Creating Talent Acquisitions Strategies

Author: Patrick Bell

Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment

What is the difference between Talent Acquisition and recruitment?

I think the easiest way to sum this up is Recruitment is used to fill a specific role with a specific qualified candidate, therefore making it a short-term strategy. Talent acquisition looks at the bigger picture, and does not focus on the immediate role vacancies, a more long-term people strategy, that is used to attract highly qualified individuals.

For most organisations to be successful in the long run, it is vital that you attract and retain talented employees regardless of immediate vacancies that exist in your business. Developing a thorough and effective Talent Acquisition Strategy can help you do this, while solving for long-term organizational needs. When you have the people that your business needs for long terms success, knocking at your door and wanting to be part of your organisation, then you have a talent strategy that is really working.

For many businesses, the competition for skills is fierce. As a result, they spend too much time and money chasing talent as a knee jerk reaction to vacancies. Understanding how to elevate yourself from your competitors and make yourself as the “go to employer” for your industry, can not only empower your overall success, but enhance your culture, retain better talent, and save you fortunes on recruitment spend.

As a recruitment business, is it in our interest to help companies attract their own talent, and retain more people and therefore spend less money with us?

Yes, it is in our interest. There will always be a need for recruitment, specific projects that need the help of expert recruiters. But overall, the more successful the people strategy is, the more successful the business becomes. Success will create growth and opportunity for recruitment partners, so it is a win-win situation.

Our years of experience working with top organisations, have helped us to understand four important components to developing effective talent acquisition strategies and ensure you are finding the best people.

Align your people strategies with your business goals.

Consider your business goals for the next one to five years and use those objectives to tailor your acquisition strategy to meet those needs. While recruitment tends to focus on filling vacancies within departments, talent acquisition is more about considering how your company is going to expand long-term, and then finding employees who can help take you there.

For instance, are you planning on expanding into Asia? If so, are you focussing on attracting candidates with international or regional experience. Or are you engaging with suppliers and partners who are already ideally placed to help you succeed in that area and alert you to talent and effective search strategies that work locally. Or maybe you are planning on creating a new software product, in which case, your HR efforts should focus on attracting talented software developers and coders. More and more effective talent strategies focus on building connections and relationships with the emerging talent, young people who are acquiring the skills and experiences that your business might need down the line. Increasingly this is done through social media and marketing campaigns, rather than just attending the traditional Graduate events.

Certain roles might not even exist yet, but you will want to consider what type of talent you will need to hit your business’s long-term goals. Afterall, investing in the right candidates will pay off for your company, long-term. To find better talent, you will need to expand your sourcing strategies. Different skillsets require different methods of outreach. You will find your best marketers in a different place than your best programmers, so you will want to diversify your sourcing approach. This can mean hiring in house recruiters, or spending loads on LinkedIn, but be mindful to consider other specialized job boards, academic programs, or networking events where you might find a specific group of talented professionals.

Use data and marketing to create better talent acquisition processes.

You would not create a marketing campaign without data, so why should you recruit without it?
Talent acquisition should be treated with just as much importance as any of your marketing campaigns. Convincing people to join your company is just as necessary as incentivizing people to buy your products.

There are plenty of different opportunities to use data to strengthen your talent acquisition strategy. For instance, you might use data to figure out where your top talent came from, the touch points where they first became aware of your business and the impressions these formed. Then use that information to focus your talent acquisition efforts on certain academic programs, social media posts, professional networking sites, initiatives, or events.

Additionally, your marketing team should partner with your HR department to refine job descriptions, career pages, emails, and more. The tone of voice for introducing your business and its career opportunities has changed massively over the last 5 years. If you are talking with an out-of-date style and tone, you can be seen as off putting to much of the talent pool you are interested in tapping into.

Do you survey or capture the information, that tells you what your employees really think about your brand and the way it communicates its career opportunities and prospects? Researching and using data, you can figure out if certain processes, techniques, or questions are deterring candidates from applying or filling out job applications.

Alternatively, perhaps you might find adding images or videos (videos have huge impact) to highlight company culture incentivizes more candidates to apply. Or maybe more candidates apply for a job with that is communicated in one way over a job described in another.

We worked with an organisation who could not understand why their talent attraction processes were not working as they hoped. It was only after speaking with applicants involved in the process that we could share their feedback. The business had strongly focused on screening out people who did not meet the skill and cultural criteria right at the start of the process. This they felt was sensible to save them time, but the problem was, the business had failed to win peoples interest and desire to work for the business before doing this.

As a result, many of the people they wanted, were put off right at the start and fell out the process by their own choice. By flipping their approach, and really promoting the vision and culture of the business at the start, they saw a 36% improvement in results. Even those not successful, left the process with a much more positive experience and view of the business. Just because you do not hire them today, does not mean you will not in the future.

The point is, by researching, reviewing, and using analytics and data, you can ensure your talent attraction processes work for your business both short and long term.

Value your relationships and expand your talent searches.

Too often strategies are implemented with mixed or confused purposes. We have experienced businesses go down this route with the sole objective of reducing their recruitment spend. No doubt, effective strategies will give you quantifiable recruitment cost savings, but its primary purpose needs to remain clear. To promote your business in the best possible way to the talent your business needs long term. If you remain true to this purpose and develop ideas and relationships with this goal, then you will succeed.

Unfortunately, some businesses spend a lot of money hiring someone to come in and develop what they call a “Talent Acquisition Strategy”, but the basis of this strategy is to slash recruitment spend. This short term need for results often leads to bigger problems. Often, this involves a radical change in how they manage their existing recruitment suppliers and relationships, enforcing changes of terms and process and alienating the partnerships that helped to deliver the success to date. When done well, existing suppliers are collaborated with, engaged with, and become cultural champions of your vision. Of course, there may a streamlining and consolidation of suppliers, so that more time can be given to those that support your ideas and initiatives. Collaboration with suppliers will enhance the overall long-term goals.

Figure out which areas you can make the most impact on yourself or where the most crucial parts of your talent needs will be and focus on them. i.e., if you know your business will depend on a very niche skill but only need a few of these, will this be more important to you to develop a strategy for, than other areas where you need a higher volume of talent?

It is critical you identify where you can find most of your top talent, whether that be professional events, conferences, online forums, or social networks. Then, focus on strengthening relationships and networking with the right people — not only will you grow your pool of potential hires, but you will also grow brand awareness for your company, which will help you attract talent in the future, as well.

Focus on better employer branding.

Employer branding is critical for creating a successful talent acquisition strategy, if you ask any recruiter or talent acquisition expert, the majority will tell you that employer branding has possibly the biggest impact on their ability to hire remarkable talent.

When talented candidates are comparing companies, they are going to choose the one with the best values, culture, and work-life balance. Gone are the days of just offering the biggest salary or benefits. The need for a strong cultural connection of employees and employers has never been so important as it is today. Whether this based on your attitudes to diversity, recycling, mental wellbeing, flexible working these topics matter. The environment you work in and the connection with people outside of work is as important as what you do in work. By cultivating an impressive employer brand, you will attract better talent and find more long-term success.

But it all boils down to this. To succeed with talent acquisition, you will need to be able to answer the quite simple and direct question, “Why your company, over all the others?” Therefore, employer branding is a critical strategy for finding the best employees.

It is not just a case of broadcast these unique attributes through employee review sites like Glassdoor, as well as your “About Us” page on your company website, although these are incredibly important. Google or Glassdoor reviews may be the first thing people see when you are looking up your business online. When highly qualified people are contemplating your company over your competitors, it just might be those reviews that end up convincing them.

But Authenticity is crucial, it is about embodying the culture and living the values day to day, week to week. Perhaps more than anything social media has lifted the curtain on how companies want themselves to be perceived, and how they truly are. Employer branding is multifaceted, and different groups of people, ages, interests etc will find information on your business in many ways. Understand this and utilise to your advantage and you are halfway there. It is no good being the best employer out there and no one knows it.


Author: Patrick Bell

Patrick works for businesses and individuals that need to identify C-Level and Executive Board Directors discretely and confidentially.