TalentTalent management vs. talent acquisition: hire and hold top staff

Talent management vs. talent acquisition: hire and hold top staff

Finding the right employees is always a challenge, but retaining a company’s best and brightest is harder still, so HRD Connect has identified some unique talent acquisition and management styles to serve as scaffolding for others to follow.

For any company to succeed it is important to not only be able to spot the right candidate to hire in but it is also essential to implement training and development practices that will ensure the new employee(s) realise their full potential, remain engaged and ultimately opts to stay put rather than move on to a rival.


To get the first part of this process right, a company needs to have a strong talent acquisition strategy in place. When recruiting new staff, it’s worthwhile for a company to first consider and assess what it is lacking from a skills perspective in order to adequately define the role it wishes to fill. One way of evaluating this is undertaking what is commonly referred to as a skills gap analysis which helps with identifying the type of person a company needs to meet its wider business goals. A skills gap analysis requires a company to look at its current roster of employees and the set of skills they have within the context of an upcoming project that the business wants to execute. Put simply, if the company already has a team capable of handling the job at hand or can be trained to do so then there is no need to hire externally. But if there is a skills gap that can’t be filled internally then a company’s best bet, so long as its budget accommodates it, is to acquire fresh talent capable of getting the job done.

Whether a company chooses to use a recruitment agency or handle the hiring process itself it is essential that whoever oversees the talent acquisition process is capable of ticking a number of boxes. In the first instance, it means being able to gather a decent number of candidates from various backgrounds that have the necessary skills the company wishes to acquire. Identifying and reaching out to the right candidates is made easier by maintaining good relationships with past applicants that, despite not coming out on top, could be ideal for future job opportunities. It also helps for companies to nurture their brand and their existing workforce, especially with websites like Glassdoor, as if a business gains a reputation for being a bad employer it may find it difficult to attract top talent or have to pay a premium to entice professionals away from their current employer.

A strong talent acquisition strategy is necessary for all businesses in such a highly competitive job market coupled with skills shortages across a number of different industries.. But for those companies that operate in sectors such as tech, pharmaceuticals, financial services and law, where highly skilled employees are scarce and highly sought after, the need for strong talent acquisition is paramount.

Acquisition strategies

The importance of developing a strong talent acquisition strategy is clear, so how should a company go about developing one? The key is to think outside the box as much as possible to create a truly creative strategy that is centred around key aspects of the company’s brand. By keeping to this basic outline and using various channels to deliver the strategy, it will ensure that the talent the business attracts will not just have the right skills but is more likely to suit the overall culture of the company.

One of the most important aspects to think about when designing a talent acquisition strategy is the overall candidate experience. Nowadays, a CV and cover letter are often not enough for businesses to accurately assess candidates. This means that there is often a far lengthier and more probing application process, which while being great for assessing the candidate, can feel like a nightmare for would-be employees that are actually tasked with completing it. All that time may feel well spent if the candidate gets the job, but for the vast majority that don’t end up signing a new contract, a gruelling or tedious application process could put them off applying for subsequent roles and hinder the development of a strong candidate pipeline for the filling of future roles. To avoid this from happening, it is worth having a point of contact for candidates to reach out to at each stage of the application process across various channels including phone, email and social media.

When looking to spread the word about an upcoming role a little creativity goes a long way. Some of the best company’s use everything from video content and video games to blog posts and Instagram stories. By by-passing job boards and using different channels of communicating new roles it is not only more engaging for potential employees but it is more likely to be shared online, attracting more talented people to apply.

Outside the box

To help get those creative juices flowing it’s worth taking inspiration from other companies that have come up with some unique talent acquisition strategies. As mentioned, one way to attract top talent to a business is by making the brand and company a desirable place to work. In an interview with LinkedIn, Tim Johnson Director of HR and Recruitment at video game developer Epic Games explained how he did just that by curating the company’s employee value proposition (EVP) and communicating to as wide of an audience as possible. He started by talking to new starters, long-time employees and event those that chose to leave for greener pastures and even candidates who turned down job offers with the aim of better understanding what the company can offer to make its brand as attractive as possible. From the feedback he received, he gleaned that company would benefit from introducing employee benefits like unlimited vacation and flexible working hours, as well as changing the way it communicated its ethos to potential employees after hearing that some viewed its messaging as bordering on arrogant. All that, along with other insights were cooked into its EVP and its message was distributed using video and shared on their website and through targeted advertising, serving to express its unique company culture and ensuring that top talent comes to it rather than constantly chasing it down. But attracting new hires doesn’t always require such a detailed and meticulous approach – it can be fun too. Take the Swedish flat=pack furniture behemoth IKEA, which chose create a set unique set of instructions for assembling a career at the company with items customers purchased in-store and online. The novel recruitment tactic helped saw the company receive 4285 applications and resulted in  280 new hire to work in its new mega store in Australia. And the best bit about the talent acquisition strategy was that IKEA didn’t spend a penny on it.

Nurturing talent

In the current job market, where demand outstrips demand, most companies don’t struggle in acquiring talent. What most companies do end up struggling with is holding onto the people they hire. The best way to retain staff is by offering more carrots than sticks. This doesn’t just mean offering employees pay rises, but requires a company to cultivate a talent management program that makes sure staff receive relevant training and opportunities for growth and even make major adjustments to company culture to cater to employees needs.

As one of the big four accountancy firms PwC employs some of the best and brightest to offer its clients the highest quality of service. However,a major challenge when working with highly qualified people is that they tend to have a lot of options and interests, with many having their own side projects and technology ventures. For most companies, the idea of letting employees focus on anything other than their day job sounds like a terrible idea. But not at PwC. In fact, the company encourages it.

Meanwhile, movie and TV streaming company Netflix has chosen to do away with the dreaded performance review. For most people the mid-year and end of year performance review feels like a waste of time. Something more akin to a report card received at school than an accurate and valuable assessment of the last 12 months. In their stead, Netflix’s management told managers to forego the formal reviews in favour of regular informal conversations to foster stronger relationships between line managers and employees.

In the end, no matter the direction a company takes when designing its talent acquisition and management strategy its important to remember that there is no one size fits all path to take. It’s all about assessing the needs of a company on an case-by-case basis and rejigging policies and processes to find out what works best for the individuals that make up that particular workforce. What is good for the proverbial goose, is not always good for the gander. So have fun. Get creative. And find a strategy that will help not just find the right employees but retain them too.

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