What Is Talent Acquisition? (With Steps To Hire Talent)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 November 2022

Published 23 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finding and hiring the right candidates for open positions can become easier with a strong talent acquisition strategy. Talent acquisition leverages a dedicated team to the hiring process, including recruiting, interviewing, hiring and onboarding. Unlike recruitment, where the goal is often a high number of applicants, this team hopes to fill specific roles with highly qualified candidates who are interested in the company's brand. In this article, we define what is talent acquisition and look at tips and steps to help you hire the right people.

Related: What Is Internal Recruitment? (Benefits and Implementation)

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is how companies identify and hire qualified candidates for an organisation. Human resources often manage a team of talent acquisition specialists who help managers seek, hire and keep candidates. The purpose of talent acquisition is to help companies hire candidates who add value to their business operations. Sometimes companies use this process to find candidates for specialised roles that are more difficult to fill, like executive and technical jobs. One important way companies do this is by building a long-lasting network of candidates. Some fields that commonly use talent acquisition include technology and health care.

Related: What Is Headhunting? (And How It Differs From Recruiting)

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

Recruitment is a company's overall process of finding, attracting, screening and interviewing a suitable candidate for a job. Though they may seem similar, there are some key differences between talent acquisition and recruitment. The goal of recruiting is often to fill open roles immediately, while talent acquisition is an ongoing search to find qualified candidates and increase their interest in your organisation or in a job. Talent acquisition teams complete some recruiting tasks when they hope to fill a role, like interviewing candidates, but they spend more time seeking employees for more specialised roles that can build a company's brand.

Consider talent acquisition for roles that require specific skills or leadership experience and that might take longer to fill and use recruiting for positions where you hope to gather several qualified candidates quickly. Because the talent acquisition team manages each step in the process from the interest through to the job offer, they use many skills like collaboration and communication, while aligning goals with the department manager.

Related: Recruitment Process: Definition, Methods and Steps

How to acquire talent

There are several key components in the talent acquisition process. Each of these steps can lead you to hire the best talent for your organisation. Here's more information about how you can acquire talent for a business:

1. Generating leads

Once human resources or hiring managers write a job description, they can source leads. Most companies share the job posting on job sites, recruitment websites, community pages and their own website's career page. It's important in talent acquisition to ensure applicants are aware of the company's brand and values, likely through the job description or other marketing methods, so applicants can confirm they share the same values before they apply. Organisations also pursue active opportunities to find candidates by attending events such as:

  • Career fairs

  • Workshops and seminars

  • Industry conferences

  • Local events

These events can help companies highlight their company culture directly with candidates who might share opportunities with their friends or colleagues who may be more qualified.

Related: How To Write an Effective Recommendation Letter

2. Recruiting top candidates

Once many candidates express interest in a position, talent acquisition specialists narrow down their search. Sometimes, a role might be available in the future rather than immediately, so the specialist maintains contact with strong candidates. They might send emails or make phone calls to express their consideration for these candidates. If an organisation hopes to hire someone immediately, the specialist might select a smaller group of qualified candidates to interview.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How To Stand Out When Changing Careers

3. Interviewing and assessing candidates

Interviewing candidates can be a multi-step process in talent acquisition. What the role is, the company's size and how many candidates express interest can all affect the timeline for this. The first thing specialists do in the process is a basic candidate screening, which is often conducted over a brief phone call. During this call, they ask basic questions about location, availability and interest, salary expectations and an overview of their professional and educational qualifications.

If the candidates meet these basic requirements, the talent acquisition team asks them to participate in more in-depth interviews. This is where hiring managers, department members and other human resource professionals might interview the candidate. Each asks questions specific to the role and the company culture to see if the person can perform the required duties.

Related: Common Interview Questions and Answers

4. Evaluating references

Evaluating references is when talent acquisition teams or hiring managers contact a candidate's prior employers or other professional references. This might be an optional part of the interview process, depending on the role and industry. Talking with references can help the interview team learn more about a candidate through others that worked with them. Talent acquisition specialists might ask the references questions like:

  • What is the candidate's work ethic like?

  • What specific duties did they perform?

  • How well did they handle conflict?

  • What are their best skills?

  • What could they improve on?

  • Do you think they'd be a good fit for this job?

The candidate chooses these references that the team contacts, so these are often positive reviews from past jobs.

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5. Choosing the best candidates

Once a candidate completes the interviews, reference checks and their qualifications fit the role, the talent acquisition team then has to choose which candidate to offer. There might be a more narrow selection of candidates from all the ones who the talent team sourced at job fairs and on job sites. Sometimes, the team has two or three backup candidates selected if the first choice for the role declines.

Hiring often involves a phone call and a letter to a candidate with a congratulatory note, salary, expected start date and any other information the candidate needs before applying. The candidate may negotiate dates and salary prior to accepting or rejecting the offer.

Related: What Does a Recruiter Do: Duties, Skills and Salary

6. Hiring and onboarding

Hiring and onboarding is a process where HR and related departments give an overview of their company's culture and expectations for employees and make introductions to team members. This is an important step in retaining talent since it's the new employee's first impression of a company. Onboarding usually lasts up to 90 days, giving the new employees time to learn and adapt to the work and the culture. It's important to show support and invest in their learning to show that your workplace values them.

Related: How to Write Welcome Messages (Including 30 Examples)

Tips for successful talent acquisition

Talent acquisition can involve a lot of different people, requiring strong organisational skills and clear goals. These tips can help your company create and maintain an effective talent acquisition team that hires the right candidates:

  • Focus on company branding: Talent acquisition teams develop the company's branding and communicate that to potential candidates. This gives candidates information about your company culture, work environment, public reputation, benefits and key differences between your company and competitors.

  • Consider the size of your company: Large companies with over 1,000 employees might have a larger group of qualified candidates applying, so they might focus on improving the hiring and onboarding process. Smaller companies might focus on increasing brand awareness to grow people's recognition and increase the number of applicants.

  • Forecast roles: Before you start the talent acquisition process, establish what roles may become open in the future and when, so you can plan your recruitment and hiring process ahead of time. Collaborate with departments and management to schedule custom plans and timelines based on this forecast.

  • Build a pipeline: Since you might forecast potential hires a long time in advance, developing a candidate pipeline can help you maintain contact with all prospects. Keep a spreadsheet of candidates and the positions they qualify for, while you might schedule a portion of each day on talent acquisition activities, like attending job fairs and contacting new prospects.

  • Collaborate: An important part of retaining employees is ensuring that they're a good fit for their team. Consider asking current employees if they know anyone within their personal or professional network that could be a good fit for upcoming open positions.

  • Be patient: Talent acquisition can be a long process, especially if you're working in a highly specialised role. Carefully select prospects, and learn more about them in different settings, like casual phone calls and formal interviews.

Related: What Are Recruitment Strategies? (Plus 10 You Can Use)

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