Create a Proactive Talent Acquisition Strategy to Recruit the Best Hires

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When we talk about talent acquisition, we are referring to something more specific than simply hiring personnel. It is proactive rather than reactive and involves developing a long-term strategy to ensure there is a reliable and loaded pipeline of candidates. This translates into smooth recruitment transitions, with new hires slotting into an understood company culture able to facilitate operations as normal.

This is a sentiment Lee Frederiksen at Hinge Marketing shares. He says a talent acquisition strategy needs to align with business goals, while “recruiting is simply the process of filling a specific position or positions to address more immediate needs.”

If your organization continually finds itself having to hire reactively, then this guide is for you. It will explore how to think proactively, anticipate hiring needs and build a talent pipeline that scales with your company’s projected growth.

The Basics of a Talent Acquisition Strategy

Frederiksen suggests a checklist for an effective talent acquisition strategy, which includes researching market demands and what’s important to new hires. Once this is done, the employer brand needs to be consistent with the overarching goals.

A solid strategy depends, in part, on a user-friendly website that is easy for candidates to access, and that site should communicate a clear message about the company. The can then be reinforced via social media channels, as well as though sharing the message and company’s expertise by speaking, writing, blogging and encouraging dialog.

The above are some of the means to help guarantee the ends, namely a loaded talent pipeline. Laine Jubinville at National Leasing urges “care and attention” when attracting potential team members. A reliable pipeline will help hiring managers curate and engage prospective candidates, which in turn will benefit future recruiting projects.

It’s important to think about a new hire not as someone to fill a job, Jubinville writes, but “to build a team and grow your organization.”

Building the right team depends on having a creative and flexible strategy. This helps guarantee a favorable candidate experience. As mentioned by Frederiksen, platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as well as blog posts will help enhance the candidate experience.

The reason why these platforms can be so effective, Jubinville argues, is that just as with a sound marketing campaign, a talent acquisition strategy needs to “go where your target audience is hanging out.” And that means building a social and mobile online presence.

A social network such as LinkedIn can for more than publishing information about a company to candidates. It can also be used to load the pipeline. Kyle Gantos, at Business.com, advises hiring managers or company leaders to grow LinkedIn networks proactively before the need to acquire talent arises.

He recommends dedicating an hour a week to building a network, sorting potential future candidates by skills, job titles and locations.

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HR’s Role as a Strategy Partner

Sharon Margules at the SHRM blog writes that HR can shift into a proactive rather than reactive mindset by acting as a “strategic partner.” This means HR leaders should assert their expertise while stressing their needs to help shape the overall business strategy.

This will lead to a better plan of action — you will understand your organization’s readiness rather than have to make assumptions about what can and can’t be achieved. Those working in HR will be able to confirm the status of organizational readiness in terms of staff, skills and leadership.

Margules says HR can focus on the internal development of leaders to help achieve an organization’s vision and strategy. Looking in-house will often translate to economic gains and savings, minimizing attrition costs. It also keeps leadership personnel consistent, which will only help boost confidence and commitment among remaining team members.

Big Data’s Big Capability

The luxury of modern recruitment and hiring is the availability of data. Indeed, as Emilia Marius at Training Zone writes, talent acquisition no longer needs to rely on “gut feelings” about people. Instead, data will tell a more reliable story of how things are and where they are going.

Big data can highlight market trends and identify areas where talent will be needed in the next 12 to 18 months, allowing for accurate forecasting and planning. It also facilitates methods to estimate with accuracy the number of candidates that should be interviewed to cover the skills required when filling vital roles.

Data can also provide insight into colleges and companies that produce the best candidates while helping to create talent maps to identify what human assets are available if a company is expanding. Having a map like this also helps to determine whether there is a need for outsourcing, which we will address later in the post.

Marius says another advantage of using big data is its ability to “shatter long-held beliefs and impose new ways of selecting people.” An example includes analyzing the way an applicant writes a resume and contrasting it with a sentiment analysis of the candidate’s public social media profiles.

Another way data can yield insight is by ascertaining the quality of candidate’s grammar or that they do not belong to radical groups. These, Marius argues, can serve as good predictors of desirable employees.

By analyzing past internal data, those in charge of acquiring, managing and developing talent can predict the need for new hires before that need arises. This moves them from reactive to proactive actors, confirming Marius’s point that HR executives no longer play an administrative role, but a strategic one.

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Crystal Ball Data

Will Staney at Proactive Talent says “data is your real-world fortune teller.” Using it correctly will combine insight from workforce numbers, financials and hiring timeframes to give hiring managers a clearer talent acquisition strategy.

Data such as employee tenure, turnover, evaluation scores, compensation, commute time and number of sick days taken will give quantifiable answers to questions about how, when and why to hire new candidates.

Daniil Karp at Teamable is also an advocate of data’s ability to turn a talent acquisition strategy from reactive to proactive. Knowing who to choose, from where, and when to place these new hires gives HR or hiring managers new powers in recruitment.

It remains important, Karp argues, that an employee-centric approach is at the heart of talent acquisition strategies. There should be a focus on responsive, personalized and user-centric experiences for candidates.

Organizations looking to hire quality candidates in a proactive way need to recognize market trends, opportunities and threats. After they have understood these, they can lay down the values to guide their talent acquisition action plan.

These values need to be clear, simple and entrenched at every stage of the process. They need to be checked along the way in order for them to bolster decision-making power. Doing this will pay dividends later in the process, as it will result in lower attrition rates.

The Power Of Employees in Building an Employer Brand

While data is an effective means to enhance an organization’s talent acquisition strategy, hiring managers should not forget the value of existing team members.

Roy Maurer, at the Association for Talent Development, talks about the power of current employees to boost the employer brand. This is a useful tactic because candidates find employee advocates who share stories over social media channels far more trustworthy than any branded material released by an organization.

Maurer cites a recent study from Gartner, which found 15 percent of respondents trust posts made by companies on social networking sites compared with 70 percent who trust recommendations from people they know.

He suggests including employee advocates within the talent acquisition strategy, but advises:

  • Initial coaching of employees to get the message consistent across platforms and compliant with regulations and policies.
  • Encouragement of employee participation without micromanaging their engagement after coaching.
  • Creative and strategic approaches to communicating content.

Outsourcing the Process To RPOs

What if resources don’t allow for a shift in the hiring strategy, or a company does not have the requisite skills in house? In these cases, talent acquisition can be outsourced to recruitment organizations.

This is why Citi’s South Asia division outsourced. Anuranjita Kumar, the division’s chief human resources officer, says the challenge of hiring multiple candidates with complex skill sets against stringent time constraints necessitated outsourcing. It made the rest of the HR team’s jobs easier.

Not only have candidates’ skills become more complex in the modern economy, but so too has recruiting. Andrew Greenberg at Contract Recruiter acknowledges this, citing the need for enhanced strategizing and advances in technology and social media as complicating talent acquisition. Talent acquisition also means moving from selling the candidates on the company to a “value proposition” demanding employers engage candidates to attract, hire and retain them.

RPO can simplify the process. Kate Vitasek at Forbes talks about RPOs assuming the role of a “principal gatekeeper.” By doing this, they can help their stakeholders achieve better business outcomes through “procurement, talent onboarding, Statement of Work (SOW) and service delivery, knowledge transfer, and risk management of external labor.”

RPOs will develop a strategy on an organization’s behalf that allows for rapid and scalable action during launches of new products, services or geographical markets, or simply if unforeseen incidents demand new hires.

Whether companies or HR teams outsource to the experts or simply use data more effectively to make recruitment decisions, the essential fact remains: proaction rather than reaction is key.

Developing a talent acquisition strategy means curating and broadening a long list of candidates. From this, organizations will be equipped to deal with recruitment concerns in a responsive and efficient way.

Images by: Maarten van den Heuvel, kzenon/©123RF Stock Photo, David Zawila