How to Develop a Talent Acquisition Strategy with Practical Examples

How to Develop a Talent Acquisition Strategy with Practical Examples

Sugandha SrivastavaDecember 16th, 20238 min read

These days, lots of companies worldwide are feeling the impact of the 'great resignation.' It's getting pretty tough for them to hold onto their star players, what with higher wages, fancy benefits, and the option to work remotely all on the table.

The job market is buzzing with candidates calling the shots, and the competition to snag the best ones is no joke. And let's be real, without a skilled bunch, a company can end up with less productivity, bad decisions, and a bunch of unmotivated folks.

So, to tackle these challenges, employers and hiring managers are on the hunt for smart strategies. That's where talent acquisition steps in as the hero, offering solutions to the problems faced by hiring pros and recruitment agencies.

Talent acquisition is like the secret weapon for hiring managers and recruiters. It involves a close look at what the company needs, its long-term goals, and the big picture of business objectives. Then, armed with this knowledge, the goal is to find talent that's not just a good fit for the job but also aligns perfectly with the organization's vision, helping it reach new heights.

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How Should We Break Up Sourcing and Recruiting?

Addressing one of the major Talent Acquisition (TA) challenges of the past decade, Tim Sackett emphasizes the need to reconsider the conventional approach to dividing Sourcing and Recruiting functions. Exploring the concept through the lens of "Levels of Talent," he identifies a three-tiered structure within organizations.

Starting with the first level, where positions can be easily filled due to high demand and a surplus of qualified applicants from a single job posting. The second level introduces a moderate challenge in finding suitable candidates, requiring tactics like seeking referrals. The third level represents the most formidable hurdle, where the traditional recruiting function may struggle to attract the needed quantity and quality of candidates.

Tim Sackett's solution is to view today's sourcers as specialized problem-solvers, akin to hired guns. Their role becomes pivotal in addressing challenges at the third level, acting as valuable fixers brought in when the recruiting process encounters difficulties. Instead of envisioning the talent pipeline as a segmented structure, the analogy shifts to a dynamic tube that requires occasional patching of holes for optimal functionality. In essence, understanding and leveraging "Levels of Talent" provides a nuanced perspective on when and how to deploy sourcing and recruiting resources effectively.

HV Analysis:

This perspective on the traditional recruiting process presents an intriguing shift from the common practice of breaking it down into easily measurable components. The approach involves recognizing the distinct purposes of the process rather than segmenting it into quantifiable bits.

Interestingly, a parallel line of thinking emerges in Deloitte's 2017 Human Capital Trends Report, reflecting a broader trend in the business world. The report contrasts "old" rules of conducting business with the "new" rules ushered in by the digital age. One notable comparison is the shift from viewing businesses as hierarchies (old rule) to perceiving them as agile networks (new rule).

Another facet of this old-new rule framework pertains to job roles:

Old Rule: Businesses operate with clearly defined roles and job titles.

New Rule: Teams and responsibilities are clearly defined, but roles and job titles undergo regular changes.

If this trend continues, it suggests a potential transformation for the traditional university recruiting generalist. The role may evolve towards sourcing positions on an as-needed basis, potentially eliminating the necessity for externally sourced "hired gun."

Why Job Candidates Should Be Prepared for a ‘Knockout’ Question

Overcoming unconscious bias in the hiring process poses a considerable challenge. Mark Newman highlights its tendency to lead us toward selecting individuals who resemble ourselves, aligning with our values, social background, or education. Unfortunately, succumbing to this bias can result in erroneous hiring decisions.

Newman proposes three strategies to circumvent the pitfalls of unconscious bias in hiring:

Rely on a Trusted Team

Making hiring decisions in isolation increases vulnerability to bias without awareness. To counter this, Newman advocates for assembling a team of trusted advisors who can play devil's advocate. This approach introduces valuable perspectives that challenge one's own implicit biases.

Look Beyond Resumes

Resumes can trigger unconscious bias based on factors like a person's name, gender, location, or educational background—factors unrelated to actual performance. Newman suggests delving deeper by incorporating video introductions for pre-screening candidates. This method allows a more profound understanding of each applicant, bypassing surface-level biases.

Carefully Craft Interview Questions

When utilizing video introductions, Newman recommends strategically selecting interview questions. A single question can serve as a "knockout" criterion in the pre-screening process, enabling the identification of top candidates. Sharing these videos among trusted advisors facilitates a streamlined selection process, ensuring that the most promising candidates are identified early in the hiring journey.

HV Analysis

It's widely acknowledged that resumes have limitations in predicting future job performance, and the use of video interviews is recognized as a valuable tool for evaluating candidates' soft skills. However, the concept of knockout questions, despite being important, hasn't been explored extensively.

In essence, creating a system that automatically screens out specific candidates makes sense, especially when considering roles with distinct requirements. For example, in hiring for a software development position, having a basic coding aptitude might be a crucial prerequisite.

Many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) incorporate built-in knockout questions, varying from auto-screening based on work experience thresholds to queries assessing "personality fit" to quantify cultural alignment. Yet, these often share the limitation of being somewhat one-dimensional.

Before the advent of video interviewing capabilities, basic ATS knockout questions served as a substitute for more relevant metrics. For instance, someone with extensive experience might seem preferable, but they could potentially be burnt out or demotivated—a nuance overlooked by one-dimensional knockout questions.

Video knockout questions address this limitation by leveraging the multi-dimensional nature of video as a medium. Situation-based queries provide a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's capabilities compared to the simplistic "how many years of experience do you have?" approach. This approach enables a more nuanced evaluation, offering insights that go beyond the surface-level constraints of traditional knockout questions.

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Talent Acquisition VS Recruitment: What’s the Difference?

Talent acquisition and recruitment, although closely related and falling under the broader umbrella of HR and staffing, are distinct concepts that can be challenging for those outside HR departments to differentiate. Despite sharing the common goal of placing individuals in job openings, the differences between them are more pronounced than commonly assumed.

Talent Acquisition represents a proactive and strategic approach to securing top-tier candidates for an organization. It involves activities such as building a robust employer brand, cultivating relationships, and engaging in proactive sourcing. This approach takes into account future talent needs and succession planning, aligning with the company's long-term objectives.

In contrast, Recruitment is a reactive and transactional process primarily focused on promptly filling immediate job vacancies. The emphasis here is on addressing short-term organizational needs and swiftly filling open positions. Hiring managers in the recruitment process concentrate on meeting current workforce requirements, marking the goal as a response to temporary job needs.

While recruitment is centered on the immediate fulfillment of roles, talent acquisition teams delve into long-term HR planning and the implementation of talent acquisition best practices. This involves the development and execution of an ongoing strategy to identify individuals who can play crucial roles in the organization's future success.

This forward-looking perspective requires talent acquisition teams to identify and nurture specialists, leaders, and potential CEOs, often involving extensive and specialized training. In essence, talent acquisition is a high-responsibility task focused on securing the individuals who will contribute significantly to the organization's sustained growth and success.

What Makes a Good Member of the Talent Acquisition Team?

The success of the talent acquisition team hinges largely on the expertise of its recruiters, recognizing that not everyone can excel in this crucial role. Effective talent acquisition requires recruiters with exceptional soft skills and a strong affinity for connecting with people.

Recruiters involved in the talent acquisition process need to possess exquisite interpersonal skills, fostering comfort with individuals from diverse backgrounds. This capability is vital for recognizing outstanding talents that align with the organization's needs. Building and sustaining relationships, both within the workplace and across various industries, emerges as a critical aspect of their role.

Those who thrive in this capacity are individuals with the ability to think creatively, seeing beyond immediate details to grasp the broader organizational picture. This visionary approach enables them to comprehend the multifaceted needs of the organization at all levels.

Equipped with knowledge of the methods required to gain valuable insights, these recruiters are adept at performing them. By identifying the company's needs, they can strategically navigate the talent landscape, knowing precisely what to seek and how to meet those requirements.

While not mandatory, a background in sales is not only advisable but also beneficial. Recruiters often find it advantageous to have sales expertise as their ultimate objective is not just to find suitable candidates but also to effectively "sell" job opportunities to top talents. Moreover, they play a crucial role in presenting these job applicants persuasively to stakeholders, underlining the persuasive and influential aspect of their responsibilities.

Final Thoughts

In the face of the 'great resignation' and heightened competition for talent, talent acquisition proves to be a pivotal solution for organizations worldwide. Tim Sackett's "Levels of Talent" framework challenges conventional recruiting methods, positioning sourcers as specialized problem-solvers crucial in addressing hiring challenges. Mark Newman's strategies to combat unconscious bias, coupled with the evolving role of knockout questions, underscore the need for innovative approaches within talent acquisition.

The distinction between talent acquisition and recruitment emphasizes their unique roles in long-term strategic planning and immediate hiring needs, respectively. Recruiters within the talent acquisition team play a central role, requiring exceptional soft skills, creative thinking, and a potential background in sales. Overall, adopting these insights and strategies becomes essential for organizations seeking to navigate the complexities of the current job market and secure top-tier talent for sustained success.

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