What is talent acquisition? [+15 best practices to ace it]
According to the ManpowerGroup survey from Q3 2021, 69% of companies and talent acquisition specialists around the globe reported talent shortage. Moreover, according to Officevibe*, some top candidates have a 10-day window before landing a job.
Now, with the short time frame and a small pool to pick highly-qualified candidates from, talent acquisition specialists are in a difficult position. If they wish to hire the best employees, that is. This is more than enough reason to roll your sleeves and research talent acquisition and how to ace it.
So, if you wish to help your company, and find the best talent out there, then get ready for the jolly ride. We will uncover everything there is to know about talent acquisition and reveal tips to help you hire the best talent out there.
What is talent acquisition?
Talent acquisition is a process of recognizing and gathering the top employees for the company. In other words, talent acquisition means finding and nurturing the right employees according to the company’s needs.
The importance of talent acquisition has become evident to companies all over the globe, regardless the size. The reason is that talent acquisition specialists:
- Attract the most skilled employees on the market to fill the key roles according to company culture and strategy. This ultimately leads to the company’s improvement and reaching the desired results;
- Nurture and keep employees motivated, which leads to high retention rates and company advocacy;
- Develop and provide education to help employees reach their professional goals;
- Find the right employees and therefore save hiring time and money in the long run;
- Are advocates for the company and provide the best hiring experience, thus creating a competitive advantage in the labor market;
- Establish a talent pool for future hires, thus being prepared in advance.
And we just named a few 🙂
Recruiting and talent acquisition are often mistaken for one another. Yet, these two are the different sides of the same coin. Moreover, talent acquisition and recruiting may or may not be a part of the same sector. However, they are closely tied and cannot work without one another, which will cover in a second.
Talent acquisition VS recruitment
What is the Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition?
Talent acquisition is much more than just recruiting. It is a strategy on how a company should present itself in the labor market and become an ideal place to work in. Furthermore, the talent acquisition team is responsible for everything talent-related, including but not limited to:
- how to source the talent;
- supervise hiring;
- hire themselves in some cases;
- identify future leaders for the organization;
- lastly, they are responsible for screening candidates for leadership positions and the ones who need diversified training.
As opposed to the strategy, recruiting is the sole action of filling job vacancies and short-term company hiring requirements. In other words, recruiters:
- Find candidates or screen job applications;
- Interview candidates;
- Evaluate and select;
- Hire candidates.
What is a talent acquisition specialist and what do they need for a job well done?
So what does the talent acquisition specialist need to have for the job? First, they need to have a psychology background and to know their way around people. Secondly, they also need to know how to nourish relationships inside and outside the company. Thirdly, they need to keep employer branding at the highest level.
Another thing someone needs to have is strategic thinking and the ability to know what the company needs or will need in the future.
As their job is to find top talents, talent acquisition specialists need to know how to do their research. Moreover, they need to know how to track job search impulses, set candidate alerts, and find perfect candidates for the job at the right time.
Lastly, it is always handy to have a set of sales skills for interviewing top-tier candidates. To clarify, the sales skills will help you get the employee that does not necessarily wish to change their job but would be just perfect for the role.
Process of talent acquisition
Talent acquisition includes the following stages:
- Strategy Development
- Establishing/Updating Talent Pipeline
- Lead Generation
- References Evaluation
- Candidate Selection
- Hiring ( and Onboarding)
- Succession Planning
Let’s get into the details with every one of these activities.
1. Talent acquisition strategy development
Before developing any talent acquisition strategy, one must first define:
- The company’s position in the market;
- Budget available for talent acquisition activities;
- Who the competitors are;
- Competitors’ labor market behavior and their funding (if available).
Once you establish the previously mentioned, you can use that information to plan your strategy carefully.
There are two types of strategies that go hand in hand:
- Employer branding strategy
- Talent finding and acquiring strategy
The strategies can be any combination of activities. From participation in the job fairs and universities to boost your employer's brand awareness and gather early talents, or referral programs and sponsoring job fairs, for example. Only, whatever you decide your strategies are, be detailed, organized and mindful of your company’s industry, needs, and the budget.
2. Establishing talent acquisition pipeline
As talent acquisition strategy depends on talent pipelines, you need to create a mechanism to keep them full at all times. If your talent flow for every position in your company is continuous, you will always have someone to pick and choose from, should the need arise.
Otherwise, you need to discover what makes your pipeline “leaky” so you do not waste additional resources to fix the damage every time.
3. Lead generation
Once you have your strategies and talent pool in place, you need to define the online (and offline) channels you will use to find and generate your leads, aka candidates. Next, you need to write an alluring job post and an application form to start filtering out and identifying the best candidates. Lastly, distribute them across defined channels and according to your strategy.
If your company doesn’t have a separate recruiting sector, get ready to roll your sleeves. Recruiting is much more than just interviewing the candidates and choosing the right talent. Remember, they are also choosing you.
So apart from standard recruiting and evaluating the applications that landed in your inbox, you need to do something extra. Firstly, establish ways to create a positive experience for your candidates. Secondly, nurture them throughout the process. Lastly, keep the relationship with those who are not currently your ideal match but someday they might be.
This is where your psychological background and sales skills really shine. When interviewing the candidates, talent acquisition specialist should ask a series of questions related to:
- the candidate's specialty;
- problem-solving skills;
And not to forget, they need to figure out if the candidate has skills for any current or future positions.
Interviewing is usually held between 2 to 4 instances, depending on position seniority. However, talent acquisition specialists are trying to shorten the number of instances to provide as pleasurable an experience as possible.
6. References evaluation
Talent acquisition specialists often forget to cross-reference the information their candidates provide during the interview. Reference evaluating can provide another perspective on your candidate, confirm your thoughts and opinions, or provide additional information you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
7. Candidate selection
Talent acquisition specialists and recruiters lean on many metrics and systems to make data-driven decisions and select the top candidate for the job. Some of them include candidate scoring, internal evaluating systems, and even software that can do that for them. So be sure to research these systems and choose one which works best for both you and your company.
8. Hiring and onboarding
In some companies, talent acquisition teams also onboard new employees. Thus, apart from showing them around the office, or workflow, talent acquisition specialists are responsible for establishing new relationships.
9. Succession planning
The last activity that talent acquisition specialists need to do is succession planning. a process of identifying and finding substitute candidates for the leadership roles within the company in case something unexpected should happen or in case of retirement.
Succession planning is beneficial due to several reasons. Firstly, the company is always ready for any unexpected events. Secondly, it encourages employee development within the organization. Lastly, succession planning allows filling the roles quickly without losing much of the workflow.
15 Tips and best-case practices to improve talent acquisition activities
1. Minimum requirements
When creating a job description, it’s best to define the minimum and the maximum requirements someone needs to have to be qualified for the initial interview. To clarify, the reason for the minimum requirements is that you might meet someone who doesn’t have the highest experience you need, but they might have it in the future.
This means you can put them straight into your talent pool and contact them at a later stage. Or perhaps the person with less experience is a perfect match according to other company parameters (e.g. cultural, behavioral), as opposed to the one with the maximum requirements.
2. Collaborate with other sectors
Every sector and job position within the company has its specialties and expressions different from what the talent acquisition team uses. It’s okay not to know them all, as long as you keep collaborating with the rest of the company during the previously mentioned process for individual positions.
3. Write job post that is alluring
With each vacancy comes a special job description. So, be aware of what kind of talent you wish to draw to your company and write job posts to appeal to them. Spice it up with some benefits, perks, and employer branding testimonies, and you’ll be good to go for initial lead generation.
4. Remote or hybrid workspace
To stay competitive in the labor market, you must keep up with the trends. And one of the most popular trends now is precisely Remote or Hybrid workspace. Be mindful of this, and if your company doesn’t offer a fully remote position, at least offer a hybrid position, so you don’t lose top talents over this.
5. Where to build a pipeline?
Different talent acquisition teams use different platforms to help them build their talent pipeline and keep track of the candidates. That said, the most widely used is LinkedIn Recruiter or Recruiter Lite, which allows you to get candidates inside the pipeline with just one click and to the appropriate pipeline stage.
6. Include your co-workers in the process
It’s nifty to discover alternative ways to find and generate your candidates. However, remember that you, as a talent acquisition specialist, are not alone in your company. Thus, think about creating a referral program for your employees.
Your co-workers are the next best thing to know what kind of personnel your company needs, and if you set proper awards, you are more likely to find the right candidates quicker. After all, there is a “Six degrees of separation*” theory stating that any person can be connected to any other person in the world through six intermediaries at most.
7. Don’t rush
Finding the right employee is not an easy task, especially if we talk about C-suite positions. Thus, take your time and do not rush any activity. If you are thorough and dedicate time to each part of the talent acquisition process, you will save resources in the future.
For example, most talent acquisition specialists use LinkedIn Recruiter, and the one thing they never rush is filtering the right candidates for the job. Thus, take advantage of every LinkedIn Recruiter filter and take your time zeroing in on the candidates you will reach out to.
8. Research your candidates
If, for example, you use LinkedIn to find candidates, you should consider the following advice.
Firstly, to laser-target your candidates, be sure to specify your search as much as possible. In other words, use filters to import the most relevant skills needed for the role.
Secondly, when looking at LinkedIn profiles, observe the diversity of interests a person has. The information you find will contribute to your company and imply what you need to do to achieve employee satisfaction.
Thirdly, if you are searching for the people to fill in higher-up roles, be sure to analyze the skills they possess that served them in the previous positions that can be usable for the one you are reaching out to.
Lastly, if, for example, you're searching for a team leader for your programming team, you might consider how the team could contribute to the team leader’s development.
9. Streamline a part of your talent acquisition process
If you headhunt using LinkedIn Recruiter, then you must’ve experienced how tiresome it is to reach out to every person on the list manually. Luckily, you don’t have to. You can streamline your outreach process by getting a solution to do it for you and thus save so much time.
Take Skylead, for example. You can create an outreach campaign quickly and easily. Firstly, take your LinkedIn Recruiter pipeline or talent pool URL with all the candidates you found by prospecting on LinkedIn.
Then, go to Skylead and paste it into the respective field. Be sure to name your campaign, and select the type of campaign.
Next, create your Smart Sequence steps and your messages. To clarify, Smart Sequences are Skylead’s groundbreaking algorithms. They allow you to use multichannel outreach and personalization at scale.
And you are done!It is that simple.
Skylead can also help you schedule your interviews from the Smart Inbox, so there is no need to navigate between the platforms.
10. Personalize your messages
Nobody likes getting generic emails, nor will your ideal candidates for the top-level job. Thus, to provide the best experience for your candidates, make sure to personalize your outreach according to their resume or LinkedIn profile. For example, include their name, position, or the skills that stood out to you the most.
11. Don’t forget to proofread
Typos, wrong names, and grammatical errors in your email can come across as unprofessional and can put your company in a bad light. So, to avoid this, edit, proofread your messages, and double-check contact information for any mistakes before sending.
12. Timing is everything
Good timing is a desired virtue for talent acquisition specialists to have. Timing to recognize and outreach candidates at just the right time according to their job search impulses.
However, there is one other timing equally if not more important than that - responding to your candidates on time. If you wait too long, especially if you hire management roles, you risk losing your candidate’s interest and someone else taking them over.
13. Choose your questions carefully
Sometimes the candidates won’t be as direct as you would like them to be. So, to get the information, you need to get creative during the conversation. The best-case approach here is to ask so-called probing questions to specify their response. In other words, you can ask them a series of questions like:
- Tell me, how did you manage a group of people to achieve the best productivity throughout the day?
- What objectives did you set for the group?
- How did you motivate them?
- What was the most difficult part of this task?
In addition, take note of what the candidate asks you in return, how they prioritize their interest for the role, and what they are curious about the company (benefits, conditions, market share, organization culture, etc.).
14. How should talent acquisition team choose the best candidate?
Selecting the right candidate for the job can be a hard decision for a talent acquisition specialist. If you are lucky, you can pinpoint the person you wish for your organization. However, what to do if you have two or more top talents in your hand?
Hire them all 🙂
Jokes aside, here is what you can do to ease your decision.
The first thing you need to pay attention to is authenticity and synchronicity between the candidate's personal preferences and the information you get from the interview. In other words, analyze verbal and non-verbal communication, and the thought process and write your observation down.
The other thing you can also do is to walk the candidates through questions about personal preferences of informal, trivial topics and get to the main questions later. Using this method, the candidate could reveal themselves through potential incoherence.
Once you have all data in place, choose the candidate with the smallest amount of discrepancy and highest compatibility.
15. Honesty is the best talent acquisition strategy
Somehow in the business world, we always come back to honesty, and talent acquisition is no exception. I mean, have you heard about Microsoft’s promise to disclose salary ranges in January 2023?
Many talent acquisition specialists are true advocates for honesty, and there are major reasons for that. Firstly, it adds to the authenticity. Talent acquisition specialists often share why they work in a particular company, their motives, and what motivates them the most to be where they are. This way, candidates can see the true passion in the conversation and wish to work in that company, as well.
Talent acquisition specialists and recruiters thus act as a live banner of the company. If the candidates do not resonate with the passion, it’s best to reveal it from the start - it will save you so much time in the future.
So, keep in mind that being honest and believing in your company is one of the best things you need to show to your candidates. Not only will you filter and acquire the best candidates, but you will also contribute to the Employer branding strategy.
Lastly, your honesty and passion will be such a strong argument that negotiations and whether someone wishes to work for the company won’t even be a question anymore.
Talent acquisition and the labor market are one of the most changed segments due to technological development in the last couple of years. Apart from company Goodwill, talent acquisition sectors are the ones that represent a company directly to the outside world.
Speaking from the company’s point of view, it pretty much became a standard to have talent acquisition specialists simply because of all the benefits it comes along: from resource savings to reaching higher goals by finding a perfect match and employee satisfaction.
However, none of it comes without the talent acquisition team’s hard work and activities that involve:
- Strategy Development
- Establishing/Updating Talent Pipeline
- Lead Generation
- References Evaluation
- Candidate Selection
- Hiring ( and Onboarding)
- Succession Planning
And let’s not forget that our trusted talent acquisition specialists are go-to guys for everyone in the company. They are somewhat of our genie in the bottle for professional development.
Nonetheless, talent acquisition specialists can perfect their craft by following the tips and best-case practices mentioned above. Lastly, people are dynamic, so if you, as a talent acquisition specialist, help others develop their talents, don’t forget about yourself.