Kickstart your talent acquisition strategy today

Calum Grewar, Content Writer · 19 Sep

A new profession has been born. Smelt from recruitment, marketing, and HR. Talent acquisition has taken on such a unique identity that there are specialised professionals that your company could be utilising. Imagine walking into work and hearing: 'This is Claudine, your new talent acquisition manager'. Would you know what to say? This article will show you who she is, what she does, and how she will save your business. 

It may sound like another business buzzword, but talent acquisition matters. In most companies, the talent you employ is as important as the customers you sell to. And, in a world where technology continues to innovate, the rise of specialised and niche occupations has demand for talent increasing.

This means that, if you are a good recruiter, you shouldn’t just recruit, but start acquiring talent. Here’s why you should fully embrace this growing field.

What is talent acquisition?

For context, it would help if you had a firm grasp of the concept. The idea that planning far in advance to secure the top employees is not new, but the term talent acquisition and a lot of the techniques used are very modern. Talent acquisition essentially acts as an advanced and forward thinking strategy for bringing the very best people to the business.

'Talent acquisition combines a mix of scouting, sourcing, recruiting, and managing'

It combines a mix of scouting, sourcing, recruiting, and managing. It stretches beyond the more immediate demands placed on recruiters’ shoulders, yet takes on far more recruiting responsibility than HR. Effective talent acquisition even entails facets of marketing and PR departments. 

Interestingly, talent acquisition is not merely a who, or a what, it’s also a philosophy, a broad approach to how a company regards their employees. A talent acquisition manager needs to think as far ahead as possible when it comes to the company’s future needs. She holds innovative, creative brainpower at the top of her priorities and aims to shape an organisation and culture that both fosters and attracts workers with such attributes.

Talent acquisition – marketing and PR

This macro approach to bringing in the best employees requires planning and anticipating the company’s needs in the next six months to a year. Perhaps beyond this depending on the market. 

Talent acquisition differs from recruitment in this very way: recruitment tends to fill vacancies that already exist, talent acquisition needs to look beyond this and always be working to attract the best.

So how does it work?

As alluded to, talent acquisition specialists need to know who the best candidates are for vacancies and positions that don’t yet exist. This sounds like an impossible task. However, if you have a network of talent with whom you’ve developed positive relations, when the need arises, you’ll be in a much better position than if you had no clue who was available. This requires using all your resources to build this network.

Recruitment and HR should already be well versed in the mysterious ways of LinkedIn and other social networks for professionals. These are obviously an easy way to get in contact or simply be aware of and monitor who the top talent is.

'Talent acquisition specialists need to know who the best candidates are for vacancies and positions that don’t yet exist'

However, the best talent managers will be schmoozing at conferences, networking at industry events, and sipping Manhattans with the crème de la crème of talent in whichever areas your company might need bolstering.

This can be thought of as an elaborate courting process. Shakespeare wanted his plays to act as guides for onboarding the best market research analysts. So you should be ready to turn on the charm to your preexisting network when duty calls.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of effort for positions that might take years to free up. Indeed, but investing in top talent could save your business a fortune in the long run, and with demand for talent sky-high, you can’t afford to sleep on talent acquisition. 

talent acquisition networking

How can you attract the very best employees?

So, what’s the point in getting to know all these talented individuals if they wouldn’t want to come work for you? Exactly. Another central task for talent acquisition managers is transforming your company into a place that the very best want to work in, again differentiating it from recruiting.

Would Neil Armstrong have chosen Nasa over the Russians if they didn’t have an excellent pension package? Probably, but that’s besides the point. 

This is where the help of marketing and PR comes in. The most effective talent acquisition efforts involve the entire company. From engaging current employees to collectively promote innovation and success, right the way up to whole marketing campaigns that aim to cast the company in a talent-friendly light (neon yellow, if you were wondering).

Talent acquisition

These can range from Facebook ads to an overhaul of the website. PR can get involved too, with a concerted effort to angle all public interactions towards the portrayal of a positive workplace. The result of these efforts should be a recognisable brand, beyond your product, for your company as a positive working environment where individuals can thrive professionally. 

Once a position is vacant, an advanced recruitment procedure should have already been decided upon. Your shortlisting needs to have been done at an early stage so that in-depth interviews can assess the candidates on-the-spot thinking and creativity.

Creative interview – talent acquisition

Informal meetings can also take place to further understand who they are as an individual and if/how they will fit into your company’s culture. Times like this are also important for the candidate to suss out you and your company, allowing your preconceived marketing campaign to shine and pay dividends for your planning. 

During these interviews, meetings, and any other correspondence, the talent retention process can also begin. Career paths can be discussed, with common goals agreed that will help this individual grow and succeed with your company.

There is no point investing time and money just for your showcase employee to abandon ship during their second year. As a recruitment pro yourself, you’ll know this. 

How can I start my talent acquisition strategy?

The most important and, hopefully, easiest part of talent acquisition is talent retention. With company loyalty sinking faster than the titanic, don’t look elsewhere and neglect the illustrious talent you might already have. With this in mind, assessing your current workforce and getting to know their demographic will help the planning process.

Who is eligible for retirement in the the next few years? Who might need a promotion, leaving a talent-sized hole? This is information your HR department will already have access to, and it is crucial, as many western countries are predicted to lose unprecedented numbers of top-level professionals in the next five years. So tomorrow sounds like a good time to start looking ahead. 

talent crunch

Why talent acquisition is more important than ever

With the talent crunch looming, companies are fretting the world over as to how they can secure the best employees for the future of their business. Technological innovation has led to an enormous increase in specialised jobs, with Forbes reporting that over one million job vacancies were advertised in cybersecurity alone in 2016.

'Technological innovation has led to an enormous increase in specialised jobs, with Forbes reporting that over one million job vacancies were advertised in cybersecurity alone in 2016'

With such a boom in demand not being reflected by the number of cybersecurity experts, for example, competition for talent is fierce. In such a hotly contested world, recruiters cannot simply wait until a post is empty or about to be empty before beginning the long search for a replacement. Top talent is simply too valuable and scarce. If you aren’t scared yet, here are some numbers, sourced from Inside Supply Management: The Greying Supply Chain:

  • In just the United States, 76 million baby boomers are hurtling towards retirement
  • Up to 50% of the top-level positions in the United States’ top 500 companies are filled by those nearing retirement
  • The 15-64 year old population in some western countries is predicted to fall in some cases between 7-14%. 

So before you lose your Steves, your Sharons and your Helens, recognise the potential for this crisis to reach your company’s shores and start acquiring the talent of your Kyles, your Alicias and your Kierans. 

On the bright side, if you invest in talent acquisition professionals, or transform your recruiting department to deal with both, your company can flourish. Furthermore, eventually the supply of professionals with niche skills will match the demand.

However, until then, don’t get caught out by ignoring the potential talent acquisition offers. Simple adjustments and investments can herald a new wave of talent into your business. 

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