What Is Talent Acquisition: 21 Experts Weigh In
Look up talent acquisition in a search engine, and what do you get? Oh, that's right, thousands upon thousands of results. The term itself is rather broad and encompasses multiple processes, tools and trends that have been defined and elaborated on by HR professionals across the world.
To help sift through the noise and abundance of content available, we gathered 21 articles that cover the difference between talent acquisition and recruiting, talent acquisition trends and a variety of elements that make up the talent acquisition process. To do you one more, we pulled key quotes and bullet points from each article and linked back to the original article so that you can continue your research further. Feel free to click on the links below to skip ahead.
Table of Contents
What is Talent Acquisition?
There are a plethora of talent acquisition definitions out there. Rather than add to the list, we narrowed down a few that both define and distinguish talent acquisition from its relative term — recruitment. While they are often utilized interchangeably, talent acquisition and recruiting are quite different. Here's how two talent acquisition professionals distinguish the terms:
In addition to breaking down the talent acquisition process in this LinkedIn Talent Blog, Sarah Lybrand defines the terms talent acquisition, recruiters in talent acquisition and the difference between the terms.
"Job recruiting addresses a company’s short-term headcount needs. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is an overall business and HR strategy that factors in an organization’s long-term goals, and acknowledges that people (or talent) can play a huge role in a company’s future successes.
Unlike simply filling seats, talent acquisition is an ongoing process that tends to identify and vet appropriate candidates for executive-level positions, leadership roles, and jobs that require specialized training."
Similarly, Jobvite, an expert on all things recruiting, explains the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition on The Jobvite Blog.
"Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy to find specialists, leaders, or future executives for your company.
Talent acquisition tends to focus on long-term human resources planning and finding appropriate candidates for positions that require a very specific skill set.
Companies must ask themselves which positions will be difficult to fill when a vacancy comes up (as it inevitably will, eventually). Niche markets, technology skills, highly specific experience, and leadership roles call for a thoughtful, long-term approach to talent acquisition."
Talent Acquisition Trends
In the realm of talent acquisition, recruiters are always looking for new and innovative ways to source top candidates. Knowing what and where to look can be challenging in the current candidate-driven market. A few experts share their predictions on talent acquisition trends.
A great way to uncover upcoming trends is to ask companies where they intend to increase spend on talent acquisition. Samantha McLaren explains her findings for how talent acquisition teams plan to increase spend in 2019 on the LinkedIn Talent Blog.
- "Maintaining a strong employer brand: 44% of companies are investing even more in their image
- Fostering career development: 44% of companies plan to do more to help employees reach their goals
- Finding high-quality candidates: 43% of companies expect to spend more to improve their pipeline
- Cultivating a positive work environment: 42% of companies are putting more money where their culture is
- Optimizing employee training programs: 42% of companies will invest more to keep their skill base up-to-date"
Talent Tech Labs did a deep dive on thousands of talent acquisition technology companies to research and analyze recruitment trends. Jonathan Kestenbaum has narrowed down their findings to four recruitment trends changing talent acquisition and shares them in detail on SourceCon’s blog. Here are the main ideas.
- "Social networks and search are driving customization
- Job advertising is getting outsourced
- CRM is enhancing the candidate experience
- Online staffing is engaging contingent workers"
Text Recruit knows how dynamic talent acquisition is as companies and cultures change. Each year their team creates an in-depth guide to the upcoming year’s talent acquisition landscape. As part of this guide, they offer four ways to prepare for 2019.
- "More targeted and strategic recruitment marketing efforts that foreground employer branding and social recruiting.
- Streamlined candidate experiences that use live chat, text messaging, and chatbots to simplify the recruiting process from start to finish.
- Candidate engagement strategies that treat text messaging, live chat, and other messaging apps as the primary modes of contact between candidates and recruiters.
- Candidate outreach automation tools that keep candidates updated and in the loop with minimal effort on the part of recruiters.
- Chatbots as the primary point of contact for candidates early in the recruiting funnel, conducting screening conversations and scheduling interviews with little recruiter intervention.
- A data-driven approach to recruiting that leverages the advanced analytics capabilities of today’s recruiting tech as a starting point for all talent acquisition decisions."
The team at LinkedIn reached out to 5,000 talent acquisition and HR professionals and surveyed them with questions about upcoming industry trends for 2019. LinkedIn’s head of recruiting shares the trends in the LinkedIn Talent Blog.
- "Soft skills: Develop an assessment process — today
- Work flexibility: A chance to differentiate your talent brand — and save money
- Anti-harassment: A respectful culture attracts talent and drives engagement
- Pay transparency: Ultimately, it’s about fairness"
Taking a different angle, instead of sharing what companies should anticipate when investing time and money into a talent acquisition strategy, Peter Cappelli shares his view on why your approach to hiring is all wrong on SHRM. Here are a few important areas to consider altering in your current hiring approach.
- "Don't post 'phantom jobs.'
- Design jobs with realistic requirements.
- Reconsider your focus on passive candidates.
- Understand the limits of referrals.
- Measure the results.
- Persuade fewer people to apply.
Organizations are much more interested in external talent than in their own employees to fill vacancies. Here are the top channels for quality hires:
- Employee referrals: 48%
- Third-party websites or online job boards: 46%
- Social or professional networks: 40%
- Third-party recruiters or staffing firms: 34%
- Internal hires: 28%"
Growth doesn’t have to hurt.
Elements of the Talent Acquisition Process
There are a wide range of factors that contribute to every talent acquisition team’s success. We gathered a range of insights on helpful tactics, tools and tips from experts in the talent acquisition industry.
To slim down the research and read time that goes into keeping up with talent acquisition trends, we’ve gathered the most important quotes from each article. Each blurb is also linked to the original article that shared the content so you can dive even deeper if you so choose.
According to Adam Gordon in this Digital HR Tech article, pipeline automation is a key element of the talent acquisition process and a contributing factor to the changing shape of TA teams.
"Pipeline automation software automates the repetitive, manual pipeline tasks, workflows and candidate engagement. As such, it allows recruiters to spend most of their time talking to enthusiastic candidates. It also increases recruiter productivity by 25% on average, accelerates time-to-hire, and reduces cost-per-hire.
Pipeline automation enables talent acquisition teams to streamline their candidate communications and management initiatives by automating processes that were previously performed manually."
It’s no news that traditional application processes and interviews are less effective than other methods. Dawn Onley explains how job shadowing rounds out the hiring process on SHRM’s blog.
"Job shadowing has become so valuable to both hiring and retaining talent that this year, the careers website Monster named it the 'gold standard solution' in small-business hiring trends.
Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal, CEO and founder of New York City-based talent management firm Atrium Staffing, said the beauty of job shadowing is that the potential hire learns about the job, and the company learns more about the applicant—it's a two-way street.
'Not only does the candidate get to feel the team dynamic firsthand and also ask questions, but the team also gets a sense of the candidate's understanding of the work culture, if [the candidate is] excited by the environment, and if it seems like a good fit for both of them,' she explained."
You may have heard the saying the customer comes first/is always right, but for Denise Dresler, director of talent acquisition at Avature, she recognizes that in order to create a successful company, you need to start with the company and people who run it. In this article on ERE, Dresler shares how to set up a company model when you are leading corporate talent acquisition.
"You will need to design processes and ways in which your recruiters can question and even in some cases override the manager. In our case, we are giving ownership to our talent-acquisition specialists to:
- Define a sourcing strategy
- Push candidates to interviews without hiring managers’ sign off
- Challenge hiring managers’ opinions"
It’s no surprise that traditional interviewing tactics don’t provide sufficient insight into what the role will actually require nor how the candidate will perform in the role. Instead, Arlene S. Hirsch proposes an alternative interviewing tactic — experiential interviewing — on SHRM’s blog.
"Job auditions (or pre-employment tryouts) add a unique twist to experiential interviewing. By paying candidates to do real work over a period of days or weeks, employers gain greater insight into each candidate's abilities and personality.
Mogul, a women-only social media platform in New York City, attributes its low turnover rate to the inclusion of a 'trial run' as a final step in the hiring process. After several rounds of interviews, candidates spend a day in the office doing the actual job. This allows hiring managers to observe and understand the candidate's strengths and weaknesses—and it gives candidates a chance to immerse themselves in the culture, meet their future co-workers and test out the fit."
Acquiring great talent is one thing, managing and engaging talent throughout their career is another. Cheryl, the Director of Talent at Greenhouse, offers the top 3 ways to improve the intersection between Talent Acquisition and Talent Management on Greenhouse’s Blog.
- "Include your business partners (BPs) in the kick-off process for new roles: The benefit: This creates an opportunity for the business partner and recruiter to share important context on the role and overall profile of the team. Sharing knowledge in this way is a good check-and-balance that we’re building strong teams with balanced skill-sets. That makes for more effective teams and a more effective Greenhouse.
- Notify BP’s about new hires as soon as an offer is accepted: The benefit: This gives the BP a leg up on supporting managers as they prepare to onboard their new person. Data shows that good onboarding leads to better outcomes. When our managers are prepared to onboard new hires, it means new hires ramp faster, are more effective sooner, and stay longer. Everybody wins.
- Capacity-planning and Org changes: The benefit: If your organization is growing, business needs change FAST. Knowing when and how org changes are happening allows us to better plan and adjust our recruiting capacity to business demand. This means we can open roles more quickly, which means hiring managers get help faster, and Greenhouse can meet its business objectives sooner."
"Competency-based selection is a process of evaluating candidates' behavioral attributes—as well as their skills and knowledge—by using role-based models and structured interviews to determine their fit for a position.
'You can hire for technical competencies all day long, but, if your new hires do not align with the company's guiding principles and culture or the role's behavioral competencies, you're setting them up for failure,'
said Michael Goldberg, managing director of MMGoldberg & Associates, an HR and talent acquisition consulting firm based in Dallas."
The only way to know that your company is improving their talent acquisition and management efforts is to track and set goals related to business metrics. Allie Kelly, the VP of Marketing at JazzHR, shares how to use business metrics to inform your recruiting strategy in this article.
- "Revenue-per-FTE: Total revenue in a fiscal year divided by the number of full-time employees.
- HR-expense-to-FTE: The ratio of HR spend to individual full-time employee.
- An ATS helps you scale in size but reduce the HR-expense-to-FTE ratio.
- Hiring new talent and/or expanding professional development can also help improve your recruiting ROI."
We’ve all heard about the rising trend of HR professionals utilizing chatbots to cut down on menial tasks like answering basic candidate questions and repeatable tasks like scheduling interviews, but when it comes down to it, do chatbots really help talent acquisition professionals be more effective at their job? Roy Mauer demonstrates how HR professionals and chatbots are learning together and why that’s important on SHRM.
"'The use of chatbots has exploded in talent acquisition in recent years,' said Ben Eubanks, SHRM-SCP, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, a human capital research and advisory services firm, and author of Artificial Intelligence for HR (Kogan Page, 2018). 'Recruiters don't have unlimited time to monitor the careers site and answer every applicant's question. Bots are handling initial screenings, scheduling interviews, answering candidate FAQs and even checking in with new hires to make sure they're settled. Recruiters' time is freed up for more high-value work, like sourcing hard-to-fill roles or negotiating an offer with a candidate on the fence.'
One company Eubanks worked with said 80 percent of employee service requests that came into HR were handled by a bot within a month of the technology's launch.
'Other companies I'm talking to say that using a bot saves their recruiters seven to eight hours each per week, mostly in early screening and interview scheduling,' he said."
Skeptical of chatbots and the benefits of investing in the technology? Aida Fazylova confirms why your company should start using chatbots for talent acquisition on Entrepreneur.
"Using chatbots to make the hiring process more efficient. With chatbots, when the candidate is ready to apply for a job, the bot can answer this person's common questions, such as the benefits of working with the company and any options it might offer, like foreign visa support.
Ensure the right hire. Chatbots and AI can also help with predictive analytics, by gathering data about each candidate. The collected data is analyzed, and provides a prediction on candidate engagement.
Improve your company's image. Having a chatbot on the front end helps to increase a brand's image, as a bot's automation component is friendly and fast and offers a self-service feel as the applicant messages the chatbot. The result is a positive candidate experience and the potential for positive word of mouth. So, building up a company’s HR brand contributes to its getting the most productive candidate."
There’s nothing more frustrating than finding an excellent candidate and struggling to receive responses or get in touch. Roy Mauer proposes an alternative solution, text recruiting. In this SHRM article, he explains why text recruiting is the future.
"'CDW rolled out text recruiting globally [in 2017] to fill roles quicker and more efficiently at a time when employers are feeling the pain of low unemployment rates and speed is of the essence,' Jarad Bazzell said at the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management Talent Conference & Exposition. 'As the organization has grown, finding areas that increase productivity and drive efficiency has been essential. And in a tightened labor market, time-to-fill is higher, so speed to market is everything.'
The company employs 10,000 people, screens 70,000 applications per year and makes 1,400 hires annually. 'How do we communicate with those candidates at scale and at speed?' Bazzell asked. 'It cannot be a manual process.
And text messaging is what candidates want. Two-thirds expect a mobile-friendly candidate experience, according to Bazzell.'
'Candidates deserve to be communicated with the way they want to be communicated with,' said Erik Kostelnik, founder and CEO of TextRecruit, a leading text messaging platform and the vendor CDW uses. 'This is the way things are going. Everything must be mobile. It is not a value upgrade anymore. If you are not set up to be mobile-first, not just mobile-optimized, then you will lose to your competitors.'"
There are a number of aspects of a candidate's background and qualifications to consider when selecting your next hire. All things considered, Samantha McLaren finds that skills are more important than talent in the talent acquisition process. McLaren expands on the topic on the LinkedIn Talent Blog.
- "Machines are taking over repetitive jobs, both manual and cognitive, allowing companies to move more people into nonroutine roles
- The gig economy means more and more workers are looking for short-term assignments
- The rise of the side hustle is opening up a whole new market in which to find valuable skills
- Learning is becoming a more level playing field, creating opportunities for candidates from all walks of life
- Organizations are realizing that their primary goal should be to solve problems, not to fill roles"
Knowing where and how to source the right candidates is a major challenge for all talent acquisition professionals. Roy Mauer narrows down how to create a sourcing function that makes a lasting impact on SHRM’s blog.
"Talent acquisition experts preach that true hiring success comes not from reactive recruiting practices like scanning resumes and applications, but from proactively finding and engaging potential candidates.
'How you build the team will depend on your budget, company culture and size, and what business problems you are trying to solve. Start small with a proven set of performers, and get larger as you become more effective,' says Rebecca Fouts, Sourcing Lead at Salesforce. 'Since you are starting a function from scratch, you want totally committed, productive and promotable people on your team.
I recommend starting with a focused set of traditional sourcers to build your team, and then add pipeline builders [who specialize in loading up talent] or researchers [who mine data for leads] as you become more developed.
Traditional sourcers engage the appropriate talent through e-mail and InMail and by phone and text, and speak with them to determine if they are qualified, interested and available.'"
Everyone knows that employee referrals are some of the best sources for talent acquisition. Erin Patton provides 6 tips for creating an effective employee referral programs on SHRM’s blog. Here they are:
- "Give employees what they need to refer.
- Set clear guidelines and expectations.
- Offer incentives that motivate.
- Market the program.
- Hold leaders and HR accountable.
- Provide feedback on outcomes."
Sometimes employee referrals are not consistent or sufficient for all your talent acquisition needs. Samantha Spano answer’s the question what are the best channels for sourcing candidates on JazzHR.
- "Employee referrals and internal promotions are among the best resources.
- Facebook is more popular than social media competitor Twitter, and has more users than the more traditional networking platform LinkedIn.
- Job boards are more popular with younger, less established organizations, while niche sites and forums narrow your search."