How To Up Your Talent Acquisition Game: A Dozen Strategies


According to the late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, ‘innovation is about the people you have, how you have been led and how much you get it.’


Did you know that not having the right team is one of the top 3 reasons why start-ups fail?


Talent acquisition is no longer about hiring people to fill a vacancy in the organisation structure. It must be strategically aligned with a business’ vision and goal to provide competitive gains. Talent acquisition, today, focuses on the whole gamut of talent management which encompasses the areas of searching, finding, hiring, training, developing and retaining the talent pool. The effective management of human capital is the key to achieving the desired business goal. The more effective the human capital management, the greater the chance for an organisation to pose as a strong player in the competitive market. 

This aspect of talent acquisition has gained momentum in the last decade or so because there has been a paradigm shift in how recruitment is carried out these days. Gone are the days when candidates would be at the mercy of a company to offer them a job. These days, companies are going the extra mile to project themselves as a favourable brand to engage, attract and retain the right talent.

Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

Before diving into understanding the strategies that make talent acquisition robust, it is important to first understand the fundamental differences between the processes of recruitment and talent acquisition.

  1. Recruitment is the result of a reactive situation, whereby hiring managers get to work only after a vacancy is generated within the organisation. Talent acquisition thrives on future business objectives and aims to have people on board well ahead of time to drive the business effectively in a proactive manner.
  1. Recruitment is based on current manpower need analysis as opposed to talent acquisition which takes into account the predictable human capital requirement for the future.
  2. Recruitment involves filling up an existing vacancy in the lowest possible cost, whereas, talent acquisition aims at engaging and hiring the top quality talent to ensure the company remains ahead of the competition.

Irrespective of the size of the company, talent acquisition strategies are very much an integral part of the business and are directly aligned to long-term business goals. Depending on the size of the company or the nature of business or the type of industry, talent acquisition strategies may differ. To help you understand this segregation better, cited below are the variations in the talent acquisition strategies, as employed by large corporations and mid-sized organisations.

Typical Talent Acquisition Strategies (Large and Mid-sized Companies)

Large CorporatesMid-Size Companies
(with a recognisable brand image)
Mid-Size Companies
(without a recognisable brand image)
Core challenge:
retention and development of employees
Core challenge:
lack of clarity in employee career path, gaps in perks and compensation benefits, as per industry standards
Core challenge:
lack of clarity in employee career path, gaps in perks and compensation benefits, as per industry standards
Continuous brand building activity to maintain top position as ‘employer of choice’Focus on brand building to become a preferred employerActive participation in job fairs, expos, exhibitions and more.
Retention tactics include attractive perks and benefits, lucrative work profiles, career growth, healthy work environment, compatible team members and moreExtensive development opportunities, perks and benefits to employeesListings under various genres eg. Best place to work, Innovative place to work etc. 
Engage with professionals in the industry to enrich the talent poolReferral programsCollaboration with universities to offer internship, part-time and full- time employment. 
Participate in job fairs, expos, conferences to build brand recognition
Participation in exhibitions, job fairs etc.Actively engaging in social media platforms.
Corporate tie-ups with business schools or institutions offering professional courses.Collaboration with start-ups and educational institutions
Sponsor various workshops or training sessions to attract and hire talented candidates Creating professional groups in social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and other similar platforms

Talent Acquisition Strategies for Small Businesses and Start-Ups

While most of the strategies employed by small businesses, as well as start-ups may be similar to the ones mentioned above, they are likely to operate within a limited budget and be compelled to engage in outsourcing talent acquisition or opt for freelancing activities and referral programs. This option often results from the scenario whereby start-ups may not have a well established HR department to run a structured talent acquisition process. 

Summing up the various forms of strategies deployed by companies to ensure an effective talent acquisition and talent management, below are a dozen strategies to help you remain ahead of your competition in the talent acquisition and talent management game.

  1. Right Brand Projection : Since candidates seek career growth and not merely a job, companies must pay heed to project their brand in such a way that can attract quality talent to join in. In case of start-ups, the key to attracting the right talent is to build an attractive presence in the various social media platforms. It not only helps in brand enhancement but also serves as an effective talent engaging forum, given that candidates are going the digital way, like never before. 
  2. Suitable Corporate Culture : Talent acquisition is not merely hiring, it also deals with long-term retention of the hired candidate. Thus, having a healthy workplace culture becomes crucial to ensure that the employees remain engaged at the workplace. Start-ups generally take time to build a culture thriving on the pillars of being an equal opportunity employer, transparency in business operations, no discrimination in terms of gender, nationality or social strata etc. Many start-ups like PhonePe, Licious, ShareChat and Wakefit (source: Google) have opted for Employee Stock Options Plans whereby they have allowed their employees to buy shares at nominal rates from the usual market price. Eventually, if these shares fare well in the stock market, the employees also benefit in the process.
  3. Human Capital Planning : Talent acquisition process must be based on well-defined planning. The tried and tested methodology employed by companies who practice effective human capital planning essentially is a five step planning process – 1. Hierarchical mapping 2. Minimum academic requirements with personal traits needed 3. Key achievements and Key capabilities matrix 4. Compensation details 5. Career progression
  4. Effective Recruitment Source : Since start-ups and small business set-ups may not necessarily have the required financial back up to employ manpower sourcing consultants or to opt for participation in job fairs, exhibitions etc, they have to mostly rely on the the right mix of recruitment source – employee referrals, online job posts on social media, attending events and seminars to engage with quality talent.
  5. Analytics : Use of data analytics to assess the effectiveness or success rate of various stages of talent acquisition can help in identifying gaps and an early correction procedure of the various steps.
  6. Competition Tracking : Just having a ‘good’ talent acquisition strategy is not enough, unless you keep a tab of what’s happening at the competitors’ ends. Ultimately, the game can turn in your favour only if you manage to attract quality candidates better and faster than your competitors.
  7. Process Automation : Being a start-up you may initially fumble with the systems and processes, however, it is always a smart move to keep the option of automation open for the near future, subject to your business getting stabilized. Till such time, you could identify an employee from the existing lot, who has a flair for software development and turn his / her hobby into a Talent Acquisition tool. It also saves you the ordeal of migrating from a manual system to an automated one at a later stage. 
  8. Futuristic Talent Pool : Break the age-old tradition of hiring reactively, only after a vacancy has arisen. Instead, look at building a talent bench strength which can come in handy to fill-up the future skills gaps as the business progresses. In case of start-ups, the talent acquisition mostly takes place for positions that did not exist earlier.
  9. Employee Referrals : Employee referrals, if used effectively, can deliver wonders in the talent acquisition process. Since the existing employees know the organisation well, they can help to acquire the right kind of talent for the business. Many companies also have a reward mechanism going for the referees, like ‘refer and earn’.
  10. Sync with Core Business Strategy : As long as the talent acquisition plan is not in tune with the business requirement, it can never be successful. Thus, it is very important for hiring managers to get involved in understanding business trends and requirements in terms of skill gap analysis, mapping existing competencies versus new before even starting the talent acquisition process.
  11. Review Success Rates : HR managers must ensure that they receive feedback about the quality of hires from time-to-time from internal and external stakeholders. This helps in highlighting any gaps in the process and allows the hiring managers to adopt the required corrective action. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of the selectors in spotting the right talent for the given job at hand. Talent acquisition effectiveness can also be loosely tagged with the company’s attrition graph.
  12. Not only an HR task : Lastly, for talent acquisition method to be a success, an organisation must encourage the culture of making the process a priority with the entire organisation, in that everyone must actively pitch in to enable the process to be a success. This is another shift in the thought process of the organisation whereby hiring was viewed to be exclusively an HR activity.

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In her free time Vani loves storytelling and helping talent meet their aspirations. She has been a part of enterprise, growth stage startups & VC firms. She is driven to make stories and startups matter.

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