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Talent Acquisition: How does TA work?

Talent acquisition is an important function for organisations with growth and success on their agenda. But what exactly is talent acquisition and how should the function work?

It’s important to have an understanding of what talent acquisition is and how it works, to make sure that your company can plan for success. This article will provide you with the tips you need so you can get started on building your talent acquisition department.

What is included in talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is a process or function used to recruit and attract the best talent needed to ensure company success. Every business requires talent acquisition of some kind, however, the way they work can vary from one organization to another. Human labor needs clearly differ across organization, industries and sectors, but there are some general steps that most take;

Define

Defining the actual business requirements. E.G. What are the labor requirements of the company (contractors VS permanent staff, white-collar VS blue-collar) & what skills will the majority of your hires consist of? This workforce planning will generally be carried out by the HR department along with the business leadership.

Clarify

Clarifying what qualifies as a successful hire? For sales roles, it would clearly be sales performance. But what does success look like in your other positions?

Identify

Identifying how to source and attract the right volume and quality of candidates required to meet your business needs. Which online and offline channels will deliver the best candidates? Job Boards (niche or general), referrals, career pages, paid online advertising, network, hiring events, meetups, job fairs, social media and employment branding practices would also fall into this phase.

Build

Building a recruitment process for effective candidate assessment. The interview process and hiring initiatives should ensure that the company can hire top talent that has both values alignment and technical competency. How exactly will your hiring process fill open positions? Will you skills test your candidates? Who needs to interview and how will hiring decisions be made?

Construct

Constructing all the assets needed for this process to be expedited. Position or Job Descriptions, job advertisements, the technical tests or case studies you’ll be asking candidates to complete, interview plans for each role, and so on.

Lastly

And finally, the execution of all this planning in the form of day-to-day screening, interviewing, and hiring.

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What do talent acquisition specialists do?

Talent acquisition professionals are typically tasked with the construction of all these elements. Their focus is generally on the talent acquisition strategies that meet business requirements.

It’s a job function that relies on understanding compliance, company culture, interview process, sourcing talent, candidate’s behaviour, decision making, relationship management, employment brand practices, candidate experience, assessment, creativity, empathy, and pragmatism.

As well as these strategic elements, they will also be responsible for the hands-on, delivery aspects of every hire.

What is the difference between recruitment vs talent acquisition?

Whilst they’re seemingly interchangeable terms that get often get used together; it’s generally accepted that recruitment relates to the hiring of individual positions whilst talent acquisition, or TA, relates to the broader strategy of sustained long-term hiring. One is a short-term solution to an operational problem, the other is a strategic approach to building longer-term capability.

How do you build an effective talent acquisition team?

Your TA team needs the right mix of skills sets. They will need a combination of administrative, influencing, creative, planning, and of course human skills.

Leveraging the right technologies and tools is critical for hr and talent teams to succeed. Luckily the talent acquisition technology sector has plenty of options for every budget. So acquiring the right talent acquisition software should be on your team’s agenda. Consider your business requirements, budget, hiring volume, and the process that you’ve defined.

Ensure that your TA team is compensated at the right level. With effective talent acquisition being high on a lot of company agendas, it makes sense to pay them well for the value they bring.

What is a talent acquisition strategy?

A talent acquisition strategy should support the business strategy and its human resources planning, if it doesn’t do that then it’s just a talent acquisition team working in isolation.

All businesses are different, hence all talent strategies are different, but they should all be considering the following elements.

Employer branding. Back in the day, before the current boon of jobs and opportunities. Basically, before the internet. It was down to candidates to stand out from the competition. The chance to secure interviews and get new jobs was entirely down to their ability to sell their skill sets and experiences as the best possible fit for a particular vacancy.

Now, it’s the other way round. The sheer volume of opportunity in many sectors has swung the supply and demand equation completely. It’s now down to employers to carefully consider their brand and promote themselves as the best possible fit for the top talent in their sector. Showcasing the workplace, the culture, the team diversity, the benefits, the social responsibility, the career development opportunities, the leadership, the customers, the actual people in the business, and of course the day-to-day work, are all opportunities for brand development.

Data. Which channels consistently deliver us the best candidates? Does the top talent in our sector respond better to this (A) or this (B) advertising? How many candidates do we need to interview to end up with a successful hire? How do we gradually improve our hiring velocity? Which job boards offer the best ROI? Questions like these allow talent acquisition teams to focus on meaningful metrics that support the business strategy instead of vanity metrics that are of little real contextual value.

Team approach. The process of talent acquisition is a team sport. Hiring managers and other employees should all be involved in the recruiting of people for roles. Whenever there is a job opening, talent acquisition teams should be able to leverage the expertise of people in the company. Job candidates will also benefit from a richer experience through meeting more people in the organisation.

Internal mobility & Retention. Everybody (companies) is talking to everybody (talent). It’s just a fact. Your high-performing talent is being approached by other TA teams, recruitment agencies and even hiring managers from other businesses. So retention should be high on the agenda of every human resources department. Do this by identifying new opportunities for your highest-performing talent.

Technology. Talent acquisition often involves linear and highly repetitive parts of a process and technology should be leveraged to automate this where possible. This in turn allows the team to focus their time on the higher value activities such as building internal relationships, refining the talent acquisition process, speaking with applicants and hiring managers about positions, or working with human resources teams to define open jobs. Skills testing, ai, programmatic advertising and structured communication are all open to automation so teams should leverage the capability where possible.

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What is a talent acquisition process?

Once an effective talent acquisition strategy has been formulated, a contemporary, successful talent acquisition process can be broken down into these steps: Planning, sourcing & screening, selecting, offering & rejecting, on-boarding, and reviewing.

Let’s look at them individually;

Planning. In the same way that you wouldn’t build a brick house and wooden house in the same way; not all roles are hired the same way. You may get a house at the end of the process, but the type of house required for your particular conditions changes the way you build it. Or if you prefer; the specifications are different. Recruiting is the same.

You’d hire a receptionist differently from how you would an Asia Pac VP of Sales, and how you would a Chemical Scientist. You’re looking for the same outcome, a hire, but the way you build it is different. Your specification is different but good hiring always starts with good planning.

Sourcing & Screening. Understanding where your ideal employees will come from is a crucial part of the talent acquisition strategy. This is where your talent acquisition specialists will start to think like marketers. Which job boards and social channels should be leveraged? LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter? How can the talent acquisition team maximise referrals into the business? How do they get introductions to high-quality talent or rare skillsets via their networks?

Once you’ve attracted talent that is interested in talking to you how will your recruiting team screen them for values and technical fit? By understanding which channels are finding the best quality candidates to fill an open role, talent acquisition teams can better hit the goals that they carry.

Offering & Rejecting. Despite popular opinion, most people can take bad news. What most people can’t abide is being ghosted. One simple rule for rejections should be that everybody gets a prompt response of some kind. If someone interviews for a role, rejections should be a phone or video call or maybe even face to face.

For applicants that didn’t make it past screening, a well-written rejection email is sufficient. Once an applicant has been selected and verbally closed, a job offer or contract should be issued as soon as possible. At this point, talent acquisition may need to be expert negotiators. Remember that it’s 2021, if you’re not using e-signature for your contracts then you need to catch up.

On-boarding. One of the least considered steps of hiring is the experience that’s delivered to new employees. There’s plenty of research to link poor employee onboarding experiences to shorter than average job tenures. But research aside, it just makes common sense that if so much thought, time and effort has gone into the recruiting process, why undo it all with a substandard onboarding experience?

Reviewing. We can’t do anything about market conditions, about how economies are performing, or about how much our competitors just raised in funding; but we can constantly analyse our own performance and make the tweaks and adjustments in order to hit our goals.

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Frequently Asked Questions.

Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment Manager

They’re probably interchangeable terms. Some organisations still talk about recruitment in a slightly more transactional sense. Others talk about talent acquisition in a more strategic sense.

What is the difference between talent acquisition and HR?

Whilst they work closely, talent acquisition and HR have different focus areas. HR generally looks at the overall people challenges of any business. Often with a lens of compliance and risk management.

Is recruiting part of HR?

Recruiting is absolutely a part of HR, but not all of it. In smaller organisations, it’s a big part but in enterprise-size companies, it’s a significantly smaller part of the people side of the business. Issues such as collective bargaining, workplace OH&S, training, leadership development, and so on become bigger challenges to be managed.

What is the difference between a recruiter and a talent acquisition specialist?

Recruiters generally work within a recruitment agency supplying candidates to companies in order to fill job roles. Talent Acquisition specialists are employees of a company. They’ll generally work as part of a human resources team. Their focus is on developing and executing strategies to fill vacant roles as opposed to just the day-to-day recruiting and attracting of talent.

How do you become a talent acquisition specialist?

Many have started their careers after completing a human resources qualification of some kind. HR coordinators often find themselves involved in the talent acquisition sphere, some stay within the HR department, and others move into talent acquisition. More recently we’ve seen agency recruiters move into internal roles as they seek to broaden their horizons.

How do I start a career in talent acquisition?

If you have no HR experience or qualifications to call on then starting as a talent coordinator or administrator is a great tip. If you’re naturally well organised and can manage multiple tasks and deadlines, it could be an ideal fit.

How much do talent acquisition specialists make?

Compensation for Talent Acquisition professionals has increased over the last few years. In sectors where competition for talent is the fiercest, talent acquisition specialists are highly sought after and are well-compensated. Senior TA’s within a technology organization for example could earn anywhere between $120,000 to $150,000 annually. For those that move into leadership roles within enterprise-size organisations, salaries of over $200,000 are not uncommon.

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