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Want to retain talent? Start with your talent acquisition strategy

March 9, 2022 - 17 min read

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What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

3 talent acquisition best practices

5 examples of talent acquisition strategies

How to build a successful talent acquisition strategy

Talent acquisition and recruiting

They’re the same thing, right? Well, not exactly. 

And for companies who have a keen eye on talent — which is just about every organization — it’s important to distinguish between the two. 

Talent acquisition and recruitment play well together. But it takes longer-term strategic thinking to put a talent acquisition strategy together.

In today’s world, talent acquisition is all the talk. As a global economy, we’re seeing unprecedented data around jobs, talent, and opportunity. It’s estimated that 97 million jobs will be created by 2023. That’s an astounding number to wrap your head around — and a lot of talent to attract. 

Amid the Great Resignation, employers are re-examining their talent strategy. After all, employee retention is more important for businesses than ever before. 

Learn more about talent acquisition and how it differs from recruitment. With some support, you can build a successful talent acquisition strategy and take your hiring to the next level. 

What is talent acquisition?

Before you can build your talent acquisition strategy, let’s pause to understand. We checked the Gartner dictionary for this one. 

Your talent acquisition team is usually a part of the human resources (HR) team. But talent acquisition strategies vary by company. It depends on your organization’s larger human capital goals. 

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

Talent acquisition and recruitment may seem like synonymous terms. But for any company serious about its talent strategy, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. Let’s break it down. 

Talent acquisition 

Talent acquisition is a holistic view of all aspects of the hiring process. Think of talent acquisition as the long-term vision. 

In a well-formed talent acquisition strategy, companies typically invest in these elements: 

Recruitment 

Recruiting strategies can be a part of the bigger picture. That means that a recruiting strategy could fold into the larger talent acquisition strategy. 

But here’s the biggest difference: it’s focused on the short-term. 

Recruitment is about filling open positions, the vacancies that are putting strain on teams and workloads. It’s focused pretty narrowly on the open position at hand, which means sourcing the top talent as fast as possible. 

Recruitment still includes things like posting job descriptions, publicizing job postings on social media, and outreach to qualified candidates. 

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Which is right for your organization? 

In today’s job market, employers can’t afford to be reactive. 

We know that a record number of employees voluntarily quit their jobs. Those quitting their jobs at higher rates include employees in hospitality, retail, and healthcare. It’s estimated that 23% of employees will continue to seek new jobs in 2022. 

In a lot of ways, recruitment is focused on reacting to the open positions or job postings. While recruitment has worked well in the past, it’s not suited for the Great Resignation. 

If you’re serious about employee retention, invest in your talent acquisition strategy. It might be tempting to simply fulfill your immediate hiring needs. But if you invest in the holistic talent acquisition strategy, you’ll find it’ll pay dividends. 

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3 talent acquisition best practices

So, you’re ready to take your talent acquisition game to the next level. Follow these three best practices (and learn what not to do). 

DO invest in the talent acquisition lifecycle 

Contrary to popular belief, talent acquisition is more than just hiring. According to Deloitte, the talent acquisition lifecycle can be divided into these phases: 

Take a look at your organization’s structure. Are you set up for success? Are your people supported in each of these phases of the talent lifecycle? If not, where can you add some support? 

For example, you may have the right staffing and support. But if your applicant tracking system is subpar, you might be missing out on qualified candidates. 

DON’T hire for pedigree 

It’s important to adopt a growth mindset, especially if you’re a seasoned corporate professional used to one way of hiring. 

We are big believers in the notion that talented people are everywhere. And we also believe that a perfect resume on paper may not translate to a perfect fit for a role. 

Be honest about what skills you’re looking for and the requirements needed. For example, can you remove a bachelor’s degree requirement on a job posting that really doesn’t require it? Or, is there an opportunity to source candidates from workforce development programs? Or other talent programs that offer upskilling?  

A fixed mindset doesn’t serve anyone well. Keep in mind that humans are learning, growing, evolving beings. They’re smart, they’re capable, and they’re able to learn new things with the right support and training.

If you hire purely for pedigree, you might be exiling a talent pool of incredible candidates that can do great things for your business. 

DO diversify your talent strategy 

This leads to our next best practice. How are you diversifying your talent sourcing strategy? 

Diversity in the workplace is non-negotiable. Every organization should be intentional about its diversity hiring strategy. But if you’re going to the same places for candidates expecting different results, think again. 

Open up your aperture to other talent sources. For example, your college recruiters only visit Ivy League schools for engineering candidates. Why? Is there a reason why you can’t look at any computer science program for top candidates? Or have you considered the talent that comes out of programs like coding boot camps? 

Work with your HR professionals on how you’re diversifying your talent pool. It takes self-awareness, intention, and goals. 

5 examples of talent acquisition strategies

When it comes to talent acquisition, there’s no shortage of strategies. But not all strategies or tactics work well for every company. Factor in industry, size, growth trajectory, types of roles, leadership, and more when creating your strategy.

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1. Invest in employer branding

Candidates first interact with your brand before they’re employees. A big part of attracting top talent comes down to brand awareness and employer branding. 

Employee advocacy (your own employees’ voices) is a huge component of the employer branding strategy. This is often a joint effort between both your human resources and marketing teams. Consider ways you can up your employee branding game to continue to attract the top candidates. 

2. Create an exceptional employee experience 

The employee experience may not seem intuitive to think about in the talent acquisition process. But you want to keep your talent, right? 

Happy employees translate into better employee retention. With an exceptional employee experience, you’re more likely to engage and retain the great talent that you’ve hired. 

3. Build an employee referral program 

You might’ve heard the phrase, “Great people know other great people.” 

There’s actually some science to back that up. If you don’t have an employee referral program, consider creating one. Your employees’ networks have incredible potential for your talent acquisition strategy. 

4. Offer learning and development opportunities 

This feeds into creating an exceptional employee experience but is important to call out on its own. Create and encourage learning and development opportunities

Again, you want your employees to stick around for a while. In order for them to see a long-term future, they need to see growth opportunities. How are you providing learning pathways? What professional development opportunities are you providing? 

You might also consider the role of personalized coaching. With BetterUp, you can unlock the potential of your workforce. 

“BetterUp has been an accelerant to our ability to attract and retain top MBA talent. Offering a dedicated coach to our new hires has not only differentiated us on campus but has been a key component in building the necessary leadership skills to excel in our fast-paced and ever-changing environment.”

Dr. Lynsay Cochrun, Global Head of Leadership Development & Learning, Ab InBev

5. Refine an exceptional recruiting and candidate experience 

A friend recently told me about an interview.

They had been interviewing with this company for nearly three weeks. And suddenly, the communication cut cold turkey. She figured they’d found another candidate but found it odd they never tied up loose ends. 

But then almost a month later, the recruiter reappeared. They wanted to schedule one final interview but seemed optimistic about an offer. 

My friend was immediately put off. Could she trust the company? Did they really want her to interview, or did another candidate fall through the cracks? 

The recruiting experience is an important one, especially with so many open jobs and the state of today’s job market. It’s important to fine-tune the recruiting process and make sure the experience is an enjoyable one. If not, you are likely to miss out on great talent. 

How to build a successful talent acquisition strategy

Let’s revisit the framework for a talent acquisition strategy, as defined by the Deloitte source cited above. With these five pillars as our guide, we can start to construct a talent acquisition strategy that works. 

But before you start building, examine your talent management strategy. What holes or gaps do you see? How can this talent acquisition strategy help fill any voids? 

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1. Audit your current talent acquisition practices 

Talent management and workforce planning are critically important. But first, it takes getting to know where you currently are. 

You might have an existing talent acquisition strategy that you’re looking to revamp. Or you might be starting from scratch. Regardless, take inventory of what practices you might already have in place. 

Gather feedback from your team (especially HR) to see where you can identify areas of opportunity. For example, you might have a great recruitment experience. But maybe you’re lacking in employer branding. Or your team sees an opportunity for an employee referral program. 

2. Identify any technology gaps 

Like anything in today’s workforce, digital transformation plays a huge role. Without the right tools, you could be wasting time — and money. But more importantly, if a tool is detrimental to the employee experience and not setting up your people for success, you risk losing them. 

Ask your team for feedback about the technology gaps, especially in workforce management tools. You might work with your business technology team to identify any needs. From there, you can see where you can optimize the experience for your talent acquisition folks. 

After all, you want the people hiring talent to be happy. If you can’t satisfy your current employees working to attract top talent, it’s likely you’ll struggle to secure qualified candidates. 

3. Set goals and measurements for success 

This is going to look different for every organization. But in order to have a roadmap of where you want to go, you need to set goals. 

Work with your HR team to set goals and measurements for success. For example, what data-driven insights are meaningful? How will you measure the candidate experience? How will you know the talent strategy is working? 

These are all questions you should consider when building your strategy. 

4. Invest in training and development 

Training and development should be a no-brainer for any organization. This aspect of learning plays a big part in the talent acquisition strategy. 

Without learning opportunities, candidates and employees alike will not be able to see growth within the company. You need to get serious about investing in your employees and prospective employees. 

Consider the role of BetterUp in your talent acquisition strategy. For example, you could provide virtual coaching to all new hires and managers. By doing so, you’re investing in the mental fitness of your organization — and unlocking their full potential

Take your talent acquisition to the next level

The best talent is out there. And with more job seekers than ever looking for the next best opportunity, it’s your duty as a company leader to invest in talent acquisition. 

With BetterUp, you can grow your employees’ skill sets and mental fitness.

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Published March 9, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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