Optimizing the Talent Acquisition System
Recruiting, hiring, and talent acquisition may sound like synonyms to the uninitiated. But understanding each step in the process of filling an open job position is essential for long-term retention and employee engagement. Whether a single person manages the talent acquisition process from top to bottom or your organization has a team of recruiters ready to support hiring managers, coordinating each step in talent acquisition can make the process efficient and effective.
This chapter will define talent acquisition, recruiting, and hiring, then walk you through each step involved in finding great candidates and hiring employees. Each step will answer common questions that come up during the talent acquisition process.
Defining Hiring, Recruiting, and Talent Acquisition
Let’s begin with definitions of these terms:
- 1.Talent Acquisition is the full process of discovering candidates for open jobs and bringing them into your organization with the ultimate goal of retaining employees long-term (so you don’t have to repeat the process three months later). Talent acquisition consists of two phases: recruiting and hiring.
- Recruiting is the process of finding potential candidates for an open job position. There are many tools for recruiting employees, including job boards, employee referrals, and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. After marketing an open position and collecting a pool of interested candidates, the recruiter screens out unsuitable applicants to deliver a pool of qualified candidates to the hiring manager.
- Hiring is the talent acquisition phase where the hiring manager and others assess each candidate in the candidate pool. Job interviews are the most common assessment tool, though some positions may require portfolio reviews or pre-employment certifications. After assessing candidates, the hiring manager will likely need to submit the final choice for approval from other leaders in the organization.
- 2.The hiring manager is the person with the responsibility for selecting the final candidate. Generally, the hiring manager is the leader of the team with the open position. While teams may assist in hiring deliberations, the hiring manager is in charge of making the final selection when hiring employees.
Depending on the size of your organization, you could have a whole department of recruiters supporting several different hiring managers and a long list of approvers—or you might have one person recruiting, hiring, and approving.
The Talent Acquisition Funnel
Finding the right candidate for an opening isn’t a Field of Dreams process—just building a job requisition doesn’t mean candidates will come. Effective talent acquisition starts with a large group of potential applicants and narrows it down through several phases of the recruiting process.
Professional recruiters refer to this process as the talent acquisition funnel. Each phase sends on just enough candidates to provide a diverse set of choices while ensuring that hiring managers aren’t overwhelmed with unqualified candidates during the hiring phase.
A successful talent acquisition process will help recruiters and hiring managers answer two important questions about each candidate—while also helping candidates answer these questions for themselves:
- Can they do the job?
- Do they want to do the job?
If your goal is hiring employees who stay with your organization in the long term, it’s important to aim the talent acquisition funnel toward candidates who can answer both questions with a resounding yes. This requires a clear understanding of job requirements, expectations on prerequisites and available training, and alignment with your organization’s mission, vision, and values.
Recruiting: How Do I Create a Job Description?
Beginning the recruiting process can seem as simple as copying common job requirements from another job posting and just rolling with it. But unless this standard description aligns with current realities of your organization’s culture and operations, you’re giving yourself more work to do and more unqualified candidates to eliminate during the hiring process.
A targeted talent acquisition process, however, will give you a much larger ratio of good applicants to unfit applicants. This starts with well-defined job requirements set forth in a job ad that reaches a diverse yet well-aligned group of candidates. This approach is key for building a large group of qualified applicants while recruiting employees to provide hiring managers a diverse group of candidates to select from—even after several screening steps.
Finding the Bullseye—The Difference Between a Job Description and a Job Ad
To target your job description, you need to fully identify the ideal center of your hiring funnel––what a qualified candidate looks like––and extrapolate from there. This starts with defining the job description for each position you open.
While the general public views job description and job ad as synonyms, a job description is a complete analysis of the experience and expectations associated with a position. An effective job ad will clearly present the core parts of the job description so candidates know whether their skills and interests align.
- Hard skills are often task-based competencies that employees develop through education or vocational training. For example, someone with no legal training isn’t a good candidate for corporate counsel—learning on the job can’t replace several years of law school. A general contractor with years of experience building roofs or installing tile floors would also have several hard skills a more inexperienced employee has yet to develop. While there may be some space for developing hard skills in the workplace, hard skills are most often prerequisites for meeting position requirements.
- Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal attributes that have more to do with how employees communicate and relate to each other. These include leadership skills, collaboration styles, conflict resolution skills, and personal integrity. Checking resumes for years of experience and promotions can be an indication of soft skills when recruiting employees, but fully assessing candidates’ soft skills comes later on, during the hiring phase.