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You already know that great employees are at the heart of every successful organization. And an effective talent acquisition strategy ensures you get the right people for the job. But in today’s competitive market, it can be tough to find the right candidates. You have to proactively identify and attract them with a winning talent strategy.
Creating a talent acquisition strategy takes time and insight into your business’s strengths and opportunities. You also have to know what employees value in the workplace. Money is a top priority for workers, but so is a work culture that supports mental health, benefits that improve quality of life, and a sense of belonging.
A basic talent acquisition definition? It’s the process of identifying, attracting, recruiting, and retaining the best talent for available positions. Organizations develop talent acquisition strategies to fulfill their human resource needs in a structured, planned way.
Talent acquisition vs. recruitment
Talent acquisition and recruiting are closely related, but they aren’t the same thing. There are important differences between talent acquisition and recruitment. For example, recruitment focuses on the short term: identifying potential candidates, reaching out to them, and promptly filling open positions. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, takes a broader, long-term view. It considers the types of employees you’ll need in the future to help your company grow, plus what it takes to bring that talent on board. Recruitment is essential, but attracting and retaining the right people requires a more holistic strategic talent acquisition plan.
Talent acquisition goals
The best talent acquisition strategies aim to accomplish some or all of the following goals:
A good talent strategy helps organizations in several ways:
Every company’s journey looks different based on their industry and needs, but most follow five basic stages of talent acquisition.
The type of employee you want to attract will depend on your organization’s leadership structure, mission and vision, the positions you have available in the near future, and your budget. Understand your company’s position within your industry and how you stack up against competitors. This will help you differentiate yourself when networking with candidates and identify where your ideal prospects are likely to be found.
Consider what skill sets your organization needs and which might be missing or underrepresented. Try to forecast which positions will be hard to fill in the future and prioritize finding candidates who could step into those roles later.
When an employee leaves your company, you don’t want to be left scrambling to fill the gap. That leads to reactionary hires of “good enough” candidates. Your talent acquisition process should always be humming along in the background so you have a pool of solid candidates to reach out to when a job opens.
Here are a few ways to build this pipeline:
There are likely other activities specific to your industry that would help you meet workers of all ages and skill sets. Keep your eyes open and your network wide.
Your reputation precedes you, and you want it to entice your ideal employee. If your company message is muddled or your reputation is less-than-stellar, you’ll have a hard time finding top performers. Since potential team members might get impressions of your brand through social media, advertising, and other material aimed at consumers, think about how to position consumer-focused messaging in a way that also delights those you want to hire.
Once you’ve established a brand you’re proud of, it’s time to market it to talented folks in your industry. Manage your relationship with top talent so they’ll think of you when they need a job change. Here are a few key steps:
All of this preparation culminates in the recruitment process. When it comes time to fill a particular role, you’ll:
Try these “hiring hacks” to get a better ROI from your strategic talent acquisition framework.
When branding: Don’t make your company brand all about you. Consider what employees want and present your mission and work culture through that lens.
When hiring: When it makes sense to do so, consider hiring from within, especially for higher-level roles. This saves time and money since the employee already understands your company culture and mission.
When recruiting: Focus first on filling the roles that create the most value for your business—the longer those chairs sit empty, the more value you lose.
Building the best team possible for your company isn’t easy. Guard against these common pitfalls:
Regular audits will keep your talent attraction strategy sharp and help you course-correct if you aren’t seeing the results you want. First, map out the candidate’s journey—or the way they experienced the application process from start to finish—and the internal steps taken during the hiring process. See how those two journeys match up and whether your internal team kept good communication with the candidate.
Then, evaluate a few common talent acquisition metrics to identify any problems in the recruitment journey that may need to be addressed. If you used professional recruiters, seek their expert feedback as well.
Finally, compare your talent acquisition process to that of your competitors. Identify what they’re doing well and try to emulate it, or improve upon their strategy to gain an advantage with future candidates.
Reviewing your talent acquisition strategy isn’t a purely subjective process. These concrete measures can shed light on whether your plan is working as intended:
Once your general talent strategy is outlined, you’ll want to optimize each step to make your search as fruitful as possible. Here are some key talent acquisition strategy examples:
Are your benefits compelling to today’s job seekers? In a Glassdoor survey, about 60 percent of employees reported that they strongly consider perks and benefits offered before accepting a job offer. And 79 percent preferred additional benefits over a pay increase.
One of the most in-demand benefits is mental health support. Harvard Business Review reported that “Mental health challenges are now the norm among employees across all organizational levels,” with 76 percent of surveyed workers reporting at least one mental health symptom in the preceding year. As a result, employees are increasingly expecting mental health benefits as part of their compensation package. Eight in 10 workers say that how companies support employee mental health will be an important consideration when they look for their next job.
Mental health benefits are table stakes. The other piece that significantly impacts employee mental health is the overall culture of the workplace. Factors that can contribute to a culture of mental wellness include:
A culture of mental wellness not only draws talented applicants to your door, but also improves employee productivity.
Consider all aspects of your work culture that could please or frustrate employees. Career-minded people want rewarding work, so tell prospective candidates about interesting projects or accomplishments at your workplace. Help them envision career trajectories they might pursue while working with you so they feel they’re stepping onto a path rather than just “taking a job.”
People are also more likely to join companies that prize collaboration and build a sense of community. Research shows about half of employees feel disconnected from their co-workers—a problem that impacts their mental and physical health, job performance, and life satisfaction, not to mention organizations’ ability to retain talent. And they’re looking to their employers to help them foster those connections. Companies that do so get better rankings and are more likely to be named a great place to work.
In a rapidly changing business landscape, workers need up-to-date skills and capabilities to thrive. While most organizations (74 percent) recognize that upskilling employees is important for their success, only 10 percent say they’re ready to support workforce development in this way. Yet offering these opportunities makes employers more attractive to job seekers, and also better positioned to innovate and retain talent.
Show your employees you’re invested in their growth by providing development opportunities, from internal programs and resilience training to conferences, workshops, discussion groups, and continuing education programs. You might also consider finding other industry professionals who’d be willing to participate in a mentoring program or a lunch-and-learn.
Managers play a key role in defining healthy work practices and creating the type of work environment that attracts top performers. Examples of useful trainings include:
Diversity strengthens any workplace by bringing new perspectives, ideas, and solutions to the table. Successful DEI talent acquisition strategies begin in your day-to-day company culture, long before the recruitment process starts. Here are a few DEI talent acquisition ideas:
Every company aims to be the type of workplace job seekers flock to, but few HR professionals have the resources to do this without support. Lyra partners with organizations to build healthy work cultures that address today’s workforce challenges. Our Workforce Transformation program offers organizational development tools and services to help create a healthy culture, coach managers and employees on mental health, and empower benefits leaders to create data-driven mental health strategies. Learn more about how Lyra helps organizations create an employee experience that boosts talent acquisition and retention.