What is Talent Acquisition?

 

Talent acquisition (TA) refers to attracting the right talent strategically as per long-term organizational needs, and subsequently screening and interviewing them to hire the perfect candidates for filling open positions in the organization. Talent acquisition usually resides within the larger HR department of an organization 

 

The top goals of the talent acquisition team include devising strategies to improve the speed and quality of hires, establishing a rock-solid employer brand, delivering a good candidate experience, and over time building a reliable and robust talent pipeline for the long term. 

 

Data and tech are the two most important tools that will aid any talent acquisition professional. The right tools can help HR professionals to ace their talent acquisition, and talent management software makes the task easy.

Recruitment vs Talent Acquisition

Recruitment

  • Focuses on meeting immediate talent needs while hiring.
  • Has a short-term outlook and is more of a tactical process
  • Is a subset of talent acquisition
  • Focus areas include candidate sourcing, candidate nurturing, candidate screening and interviewing, selection and onboarding
  • Not much emphasis on delivering great candidate experience since relationships are treated as short-term
  • To sum it up, recruiters fill current open positions in the company

Talent Acquisition

 

  • Looks deeper into the business goals, needs, and future plans while hiring
  • Calculates long-term implications for the organization and is more strategic
  • Is a broader talent strategy
  • Focus areas include developing a hiring strategy, managing candidate-employer relationships, creating an employer brand, building a talent pool, and recruiting the best talent through strategic sourcing
  • Outstanding candidate experience is a requisite since there is investment made on candidate relationships with both current and future candidates
  • To sum it up, talent acquisition looks to build future leaders and experts for driving the company’s growth

The Importance of Talent Acquisition

#1 It defines your people strategy

The products you build and the services you offer are a function of the people you hire. That’s why talent acquisition plays an important role in setting a baseline for all business functions and standards.

#2 Sets you up for future success

Talent acquisition considers the changing business needs as the organization grows and plans not just for current roles and openings but also for the future. It foresees the talent needs and costs in the future, including the new leadership or management roles that might open, and stays proactive in acquiring talent accordingly.

#3 Builds a robust talent pipeline

The talent acquisition team not only foresees talent needs, but it also plans for it by continuously looking out for the best talent in the industry and building lasting relationships with prospective candidates. When the time is right, roles open up, it leaves the company with a tight network of interview-worthy people that they can turn to.

#4 Gives the competitive edge

It’s the quality of people you have that determines the quality of your products or services. Your organization's success is nothing but the collective success of your employees. It’s their skills, attitude, and decisions at the end that impact productivity, customer satisfaction, org-wide innovations, sales and the revenue graph itself. Without the best people in the right roles at the right time, every organization faces the threat of falling back and fizzling out. The biggest differentiator that you can have in the market is a loyal employee base of the best talent in the industry.

The Talent Acquisition Process

Step 1: Scoping out talent needs based on organizational goals

As the first step in the talent acquisition process, the talent acquisition team talks to their leaders and managers to understand the business goals and draws up the equivalent hiring goals for the year. They also consider any new teams that would be formed, transitions, attrition, business changes, job market changes, etc as they sketch out hiring plans. In this stage, they spend an ample amount of time with the hiring managers to understand their job requisitions and craft job descriptions accordingly.

Step 2: Lead generation or Talent sourcing

In this stage, also called the candidate sourcing phase, the talent acquisition team focuses on gaining visibility in the job market for their vacant job roles. They do this through various methods - publishing the jobs on their own career site, various job boards, social media channels, communities and forums where experts engage, conduct referral drives and hackathons. They might also be open to using the assistance of external recruiters or vendors. At the end of this phase, they have a pool of candidates to work with and choose from.

Step 3: Talent assessment or Candidate screening

Once candidates flow in through the various sourcing channels, the next step for the talent acquisition team is to screen those candidates for skills, attitude, experience, etc. An applicant tracking software helps in carrying this whole process (beginning from raising requisitions to onboarding) swiftly. The selection process can include multiple stages like telephonic interviews, video interviews, technical interviews, written tests, coding tests, face-to-face interviews, assignments, and more based on the job roles they are hiring for. 
Structured interviews help in avoiding any subjectivity by the interview panel. Talent acquisition experts are usually equipped with interview prep kits and evaluation criteria that they provide in advance to the panel. The panel of interviewers or selectors review the candidate's performance and give their feedback during the process.

Step 4: Shortlisting, hiring and onboarding the best talent

Based on the consolidated feedback of the interviewers and panel members, the talent acquisition team can catalyze the hiring decisions and roll out offers. As soon as the candidates sign the offer, the talent acquisition team also dons the employee onboarding hat and starts processing all the forms and formalities. They ensure that the new employees connect with their managers and teams and start engaging with the company right away for a great start. This also helps with reducing drop-outs after the offer is rolled out.
The talent acquisition team also adds any great candidates that they come across who did not make the final cut to their organization’s talent pool so they have a robust pipeline handy when a future need arises.

Step 5: Talent optimization within the organization

This is one of the most strategic phases of the whole process. While the other steps focus on hiring the best people out there, this one focuses on managing the star performers who are already in your organization. Through talent optimization, the talent acquisition team brings out the best potential in their employees through strategic training and development, internal moves, job satisfaction checks and so on.

Talent Management Strategies

Every company is different. Their goals, approaches, focus, means, values, culture are all diverse. When it comes to hiring people, an organization has to devise its own strategy based on what it’s trying to achieve in the product market and the means it’s willing to take. The following are some of the common talent strategies that companies embrace.

#1 Hiring only the best talent

This strategy is advantageous because you have the best talent in town, which means you're at power even with the best competitors in the market, you are prepared for risks, and you will undoubtedly see upward performance curves in the organization.

The downsides, however, maybe with offering competitive packages and retaining these employees as they are highly in demand and have a lot of offers coming their way. The hiring process itself could be long and strenuous because you would want to choose from a wide pool of candidates and ensure that you are rolling out offers only to the best. An accumulation of top talent without a culture that promotes trust and diversity could result in unhealthy competition and lead to underperformance.

#2 Hire promising candidates and develop them

When you are running on a budget but have great leaders and mentors in your organization, you can consider this strategy. Here you can hire two or three specialists in place of one top performer. Also when you hire specialists and invest in their development through training, mentorship programs, they tend to grow loyalty towards the organizations and favor your retention rates.

However, if your specialists end up not handling the role, you will have to again invest in a top performer (at an additional cost).

#3 Employee referral programs

Employee referral programs are great for growing companies that are still chiseling their employer brand. The strategy is low cost and your employees take care of vouching for you to bring in their best network connections. Employees who come in through referrals are faster to hire, perform better and stick with the company for longer. They already have people they know within the organization which means they quickly settle in and start performing.

On the other hand, the challenge with this strategy is that you might attract a homogeneous network of people who work alike which could hinder your diversity and innovation goals.

#4 Hiring through hackathons

Companies that are serious about their hiring go above and beyond to experiment and identify channels that work best for them. Events like hackathons are a great place to meet some of the best engineering minds and network with them. The strategy also opens up opportunities to watch your people in action. In the end, you’ll not just be settling for their coding skills but you’ll know who can do well in a team, solve problems, keep the momentum going or perform under pressure.

However, the downside to this strategy is that it might take a long time to convert. You cannot slap them with a job offer at an event. It’s gonna take some time to strike conversations, learn more about them, their interests before you invite them to pursue an opportunity with you.

#5 Using advanced technology and tools

No matter how big a company is or it’s TA team is, using the right tools and technology can fast forward growth for just anyone. Technology plays a huge role in attracting the right talent, hand-holding them through the process, ensuring a great experience and landing them into their roles. There is an ocean of tools out there. With some thought and research, you'll be able to put together the right recruiting tool kit for yourself - Job aggregators, candidate management tools, talent acquisition software, video interview tools, pre-assessment tests, recruiting CRMs, onboarding tools, performance management tools and so on.

Downside - wrong choice of tools and technology leads to loss of time and resources and create needless friction in the business processes and business relationships.

 

What role can recruiters play in talent acquisition?

 

By following a few simple steps, recruiters can easily become talent acquisition specialists. Recruitment is the biggest part of talent acquisition, after all. In addition to their standard tasks of excellent candidate sourcing, screening and hiring tactics, they need to remember the following.

Strategy before action

Laying aside the urge to quickly meet the job openings in the short term, look at the strategic implications of the current decisions and processes for the organization in the long term.

Zoom out

Look at the broader picture to make the hiring future proof for the organization and don’t approach it with the aim of filling up current vacancies.

Be data-driven

Analyse your hiring strategies with a defined set of metrics such as cost of hire, time to hire etc. to find out what’s working and what’s not, so you can work on improving your current strategy.

Use the right tools

Free up your recruiter workload with an efficient recruitment management system to move away your focus from mundane tasks to work on the more strategic ones.

Focus on candidate experience

Finally, all your efforts to create your employer brand are only as good as how your candidates perceive you. So maximise your efforts to ensure they have a smooth experience throughout.