Five Key Talent Acquisition Questions

Laura Ingram
AAIM Employers’ Association

At AAIM, we regularly hear questions from member companies about how to increase effectiveness in their talent acquisition processes. The following are insights into a few key questions that we hope will be helpful in the challenging quest for talent.

What really is talent acquisition?
Talent acquisition is a holistic system of finding and winning people who can drive business results today and in the future. Effective talent acquisition includes understanding business direction, defining candidate profiles to fit the needs, proactively building pipelines of candidates, ensuring attractive workplace programs and branding, and measuring success.

What can business leaders do to improve talent acquisition effectiveness?
Leaders first need to ensure clear strategic direction and expectations for the culture to drive clarity in workforce and talent acquisition strategies. They then must proactively manage the employment brand. Social media brings transparency to companies’ leadership, culture and opportunities—but if messages are not actively shaped, they may not tell the desired story. Ensuring effective management practices is the next key. Managers have to be adept at goal setting, feedback, recognition and responding to employee needs. Surveys and discussion should be used to understand employee perceptions. Finally, leaders should require metrics for visibility into what drives success.

Outside of organizational health, what are the primary factors for a successful search?
The first factor is a success profile encompassing hard skills, soft skills, competencies and workplace culture considerations. In developing this profile, ask what is different about employees who thrive, versus those who struggle and leave. Second, success requires technology in sourcing, posting, smartphone application, tracking, communication and metrics. Third, engage in proactive sourcing, building outside relationships and leveraging employees to play a role. Fourth, management commitment to an efficient process is critical to avoid losing candidates. Finally, an understanding of market pay is essential.

What mistakes do companies make when they initiate a search?
One frequent mistake is not evaluating current and future needs before backfilling. Another mistake is not engaging in proactive sourcing and missing out on passive candidates. Companies also fall short when using job descriptions instead of effective selling language in recruitment. Once candidates are in the door, other missteps include unprepared interviewers who leave a poor impression and do not ask the situational questions needed to hire to the profile. Managers can also stumble when they go with their gut with no formal assessment. Finally, it can be a mistake to fail to engage outside help when volume is bogging down the process.

What should a company consider when deciding whether to get outside help?
Target solutions specific to your areas of least success. Do you need help building the candidate pool or assistance conducting interviews? In addition, consider the cost of the job being open. Often the impact of having the right person on board justifies outside investment. Investigate the specific resources and networks of the expert. Are they simply searching job board databases? Do they leverage premium accounts and subscriptions? The last consideration is the expert’s perspective. Do they consider your strategic direction and culture, or are they narrowly focused on hard skills? iBi

Laura Ingram, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Vice President of HR Services for AAIM Employers’ Association. Contact her at (314) 754-0170 or