Talent Acquisition: HR’s Guide For Finding the Best Talent

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Talent Acquisition Guide_Businessman flying in search of ideas hanging on balloon. Search for new business ideas

Talent Acquisition (TA) is more than just a strategy.  It’s about creating a framework that helps an organization hire smarter.  This doesn’t only include hiring talent that best fits a company’s needs, but also considering the needs of the prospective employee and how they align with the needs of the company.

In today’s current talent environment, TA is more important than ever before.  Companies are experiencing a labor shortage, one that is forecasted to get worse before it gets better.  At last check there are around one million more job openings than there are people to fill those positions.  In fact, 50% of recruiters say they are actively looking for employees to fill jobs, but can’t seem to find one qualified candidate.  Additionally, companies aren’t just looking to find talent in their own industry but talent in other industries as well.  Translation:  there is a high chance talent in an organization is actively being recruited by other companies.

In the guide below, the HR Exchange Network explores the topic of TA in more detail.  It takes a look at the current state of affairs, strategies, and what talent acquisition leaders should expect in the coming years.

What is Talent Acquisition?

We start with a definition of talent acquisition.  It’s important to understand exactly what it is and how it functions as part of the human resources department.

Definition:  TA is the process of finding and acquiring skilled human labor for organizational needs and to meet any labor requirement. When used in the context of the recruiting and HR profession, talent acquisition usually refers to the talent acquisition department or team within the Human Resources department. (Recruiter.com)

REPORT:  Recruiting in the Labor Shortage Era

TA is different from recruitment in that recruitment is about filling vacancies in the short term whereas TA is more of a long-term strategy.

TA According to HR Leaders

To understand more about TA, here are a few quotes from HR professional on the topic and associated issues.

Steve Bonomo with Twitter’s Global Talent Acquisition Department says:

“The biggest challenge is a company’s ability to go out and get the creator. For us, a creator is someone who thinks outside the box, challenges the status quo, brings in new innovations and ideas; whether they work in finance or in research and development. Great brands don’t have trouble attracting candidates, but every company is challenged to hire creators.” 

Sebastien Girard is the senior vice president of workforce engagement for Atrium Health.  He says, “I feel that TA is becoming a customer service function. I might even go so far to say it’s almost a borderline sales function.”

Going a step further, he spoke about it in terms of the candidate experience.

“Candidates expect that customer service approach and responsiveness. They expect to feel important and they expect transparency. I don’t think that a job seeker is expecting to get every job that he or she applies for but there is a desire to have transparency when things go well -or if things don’t go well and when it doesn’t, why. Candidates expect responsiveness even when it’s bad news. If I don’t get the job I don’t want to wait a week and a half to get the bad news. I want to hear it right away,” Girard said.

TA Strategy

It’s important for today’s TA professionals and HR leaders to keep a grip on the changing landscape.  There is plenty happening within the space and those things will continue to shape how employers find talent and grow retention in the future.

Entry-Level Expectations

In 2018, ICIMS reported new college graduates expected an average salary of $45,361 in entry-level pay.  Just a year on, in 2019, that number has climbed more than $10,000 to $56,532.

With that expectation, college graduates will be looking to supplement their income and they’re going to turn to the freelance economy, also called the gig economy.  The same study finds 64% of college seniors expect to get extra work through the gig economy.

Finally, more than half of companies surveyed as part of the ICIMS report say they’re seeing an increase in the number of applicants with a master’s degree for entry-level position.  Furthermore, 72% feel applicants with a master’s degree are actually overqualified for the position.

TA Effectiveness

Goal Alignment

As previously stated, TA is a business imperative given the currently labor environment.  A company or organization’s TA strategy must align with the strategic goals of the company across each department.  Doing so will allow HR and responsible leaders to source and attract qualified candidates to roles.

Employer Branding

The strategy must also align with the employer brand.  Not only is it the company’s identity, it is also a major tool used in acquiring talent.  In some organizations, but not all, public relations and/or marketing departments are responsible for the brand and its representation to potential candidates.  Regardless of who owns the strategy, TA leaders can and should play a role in its development and upkeep.  The point of branding is to help potential candidates understand the company culture, its products and how it is different from its competitors.

Consider the following.

Companies with stronger employer brands, compared to competitors on average see a 43% decrease in the cost per candidate they hire. That’s according to LinkedIn. Why? Rather than spending all of the company’s money on advertising and marketing campaigns, companies will reap the rewards of the natural talent attraction traits of an attractive employer brand.

Without a functional and successful employer brand, companies could risk paying nearly $5,000 in salary premiums per hired employees. If the company employs 10,000 workers or more, the cost could be as high as $7.6 million in additional wages.

Employee Lifecyle

The TA team also has a key role to play in the lifecycle of an employee.  Specifically, TA leaders are part of first few stages of the lifecycle including first contact through the job offer.

Workforce Planning

Workforce planning must be conducted regularly.  HR professionals must understand talent supply and demand.  Focus should be put on what is happening in the labor market and how it relates to the business goals of the company.

INFOGRAPHIC:  The Career Pathing Compass

Other areas of focus should include:

  • What products and/or services are the company planning to provide or is already providing?
  • What is the competition doing?

Candidate Experience Improvement

67% of employed American adults say the application, interview or offer process would make or break their decision on whether or not to take an offer.

Having said that, there are a series of changes a company can make in improving their candidate experience.

  1. Write clear job descriptions – This should include simple, clear language that is easily read and understood. Make sure to include must-have requirements and make sure the candidate understands if any of those are management-related.
  2. Streamline the application process – Career pages should be easily accessible. The application should have clear instructions.
  3. Communicate during each step of the process – It is always good to talk to the candidate on the phone before asking the person to do a test or an assignment. Make sure there is information available about each step of the process and explain what they can expect during each step.
  4. Prepare candidates for what to expect during in-person interviews – HR should follow always be prepared for the interview, i.e. getting a room scheduled for the interview and line up meetings for the candidate.
  5. Inform the candidate as soon as possible if they are no longer being considered – Send a clear rejection message, but try to end the process on a positive note. If you wish to keep the candidate in mind for other opportunities, make sure to communicate that.

TA’s Future

The future of TA is agility.  Human resources professionals have to be able to manage the talent pool with lightning speed.  Why?  The job market is competitive and moving at the speed of light.  TA leaders have to be able to interact with job seekers in real time.  Without this skill, companies run the risk of losing their best talent to the competition whether it be in the same industry or another industry.  Understanding this new paradigm will allow TA leaders to drive desired business outcomes.

Somethings to consider:

  • Think about what the employee wants. Items include flexible schedules or the ability to work remotely.  Are those opportunities available?
  • Embrace technology especially artificial intelligence. AI is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the talent acquisition space as a sourcing and/or analysis tool.
  • Embrace the new social norms. Employees want to work for companies that align with their values.  This has to be a big part of the talent acquisition strategy.  Employees who find themselves working for like-minded companies will work harder and stay longer.

In summation

TA done right can help a company grow and reach its long-term goals.  Given the current talent environment however, it does seem a difficult take to accomplish.  But, a TA leader who understands the type of employees his or her company needs and what types of workers make up the workforce are best prepared for the future of work. 

Recruiting in the Labor Shortage Era

50% of HR managers say they have open positions and not one qualified candidate to fill that opening. The latest report of HR Exchange Network provides actionable advice on how to recruit when talent is scare and at a premium.  Download it NOW!

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