In today’s competitive and interconnected job market, HR professionals are working overtime to keep the talent pipeline well-stocked. Attracting and retaining top talent is a major priority right now (in fact, over 83% of recruiting leaders say it’s the #1 priority for their company)—but how can you compete with every other company that needs the same skillset?
A strong talent acquisition strategy helps you stand out among everyone else clamoring for top talent. Take a look at the top talent acquisition strategies of 2017 to see how you can use data, technology, and cross-functional expertise to reel in top talent in 2018.
What is Talent Acquisition (and How Is It Different From Recruiting)?
Recruiting is a short-term, tactical effort to fill vacancies with active candidates. Talent acquisition is a long-term, strategic effort to seek out qualified people, nurture relationships, and convince them to bring their unique skills to your company. A talent acquisition strategy is designed to entice the best and brightest people to work for your company—regardless of specific open positions.
Talent acquisition is particularly valuable for certain situations:
- Niche markets: Certain niche industries like technology, medicine, law, or financial management need a talent acquisition strategy to attract top talent with specific skills.
- Competitive industries: The more competition there is for top talent—and the more compensation and benefits other companies are offering—the more important the talent strategy becomes.
- Fast-growing companies: A company that is growing faster than normal should use a forward-thinking talent strategy to reduce time-to-fill as much as possible.
- Executive leadership roles: A talent acquisition strategy helps with executive succession planning and helps draw in leadership for complex markets, products, industries, or business areas.
While a great talent strategy is crucial for companies and roles like the ones above, every organization can benefit from a sound strategy. Companies that project their needs in advance and proactively scout the best talent set themselves up for success.
Best Talent Acquisition Strategies of 2017
As technology and the job market evolve, talent acquisition strategy evolves with it. Here’s a rundown of the three biggest trends in talent acquisition strategies this year (and how you can apply them to your organization in 2018).
1. Collecting (and Using) Data to Make Talent Decisions
A recruiting leader with a great talent strategy rarely hires someone and just hopes it will work out. They make data-driven decisions throughout the process with a great understanding of how and why someone will be a good fit.
The use of data in HR is growing by the day, but in most organizations, there is more work to do. Tracking metrics like time to hire is only the beginning of measuring the candidate experience.
Modern recruiting tools are moving to measure long-term metrics like performance, retention, and overall fit. Armed with that data, HR professionals can predict future success at the company based on the qualities of past high performers. (Plus, the more data you have to demonstrate the value of your recruiting, hiring, and talent acquisition efforts.)
How to apply it in 2018: Make sure you are tracking the top recruiting metrics so you can analyze your recruiting performance and track how new hires perform in their roles.
Consider trying A/B testing to fine-tune your application system, web pages, job descriptions, emails, and more. Here are some sample questions to get started:
- Do more candidates finish the application if we remove three questions?
- Do more candidates apply from this web page when there is a video featuring a current employee?
- Do more candidates respond when you email them or call them? What about email vs. texting?
- Do more candidates apply for the job with [A] or [B] job description?
- Do more candidates respond to [A] or [B] outreach email?
- Do more candidates open an email with [A] or [B] subject line?
2. Working With Other Departments To Integrate Talent Acquisition
Good recruiting can never happen in a vacuum. Going into 2018, see how you can work with other departments to leverage their skills in the talent acquisition process.
For example, think about how a marketing manager can help you with your employer brand. Brainstorm ways to freshen up print and digital recruiting materials to attract more candidates. Film a video that highlights your company culture or a “day in the life” of a certain role. (If you have videos from several years ago, see if you can film an updated version that reflects what your company is like now.) Bring the value of your company to life on social channels, in search results, and wherever else top talent might be looking.
You can also work with accounting, analytics, or other data-focused departments to help you analyze your new trove of data. Work with them to understand how to pull actionable insights from lots of recruiting data (and how to present data in a compelling way when the time comes).
As you are working through your talent acquisition strategy, think about ways to improve the candidate experience. (Bonus points for conducting a candidate experience audit.) Chances are, there are other ways your colleagues can use their unique skillsets to build on those ideas.
How to apply it in 2018: Once you have defined your talent acquisition strategy, point out the areas where you need help or you need fresh ideas. If you need help with employer branding and putting your best foot forward, set up regular meetings with your marketing team. If you need help analyzing data, set up meetings with a data guru. If you need help making the final push for potential candidates, talk to top salespeople about closing a deal.
In some cases, the best expertise comes from the type of people you’re looking to hire. For example, say your talent acquisition strategy involves attracting top-tier web developers. Talk to high-performing web developers you currently employ to understand:
- Why they like working for your company
- What drew them to your company in the first place
- What would attract them to a new role
- Where they would go to find a new role
When you understand what your current high performers look for in their role, you are in a better position to offer other high performers what they really want.
3. Using Automation, AI, and Machine Learning To Make Outreach Efficient
Modern recruiters and HR leaders have incredible tools at their disposal to find and connect with top talent—and these tools are only getting smarter.
AI is making it easier than ever to predict human behavior. These days, technology can even predict things like how likely a candidate is to respond to an inquiry. An intelligent sourcing system factors in how their current company is performing, how often they are updating social profiles, and how long prior employees stayed in that candidate’s role to help HR professionals prioritize the candidates who are almost ready for a new position.
When used correctly, automation in recruiting is another valuable tool. Automation reduces the time it takes to screen candidates, helps assess soft skills, and minimizes human bias (which more than half of recruiters believe is a problem in the U.S.). Automation is a powerful tool for screening resumes, acknowledging and rejecting applicants, scheduling interviews, and checking references. As long as it’s used in the right ways, automation can save you a lot of time—and free up time for strategic talent acquisition.
If you haven’t seen the impact of AI and automation yet, you will soon. About 15% of HR leaders say AI and automation are already impacting their workforce plans, and another 40% expect them to be a factor in the next five years, according to the 2017 Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey.
How to apply it in 2018: Take inventory of your current recruiting tools: your applicant tracking system (ATS), recruitment candidate relationship management (CRM) system, onboarding system, career site, interviewing tools, and mobile apps. Are these tools delivering the insights you really need to fulfill your talent strategy?
If not, it’s time to rethink your suite of tools. Evaluate your ATS to see if you’re missing out on key functionality that would make it easier (and more efficient) to recruit top talent. Look into new solutions that can help predict candidate success or at least help you reach candidates in the right place and at the right time.