What is talent acquisition, and why is it important?

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Talent acquisition is a strategy that enables companies to identify and hire skilled individuals. Hiring top talent helps your company thrive, while inadequate talent acquisition can lead to misaligned skills and roles, project delays, and financial negatives like high recruitment and training costs. 

However, understanding the differences between talent acquisition, recruiting, and HR can be confusing. And companies that don't ‌fully understand talent acquisition and how to use it ‌can miss out on the growth and success that hiring top talent can bring.

Below, we discuss what talent acquisition is, how it fits into your larger recruitment strategy, and how you can apply the best talent acquisition strategies in your business

What is talent acquisition? 

Talent acquisition is the process of identifying, assessing, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding skilled individuals. It focuses on attracting talent aligned with company culture, values, and long-term goals. 

An effective talent acquisition strategy prepares you for the future with skilled individuals who can fill vacant positions. This saves you from rushing to fill a position when an employee resigns unexpectedly. 

Talent acquisition vs. recruiting vs. HR

Although the terms talent acquisition, recruiting, and HR are closely related, each means something different. 

Talent acquisition vs. recruiting 

Recruitment focuses on quickly filling vacancies for specific roles. It involves general recruiting practices, such as advertising the position, collecting and screening applications, and conducting interviews. 

Talent acquisition, on the other hand, takes a broader and more strategic approach. Instead of focusing on filling immediate vacancies, talent acquisition specialists approach hiring with a longer-term perspective. This generally involves building a strong pool of highly skilled candidates who can fill current positions and meet expected future needs. 

Talent acquisition strongly emphasizes finding candidates who align with your company’s values and long-term strategic objectives to ensure a good fit. 

While talent acquisition specialists require strong recruitment skills, their role relies more on analyzing, predicting, and catering to future staffing needs. 

Talent acquisition vs. HR

Talent acquisition has a broader scope than recruitment, and human resources (HR) is even broader. It encompasses both talent acquisition and recruitment, along with various other departments. 

Some of the primary functions of the HR team include the following: 

  • Talent acquisition and management

  • Hiring and recruiting

  • Onboarding new employees

  • Employee relations

  • Legal and regulatory compliance with labor laws

  • Performance management

  • Benefits and payroll management

  • Training and development

The HR team manages the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to retirement, while talent acquisition is a specialized function that exists within HR.  

Why is talent acquisition important? 

Apart from the obvious benefit of helping you hire skilled employees, talent acquisition is important for many reasons. These include:

Strategic workforce planning

By anticipating future talent needs and aligning your recruitment efforts with long-term business objectives, you take a proactive approach to workforce planning. This ensures you have an in-house pool of skilled individuals to drive sustainable growth and innovation. 

Gaining a competitive advantage

Identifying and acquiring top-tier talent can give your company a strong competitive edge in the modern business world. Skilled individuals boost customer satisfaction, product and service quality, and overall productivity. Additionally, every top talent you bring aboard is one less individual for your competitors to hire. 

Improving employee retention

Hiring employees who align with your company's culture and values increases the chances of them being a good fit for your workplace. This makes them more likely to remain engaged and satisfied with their roles, reducing employee turnover and cutting the associated recruitment costs. 

Succession planning

Talent acquisition also streamlines succession planning, the process of identifying and developing employees to assume key roles in the future. It enables you to identify potential leaders and skilled individuals for promotion well ahead of time. This helps you fill roles quickly when they become vacant due to retirement, promotion, or other factors. 

Innovation and creativity 

An effective talent acquisition strategy involves hiring creative and critically thinking individuals from diverse backgrounds. They can bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table, seeding company growth and innovation. 

The talent acquisition process

the talent acquisition process graphic

Here are six steps involved in the talent acquisition process: 

1. Workforce planning

You should complete this step before you even think about talent acquisition. By assessing current and future workforce needs, you can anticipate skill gaps. You can identify how many – and which – positions need filling in the future. 

To conduct effective workforce planning, think about anything that could impact your workforce or workforce requirements in the future. For example, a talent acquisition specialist at an app development agency might predict the need to hire two more Android developers over the next 12 months to keep up with project demands.

This planning should guide your talent acquisition efforts, ensuring you’re searching for appropriate talent for your company. 

2. Candidate sourcing and engagement

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start your talent search. You can connect with potential candidates through various channels, including job boards, social media, and networking events. You might need to look on specialist forums or niche websites to find candidates for specialized roles.

After you’ve identified potential candidates, you’ll need to engage with them. Begin by reaching out in a friendly yet professional manner, explaining who you are and why you want to connect. If they respond positively, continue cultivating the relationship to build interest in your company and encourage them to apply for open positions. 

A well-executed sourcing strategy will boost your chances of discovering candidates who’ll fit your open roles – and company – well.

3. Pre-employment screening

Once you have a pool of interested applicants, you can use pre-employment screening to evaluate them. This involves using skill assessments, tests, and custom questions to assess each applicant’s overall talent and fit for your company. 

TestGorilla offers more than 300 pre-employment tests covering everything from hard skills to behavioral traits. You can combine up to five tests from the test library with your own questions to create a custom pre-screening assessment. After you assess candidates, you can use the TestGorilla platform to rank them based on their results. 

Let’s say you’re hiring a new recruiter for your company. You might like to use TestGorilla’s Talent Acquisition test (which assesses various recruitment skills) alongside our cognitive ability tests and other role-specific skills tests. 

With these, you can assess a candidate’s recruitment ability, personality traits, and overall fit with your business. 

4. Interviewing and further assessments

After you’ve selected talented individuals to proceed to the next stage, you can begin the interview process. There are various types of interviews, including one-on-one, technical, and behavioral interviews. They can all help you understand more about each candidate’s suitability for the role you’re hiring for and your company’s future needs. 

If necessary, you can also have candidates complete further assessments at this stage. This, for example, could involve custom questions asking more about their experience, skills, and long-term aspirations. 

5. Selecting candidates and making the job offer

Using the interview and assessment results, talent acquisition professionals at your company can select the best candidates, and you can extend job offers.

Making attractive job offers is one of the most crucial steps in the hiring process. You’ll need to prepare a formal offer letter, ensure you meet any regulatory requirements, and clearly outline the terms of employment. Employment terms should detail compensation, benefits, working hours, job responsibilities, and any other relevant terms and conditions.

You should be prepared to negotiate employment contracts with skilled candidates. During negotiations, consider market rates, internal equity, and the individual’s skills and experience. 

In addition, maintaining a good relationship with candidates who perform well but don’t make the cut is a worthwhile endeavor. If one of your chosen applicants rejects your job offer, you might extend it to a candidate you didn’t select initially. These candidates could also fill future vacancies at your company. 

6. Hiring and onboarding 

Last, but certainly not least, is onboarding. Once you’ve identified and hired talented employees, you must take care of them to ensure they’re happy working for you well into the future. 

A quality onboarding process that provides new employees with orientation and sufficient training – and introduces them to company culture, processes, and expectations – can set them up for a positive future in your organization. After all, talent acquisition is only truly successful when it evolves into talent retention. 

4 talent acquisition strategies for your business 

Talent acquisition should be a key cog in your hiring machine, and various strategies can maximize your talent acquisition efforts. Let’s explore them below.

Proactive talent sourcing

Talent sourcing involves creating and building strong relationships with potential candidates, usually through networking events, online platforms, and industry partnerships. Proactive talent sourcing involves building these relationships before positions open up. 

This enables you to maintain a talent pool to draw from whenever you have a vacancy. Developing clear proactive recruitment strategies is a great place to start. For instance, you can identify skills gaps at your company to target talent with those abilities. You can also work on building your talent pool with skilled individuals you would want to contact for future job opportunities. 

Diversifying your sourcing channels

By diversifying your sourcing channels, you can uncover hidden talent your competitors may have overlooked. Limiting yourself to traditional job boards can be restrictive because it narrows your candidate pool and overlooks the potential of recruiting passive candidates

Using social media is a great way to diversify the candidates you’re connecting with. Professional platforms like LinkedIn enable you to connect directly with skilled individuals, while creating a presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram enables you to engage and potentially build deeper connections with interested individuals. You might even use TikTok and Pinterest to develop your employer brand and attract Millennial and Gen Z candidates. 

You can also explore niche platforms, such as GitHub (for developers) and Behance (for designers), to find candidates for specialized, hard-to-fill roles requiring specific skill sets. 

Using employee referral programs

Employee referral programs are a powerful talent acquisition tool that harnesses the power of your current workforce. In simple terms, referral programs offer rewards – often financial, such as a one-time bonus – for employees who refer candidates you hire. 

This encourages your employees to refer potential candidates whose values align with your company’s and are suitable for your open positions. It can also remove much of the legwork of sourcing candidates via traditional recruitment channels, significantly streamlining the talent acquisition process. 

Special software is available to help you manage employee referral programs, but this isn’t always required. 

Enhancing your employer brand

You can attract talented candidates by enhancing your employer brand to showcase your company’s values, culture, and unique attributes. Your brand should paint a clear picture of your company as a friendly, inclusive place where anyone is welcome. 

Clearly outlining your company’s values and long-term goals will help you attract candidates who align with these. This could include, for example, outlining your commitment to sustainable office practices through waste reduction and an eco-friendly mindset. Share this information on your company website, social media pages, and in communications with candidates.

Recommended reading: The ultimate guide to building a talent acquisition strategy

TestGorilla can help you hire top talent

Talent acquisition is about more than just recruitment, and it involves aspects of strategic workforce planning, long-term talent development, employer branding, being aware of talent acquisition trends, and more. 

Companies should consider and implement talent acquisition strategies alongside recruitment processes to attract top talent who share company values and long-term goals. The key to this is understanding exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate and identifying the applicants who tick all the boxes.  

TestGorilla’s pre-employment testing platform can help you identify and hire the most skilled individuals. You can create custom pre-employment screening assessments and rank or filter candidates based on their results. 

Find out more and try it today by signing up for a free TestGorilla account, booking a 30-minute live demo, or checking out our product tour.

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