A Day In The Life of a Talent Acquisition Firm Partner

Anne Gustafson
Co-Founder, Partner, R3 Strategic Search

As the Co-Founder, Anne is responsible for driving each facet of the business including research & development, project management, candidate engagement, client relations and business development. She oversees the recruitment process along with supporting existing partnerships while working harmoniously with her partner, Eric, to ensure each system flows smoothly throughout the company.



5:15 AM

Anne woke up, packed three lunches for her kids and let Lilly, her five-year-old golden retriever—aka the Queen of the Castle—outside to mosey around. Anne needed to be out of the door 30 minutes later to make it to her morning Orange Theory class, which she swears by.

Once the class was over, Anne was on the road and drove her two kids to school. After she returned home, she fed Lilly, grabbed a bit to eat and hit the shower to get ready for the day. Anne bared a fresh face—she wears makeup on days with meetings—dropped her youngest son off at school and prepared for her workday.

Lilly-Anne Gustafson

8:00 AM

Since Anne works from home, she walked downstairs to her office.

The house is either chaotic or calm, with no in-between. With kids, neighbors and a dog pulling for Anne’s attention, she must implement strategies to remain productive. Anne minimizes the impact of distractions by adhering to the daily tasks and responsibilities outlined by her routine phone call with business partner, Eric. On the calls together, Eric and Anne divide the workload and collaborate to remain aligned in direction. The two tackle the front and back end of the company together, as the only current full-time employees running the firm. Contractors and interns are utilized on an “as-needed” basis.

Both founders have learned through owning a business that outsourcing talent for specific projects is a valuable strategy towards preserving time. Establishing a schedule also holds the two accountable for their accomplishments. With no supervisor to clock hours, owning a firm and working remotely means the financial health of the business is project-based and reliant on the efficiency of the founders. Anne and Eric have a contained business model; 5-10% of the potential salary is applied as an upfront fee with the remaining 15-20% at the end of the process. Hourly-paid research work and individually-rated consultation projects are scattered throughout as necessary and agreed upon.

“When you own a business, you control your income!”

Anne Gustafson-workplace

8:01 AM

Anne followed up on emails, communicated with prospective clients and reviewed candidates’ resumes.

She carves out time in her day to remain consistent with leads. Anne discussed the struggle of finding new business to be a tipping point for newer firms. To pump continuous life into a company, an ability to go out into the marketplace and gain new clients must be practiced vigorously.

Anne also blocks out time to review resumes of potential candidates, in support of this process. While reviewing, she habitually reads the information from top to bottom, scanning for typos along the way. Anne commonly looks for the candidates’ education level, certifications, employment gaps and company longevity. She needs to see growth in a candidate and a timeline of succession that showcases progression in the individual’s career.

During the morning she also reads business journals and industry-related articles to stay relevant in her field. These mediums can serve as tools to spotlight leads Anne can recruit from or elude to companies that may have employees seeking outside work.

9:15 AM

Anne followed up with attendees from a September event they sponsored in Dallas where Business Development was the key focus. 

Events like these are inundated with client leads in roles of both Chief Human Resource Officers and Vice President of Human Resources. Anne crafted personal messages to various attendees of the events, where she introduces or reintroduces R3 Strategic Search and how the company could help these roles in any possible hiring challenges or succession planning obstacles they face. Anne is the connecting factor between these individuals and her firm, providing a clear and concise message of why R3 Strategic Search is a necessary component for growth. 

Anne Gustafson-desk

11:00 AM

Anne joined Eric and took a call with a close client of theirs to button up the remaining details involved in extending an offer for the role of Director of Talent Acquisitions. During this conversation, the timing and salary details of the offer were locked in.

R3 Strategic Search is unique in their involvement in the recruiting process, as they are present until the start date of the offered candidate. This allows for Anne and Eric to foster rich relationships with clients and understand individual pain points and expectations for each search. A majority of firms are removed from the final periods during a hiring process, but Anne and Eric remain an integral component from start to finish.

For this particular role, Director of Talent Acquisitions, the client and the firm were looking for a candidate with outstanding leadership experience. Other qualities include at least 10 years of experience in the Talent Acquisition space and a track record of leading and developing other recruiters while overseeing all pillars from the executive level down to administrative roles. This individual needed to have a history of hands-on experience, not only leading the recruitment processes but moving through each facet successfully, as well. 

11:45 AM

Anne’s former Nanny had a baby, Brooklyn and Anne left for the hospital to visit with her. 

Owning a business is no easy feat, however, it allows Anne to craft her schedule and maintain closeness with her family and friends. She can design her days and take time away from work for moments like these! Perks of owning a small business 🙂

Anne Gustafson-Brooklyn baby

1:15 PM

Back home from the hospital, Anne spent time sourcing candidates on LinkedIn. 

In the saturated world of recruiting, Anne implements a quality, client-focused mentality in her search strategy to stand out from other firms. She utilizes client referrals and shared connections to follow the talent chain all while keeping the specifics top of mind. Finding candidates for niche markets is easier, Anne believes, as the pool of talent becomes smaller and direct.

She also sources candidates by leveraging knowledge of outside industries that may have individuals seeking alternate work. She strives to attract candidates that will be advancing, straying away from lateral moves and focusing on growth. In a time-frame of three hours, Anne can reach out to upwards of 30 candidates, which then is filtered down to about five conversations and ending with one individual that will be pitched to a client.

3:35 PM

Anne picked up her youngest son from school and spent time with all three kids. They conversed about their days, homework for the night and other evening activities that needed to be prioritized.

When Anne left the startup company she began her career with, her move to Milwaukee included plans of starting a family with her husband. Switching from development to the recruiting side of things enabled Anne more flexibility and control of her schedule. Anne values the time she spends with her family and sees her ability to do so as a huge motivating factor in continuing to drive her business.

Tommy - Anne Gustafson

Jack - Anne Gustafson

4:00 PM

Anne conducted a phone interview with a candidate for the role, Director of IT, for a client. 

During interviews, Anne hones in on the experience and skill set of candidates. She frequently asks questions like:

  • What are you proud of? 
  • Tell me about your experience leading others? 
  • How do the people who report to you, describe your leadership style? 

The two main objectives during Anne’s interviews are to evaluate the candidate and sell them on the opportunity. Anne believes in finding a genuine fit for both the candidate and the client, building trust through a genuine interest in establishing a cohesive partnership. Not only does the candidate’s experience have to match the role expectations, but alignment with company culture plays a factor as well. If this candidate passes the interview, Anne then creates a summary of relevant information to present to the client for review. 

Unfortunately, the interview conducted by Anne this day did not pan out and an offer was presented to another candidate. The honest approach is the best approach! 

5:00 PM

Anne drove her son to hockey, ran a few errands and made dinner for her family. There is not much downtime in the length of her day! 

10:00 PM

Anne explained there to be no set time to “close the laptop.” She does the work until the work is done. From a client-driven perspective, her schedule often operates around the lives of others. She needs to be available during times when candidates might be getting off of work, or have made it home at the end of their day. This comes with the territory of being a business owner, as you have to be ready to seize an opportunity at any given moment. Anne embraces it!

In Anne’s household, no two days are the same and she stays busy. Once the kids are settled down and the dog is quiet, she turns in for the night.


Anne described her path towards recruitment as a “happy accident.” With a liberal arts degree, she emphasized her passion for variety as a contributing factor towards her success in role. She experienced an interest in sales, marketing, PR and HR which foreshadowed how her career eventually panned out.

After college, Anne moved to Chicago where she was introduced to the founder of a startup through a recruiter. She stepped into the team of six, worked in the sales department and managed the expanding organization. Anne traveled across the country attending job fairs and operating in a high-stress environment. After a few years, Anne moved to Wisconsin with her husband and decided to make the switch to the opposite side of the table, working in the recruiting aspect of the process as opposed to the sales industry. With an eagerness to learn all angles of the business and a desire to develop a deeper expertise in her field, she stepped into a role at a search firm where she learned the ropes under an incredible mentor.

She gained insight on recruitment, managing clients and fostering partnerships. After fifteen years in the role and with numerous thoughts of building a company of her own, Anne linked up with a coworker, Eric, who shared the same vision. A rich conversation and a mutual agreement led to the launch of their own recruitment firm, R3 Strategic Search.

What were your first career goals and how have those goals evolved?

With a natural drive for the multi-faceted world of recruitment, Anne gained momentum after supporting the profound growth of a startup that propelled her passion for the industry. At that point, her goal was to learn each angle of the business, become an expert in the field and craft her leadership style as she orchestrated the variety of processes in her firm. As she progressed, she ventured out on her own to build R3 Strategic Search with her business partner and her goals shifted towards a more wholesome lens of owning and operating a high performing company reliant on a consumer-focused business model.

What is your advice to those who aspire to be like you?

For those aspiring to follow in Anne’s footsteps, she advises cultivating an ability to, “embrace the messy.” This means, understanding that with owning a business comes flexibility but an unconventional structure. Anne describes this in saying, there is no real “turning off” as the client-focused company revolves around the schedules of others. Leaning into the uncomfortable will be crucial in your success.

Which job do you want to experience next?

Jobs like Anne‘s

About the Author
Kelly Hoffman

Kelly Hoffman

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Co-founder, Entrepreneur, Orange Theory, R3 Strategic Search, Talent Acquisition, co-partner, motherhood, project management