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What is Talent Acquisition? Stages, Tips, and Strategies

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Every year it’s harder and harder to attract and retain employees. Companies constantly up their game一higher compensation, better benefits/perks, location flexibility, and more. As a result of the pandemic, 48% of Americans are rethinking the type of job they want, and 53% say they’d switch to an entirely new industry. 

The post-pandemic hiring landscape poses a huge challenge to talent acquisition teams, who have been operating with fluctuating team sizes and budgets. As many as 57% of talent leaders expected an increase in budget for 2022 as of February.

HR teams need to get creative about how they source candidates, build a solid talent pipeline, and evaluate their approach to hiring and onboarding. In this article, we’ll define talent acquisition, review the typical talent acquisition stages, and offer several tips for enhancing a talent acquisition strategy.

Definition of Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is a long-term, ongoing strategy for identifying, recruiting, and interviewing skilled, diverse candidates. The duties typically sit within the HR department. Talent acquisition usually includes: searching for great candidates, analyzing the resulting talent pool, engaging with top candidates and moving them through the hiring process, onboarding new hires, and measuring and improving the talent acquisition strategy. Talent acquisition also plays a role in employer branding—ensuring that the company appealingly conveys its culture and values—and is partly responsible for retaining current employees and finding peak performers to promote them in the organization. 

Talent acquisition vs recruitment

In order to compare talent acquisition and talent recruitment, it’s important to also understand what is talent recruitment. Talent recruitment is the process of filling existing job vacancies. 

Talent acquisition teams establish a broader, long-term plan for hiring, finding ways to present the company brand in an enticing light, developing the talent pipeline a year or more in advance, maintaining relationships with potential candidates, and eventually filling roles. 

Talent recruitment is often a short-term process that solves an immediate need. For example, the recruiters, who are part of the talent acquisition team, jump into action with talent recruitment if a department has an immediate need for several specific hires, if a leader suddenly leaves, or if the company is having a particularly tough time filling a role. As talent recruitment weaves its magic, it works toward carrying out the talent acquisition vision of the whole team.

Talent acquisition stages

There are several pieces to the talent acquisition puzzle. While the stages of the strategy may differ slightly from company to company, there’s a fairly standard methodology many organizations follow. 

  1. Lead generation—Job candidates are essentially leads. Sourcing and nurturing leads are the first step in getting candidates over the finish line. Talent acquisition teams use sourcing technologies, social networks, industry events, conferences, and online forums in order to network, cultivate relationships with ideal candidates and build their people intelligence. This creates a large, high-quality talent pool to tap into as roles are posted. They can also leverage software solutions that offer talent pool insights to see the diversity and location spread of their talent pool, and refine their search accordingly.
  2. Recruit and attract top candidates—To attract the best and brightest, talent acquisition teams constantly reach out to candidates to foster excitement around the company brand, showcasing the amazing employees and highlighting unique benefits. Even if the candidate isn’t actively looking for a job now, their interactions with talent acquisition could change their mind, or at least plant the seed of applying in the future. Talent acquisition teams may also assess eligible internal candidates and referrals from current employees.
  3. Interview and assessment—To guarantee that a candidate will be successful in the role, interview questions should be built around the top five essential KPIs for the position. Skills tests, such as writing samples, programming tasks, or sales pitch trials, are a fantastic way to narrow the candidate list. Of course, cultural add is important, too. At this stage, talent acquisition teams work with the hiring manager to develop interview questions that surface personality traits.
  4. Evaluate references—After a killer interview, talent teams and hiring managers may be tempted to skip this step. Don’t! It’s critical to check a person’s references, as references may surface concerns that might’ve been missed and insight into the candidate’s growth potential.
  5. Select the best candidate(s)—Often, multiple people evaluate each candidate, and keeping track of feedback isn’t easy. Talent acquisition teams use software tools to gather and centralize everyone’s input to help rank each candidate on a consistent scale, making the final selection process more manageable.
  6. Hire and onboard—After an accepted offer, it’s time to wow the new employee with a robust onboarding process. Providing easy-to-follow tutorials, FAQs, training sessions, and one-on-one meetings with other team members can make the new person feel comfortable and valued during their first weeks and months at the company. Of course it’s important to hire a candidate with the right attributes in order to be successful, but it’s also the onboarding that retains employees and builds employee satisfaction—30% of new hires quit within the first six months because of a poor onboarding experience. 
  7. Measure what’s working and what isn’t—It’s important to analyze the talent funnel at every stage, across recruiters and roles, to gain insights into what’s working and what needs improvement. This could include measuring which channels lead to the best candidates, which recruiters really move the needle, which outreach campaigns receive responses, and so on. This level of visibility offers the opportunity to improve and consistently convert great candidates.

Tips and strategies for effective talent acquisition 

Although talent acquisition is simple in theory, it’s more complex in practice. The good news is there are a few ways to accelerate your talent acquisition plans without sacrificing candidate quality.

Align strategies

Although talent acquisition falls under HR, the team’s overarching strategy should be communicated and understood across departments. If hiring managers operate in their own silos, the plan is bound to fail. Instead, hiring managers should work in tandem with talent acquisition teams, understanding their approach to targeting, communicating with, interviewing, and onboarding new employees. 

In addition, talent teams should spearhead an effort to decide which attributes are important to the enterprise across the board. For example, an organization-wide goal might be to add more diversity to the company. In this case, talent teams can analyze their talent pool to see where pockets of diverse talent lie, how to adjust their search to make their talent pool more representative, and where to allocate resources appropriately. 

Talent teams also need to work with each department head to encourage everyone to keep an open mind when sourcing candidates. Sometimes the most unexpected places—like boot camps, employee referrals, niche nonprofit matching programs—can yield terrific candidates that normally are overlooked. 

Use a solid talent acquisition software solution

Talent acquisition has a lot of moving parts. A quality talent acquisition software solution, like Findem’s People Intelligence platform, can help boost the talent pipeline, oversee recruiting efforts, centralize candidate data, and allow talent teams to measure success. Over time, talent acquisition software solutions collect enough people data to reveal common characteristics across top performers by department and role. These indicators of future success can inform talent searches and, in turn, establish a more fruitful talent pool.

Furthermore, building your people intelligence to create a high-quality candidate pipeline can promote diversity. For example, some talent acquisition software solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce bias throughout the lead generation, recruitment, and interviewing phases. These platforms also provide transparency into diversity metrics, equipping everyone with the necessary data to continue moving in the right direction. 

Yet another benefit of a talent acquisition software solution is that it frees up much of the administrative work that HR teams do. This offers more time for recruiters to engage with employees and qualified job candidates.

Clearly portray company brand 

People should be excited about joining the company even before they apply. They should know what the company sells and what the company’s presence is on social media. For instance, some companies have employees create ‘day in the life’ videos to flaunt the best parts of the company’s culture. Others post pictures of employees volunteering or speaking at events to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to service or excellence within the industry.

With the help of marketing, talent acquisition teams need to highlight an organization’s stellar reputation, amazing people, and first-class product or service. Talent teams also should emphasize the difference between the company’s compensation and benefits package and competitors’. 

Although updating the company’s communications to support these objectives is a lot of work, a distinctive brand can greatly impact a talent teams’ ability to source and attract new candidates and move them through the talent funnel.

Manage the hiring life cycle

Everyone wants a smooth hiring life cycle, but reaching that point requires effective communication and collaboration between the talent acquisition manager, hiring manager, and candidate. When everyone is on the same page for the hiring process, it moves along much faster and smoother. Still, recruiting candidates and then pushing them through the life cycle can involve a lot of online searching, emailing back and forth, scheduling interview calls, setting up assessments, collecting feedback, and more. 

A talent acquisition software solution with inbuilt automation and AI can reduce the time to hire by surfacing ideal and diverse candidates quickly, auto-scheduling meetings, grading assessments, and collating comments from interviewers, saving time and HR resources. With a narrower, better input on the front end, the recruiting team can operate faster on the back end, lowering the cost to hire as a result.

Retain essential employees

Retaining the best employees and nurturing their careers can pay dividends in terms of saved time and talent acquisition costs. One study reports that within three years of hire, employee retention rate drops to 45% for those who aren’t promoted or don’t have lateral moves within a company. Retention rates for those who do are 70% and 62%, respectively. 

Talent acquisition software solutions are a big help with retention since they track employees’ attributes and help expose internal paths of progression for existing employees. When new positions post, it’s easy to identify existing employees who have the skills and attributes to apply. Promoting employees internally expedites the hiring cycle, gives everyone more confidence in the employee’s capabilities, and reduces the chances of hiring someone who isn’t in it for the long haul. 


The adage “not preparing is preparing to fail” epitomizes talent acquisition. Forecasting what roles will open over the next few weeks, months, and even years is crucial to refining a talent acquisition strategy. But in order to start thinking ahead, talent acquisition teams need to review what’s happened in the past. This is where a talent acquisition software solution comes into play. 

Analyzing previous years’ data and comparing it against the company’s expansion plans can indicate a potential role gap in the future. Understanding where the hiring cycle is breaking down, which recruiters are moving the needle for the business, and what channels bring in the best candidates can inform and drastically improve the acquisition strategy. It can be useful to look at how other organizations grow—what attributes they hire for at different times, the balance between different departments, and so on—and learn from them. Platforms, like Findem, have this data available and accessible in real-time.


Also, keep in mind that not all roles are created equal—some are notoriously hard to fill. Luckily, visibility into trends like this show up in the data, reminding talent teams to allot extra time to fill such roles and adjust their search criteria to find more qualified candidates. 

Accelerate talent acquisition with automation

Top candidates are highly sought after and don’t leave their current jobs for just any workplace. Your company has to stand out as one with a welcoming culture, great perks, competitive compensation, and a seamless hiring and onboarding process. The key lies within a repeatable, sustainable talent acquisition strategy. Setting up this strategy, monitoring it, and using it to forecast a company’s future talent requires the right tools in order to be successful.

A talent acquisition software solution, like Findem’s People Intelligence platform, is specifically designed to close talent gaps faster. Findem uncovers the highest quality talent with the diverse backgrounds and experiences companies are looking for with AI and publicly available data. The platform has built-in reporting features to help talent teams pinpoint traits of high performers at the company, understand what’s working in the pipeline and what’s not, and benchmark against goals. The best part is that with all this information in hand, talent teams can become more proactive and accurately predict future hiring plans while lowering the cost and time to hire.

Learn more about how Findem can accelerate and elevate your talent acquisition process by requesting a free demo.

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