It can be difficult to find the ideal candidate for a specific position. In fact, in 2021, 69% of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring — a 15-year high.
Regardless of the state of the economy and your talent pool, to succeed long-term, your business should be able to hire and retain the best, most talented employees.
But hiring can be a daunting task, which is why you need a talent acquisition strategy.
Talent acquisition is a long-term HR strategy aimed at fulfilling organizational needs by finding top talent and convincing them to bring their unique skills to your company.
To succeed long-term, it's critical you attract and retain talented employees regardless of vacant roles. Talent acquisition can help you do this, while solving for long-term organizational needs.
Now that you understand what talent acquisition is, let's dive into the most effective talent acquisition strategies.
Talent Acquisition Strategies
- Align your talent acquisition strategy with your business goals.
- Use data and marketing to create better acquisition material.
- Expand outreach strategies.
- Build your company identity.
- Emphasize the company’s corporate social responsibilities.
- Increase budget for the DE&I department.
- Offer updated work options.
- Design a competitive and comprehensive benefits plan.
- Promote internal diversity.
- Partner with local universities to build an applicant pool.
- Add other incentives.
Here are several critical talent acquisition strategies you need to implement to ensure you're finding the best people.
1. Align your talent acquisition strategy 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 Latin America? If so, perhaps your HR department should focus on attracting candidates with international or regional experience. Or, maybe you're planning on creating a new product, in which case, your HR efforts should focus on attracting talented software developers and coders.
Certain roles might not even exist yet, but you'll want to consider what type of talent you'll need to hit your business's long-term goals. Remember, investing in the right candidates will pay off for your company, long-term.
2. Use data and marketing to create better acquisition material.
You wouldn't 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, and use that information to focus your talent acquisition efforts on certain academic programs or professional networking sites.
Additionally, your HR team should partner with your marketing department to refine job descriptions, career pages, emails, and more.
Using data, you can figure out if certain questions are deterring candidates from filling out job applications, and eliminate those questions. Alternatively, perhaps you'll find adding images or videos to highlight company culture incentivizes more candidates to fill out job forms. Or, maybe more candidates apply for a job with description A over description B.
By using analytics and data, you're able to ensure your job descriptions and career pages aren't deterring qualified people from applying. But there’s no need to do this manually. You can use a software tool such as Bullhorn, which is specifically designed to tackle some of the biggest tasks of talent acquisition: recruiting candidates, sorting through the job pool, and analyzing candidate data. Their software was created to streamline applicant tracking systems and improve profitability for any size business.
3. Expand outreach strategies.
To find better talent, you'll need to expand your sourcing strategies. Different skill sets require different methods of outreach. You'll find your best marketers in a different place than your best programmers, so you'll want to diversify your sourcing approach.
Rather than spending all your time on LinkedIn, consider other specialized job boards, academic programs, or networking events where you might find a specific group of talented professionals. You can also use a tool to help with this endeavor. For instance, SmartRecruiter is a CRM that is developed for recruiting candidates and coordinating calendars for potential new hires.
It's critical you identify where you can find the vast majority 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'll also grow brand awareness for your company, which will help you attract talent in the future, as well.
4. Build your company identity.
Millions of millennials and older Generation Z candidates make up the current job force. This group of potential employees came of age with the internet and social media. In researching your business, these individuals look at social media accounts, websites, and job boards to understand your work culture.
When looking into your company, candidates will have questions. What is the workplace atmosphere? Do their employees look happy? Is there potential for growth? Leverage your current employees and capitalize on the instant broadcast capabilities of your website and social media profiles. Post images and videos of your employees at work. Encourage employees to interact with your company on its platforms. Congratulate employees on internal promotions.
Note the focus on employees. A company that focuses on the well-being of its staff is a place where people will strive to work. Building your company identity to reflect a positive, expanding environment can be an effective tool in your talent acquisition strategy.
5. Emphasize the company’s corporate social responsibilities.
Companies have taken a step back from policies that only benefit them. Your company needs to focus on pursuing its goals while benefiting others. Your company’s corporate social responsibilities (CSR) are a considerable tool for attracting top candidates aligned with your organization’s values and beliefs.
Corporate social responsibilities lead to the betterment of your brand image, workplace culture, and general society. For example, while Ben & Jerry’s is known for its collection of ice cream flavors, the brand also stands out for its long-standing commitment to social responsibilities. Since 1985, Ben & Jerry’s has donated 7.5% of its pretax earnings to social causes like Greenpeace and Vietnam Veterans of America. Since then, the company has supported voting rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. With a menu item dedicated to its values on the landing page of its website, the ice cream company emphasizes the importance of its CSR.
On the career landing page for your company, your CSR should be immediately noticeable through images and videos throughout the page. If your company focuses on diversity and inclusivity, demonstrate that. If your company stands behind sustainability, illustrate that through your content. Employees rarely want to work for a company that contradicts their values and beliefs. Use your corporate social responsibilities to attract like-minded candidates who will be passionate about working for your business.
6. Increase budget for the DE&I department.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical for creating a successful talent acquisition strategy. In fact, Dan Schawbel a best-selling author and managing partner of a New York City-based HR research and advisory firm, says that “70% of jobseekers… want to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
The face of the workforce has changed drastically in the last fifty years. In 2022, there are more women and minorities applying for jobs, and as stated by Schawbel, the majority of jobseekers want to see this reflected in a company.
DE&I training is imperative and demonstrates that your company is willing to stay current and relevant with changing times. To see an ROI on your investment in training, prioritize retention. During the job application process, continue to eliminate biases in resume reviewing. Ways to remove biases include removing names and photos when sourcing candidates, making applications and resumes anonymous before review, and creating a diverse hiring team.
7. Offer updated work options.
The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the American work model. Talent acquisition specialists adapted their work models to conduct online onboarding versus meeting candidates face-to-face. As the workforce evolves with more technological advances, workers will strive for more work/life balance.
A professional at Goldman Sachs posted a question on the finance message board of Blind, an anonymous professional network. They asked, “Would you rather make $30k more switching to a new job that requires you to work in the office, or would you rather keep your current salary but WFH anywhere after COVID?” The network found that 64% of professionals prefer to permanently work from home over a $30K compensation increase. Other professional groups who favored permanent work from home over a compensation increase include Airbnb (71%), Lyft (81%), Twitter (89%), and Zillow Group (100%).
Employees want to work from home. Remote work models lead to higher productivity. On average, workers are 13% more productive when working from home. As technology continues to advance, your company needs to adjust and consider incorporating remote or hybrid work models while also cutting costs in outdated recruitment techniques to funnel the money into talent acquisition software.
8. Design a competitive and comprehensive benefits plan.
When it comes to compensation packages, employees may be willing to accept a lower salary if balanced by comprehensive health benefits, e.g. medical, vision, and dental insurance. Employees want good health benefits, and that includes mental health, too. A company that invests in its workforce's mental health with programs like an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) understands the value of a healthy mind.
A survey conducted by Society of Human Resource Management found that “nearly one-fifth of HR professionals altered their benefits program to aid in the retention of employees over the past 12 months. Of these organizations, about three-fifths altered their health care benefits; more than one-third altered their flexible working, retirement savings and planning, leave, and professional and career development benefits as well.”
Life inside the workplace is not all that matters in talent acquisition. Consider what happens in an employee’s life outside the business. Does your business model allow for a healthy work/life balance? Are your employees able to receive sufficient healthcare? What kind of retirement or investment opportunities do you offer? Potential candidates will ask these questions about your company. It is necessary to provide the answers with a comprehensive benefits plan.
9. Promote internal diversity.
Many industries are dominated by men, leading to women feeling underrepresented within the company's culture. While the number of women in the workforce has increased significantly over the last few decades, men still hold most positions of power. There is also a racial disparity in corporate America. When HR departments create internal coalitions to rally morale, it increases diversity and inclusion efforts from inside the workforce. To build a diverse and inclusive culture, your company needs to give a voice to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Diversity should be a company-wide model; however, it begins at the top. Educate yourself on various cultural traditions and backgrounds. Create a workplace where different perspectives are valued and voiced. Employees tend to follow the example of their boss or manager, and setting this example can increase internal diversity across your company.
10. Partner with local universities to build an applicant pool.
To build a pipeline of potential candidates, companies partner with educational institutions. It helps establish a relationship between students and future employers.
Take IBM, for example. The technology corporation has partnered with The University of Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Florida State University to provide access to its systems for teaching and research. IBM has also planned joint-research collaborations with Duke University and Harvard University.
Instead of waiting for interested candidates to come across the company, IBM has started cultivating relationships with potential applicants. This strategy attracts candidates after graduation and boosts company retention.
11. Add other incentives.
Large to mid-size corporations use eye-catching bonuses and employee benefits to compete in a global market to attract top talent within the industry, but financial incentives aren't the only things that matter.
When talented candidates are comparing companies, they're going to consider values, culture, and work-life balance, too. By cultivating an impressive employer brand, you'll attract better talent and find more long-term success.
To succeed with talent acquisition, you'll need to be able to answer the question, "Why your company, over all the others?" This is why employer branding is a critical strategy for finding the best employees.
Consider how you can reframe your employer branding to focus on the best aspects of your company's values and culture. It isn't just about mentioning health benefits or compensation — you'll also want to convey your impressive company culture, in which employees collaborate efficiently and enjoy spending time with one another. You might mention your flexible remote policy and other work-life balance perks, or your company's emphasis on growth opportunities.
It's important you broadcast these unique attributes through employee review sites like Glassdoor, as well as your "About Us" page on your company website. When highly qualified people are contemplating your company over your competitors, it just might be those reviews that end up convincing them.
As you create your talent acquisition strategy, you may wonder how it differs from recruitment — and whether there's overlap between the two. They're different, but they can complement each other.
Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment
Recruitment is used to fill a specific role with a qualified candidate, making it a short-term strategy. Talent acquisition disregards role vacancies, making it a long-term HR strategy that's used to attract highly-qualified candidates.
To create a truly successful hiring process at your business, you need to use both talent acquistion strategies and short-term recruitment cycles. Mixing the two will empower you to attract and retain top talent.
Creating a Talent Acquisition Strategy is Only the Beginning
Your pursuit of top talent shouldn't solely rely on traditional, short-term recruitment strategies like sending LinkedIn messages or attending job fairs. To ensure top talent acquisition and retention, you'll need to devise a strategic long-term talent acquisition plan, which will lead to a better employee experience all around.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.