Talent Acquisition: Strategy, Key Steps, and Examples

Sep 1, 2022 | HR Trends, Talent Management & Recognition

In terms of recruitment, companies today can use every advantage they can get. And talent acquisition can be a major competitive edge.

Talent acquisition goes beyond recruiting by identifying top candidates before you’re hiring. Moreover, it involves building and nurturing relationships with them. This will help them understand your employer brand and value proposition. When you’re ready to hire, you’ll already be several steps ahead.

Let’s look more closely at how talent acquisition differs from recruiting. Then, we’ll explore the best strategies for success.

Table of Contents

1. Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment

2. The Importance of Talent Acquisition

3. The Process in 4 Steps

4. Best Talent Acquisition Strategies

5. Examples of Talent Acquisition in Action

6. Resources

Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment

Recruitment sometimes prioritizes speed over quality. Companies recruit when they have a position that urgently needs to be filled. In contrast, talent acquisition centres on being proactive instead of reactive.

While recruitment aims to fill a position quickly, talent acquisition plays the long game. It centres on building a pipeline of talent to fill future needs. 

Additionally, recruitment often uses passive sourcing methods like job boards. That means companies aren’t actively targeting individuals. Rather, they post a notice of a job opening for all to see. Then, they wait to see who bites. 

In contrast, talent acquisition means actively reaching out to specific individuals. Companies engaged in talent acquisition strive to create a relationship with them. They let these individuals know exactly why they reached out to them in particular.

That being said, recruitment is sometimes necessary. You might not predict every position that opens up. Talent acquisition will simply help you avoid scrambling to fill a role whenever possible. 

The Importance of Talent Acquisition

Good talent acquisition brings major benefits:

  • Stronger engagement
  • Higher retention 
  • Better performance

Talent acquisition involves getting to know potential employees over time. Plus, it lets them get to know you. Hence, it increases your chances of making the right hires. Both you and the candidates can ensure they’re the right fit.

As a result, employees will feel more engaged in their work. They’ll feel more satisfied and eager to stay in their jobs. And they’ll maintain a stronger performance as well.

The Process in 4 Steps

What is the talent acquisition process? In a nutshell, it involves these steps:

  • Predict your company’s future needs. 
  • Generate leads. Use a spreadsheet or tracking software to keep them organized. Track communications you’ve had, key qualities, and expectations for follow-up.
  • Maintain strong communication with these leads.
  • Prepare a salary and benefits package that will draw in top talent.

We’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of acquiring talent effectively in the next section. 

Best Talent Acquisition Strategies

Two professional men in business casual attire discussing talent acquisition
Credit: Nappy/Pexels

What steps should a company take to improve talent acquisition? Let’s look at some vital strategies.

Understand Your Talent Acquisition Analytics

Look at what data says about the success of your talent acquisition. How long are new hires staying? How many candidates drop out of the process? What is the quality of hire and time to proficiency? Are any sources of talent most fruitful? Analytics software will help you easily understand the data.

Use predictive analytics to forecast hiring needs, too, Deloitte advises. Consider whether specific skills gaps will emerge in the coming months and years.

“Identify and prioritize any roles in a company that have been difficult to fill, or have had high turnover,” writes Forbes. “Note that finding the best candidates for these positions will likely take several months, so plan a timeline accordingly.”

Consider Your Succession Plan

Your succession plan will help pinpoint job openings. Refer to it to help determine future needs. (And if you don’t have a detailed succession plan, create one!) 

Determine What Qualities Are Essential

“When looking to fill a vacancy, too often managers simply put together a profile mirroring that of the person who has left, perhaps tacking on a few new requirements,” says HBR. “At best, this yields candidates who are prepared for yesterday’s challenges but probably not ready for tomorrow’s.”

In today’s competitive market, companies must reevaluate what’s most important. We can train many skills rather than expecting candidates to have them all. The skills needed on the job are fast changing, anyway! This means adaptability may be more important than any particular skill.

So, don’t just copy the lists of skills that current employees possess. Likewise, consider whether certain credentials are crucial or just nice to have.

Meanwhile, strong ethics and shared values are fundamental. Make a list of your “must-haves” so you’ll know what can be developed later. This is key to good talent acquisition.

Generate Leads Before They’re Looking

Identify and approach leads who aren’t necessarily searching for a job. (They’re often called “passive job seekers.”) That way, you’ll connect with them before they hit the market. 

How to find leads who aren’t looking? Here are a few ways:

  • Attend networking events in their industry, like conferences. Have informal conversations, getting to know them as people.
  • Launch an employee referrals program. Your existing talent will be your best brand ambassadors.
  • Create shareable content that speaks to their interests. It doesn’t need to speak directly about your company, as SHRM notes. While not being salesy, it can familiarize them with your areas of strength. Make sure it offers value, boosting their knowledge in the field.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect with new people (and share content).

Cultivate Relationships with Leads

“Don’t pressure passive job seekers to move quickly,” writes SHRM. “Work to establish real relationships with passive job seekers and understand that it is a long-term commitment.” 

Engage them through continuous touchpoints, but don’t be pesky. Drop them an occasional email or give them a call. Meet for coffee, or even hold an open house. Consider creating a newsletter targeting passive candidates. (With email, you can see who opens your message or subscribes to your newsletter, SHRM adds.) 

Keep things informal and authentic, asking about their ambitions and interests. After all, it’s not a job interview—yet.

Don’t Forget about Internal Talent

“The people you have will become the people you need,” says Korn Ferry. Focus on upskilling your current workforce to fill future gaps. They probably already have many of the qualities needed to level up. Tools like performance management software will help you every step of the way.

Leverage the Expertise of Recruiters

Why are recruiters important in talent acquisition? They have strong experience in finding the best talent. Often they have in-depth knowledge in a particular field or function. They know where to look based on what gets results.

A talent acquisition specialist holds a similar role. They proactively curate the best talent, as Forbes explains. Often they have broad networks of talent. So, they can help you identify passive leads.

Further, talent acquisition specialists can help narrow down your pool of applications. With a large pool of candidates, this can take substantial time. They can even hold initial interviews before you speak with top applicants.

Think Flexibly

Is a candidate the wrong fit for one position but potentially right for another? As you’re interviewing people, keep an open mind, as SHRM suggests. If they have a strong foundation, maybe they can excel in another role. Just make sure they align with your values and culture.

Measure Job Satisfaction

Ask recent hires to complete surveys measuring their satisfaction. You’ll find areas where you can continue to strengthen their experience.

Examples of Talent Acquisition in Action

Several talent acquisition specialists at networking event
Credit: Fauxels/Pexels

What does good talent acquisition look like? Conversely, what does bad talent acquisition involve? 

Good Talent Acquisition

An HR manager meets several accomplished people during a convention. She spends time chatting one on one with each of them over coffee or drinks. They have good conversations about career goals and the future of the industry. Her company isn’t ready to hire quite yet, and the talent may not be ready to make the leap.

But she sends them interesting articles about topics they discussed now and then. She always adds a personal note as well. (“This article made me think of our conversation on the fastest-growing skill areas. I’d love to hear your thoughts.”)

Two months later, a position opens up. She gives each lead a call and warmly encourages them to apply for the position. Of course, she’s careful not to promise anything. But she knows they each have a great chance of success.

Poor Talent Acquisition

An HR manager identifies several talented people on a LinkedIn search. He then goes into full-on recruiting mode. Repeatedly, he urges them to apply for an open position. Every day, he reaches out on LinkedIn or by email. He managed to get one lead’s number and is asked not to call during work hours.

Again, talent acquisition requires long-term thinking. It doesn’t centre on urgency; it centres on building relationships. 


Enhance your knowledge of talent acquisition with these great resources.

  • Hire by Design: A Hiring Blueprint with Design Thinking by Jodi Brandstetter. She shares many examples of how to plan your strategy with design thinking.
  • High-Tech High-Touch Recruiting: How to Attract and Retain the Best Talent by Improving the Candidate Experience by Barbara Bruno. She’ll help you impress candidates with an outstanding process.
  • The SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential. This program will improve your talent acquisition expertise.

With strong talent acquisition, you’ll maintain a pipeline of qualified candidates. When it comes time to hire, you’ll be steps ahead of the competition. Keep building these relationships, and they’ll be more likely to jump on board!

Learn how software can enhance talent acquisition. Request a demo of our product today.

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