What Is Talent Acquisition?
Understanding talent acquisition requires you to answer two distinct questions: how do you define talent, and what does acquire mean? In this case, "talent" is a skilled, qualified candidate, and “acquire” means to obtain or secure.
Talent acquisition is an umbrella term that describes the process of seeking out and securing (acquiring) people with the necessary skills (talent) to fulfill an organization’s needs.
Although similar, talent acquisition isn’t the same as recruiting—it refers to the long-term strategy behind procuring skilled labor.
This includes analyzing the workforce and expertise requirements of an organization, predicting its future needs, and planning to fill those needs through recruiting, active sourcing, or a combination of the two.
Are Talent Acquisition and HR the Same Department?
Organizationally, talent acquisition falls under the greater category of human resource specialists. Some companies may separate talent acquisition and general HR into two different departments: HR to manage existing employees and talent acquisition to bring on new hires.
What Is a Talent Acquisition Team?
A talent acquisition team is a group of professionals responsible for identifying employment needs, creating job postings, and finding candidates who meet the criteria for those positions. Most often, those in talent acquisition careers take on one of four key roles on the team, including:
- Talent acquisition managers: Leaders who manage the team’s goals
- Talent acquisition specialists: Professionals who seek out the right talent and bring them into an organization
- Sourcing specialists: Experts who identify candidates with highly technical and specialized skills
- Recruiting coordinators: Professionals responsible for designing and implementing a business’s recruiting plan
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What Does the HR Talent Acquisition Team Do?
The talent acquisition team develops a company’s strategy for planning, forecasting, and broadcasting job openings. Each member of this team does their part to realize the overarching objectives of the department and the organization. The following are some critical responsibilities of the HR talent acquisition team:
Analyzing Key Workforce Gaps
Workforce planning involves assessing current and future workforce needs. It takes into account outside forces like government mandates and economic conditions, but also considers sector- and company-specific issues, such as business competition and demographics, attitudes, needs, and preferences.
Recruiting Qualified Job Candidates
Recruiting is the process of filling immediate talent needs. It includes many different tasks, such as writing and publishing job descriptions, screening applications, interviewing candidates, handling pre-employment testing, writing offers, and onboarding new hires.
Navigating Laws and Regulations
Talent acquisition teams must understand and apply federal, state, and local laws. Notable examples include immigration and visa requirements, equal opportunity employment (EEO) laws, Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance for background checks, and regulations surrounding employment contracts.
Streamlining Tasks with Technology
Talent acquisition professionals must be able to use software applications for a variety of tracking needs. These include affirmative action and non-discrimination compliance tracking, communicating with candidates, performing background checks, and managing the recruitment process.
Is Talent Acquisition the Same as Recruitment?
Both talent acquisition and recruitment processes are focused on one thing: filling vacant positions within a business. While these processes work together to help HR professionals procure qualified employees, they each require a different approach to accomplish that goal.
Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment
Talent acquisition is all about choosing professionals with specific skill sets to fill executive, leadership, and specialty roles in alignment with the company’s strategic vision. Alternatively, recruitment is usually centered around short-term, immediate business needs, like filling a job opening after someone’s left the organization.
Take a school district, for example. A talent acquisition strategy would focus on finding the right people to fill roles like Superintendent, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Principal—those who have a significant impact on the district's ability to set and meet overarching goals. By contrast, recruitment would be focused on filling immediate needs for teachers, office assistants, nurses, custodians, and nutrition workers.
While recruitment is primarily concerned with finding a qualified person to do the job, effective talent acquisition requires a more long-term outlook.
What Is a Talent Acquisition Strategy?
A talent acquisition strategy is the blueprint for how an organization sources its candidates and fills open positions. Talent acquisition teams may map out their strategy in different ways to meet the distinct needs of a company and the evolving trends within their talent pools, but most follow a similar six-step path:
- Sourcing and lead generation: Define talent needs, identify networks and communities that attract the specific talent you’re looking for, and build relationships with those individuals. Your sourcing specialist should take on this task.
- Recruiting and attracting applicants: Create a competitive benefits package, brand image, and other incentives that encourage top applicants to apply. A talent acquisition specialist is perfect for guiding these tasks.
- Interviewing and assessing candidates: Bring in candidates that meet the essentials of your criteria and ask them questions to gauge their understanding. Important processes like interviews and assessments are best left to the recruiting coordinator or talent acquisition manager.
- Background-checking references: Verify a candidate’s talents and experience with former employers. Your recruiting coordinator can handle this duty.
- Selecting the hire: Decide which candidate best fits your open position and extend a job offer. Your entire talent acquisition team can weigh in on this decision.
- Onboarding new talent: Introduce the new hire to your organization, clarify responsibilities, and establish expectations. Once you have a well-designed onboarding plan, your recruiting coordinator can determine how to implement it.
Talent acquisition managers must be able to plan for and execute the tasks that comprise this talent acquisition strategy in a way that ensures the company can keep moving toward its goals.
What Makes a Good Talent Acquisition Manager?
High-performing talent acquisition managers collaborate with HR and various teams to align their goals with broader company objectives. They also develop and communicate employer branding to candidates.
Because they’re responsible for managing the candidate lifecycle, talent acquisition managers must also forecast effectively to know what roles the company will need to fill and develop an accurate timeline for doing so. This helps to minimize gaps between employee departures and new-hire onboarding.
A good talent acquisition manager also effectively builds and manages a high-quality talent pipeline to ensure qualified candidates are readily available when positions need to be filled. Some common tactics for accomplishing this include:
- Leveraging employee referrals for open positions: Every employee can be a job recruiter thanks to their diverse network of contacts.
- Offering competitive compensation: Providing at least the same amount of pay as your competitors and similar (or better) benefits packages can help attract more quality applicants.
- Embracing flexibility in part-time and remote workers: Sometimes, the perfect candidate needs greater flexibility in their schedule to be persuaded to work for you. Hybrid roles where employees are only in the office a few days per week are quickly becoming the most prevalent work arrangement.
- Delegating amongst your team: The best leaders don’t do everything on their own, and the same is true for talent acquisition managers.
To help make building a strong pipeline of potential candidates easier, many talent acquisition managers use an applicant tracking system (ATS). This platform can keep track of every candidate you come in contact with and make it easy to access those profiles whenever there’s an opening within your organization.
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