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The New Arena of Talent Acquisition: What has 2016 taught us?

Sheridan Gaenger
August 24 ․ 7 min read

GettyImages-151811384.jpgAbout two decades ago, the Internet was bright and shiny and relatively new, full of possibilities. At that moment, job services began taking advantage of this emerging medium, and the ways companies attracted and hired employees changed forever.

Welcome to 2016. The transformation is still in shift and still progressing monumentally on a daily basis. With a multitude of legacy human capital management vendors seasoning the path of advancement, it’s the new kids in town who are disrupting this climate in ways never imagined when the interwebs came-to-be.

Online talent acquisition solutions, although still considered new to this game, for example, haven’t stopped redefining the way companies seek candidates or in the way candidates seek jobs. According to Pew Research, 54 percent of adults have looked online for job information (which is more than double than 2005), and 45 percent have actually applied for employment online. Yet, those numbers jump to 83 and 79 percent, respectively, for the age 18-29 demographic, cementing that digital talent acquisition has become expected and is no longer a novelty.

Companies looking to improve their overall hiring strategies can’t rely on the methods of the past—and by past, we mean even a few years ago. The talent acquisition game is constantly developing, and not keeping up can leave you permanently behind your competitors. Here is a look at the state of TA in 2016 and where it’s heading in the future:

The Brand's the Thing

Today companies are starting to realize that their general, external reputation is having a severe impact on their hiring goals. The factors that weigh into whether a candidate chooses YOU as their brand of choice are extensive; therefore, companies that are achieving their goals or making progression toward them are ahead of the curve. There is simply too much establishing a reputable and memorable brand with their pool of  potential candidates. Job seekers want to know what you can offer before they apply, and want to be impressed during their entire candidate journey.. Moreover, without strong branding, candidates will not even know to think of you when they are looking for something new—job boards alone aren’t adequate to attract the best talent. In today’s new arena of recruitment, investing in your employer brand must go hand-in-hand with investing in talent acquisition technology. Research, strategize with key partners who know branding, and evolve your brand—giving your target personas something they can relate to when seeking a new job or when you are actively engaging them.

The Omni-Channel Is More Omni Than Ever

As already stated, job boards on their own simply don’t cut it in 2016. Companies that take advantage of multiple approaches and avenues to market themselves and move applicants along the hiring process will benefit by appealing to the widest range of candidates. Investing in an omni-channel strategy reflects commitment to hiring the best talent, and as such an approach usually means you are thinking “full spectrum”—taking into account current market conditions to establish achievable and measurable goals around campaigns and employer branding opportunities.  For example, which social media avenues are the driving top engagement for the demographic you are targeting? Or what smart media approaches are driving the most traffic to your career site? In the omni-channel, all may be important, and through a combination of research and analytics, you can determine which should draw more of your focus. The omni-channel is all about options, and in 2016, there are plenty of options available.

Every Micro-Engagement Is Interconnected

Most hiring specialists and HR departments know that talent acquisition isn’t just one discipline in the employment process, but rather, interconnected facets and engagements that complement each other. However, the solutions for each step of the process are often disparate and don’t work well together. What good is strengthening your brand, for example, only to fluster candidates with an online application that doesn’t meet their needs? And what good is a database of leads if you experience difficulty sourcing prospects based on the skills you seek? This is simply unacceptable in 2016: Talent acquisition must be interconnected every step of the way, from first contact to after hire. Branding and marketing attract job-seekers; candidates apply, are vetted, interviewed, and maybe offered a position; if hired, applicants are onboarded; if enthused about their new employment, workers become advocates for your brand. The inter-connection is strong, but one weak link in this strategy can weaken the overall process.

An Ongoing Process

One certainty about talent acquisition in 2016 is that it will be morph and evolve into a new landscape come 2017. If your company is focused on scaling and building an army of top talent and brand advocates, then the processes you undertake must be ongoing as well. This is where analytics and advocacy play such a big role in talent acquisition—determining what is working and what isn’t, giving your employees a voice, then updating your strategies and brand in order to be rolling with a trend rather than trying to catch up. After all, what seems mainstream today may be quaint tomorrow, just like the online job boards that were so revolutionary 20 years ago are now accepted as the norm.


Where do you see talent acquisition headed in the coming months?

 Insider's Guide to Reaching the Right Candidates