Talent acquisition is a series of strategic steps that businesses use to find and hire the highest quality candidates for openings within their organization. To excel in this endeavor, many employers rely on recruitment technology, which helps automate the most labor-intensive tasks of the hiring process and provides valuable data and intelligence that can help them make better decisions.

Why is talent acquisition important?

Having the right people in the right roles helps businesses improve productivity and remain competitive in the market. Without a talent acquisition strategy, organizations may find it difficult to not only source active candidates, but also to market themselves as a preferred employer and network with passive candidates.

What's the difference between recruiting and talent acquisition?

Recruitment is often a reactive method of filling immediate job openings in the quickest course possible, whereas talent acquisition is viewed as a long-term, proactive approach to creating a talent pipeline. Certain roles, like senior executives and individuals with highly-specialized skill sets, can generally only be sourced through talent acquisition. Yet, any business, regardless of its staffing needs, can benefit from a forward-thinking, talent acquisition strategy that addresses both the job vacancies of today and those of tomorrow with a strong pool of candidates.

How does the talent acquisition process work?

While it’s true that talent acquisition means playing the long game, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Many employers follow these six basic steps to reach their talent goals:

  1. Create a network
    Visiting conferences or joining online forums are great ways to make a lasting impression as an employer of choice and build relationships with people that meet the business’s current and future talent needs.

  2. Recruit the best fit candidates
    Strong job descriptions and competitive compensation are just the beginning. Employers need to build positive brand recognition and promote all the things that make their workplace culture unique via their career portal and website. Having a strategic presence on the job platforms that that are best suited for the desired roles can also be helpful.

  3. Interview applicants
    In addition to focusing on the required tasks of the job, good interviewees often will assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills, resourcefulness and personality.

  4. Validate references
    First impressions can go a long way, but sometimes hiring managers need the bigger picture. This is where references and screening and selection tools can play an important part in verifying if an applicant truly has what it takes to succeed in the role.

  5. Select the final candidate
    Streamlined software, such as applicant tracking systems with evaluation tools, can make it easier to narrow the list of candidates, especially when busy senior executives or large teams of stakeholders need to have a say in the final decision.

  6. Onboard the new hire
    Onboarding can help transform a top candidate to a top performer on the team. Ideally, it should begin before the new employee’s start date and be as streamlined and user friendly as possible.

Tips for optimal talent acquisition

It’s important to monitor success when building a talent acquisition strategy. If the results aren’t meeting expectations, there are several ways to improve:

  • Rely on prior experiences to accurately forecast how long it will take to fill certain roles.
  • Use talent acquisition software that can automatically post jobs and reply to applicants.
  • Keep primary business goals in mind to help ensure candidates are a match long term.
  • Incentivize employees with rewards for referring candidates that are eventually hired.
  • Be up front about expectations, e.g., required experience, compensation and work-life balance.
  • Create a compelling brand message and communicate it broadly and consistently.
  • Frequently check in with new hires during onboarding and beyond to see how they’re acclimating.

What are some specific talent acquisition strategies?

Talent acquisition strategies can be tailored to meet specific hiring needs. Here are some of the more common examples:

Bulk hiring

Hiring many candidates at once presents challenges with both cost and quality. In such cases, talent acquisition software that automates repetitive tasks and facilitates data-driven decision-making is almost always necessary.

Senior leadership

Unlike junior-level employees who may have more time to acclimate to their new role, senior executives are usually expected to lead from day one on the job. Sourcing candidates capable of these expectations can be difficult and may require an experienced recruiting staff or a partnership with a talent sourcing agency.

Technical specialists

Prior experience and the interview itself are an important litmus tests for many candidates, but not necessarily when it comes to technicians. Skills tests, questionnaires and demonstrated assessments are often more effective methods of determining if someone is right for a specialist role.

Internal hires

Hiring internal candidates can simplify the talent acquisition process. To make the most of this strategy, however, permissions within the talent acquisition system will need to be in place. It’s also important to encourage current employees to learn new skills outside of their daily responsibilities so they can grow within the broader organization.

Frequently asked questions about talent acquisition

Is talent acquisition the same as HR?

Talent acquisition is primarily an HR responsibility, but in some instances, it may be a standalone department that works closely with HR. In either case, the talent acquisition team must know how to promote the employer’s brand, identify and evaluate qualified candidates, and adhere to all hiring laws and regulations.

What is the purpose of talent acquisition?

The purpose of talent acquisition is to make recruitment more strategic and better suited to an organization’s goals. In this way, employers can find the best candidates for the jobs they need filled today, as well as passive candidates who might be a great fit down the road.

Is onboarding part of talent acquisition?

Onboarding is generally considered the last step of the talent acquisition process, but is just as important as any other. Drop the ball here with an unwelcoming experience and all the hard work that went into landing a candidate may be lost. In fact, as much as 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days.1

1 The Society for Human Resource Management

This article is intended to be used as a starting point in analyzing talent acquisition and is not a comprehensive resource of requirements. It offers practical information concerning the subject matter and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal or tax advice or other professional services.

ADP Editorial Team

ADP Editorial Team The ADP editorial team is comprised of human resource professionals with extensive experience solving complex HR challenges for businesses of all sizes.