What are talent acquisition strategies?

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What are talent acquisition strategies?

Feb. 24th, 2022

What are talent acquisition strategies?

By Jo Wilkinson, Recruitment Partner

In the highly dynamic tech start-up world, implementing an effective talent acquisition strategy might well mean the difference between a company’s success or failure. Without the right talent on board, businesses could easily find themselves becoming uncompetitive.

This is why talent acquisition has become something of a buzzword, as it introduces a modernised approach to traditional recruitment strategies. Talent acquisition goes beyond just filling available positions and more towards meeting business imperatives.

Because these imperatives differ from company to company, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to formulating an effective talent acquisition strategy. Instead, each company should use its unique requirements and culture to create a talent acquisition strategy that stands out in a cluttered marketplace. In this article, we’ll create an outline to achieve this.

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Talent acquisition vs recruitment

No matter how automated you think your business is, high growth means taking additional staff members on board. Competition for valuable skills is on the rise, and companies are doing what they can to gain a leg up on their opponents. For this reason, talent acquisition is often preferred to recruitment.

The big drawback of recruitment is its reactive nature. The process usually starts when a position is created or opens up. Only then does the search for a suitable candidate kick off.

Talent acquisition goes much further. Unlike the recurring, but once-off nature of recruitment, talent acquisition is an ongoing, always-on strategy. This strategy not only focuses on attracting the best talent, but also on creating a pipeline of world-class employees who align with the company’s values and culture, and who know that they will be valued in their new environment.

What are the benefits of an effective talent acquisition strategy?

The most obvious benefits of an effective talent acquisition strategy are that you are likelier to find an employee that brings the right skill set, experience, personality, and drive into the business in the quickest possible time. While it is easy to assume that HR should be ticking these boxes during the recruitment process, 74% of employers say that they’ve hired at least one person who was wrong for the job in the past year.

Unfortunately for employers, the risk of wrong hires is on the rise due to an increasingly competitive hiring space, a rise in specialist jobs, a rise in freelance work, and training that has not kept pace with the latest developments.

Add to that the fact that 45% of employers worldwide report that they have difficulty filling open positions within a company, and the benefits of an effective talent acquisition strategy speak for themselves.

The more skills and training a position requires, the more difficult it becomes to find the right candidate. In an increasingly global jobs market, demand far outstrips supply. Only those companies that see talent acquisition as an integral part of the business will be able to attract the skills the business needs to survive and thrive.

Good talent acquisition strategies ensure that new hires not only possess the required skill sets, but are also a good cultural fit for the company. Right hires are also more likely to be happy employees – which means lower turnover rates and improved productivity. Therefore, when done correctly, a company’s talent acquisition strategy also becomes the first step in its retention strategy.

What are the basic components of an effective talent acquisition strategy?

An effective talent acquisition strategy has to be tailored to a company’s individual needs. These are the five main considerations:

1. Align hiring with business goals

Because talent acquisition is forward looking, it is closely aligned with the company’s overall vision. The business needs to know where it will be in six months, and what skills are going to be required when new milestones are reached.

Past wisdom dictated that highly specialised positions could take many months to fill, but talent acquisition focuses on satisfying business needs even before they arise. A long and drawn-out interview process is not a luxury businesses can afford these days, particularly when they suddenly sign on a new, big client.

However, when medium and long-term goals are clearly defined, those with the right skills can be identified and engaged proactively.

Aligning business goals with talent acquisition also helps a company to consider the environment in which it operates. This helps to create a skills tier list, from scarcest to most widely available, which enables the business to focus efforts on acquiring the scarcest and most in-demand skills.

2. Clearly define your ideal candidate

Because job descriptions become outdated so quickly, one of the biggest pitfalls in the hiring process are poorly-defined candidate requirements. To create the most comprehensive definitions, one helpful exercise is to ask employees in similar positions to write down their own job descriptions once or twice per year, including a list of their day-to-day tasks.

It is often interesting to see how employees’ roles change over time, even if their job title remains the same. This is particularly true in the rapidly-evolving tech environment. Good hires start with job requirement clarity.

While employing a candidate who ticks all the boxes is a necessity, they also need to satisfy more than just the basic expectations. Finding a good cultural fit may seem like just another hiring buzzword, but it is a crucial consideration. Employees who align with the culture and values will slot into daily operations much quicker. They are also quicker to find a sense of camaraderie with their fellow employees in stressful situations. If they are not a good cultural fit, they may find themselves overwhelmed and struggling to fit into a new, dynamic environment.

3. Streamline and automate the core recruitment process

An old-fashioned recruitment approach is often likely to result in too many interviews being set up, which is a significant drain on resources, and leads to interview fatigue. To avoid spreading company resources too thin, talent acquisition targets a core, qualified list of candidates.

This list means that there can be a laser focus on the most suitable candidates. While this focus requires personal relationship building, modern companies cannot get by anymore without a good applicant tracking system (ATS) to identify and shortlist the best available candidates from a defined talent pool.

In addition, businesses can also identify other aspects of the hiring process to streamline, such as optimising and automating any forms that candidates must fill out as much as possible. This improves the effectiveness of the process for the company, and impresses potential candidates.

4. Create or optimise your interviewer training

With all the focus on employee skills, it is easy to lose sight of the all-important skill set of the interviewer. As they are the “gatekeepers” of the company, they too need to possess the right skill set. Unlike recruiters, those tasked with talent acquisition spend most of their time building relationships and networking.

And, as with other employees, companies should show their commitment to their talent acquisition teams by upskilling them to perform even better, through training in human resources management software, psychometric evaluations, or CV screening.

Interviews are as much about the candidate making an impression on the company as it is about the company making an impression on the candidate. Companies should take the utmost care in presenting themselves in such a way that candidates can also see whether it is a good fit for them. This ensures that the business not only employs the right skills, but also the right people.

Word of mouth is powerful, and even unsuccessful applicants should leave the interview impressed enough with the company that they would tell others about it. The ideal interviewer is also a good brand ambassador.

5. Focus on candidate experience

Because the interview is a two-way assessment process, balance is essential. Human resources professionals may be inclined to sing the praises of the company, but this is also a good time for brutal honesty. This means striking a balance between singing the praises of the company and outlining clear expectations.

The right candidates often possess that rare combination of a unique skill set and a strong work ethic. They already expect to work in a dynamic, demanding environment, so clear outlines are more valuable than sugar coating. However, the business must still use this opportunity to highlight why it stands out from other employers. Equally, the companies should focus on equipping the candidate to ask the right questions to gauge whether they can develop with the company.

A good candidate experience during the interview process means that even unsuccessful candidates exit the process with a positive view of the company. Remember that, unlike recruitment, talent acquisition seeks to build a talent pipeline. A person who narrowly misses out on a position now may be kept on file and may well be perfect for another position a few months down the line. If they remain impressed with the company, they can be approached when the right position does open up.

Shaping the future

It is often said that replacing a skilled employee can cost as much as twice their annual salary. By following an effective talent acquisition strategy, companies can address this issue through an integrated talent acquisition strategy. The numerous advantages include streamlining the applications process, establishing a talent pipeline, and minimising staff turnover. This approach could save the company millions over its lifetime.

Such evidence underlines the importance of a strong talent acquisition strategy, but it should never be seen as static. Good talent acquisition strategies evolve constantly. This is a rapidly evolving space, and many businesses are increasingly automating and streamlining their processes. Those who are left behind will find themselves at a disadvantage in the skills race.

As companies have come to appreciate the importance of talent acquisition, they have managed to grow quicker, reduce the time to fill positions, and improve their hiring rates. The companies that have embraced this approach to growing their workforce are already enjoying the benefits – benefits that will increasingly become a core factor in business success.

If you’re a Europe-based B2B SaaS company looking for advice and potential investment, we can help. Get in touch, and let’s get the conversation started.

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