Talent acquisition guide

Talent Acquisition 101: Everything You Need to Know

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A good talent acquisition strategy is fundamental to business growth.

It ensures that your company attracts and retains the right people capable of driving your business goals forward, and a well-crafted strategy not only fills current vacancies, but anticipates future staffing needs that are in line with those goals.

So how does talent acquisition work, and how can you get a killer strategy?

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is a strategic approach to identifying, attracting, and onboarding individuals who not only meet the immediate job requirements, but also align with the long-term goals and culture of your organisation.

Talent acquisition is a more holistic view of building a robust workforce. It considers the evolving needs and growth of your organisation, and looks toward future goals. Through a blend of employer branding, strategic sourcing, and relationship building, it aims to foster a talent pool that propels your organisation forward.

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

Although the two are often used interchangeably, talent acquisition and recruitment are two distinct processes.

The recruitment process is a short-term effort to fill job vacancies as quickly as possible. It’s a linear process where employers seek to fill specific vacancies within a short period. On the other hand, talent acquisition is a long-term strategy aimed at fulfilling organisational needs by finding and attracting individuals with the necessary skills, qualifications, and potential to drive the company’s future.

Talent acquisition focuses on long-term human resources planning and finding suitable candidates for positions that require a very specific skill set or are crucial to the business. Basically, it’s essential to the growth of your organisation.

The talent acquisition funnel

The talent acquisition funnel is a visual representation of the journey that prospective candidates take from the moment they become aware of your organisation to the point they are hired and onboarded.


In this initial stage, potential candidates become aware of your organisation as a possible employer. This is where efforts like employer branding, social media campaigns, and company-hosted webinars or events are crucial to attract attention and spark interest among potential candidates.

This stage involves proactively identifying, attracting, and engaging potential candidates through various channels — before they even actively start looking for a new job.

These channels might include online job boards, social media, professional networking sites, and recruitment agencies. You can also look at tapping into existing employee networks through referral programs.


Once aware, people may develop an interest in your organisation. Engaging content about company culture, employee testimonials, and details about job opportunities can help maintain and deepen this interest. This is also where potential candidates might join your talent community, follow your company on social media, or subscribe to your newsletter.

Employing inbound recruitment strategies, such as content marketing and SEO, can also help attract the right candidates to your organisation. Continuous engagement through nurture campaigns, talent communities, or networking events can keep prospective candidates interested for future opportunities.


This is where interested individuals consider whether to take action by applying for open positions. At this stage, clear, well-structured job descriptions, an easy application process, and responsive recruitment teams encourage more candidates to apply.


At this stage, recruitment teams review applications to determine which candidates meet the basic qualifications for open roles. Effective screening processes help ensure that only suitable candidates move forward in the hiring process, saving time and resources.


Assessment involves a deeper evaluation of candidates’ skills, experiences, and cultural fit. This might include skills tests, personality assessments, and other evaluation methods to further shortlist your potential candidates.


Interviews provide an opportunity for both the organisation and candidates to further assess suitability and fit. Well-structured interviews involving relevant stakeholders ensure a comprehensive evaluation of candidates.

Conducting interviews, whether they are phone, video, or in-person, helps to further assess a candidate’s fit for the role and the organisation. Behavioural and situational interviews are commonly used to understand a candidate’s past experience and how they might react in future scenarios relevant to the job.

It’s essential to prepare well-structured interview questions and involve relevant stakeholders in the interview process to ensure you do a comprehensive assessment.

Screening and selection

In this stage, recruiters assess the suitability of candidates through reviewing resumes, cover letters, and conducting initial assessments. These assessments may include skills tests, personality assessments, or preliminary interviews.

Effective screening helps in shortlisting the most suitable candidates for further evaluation.

Offer and onboarding

Once you’ve selected your candidate, you can extend an offer. This includes sharing the job contract with all the terms, conditions, and benefits outlined. Once your successful candidate accepts, they would ideally start a structured onboarding program to help them integrate into the organisation.

Effective onboarding is crucial. It ensures that new hires understand their roles, the company culture, and get the necessary training and resources to start contributing successfully.

The benefits of effective talent acquisition

When it comes to developing your talent acquisition strategy, it’s essential to align it with your overall business strategy. When everything is aligned, it ensures that the organisation attracts and retains individuals who have the skills, values, and attitudes necessary to achieve organisational goals.

So, what are the benefits?

  1. Quality of hire: a well-planned talent acquisition strategy helps attract higher-quality candidates who not only possess the required skills and qualifications, but also fit well in your company culture.
  2. Competitive advantage: in such a competitive market, having the right talent is often the key differentiator. Strategic talent acquisition ensures that your organisation has the human capital necessary to innovate, adapt, and stay ahead of competitors.
  3. Cost efficiency: strategic talent acquisition focuses on long-term human capital needs, reducing the costs associated with high turnover and reactive hiring.
  4. Enhanced employer brand: by aligning your talent acquisition with business strategy, your organisation can build a strong employer brand that reflects its mission, values, and culture, attracting like-minded and motivated individuals.
  5. Workforce agility: in rapidly changing market conditions, having a workforce that aligns with strategic goals enables agility and quicker response to market demands.
  6. Reduced time to hire:  a good strategy often includes streamlined processes and the effective use of technology, reducing the time taken to fill a vacancy and ensuring project don’t stall due to lack of manpower.
  7. Better candidate experience: providing a positive candidate experience is crucial in attracting top talent. A good talent acquisition strategy ensures a smooth, transparent, and engaging recruitment process.
  8. Better retention rates: when you hire the right people who align with your organisational values and goals, you’re likely to see higher retention rates, which in turn reduces the costs associated with turnover.
  9. Data-driven insights: integrating data analytics into your talent acquisition strategy allows for better decision-making based on real-time data and insights.
  10. Improved employee engagement: when employees see that their organisation is investing in attracting and retaining top talent, it can lead to increased engagement and morale.

What does strategic talent acquisition look like?

Workforce planning

This is the foundation of an effective talent acquisition strategy. Here, HR professionals and business leaders collaborate to understand and anticipate the organisation’s human capital needs based on business goals, market conditions, and internal resource analysis.

In this stage, key activities include analysing current workforce capabilities, identifying gaps, and forecasting future workforce needs. You’ll also need to establish the clear job descriptions, specifications, and competencies required for different roles — this is a crucial part of the workforce planning stage.

Employer Branding

Creating a strong, positive employer brand is vital to attract top talent.

Think about the jobs you’ve applied for and really wanted. Chances are you researched the company and liked their brand — their people, the way they present themselves, and the message the company communicates.

During this stage, you’ll want to look at activities like promoting company culture, values, and benefits through various channels, including the company website, social media, and employer review sites.

Effective employer branding helps in positioning the organisation as an employer of choice in the job market.

Data-driven decision-making

Utilising data analytics to understand talent trends, measure talent acquisition effectiveness, and make informed decisions.

Talent pipelining

Building relationships with potential employees long before a position becomes available, ensuring a steady flow of qualified candidates.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives

Incorporating DEI initiatives into the TA strategy to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce, which has been shown to enhance creativity performance.

Technology utilisation

Taking advantage of technology throughout the talent acquisition process can streamline your activities, enhance communication, and provide valuable data insights. Tools like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), AI-driven assessments, and analytics platforms help in automating repetitive tasks, improving candidate experience, and making data-driven decisions.

Continuous learning and development opportunities

Offering opportunities for continuous learning and development can attract high-quality candidates looking for growth and development.

Engaging hiring manager training

Training hiring managers on effective interviewing, candidate assessment, and collaboration with the talent acquisition team to ensure alignment and effectiveness in your hiring processes.

Legal and ethical considerations

Legal considerations

Compliance with these and other employment laws, like the Fair Work Act, is crucial to avoid legal issues and maintain positive employer reputation. Keep in mind:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): keep in mind that employers are required to provide equal employment opportunities by not discriminating against candidates based on race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
  • Affirmative Action: if you’re an employer, and especially if you’re a federal contractor, you may be required to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of employment.

Ethical considerations

  • Bias and fairness: ensuring that hiring processes are free from biases, whether intentional or unintentional, is a core ethical consideration in talent acquisition.
  • Transparency: being transparent about the recruitment process, job requirements, and expectation is important for building trust with candidates.
  • Data privacy: with the increasing use of technology in talent acquisition, ensuring the privacy and security of candidate data is crucial, and adherence to the Australia Privacy Principles is a must.

Diversity and inclusion in talent acquisition

Diversity and inclusion is essential in a good talent acquisition strategy. Benefits include:

  • Innovative thinking: diverse teams bring a variety of perspectives, experiences, and ideas which foster innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Market representation: a diverse workforce can better represent and understand a broad customer base, improving your market reach and customer satisfaction.
  • Improved financial performance: numerous studies have shown that organisations with diverse teams often outperform those with less diversity.
  • Enhanced employer brand: a commitment to diversity and inclusion can enhance your organisation’s reputation as a progressive, equitable, and appealing place to work.

Strategies might include an unbiased recruitment process, diverse job advertising, presence at diversity-specific job fairs and events, and inclusive job descriptions. You might also look at implementing diversity and inclusion training and partnering with diverse organisations.

Measuring talent acquisition success

So, how do you measure the success of your talent acquisition strategy? There are a number of ways you can see if your strategy is effective.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Applicant Tracking Systems are fundamental tools on modern recruitment. They provide a centralised platform to manage the entire hiring process and capture valuable data on various metrics like time to hire, source of hire, cost per hire, and candidate pipeline status.

Through the analysis of this data, your talent acquisition specialist or hiring manager can identify bottlenecks, evaluate the effectiveness of different sourcing channels, and assess the overall efficiency of the recruitment process. ATS systems can also generate reports that help in making informed decisions and optimising the recruitment strategy. Take advantage of that data!

Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS)

Human Resource Management Systems often encompass a broader range of functionalities compared to ATS, including built-in analytics to evaluate recruitment processes. They provide a holistic view of the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment of new employees through to retirement.

Through HRMS, organisations can track the performance of new hires, evaluate the success of onboarding programs, and analyse turnover rates. The integrated analytics in HRMS provide a comprehensive understanding of how the recruitment process impacts the broader HR goals and organisational performance.

Survey tools

Survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms are excellent for gathering feedback from candidates and new hires. They provide an avenue for understanding the candidate experience, identifying areas of improvement in the recruitment process, and evaluating the effectiveness of the onboarding program.

By analysing the feedback collected through surveys, your organisation can enhance candidate engagement, improve employer branding, and ensure a positive experience for both potential candidates and new hires.

Data analytics platforms

Data Analytics Platforms like Tableau or Google Analytics are powerful tools for compiling, analysing, and visualising recruitment data. They enable the creation of interaction dashboards that provide real-time insights into various recruitment metrics.

Through these platforms, organisations can delve deeper into data analysis, uncover trends, compare performance against industry benchmarks, and derive actionable insights that can significantly improve the talent acquisition process.

Performance Management Systems

Performance Management Systems are crucial for measuring the performance and engagement levels of new hires. They provide mechanisms for setting performance goals, conducting evaluations, and tracking the progress of new hires over time.

By analysing data from performance management systems, your organisation can assess the quality of hire, understand the impact of the recruitment process on new hire success, and ensure alignment between recruitment strategies and organisational performance goals.

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September 14, 2023

By Dr. Denise Meyerson

Dr. Denise Meyerson is the founder of MCI and has 30 years' experience in vocational education. In that time, she has developed deep expertise in the design and delivery of a range of qualification programs to major corporates and to job seekers via in-person learning methodologies as well as innovative digital learning experiences.