If you work in HR or recruitment, you may benefit from developing talent acquisition skills. These skills can help professionals find and evaluate top-tier candidates, onboard new candidates at their organization and be reliable team members. To develop your recruitment skills, it's helpful to know the steps or methods you can use in and outside of the workplace. In this article, we discuss what talent acquisition skills are, provide examples of these skills, explain how to improve them and offer strategies for highlighting these skills on your resume, cover letter and during an interview.
What are talent acquisition skills?
Talent acquisition skills are abilities that help professionals find candidates for open job positions. It refers to the process of finding highly qualified candidates for company leadership positions or roles that require specialized knowledge and skills. Talent acquisition specialists or directors can benefit from developing thier talent acquisition skills. Other professionals who use these skills include hiring mangers, recruiters and HR representatives.
Although talent acquisition shares similarities with recruitment, they're distinct processes. Recruiting typically refers to a company's efforts to fill all types of open roles within their company. Additionally, during the recruitment process, organizations usually target only active job seekers. With talent acquisition, however, companies continuously search for top-tier candidates, even if they don't currently have open positions, to fill executive, leadership or specialized roles. This often involves reaching out to qualified candidates who aren't actively searching for a new job.
Related: Guide to Talent Acquisition
Examples of talent acquisition skills
Talent acquisition professionals possess a range of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills refer to technical knowledge or abilities, like complying with HR policies or using data analytics. Soft skills are personality traits or behaviors that influence your performance at work. Here are some key skills talent acquisition professionals can benefit from having or developing:
Professionals who work in talent acquisition have organizational leadership abilities that enable them to strategically set up and guide their company toward its long-term goals. A talent acquisition professional also needs motivational leadership abilities. Motivational leadership refers to a positive or optimistic vision that helps inspire others to perform at their best and reach new milestones.
Talent acquisition professionals regularly communicate with potential candidates, company leaders, HR professionals and others involved in the hiring process. They should understand how to clearly convey their meaning through both written and verbal communication channels, including in-person, over the phone and through email. A talent acquisition professional also needs active listening skills to make sure they're looking for candidates who match an organization's needs.
HR tools and processes
Professionals who work in talent acquisition are highly familiar with how HR systems work. They know how to adhere to these procedures while performing their jobs. Additionally, they can clearly explain company policies and employment contract terms to potential candidates. A talent acquisition professional can use HR tools, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and recruitment platforms.
Talent acquisition professionals are highly reliable. They keep their promises and follow through on commitments or expectations. Follow-through is especially important when contacting potential candidates. A talent acquisition professional should regularly follow up with candidates to demonstrate their perseverance and interest in having that candidate work for their organization.
Team development refers to the processing of finding team members and encouraging them to successfully collaborate and grow together. A talent acquisition professional's understanding of team development can aid in their search for top-tier candidates. During their search, these professionals may consider not only a candidate's qualifications but also how that candidate might fit into their organization's existing workforce, vision and culture.
Related: Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment
When seeking new talent, it's important to initiate contact with candidates, as opposed to the traditional recruitment process where job seekers typically reach out to a company first. A talent acquisition representative tries to be confident when contacting candidates and describing the value of their company. Confidence can also help professionals to present their primary candidates to company leaders or hiring managers and explain why they believe these candidates may be great fits within their organization.
Data analysis or analytics can aid in the search for candidates. A talent acquisition representative might gather and evaluate data related to their company's workforce and HR procedures, such as retention rates, employee demographics, staff skills and recruitment costs. This type of data may help inform the types of candidates they consider or how they find those candidates. For example, data analytics can create a profile for an ideal candidate based on the skills and experiences possessed by current employees at the company.
A talent acquisition search typically takes longer than the usual recruitment process. This can be for many reasons, including that candidates often aren't actively looking for new jobs and that talent acquisition searches have more specific applicant criteria. Patience can help talent acquisition professionals ensure they can conduct a thorough candidate search and approach only the most qualified prospective employees.
Understanding their industry and how it affects the qualities they might look for in their candidates is beneficial for those seeking to hire new talent. Some industries may desire candidates with unique experiences or skills compared to others. For example, talent acquisition professionals looking for candidates to fulfill tech positions may search for different candidates than talent acquisition representatives in search of health care specialists.
Talent acquisition representatives have cheerful attitudes when they contact potential candidates. It's their job to sell their company and the role to candidates with enthusiasm and positivity. When interacting with candidates in person, talent acquisition professionals are mindful about using positive body language, like sitting up straight.
Being familiar with recruitment processes, platforms and tools is helpful for professionals in this role. A talent acquisition professional may use recruitment platforms, such as social media channels, to find and connect with top-tier candidates. They also take steps to ensure that candidates have a simple experience navigating through recruitment platforms or sites. For example, if using online job portals to communicate, a talent acquisition professional should make sure their candidates have a seamless experience on both desktop and mobile devices.
A talent acquisition professional may use negotiation skills with potential candidates. Some candidates might express an interest in the position that a talent acquisition representative wants to hire them for but have reservations, such as wanting a more competitive package or different terms in their employment contract. It's a talent acquisition professional's responsibility to negotiate and help find a compromise or solution that works for both the candidate and their company. This may involve working closely with HR representatives or company leaders to ensure that their alternative solution adheres to their organization's budget and policies.
How to improve talent acquisition skills
Use these steps to help you improve your talent acquisition skills:
1. Practice your soft skills
Find opportunities to practice your soft skills, whether at the workplace or in your personal life. This may help you perform better at work and form stronger relationships with others, both within and outside of your job. For example, if you want to develop your leadership skills, you might volunteer to run a team meeting or present at a conference.
2. Use resources to learn hard skills
Look to expert sources and resources to develop your hard skills. Learning from experts in the field can be a great method for honing your hard skills as a talent acquisition professional. Consider reading books, taking courses, attending industry conferences or joining a professional organization.
3. Make goals
Set specific goals and create small steps to help you reach them. For example, if you want to learn more HR tools, you could set an overall goal to learn five new tools and smaller goals of reading one chapter in a professional book each day. Separating your more ambitious goals into manageable tasks can help ensure that you consistently make progress in your career development.
Talent acquisition skills in the workplace
Develop your talent acquisition skills at your job through methods such as:
- Volunteering for additional responsibilities. Offer to take on extra tasks when someone at your company asks for help. Even if the tasks don't directly relate to talent acquisition, they can help you gain valuable insights into the skills or traits most needed in future candidates at your company.
- Finding a mentor. Find a hiring manager, recruiter or other talent acquisition professional at your company whose skills you respect and from whom you can learn. A mentor can teach you their knowledge or abilities and help you discover what areas of talent acquisition you could most benefit from improving.
- Listening to understand. Pay careful attention to what someone says to you, as well as other clues such as their tone or body language, to make sure that you comprehend their meaning. Active listening skills can help you communicate more effectively with both potential candidates and coworkers.
How to highlight talent acquisition skills
Here is some advice for emphasizing your abilities in talent acquisition through the various stages of finding a job:
Talent acquisition skills for a resume
Include both hard and soft talent acquisition skills on your resume. You can make a separate section to list your skills in bullet points. Alternatively, or in addition, you can incorporate your skills into the experience section of your resume. For example, if you want to show your communication skills, you could describe how you regularly communicated with over a dozen potential candidates at a time by phone and email in your previous role.
Personalize each resume that you send out by highlighting the skills you possess that the job posting mentions. This can help demonstrate to hiring managers you read their job description and feel excited by their specific opportunity or company. Consider also using keywords, or specific words and phrases related to the position, throughout your resume to further emphasize your skill set. You can find keywords for your resume by looking through the job posting, searching online or talking to other talent acquisition professionals in your network.
Talent acquisition skills for a cover letter
Provide one example of a talent acquisition soft skill and one of a hard skill. A cover letter lets you give more details about skills you summarized on your resume. Include two examples in your cover letter from your professional experiences that show one hard and one soft skill related to talent acquisition. For example, to show your proficiency with data analysis, you could describe how you gathered and evaluated data from your organization to determine your company's key strengths. As another example, to demonstrate adaptability, you might write about how you responded to a challenging situation with a proactive plan.
Talent acquisition skills for a job interview
Use your interview as an opportunity to display your soft skills to the interviewer. Use positive and focused body language, such as making eye contact and smiling, to show your active listening skills. When answering interview questions, convey your meaning in a courteous and clear way to demonstrate communication abilities.