Talent acquisition has always been an important part of effective talent management. That’s because an organization’s ability to source and hire new employees, manage vertical and lateral movement of existing employees, and plan for future needs is a strong indicator of its ability to survive adversity.

This has become especially evident over the last 15 years, as the rapid evolution of technology and major shifts in the world economy have tested traditional processes. From the Dotcom boom to the Great Recession, a lot has changed in the world of work — and many organizations struggle to keep up.

As the new Talent Acquisition Analyst at Brandon Hall Group, it’s my job to shed light on the many paths to excellence in talent acquisition. To start (and as a nod to the title of our humble blog), I’d like to take a look at the state of talent acquisition today, as well as where it’s headed.

This first post is a doozey, I know, but we’ve got a lot to cover.

Reactionary Recruiting Doesn’t Work!

Historically, talent acquisition has been limited to a transactional, reactionary function, wherein recruiting efforts are reduced to filling holes in the org chart. For example, an employee moves to a new position; HR posts the job opening, combs through resumes, and brings in applicants whose resumes meet the basic requirements. You know the drill.

While this style of recruiting may work for low-skill, low-impact roles, it’s neither efficient nor effective for growing sustainable business. For the majority of hiring organizations, this often results in poor-quality hires, longer time-to-productivity, and an inability to plan and budget for staffing needs.

It’s become increasingly evident that reactionary recruiting is ineffective in the long term. Competition for top talent is at an all-time high, and candidates expect more of potential employers than in the past. Companies who fail to adapt suffer from high turnover and poor employer branding.

Fact: Now, more than ever, ongoing success in talent acquisition requires careful planning, an agile process, and an understanding of current technology and emerging trends.

But transitioning from reactionary recruiting to strategic talent acquisition is no walk in the park. Establishing a working definition is a good place to start, as is breaking talent acquisition down into functional pieces.

A Working Definition for Talent Acquisition

Brandon Hall Group defines Talent Acquisition as the process of planning for and sourcing, assessing, hiring, and onboarding of new or existing employees into appropriate positions within an organization.

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At the most basic level, filling open positions in a timely manner is still a key goal, but the scope of talent acquisition is much bigger than in reactionary recruiting. There is a greater emphasis on identifying and planning for staffing needs, leveraging cutting edge technology to source, screen and engage candidates, building healthy talent pools, conducting objective assessments of candidate skills and cultural fit, and providing effective hiring and onboarding.

Having established a solid talent acquisition lifecycle, you can be more proactive in your efforts while still responding to immediate needs.

As explained in our Talent Acquisition Answerbook, “By expanding the scope of talent acquisition and focusing on measuring the end result of the full process, organizations are better meeting their talent acquisition goals.” And in talent acquisition, the end goal is twofold: improving candidate experience and attracting more qualified talent.

Talent Acquisition: Functions at a Glance

Ongoing success in talent acquisition requires business leaders to work closely with HR to identify gaps in staffing needs and future opportunities, and to adjust process accordingly. To do this, it’s important to understand the role each function plays in effective talent acquisition. Here’s a brief breakdown:

  • Plan. The most effective recruiting companies evaluate existing and future staffing needs, identify growing skill gaps, monitor changes in turnover, and audit process and performance. In short, they plan for success. Not just before a period of rapid growth. Not after a spike in turnover. All the time.
  • Source. For many, sourcing efforts are limited to posting jobs across various boards and filtering through a flood of resumes. But more recruiters are investing time and resources to engage high-quality candidates. That’s because the best candidates are more attracted to companies that set themselves apart from the herd from the start. Employee referral programs have also become a primary source for candidates, with social networks as the prime target.
  • Assess. With talent acquisition’s emphasis on quality-of-hire and time-to- productivity metrics, the process of assessing and screening candidates for skill and cultural fit has become increasingly valuable. As such, employers are relying on new tools and services to evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) of a good hire.
  • Hire. Probably the most overlooked and under-optimized phase in the talent acquisition lifecycle, the hiring process includes deciding on the best candidate, extending and negotiating an offer, and managing all of the little things that need attention prior to an employee’s first day in a new role. The challenge is maintaining lines of communication, managing expectations, and making hard business decisions without tarnishing the company’s employer brand.
  • Onboard. This phase has been undervalued by many organizations. Studies show, however, that effective onboarding directly impacts KPIs of talent acquisition, such as time- to-productivity and turnover. By establishing a formal process, and managing this stage closely, the employees you’ve worked hard to recruit and hire are more likely to succeed in their new roles.

Looking Ahead: Key Conversations

This is an exciting time in talent acquisition — and not just for us nerds. New technologies are emerging daily, and leading organizations are constantly innovating to improve the effectiveness of their various processes.

The majority of hiring companies have work to do before their talent acquisition is up to snuff. My job at Brandon Hall Group is to keep you in touch with emerging trends and important conversations along the way, so you can get a leg up on the competition.

Some of the key conversations we’ll be driving on Talent Acquisition Today include:

  • Best Practices in Social Talent Acquisition
  • The Impact and Implication of Mobile Technology
  • Balancing Process Automation with Candidate Experience
  • Recruitment Marketing Principles
  • The Talent Acquisition Vendor Landscape

In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing pressing topics with the end goal of offering actionable insights for today’s business leaders and in-the-trenches practitioners alike. If you have a topic you want me to tackle, let me know. You can reach me at kyle.lagunas@brandonhall.com

Kyle Lagunas

As the Talent Acquisition Analyst at Brandon Hall Group, Kyle heads up research in key practices in sourcing, assessing, hiring, and onboarding - as well recruitment marketing, candidate experience, and social recruiting. Through primary research and deep analysis, he keeps today's business leaders in touch with important conversations and emerging trends in the rapidly changing world of talent. Kyle has spent the last several years offering a fresh take on the role of technology as part of an integrated talent strategy, and focuses on providing actionable insights to keep leading organizations a step ahead. Previously the HR Analyst at Software Advice, he is regular contributor on SHRM's We Know Next and TLNT, and his work has been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Business Insider, Information Weekly, and HRO Today.

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