Getting To Know Piret Ulm – Partner’s Lead at TalentHub

Piret Ulm

As a Partner’s Lead at TalentHub, Piret is the first point of contact for many of our potential and existing partners. Within just a few months, Piret is already managing various projects and using her extensive knowledge to mentor our recruiters along the way. 

Let’s learn more about Piret’s story, what a partner’s lead does at TalentHub, and what challenges the role entails!


How did you find your way into recruitment?

I got into recruitment by pure mistake. I had lived in England for a year and when I returned to Estonia, I wasn’t sure what to pursue career-wise. I interviewed for a healthcare role but quickly realized I wasn’t qualified enough.

The person interviewing me said she has the perfect job opportunity for me, so I went to Birmingham for an interview for a Contracts Manager role. I didn’t meet any of the qualifications – none, but apparently, I had spirit and that is how I found my first job in recruitment. 


You’ve been recruiting talent for over ten years. What do you like the most about recruitment? What do you like the least?

I like winning. By that, I don’t mean putting someone else down, but finding the right place for the right person. When I worked at Satellite Applications Catapult, I had an amazing manager. She was the person who made me believe in myself and do things out of my comfort zone. To find a place for a candidate where they can blossom provides a great feeling knowing I played a small part in making someone’s life better

What I don’t like is dishonesty. I believe people should be more transparent about what they want and what they have to offer. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to change your mind. 


As a person who worked in HR/recruitment and then went on to gain qualifications. What’s the best way to get into the HR field as a junior?

This will be very unhelpful, but I think the best way to get into HR is by finding the right opportunity. People people attract people-oriented positions. I know it can be difficult to get your first shot, but it works. Keep asking for opportunities to be part of people projects. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key.

In the UK, I needed to do a CIPD certificate because most HR jobs require it. I also studied at the Open University for a year and a half. Eventually working full-time and doing online courses on the side led to burnout. This was ages ago though, and companies are far more supportive of self-development now.

If you enjoy problem-solving and working with people, you’ll naturally gravitate towards HR. I’ve seen many top-level managers and coaches involved in the job before getting the qualification.


How is recruitment different in the UK than in Estonia?

Recruitment in Estonia is more difficult, there is so much more competition for talent. It’s a good thing as companies have to try harder and truly put their people first.

In my experience, in Estonia, employees get treated more as partners rather than resources for completing tasks. It’s also why I see people here work with more passion.

In terms of work-life balance, I feel we are ahead of many larger European economies. In Estonia, it’s more accepted that your family and life come first. Work is something you do to live, not vice versa. The laws for work-life balance are good, in some cases maybe even better, in the UK, but it’s more of a cultural thing here. You are seen more like a human and individual and it is accepted we all have our ups and downs. Expectations are high, but there’s more empathy. 


What does a Partner Lead do in TalentHub? What are some of the day-to-day challenges you face in your current role?

We partner with venture-backed start-ups. Most of the time, these companies have an idea, an investment to grow, but they lack an in-house HR department. It’s an opportunity for us to become a true recruitment partner for them and potentially be a part of something extraordinary from the start.

If you have a role or two to fill, a senior recruiter can cover that easily. But if a partner comes to us with 5-6 roles in different departments, it becomes a high-maintenance project for a single recruiter. That’s when I become the point of contact for the partner. My role is to solve hiring challenges and blockers. If filling a role takes longer than expected, I’ll help find out what’s holding us back. Perhaps the recruitment needs have changed because, in start-ups, things change all the time. That’s why you must have regular check-ins to make sure both parties are aligned. 

The most challenging part is that you’re always dealing with people. Because of this, things don’t always go to plan. You also have to treat people as human beings. It’s about finding the right time to have conversations and finish conversations and never assuming anything.

I still do recruitment and interviews as well. I love connecting with people and hearing their stories, and what makes them tick. I learn something new from every single conversation I have.


How do you judge the quality of a partner based on a kick-off meeting?

Passion: for us to have a chance of succeeding, we need the partner to believe in their product and company first. If I get a sense that the hiring manager doesn’t believe in the company, it’s a red flag. 

It’s also about the why – why are you doing what you’re doing? If your company exists to make the world a better place, then TalentHub will want to work with you. For us, your start-up can’t exist solely to make money. 

Runway: we don’t just work for our partners, we also work for our candidates! We don’t want any candidate to leave a secure job situation to join a venture that could end in a month. It’s important to find out if the partner is actually capable of hiring people and also paying them. 

You can never be 100% certain, but those are the red flags to look out for. 


You’ve been in TalentHub for three months now. How would you describe the culture here?

The first word that comes to mind is trust. There are no fake promises. If someone can’t do something, they’ll be honest about it and tell you. 

What’s brilliant is that TalentHub people care about everything – partners, candidates, and the experiences we’re giving. Sometimes it’s tricky when you care that much, as working with people, things never go to plan. You can have plan XYZ and then someone will come up with a new letter in the alphabet. 

Most of all, it’s fun and easy-going. We’re hard-working, but if I wake up tired and I don’t have an early meeting, I can have a lazier morning and do things from home. I’m trusted to do a job – no one cares how many hours I spend behind a computer. That’s trust, honesty, and caring!


What are your next steps as a recruiter/partner’s lead?

I want to become a better sourcer. I’ve been in recruitment positions for years, but sourcing has always been in the background. A while ago I did a course on sourcing, but I’ve never had any practical training.

Overall, I want to be a more structured and strategic recruiter. I want data to be my source for understanding what works well and what doesn’t. Sort of like A/B testing.

As a partner’s lead, I’m excited to do workshops for our partners. I want to help our partners hire more efficiently in today’s fast-paced recruitment market. Recruitment and interviewing are skills, most managers do not get any training or support when they start hiring, and that is crucial, not only for finding the right person but providing an amazing candidate experience. Working on a potential project with a very cool partner right now and I hope we have some exciting news to share soon.  


What are your hobbies/passions?

I enjoy reading. My mother is a librarian and she has a book recommendation for every single life situation and scenario which is incredibly adorable and only a little frustrating (laughs). 

I’m very family-oriented and I spend as much time with them as possible. I have no quibble saying my family is my closest circle of friends. When not with them, I’m in the forest foraging. Mushroom season starts for me in May and I can spend hours with my friend exploring forests. If you like mushrooms, I am a good friend to have.


What’s on your bucket list?

Not necessarily a bucket list but I managed to buy my first very own flat just a few days before I turned 35, that feels like a bucket list kind of an achievement.  Now, I’m a real adult with debt and everything. 

Something not on a list as such but very much in focus is traveling. I used to have a mindset that travel and fun are something you do with other people but that’s not the case at all. Traveling solo is amazing, you see and experience so much more. This year, the focus is on Europe and trying to do it more eco-friendly. Flying to Basque country and traveling back via bus and train connections. It will be fun and a bit more adventurous!  


Which book/movie/quote/advice has influenced your life the most?

It is a book I never finished but loved anyway – The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. It talks about how our first reaction in potential conflict situations comes from our limbic brain, the chimp brain, something that has kept us alive for centuries but is not always the most rational, logical way to react or behave in a business context. It helps you understand that your first thoughts and emotions aren’t always acting in your best interest. Managing your chimp is hard work and sometimes you need to let it run wild. You must have people around you with whom you can exercise your chimp. A safe place where you can vent, once your chimp is tired and asleep, the human brain can start making logic-driven decisions based on facts, rather than emotions. We often feel in meetings and conversations, we have to respond and decide at the moment, the biggest practical lesson I took away from The Chimp Paradox, is that it is okay to take time to think and reflect. A meeting can be paused. 

I’m not sure where I got this quote or idea from, definitely not my own but another big turning point in my life was accepting  “You can’t control other people’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors – the only thing  in your power is how you react and behave.” 

Having emotions and feelings is a very human thing, once you understand and accept that you cannot control having emotions, that you can only control how you react and behave, the world becomes a far easier place to navigate. We all have our journeys and reasons for doing things the way we do them. It is not my job or in my power to control others around me, so I learned to stop worrying about things outside of my control.   


What is your pet peeve?

I find it frustrating when people don’t use “they/them” when unsure of gender. It applies to books, blogs, conversations, and speeches. Some statistics say that around 2% of the world population identifies as gender fluid, so when we use “he/she”, we potentially cut out 1.6 million people. It mostly bothers me in research about business management. Some proactive writers are now using “she” when they speak about managers, CEOs, etc., which is nice that it’s no longer a default “he/him”, but how much more inclusive would it be if we just used “they/them”? That’s my big one, the other one is when people are afraid to say they have changed their mind, I think it is because we all feel like we have to justify our decisions. Fact is, we don’t. No one owes anyone anything, especially when we talk about interviews and job offers. If you change your mind, that is ok, just let me know and we can move forward.  

Thanks for answering the questions. To finish, here are some rapid-fire questions!


A full day of partner kick-off calls or a full day of interviews?

A full day of doing partner kick-off calls.


Work from home or work from the office?



Face-to-face meetings or online meetings?

Online meetings.

Announce great news to the candidate via email or via call?

Always via call!

If LinkedIn disappeared off the face of the earth, where would you source for talent?

GitLab and Google Search!


Favorite position to recruit?

People people. 

Favorite question to ask at an interview?

“Why do you do what you do?”

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