer Relationship

    In the ever-evolving landscape of the economy, Kurtz acknowledges the existing tensions within the employee-employer relationship. However, she cautions against painting with too broad a brush, emphasizing that each individual's psychology and motivations shape their perception of workplace happiness. Recognizing that companies are comprised of diverse individuals, Kurtz believes that the employee-employer dynamic is not universally broken but rather a complex interplay of human complexities, emotions, and business factors.

    Engaging candidates in conversations about their definitions of success, Kurtz helps them uncover what truly matters to them. She emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, acknowledging that different individuals prioritize different aspects such as financial success or work-life balance. By facilitating an understanding of personal values and aspirations, Kurtz empowers candidates to map their unique journeys towards meaningful work.

    "It's a misconception that recruiters aren't providing the desired time and attention to candidates. I strive to offer the same level of care I'd want, but people often misunderstand how recruitment operates and how we're compensated. Consequently, I don't dispense advice on finding one's dream job. I'd love to discuss it, but my primary role is to fill positions for companies."  - Debora Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds.

    As a recruiter, Kurtz clarifies the misconception that her role solely revolves around helping individuals find jobs. Instead, she highlights that recruiters primarily assist companies in building job opportunities. While she genuinely enjoys guiding individuals in their career exploration and identifying potential matches, her primary responsibility lies in fulfilling organizations' hiring needs. This is often lost on candidates who are looking for career advice.

    Evolving Job Market Trends: Insights from Debora Kurtz

    Kurtz shared her observations on the evolving job market trends. Over the years, she has witnessed a shift in employer expectations, with a growing emphasis on data-driven results and effective communication skills.

    Employers now seek tangible examples and quantifiable metrics when evaluating candidates. Kurtz advises job seekers to highlight their specific achievements and explain the impact of their work on business outcomes. Even in creative roles, showcasing the measurable results of projects has become crucial for success. She said, "even in creative roles, I advise candidates to emphasize what they did and why it was significant. For instance, if a designer created a logo or redesigned a website, I inquire about the outcomes. What was the website's initial traffic, and what did it become after the overhaul?"

    Furthermore, Kurtz noted the continued debate on the emotionally charged topic of remote and hybrid work arrangements. Both employers and employees are navigating changing attitudes and finding ways to adapt to this evolving work environment.

    In terms of emerging skillsets, Kurtz highlighted the significance of effective communication across all industries. Even in technically-oriented roles, the ability to communicate clearly and transparently has become a sought-after competency. Whether working remotely or in an office, the importance of strong interpersonal skills cannot be overstated.

    The Changing Landscape: Humans, Automation, and the Role of Freelance Workers

    In this insightful conversation, Kurtz shed light on the evolving dynamics between humans and automation in the workforce. She emphasized the importance of maintaining a human touch in an increasingly automated world. Kurtz shared an example of how automated rejection emails can leave candidates feeling frustrated and urged companies to consider adding a personal touch, even if it's a delayed response.

    "In a world where AI and robots and automation is having a heavier hand, I think that the human hand is even more important." - Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds.

    Drawing from her experience in the recruiting industry, Kurtz acknowledged that the hiring process can be emotionally charged. While it may not be feasible for every company to provide detailed feedback to every candidate, she suggests adding a human component wherever practical. Addressing concerns and providing real-time updates is vital in maintaining a positive candidate experience.

    Shifting gears, the discussion moved towards the rise of freelance and fractional work. Kurtz believes that building a company solely on freelance or fractional workers is possible, particularly for smaller businesses. However, she noted that the decision ultimately comes down to financial considerations and effectiveness. While outsourcing certain tasks can be cost-effective, there has also been a recent trend of bringing work back in-house.

    Kurtz's insights offer valuable perspectives on how humans can navigate the increasing presence of automation while also considering the potential benefits and challenges of freelance and fractional work arrangements.

    Revolutionizing Contracts and the Changing Landscape of Employment

    Kurtz and I spoke for a bit about the impact of freelance and fractional work on the employer-employee relationship. Contacts are evolving. Upwork's announcement of full-time contracts on their platform is a game-changer for hiring contract workers.

    Amidst these developments, Kurtz drew attention to the broader implications on at-will employment in the United States. She acknowledged that the prevalence of freelance work raises questions about job security and access to benefits like health insurance, as many individuals rely on employer-provided coverage.

    "I think that human nature is that we like to feel in control and we like to feel valued. And I think those are two core assets to most humans." Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds.

    Reflecting on human nature, Kurtz emphasizes the importance of feeling valued and in control in the workplace. While freelancing can offer independence and flexibility, she acknowledged the challenges in building a business solely of freelancers, particularly in securing clients and handling business development.

    Kurtz also noted that individuals have diverse preferences regarding their work environment. While some thrive in office settings with colleagues and company support, others seek the freedom and autonomy that freelance work provides.

    Ultimately, Kurtz thinks genuine, strong relationships between employers and employees will prevail regardless of the employment model. Valuing individuals and meeting their unique needs is paramount in fostering a fulfilling work experience.

    Unraveling the Value of Humans in the Work Context

    As our thought-provoking discussion continued, we explored the value of humans in the work context and the ongoing debate between human involvement and automation. Drawing from personal experiences, Kurts reflectd on the preference for human interaction in certain scenarios, using the example of self-checkout lines at supermarkets.

    Kurtz acknowledges that the choice between humans and automation often comes down to cost and the quality of work produced. While technology can optimize processes, the importance of human skill sets remains significant. Integrating technology seamlessly into workflows and evaluating its effectiveness becomes crucial when considering the implementation of automation.


    "I believe the decision between human and automation ultimately boils down to our capitalistic society. Money and the quality of work play pivotal roles. Quality of work is likely the most important factor; automating a task is not a solution if the output is subpar." - Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds.

    Contrary to the fears of technology completely replacing humans, Kurtz reminded me of the evolution and adaptation of industries in response to technological advancements. She recalled the concerns surrounding the launch of platforms like, which ultimately altered the recruitment industry rather than rendering it obsolete.

    As technology continues to shape industries, the irreplaceable value of humans remains. The ability to provide a human touch, adapt to changing circumstances, and deliver quality work contributes to the ongoing relevance and importance of human involvement in the workplace.

    Empowering Career Development and Growth in the Workplace

    Kurtz, ashared her insights on the diverse landscape of career development programs offered by businesses today. She emphasizes that these offerings can vary greatly depending on the size and nature of the company.

    In larger companies, there's a trend of regimented training programs with clearly defined career paths. These organizations often have structured learning tracks, guiding employees through various stages of professional development. On the other hand, smaller or younger startup companies may adopt a more flexible approach. Candidates interviewing with startups may find that career paths are not as predefined, with opportunities depending on individual aspirations and the company's evolving needs.

    When considering the most effective approach to career development, highlighted the value of self-driven education and personal growth. Instead of merely being told what skills to learn, she advocates for empowering individuals to identify their own areas of interest and pursue relevant education. Kurtz believes that companies, regardless of their size, can encourage this mindset by providing resources for self-improvement. Whether offering a stipend for continuing education or fostering a culture that supports ongoing learning, these gestures demonstrate a commitment to investing in employee development.

    Kurtz's perspective underscores the importance of aligning talent and business strategies while leveraging the accessibility of education in the digital age. By nurturing a culture of continuous learning, companies can empower their employees to take control of their career growth and contribute to their overall success.


    Navigating Career Development and Embracing Self-Growth

    Kurtz spoke of the importance of businesses recognizing the value of career development to empower their workforce and foster long-term success.

    Kurtz shed light on the potential risk of pigeonholing careers when employees solely rely on their employer's financial support for training and education. With the rise of freelance and fractional work, she suggests that individuals taking control over their careers may increase demand for worker-subsidized career development services in the future.

    While some companies already offer certain forms of financial support for continued education, Kurtz pointed out the accessibility of education in today's digital world. She encourages individuals to pursue learning opportunities that don't necessarily require expensive private colleges or time off work. By demonstrating a commitment to personal growth, employees can showcase their drive and adaptability, highly valued by employers.

    As we wound down our chat, Kurtz shared her perspective on job searching, emphasizing the need for perseverance and a resilient mindset. She reminds individuals that finding the right fit is often a matter of timing and circumstance rather than a reflection of personal shortcomings. Kurtz's uplifting message reassures job seekers that there will always be new opportunities on the horizon.

    "I believe we're currently experiencing a remarkable era of accessibility. The wealth of affordable education available at our fingertips is truly astounding. As challenging as it may be to transition between industries or roles and avoid pigeonholing, it's a more significant issue than many of us initially recognize when embarking on our careers." - Deborah Kurtz, Vice President at HireMinds.


    Want to hear more from Deborah Kurtz?


    Drew Fortin

    Drew is a people-first, values-driven leader with nearly 20 years of growth strategy and team-building experience across retail, marketing technology, local media, and HR tech. He spent 7 years at The Predictive Index, where he was Chief Growth Officer responsible for the company's strategy to build the world's first...

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