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An in-depth guide to talent acquisition

Talent Assessment | 10 Min Read

An in-depth guide to talent acquisition


In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, talent acquisition has become a crucial aspect of organizational success. With the digital era bringing about a significant shift in the nature of skills and jobs, the demand for highly skilled and adaptable professionals has grown exponentially. As a result, talent acquisition specialists have assumed a critical role in ensuring the continuity of talent-related activities and preparing organizations for the unforeseen. Keeping pace with industry developments, such as tools and technologies for streamlining this process, is essential for talent acquisition experts to maintain a competitive edge and help businesses achieve transformational growth.


What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is a strategic process to find, assess, acquire and retain suitable individuals to accommodate an organization’s talent needs. It involves a structured set of tasks for the teams within the human resources (HR) department to secure top talent. It addresses the issue of identifying talented employees, given the organization’s resources, workforce situation, market position, and other competitive parameters.

Talent acquisition includes:

  • Building strong brand advocacy to attract highly qualified candidates
  • Maintaining contact with previous job applicants for future opportunities
  • Tactically sourcing prospective candidates from diverse backgrounds
  • Diligently building talent pipelines to meet the company's present and future staffing needs

Talent acquisition initiatives execute strategies to have a better quality of hires, develop a strong employer brand, deliver a better candidate experience, and set up a robust talent pipeline for future requirements.


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Objective of talent acquisition

Talent acquisition is a significant determinant of a strong workforce. Some of the objectives include:

  • Awareness: The goal is to create and promote a strong employer brand to potential candidates. It showcases the company’s culture and values that attract top talent.
  • Consideration: It encourages employees to apply for new roles and collect inbound applications. The company should offer career growth opportunities and support internal mobility.
  • Interest: Talent acquisition teams engage with new and existing candidates when hiring. The candidates should receive timely updates and personalized communication to keep them engaged.
  • Application: Hiring teams create and implement sourcing, screening, and selection procedures to locate and find qualified candidates. They leverage technology and data-driven approaches to streamline the process and ensure efficiency.
  • Selection: The teams collaborate across departments to shortlist and select the finest candidates. They conduct thorough assessments and interviews to ensure the most suitable fit for a particular role.


Importance of talent acquisition

Talent is a critical component in any organization because people are the driving force in a company’s operations. Therefore, identifying and retaining top talents is crucial to the organization’s future success.

Talent acquisition is a progressive approach beyond hiring candidates for a current opening. It is a comprehensive HR strategy that considers a company’s long-term objectives and factors that talent can play in achieving them. Talent acquisition in HRM continually identifies and assesses potential candidates for leadership, executive-level, and highly specialized positions.


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Talent acquisition is crucial for the following reasons:

  • Building a talent pipeline strategy

The talent acquisition team addresses the talent needs, seeks the top talent in the industry, and builds an effective relationship with prospective candidates. Then, as per the situation, the organization connects with a valuable network of interview-worthy individuals.

  • Paving the way to future success

Talent acquisition strategies help forecast future talent needs and costs, including new openings for senior-level roles, which allows HR teams to stay proactive in securing top talent.

  • Decoding the people strategy

Onboarding suitable hires can translate to exceptional products or services. Talent acquisition can help set a baseline for business standards and functions.

  • Providing a competitive advantage

An organization is as good as its people- the higher the quality of talent, the better the quality of a company’s offerings. Therefore, the onus is on employees to align themselves with business objectives. Their competencies, decision-making abilities, and attitudes considerably affect the bottom-line growth. An organization will face substantial challenges without the appropriate people in suitable roles at the right time.


Talent acquisition vs. recruitment: What’s the difference?

Although these terms are often used synonymously, talent acquisition and recruitment differ. The recruiting process is aimed at filling positions in an organization. While it focuses on finding the most suitable person for a job, it is less nuanced than the talent acquisition process.

Recruitment Talent Acquisition
It addresses an organization's immediate hiring requirements.  It delves deeper into the organizational goals and present and future planning while hiring talent.
It is a specific, predefined process usually implemented during turnover or expansion. It focuses on filling vacancies and gravitates toward finding the most suitable fit for those who seek a long-term association with the company.
It is a crucial part of talent acquisition. It is considered a part of the HR processes.
It prioritizes areas including sourcing, screening, interviewing, selecting, and onboarding employees. It prioritizes areas including developing a strategic hiring plan, building an employer brand, building a talent pipeline, maintaining the applicant-employer relationship, and acquiring top talent through effective sourcing strategies.
It may be perceived as a reactive approach, implying that as soon as a position opens, it must be filled without any delay. It is a more comprehensive, ongoing talent strategy that involves long-term human resources planning to find prospective talent for roles that mandate a particular set of competencies, e.g., leaders, future executives, specialists, etc.


Talent acquisition process

Talent acquisition comprises five steps, from talent needs analysis to final assessment. A systematic approach to managing the talent acquisition process yields favorable outcomes.

The steps are:


steps in the talent acquisition process

Step 1 - Analyzing whether the talent needs are aligned with the company's goals

First, talent acquisition specialists analyze talent needs by communicating with their managers or leaders to understand business objectives and finalize goals for the year. When drawing up hiring plans, they consider multiple factors, such as onboarding, new team formation, attrition, varying job markets, etc. This stage also includes understanding hiring managers’ job requisitions and preparing job descriptions.

Step 2 - Focusing on the top candidate through talent lead generation

This stage involves candidate sourcing, wherein the talent acquisition team makes every effort to gain high visibility in the employment market for their job openings. They do so with the help of various means- publishing openings on their career site, multiple job boards, communities, forums, and social media groups where engagement and awareness for interactive events take place, such as hackathons, referrals, etc.

Step 3- Screening candidates for a holistic assessment

When candidates apply via various sourcing mediums, the talent acquisition experts screen them on numerous parameters like skills, experience, aptitude, etc.

Online talent assessment software conducts this complete process efficiently. This advanced platform automates and streamlines multiple stages of the selection process, such as written assessments, video interviews, technical interviews, coding reviews, and more, based on the job roles for which companies are hiring.

Moreover, the interview panel can utilize structured interviews extensively as they are highly objective and standardized. Talent acquisition teams can inform the panel of the evaluation criteria and interview kits beforehand. The interview panelists can review the interviewee’s performance and share their feedback.

Step 4- Shortlisting and onboarding top talent

The feedback provided by the panelists helps the talent acquisition team accelerate the final hiring decision and give out offers. The team begins the onboarding formalities after the candidates accept the offer. They want to ascertain whether the new employees have made acquaintance with the superiors and teams and how soon they started engaging with the organization for a promising beginning. This step minimizes new hires reneging on the offer. The acquisition team also includes any good talent they came across who did not become a part of the talent pool for future consideration. 

Step 5 – Evaluating candidate expectations

This step aims to understand whether the candidate’s expectations regarding the job and organization have been fulfilled. It allows for an understanding of the underlying expectations of candidates. If there is an expectation misalignment, candidates’ needs should be addressed in a structured manner by identifying probable causes. For example, managers might be unaware of what recruiters have promised to the candidates, or miscommunication/misinterpretation could create different notions in the new employee’s mind.


Talent acquisition strategies

When approaching a talent acquisition strategy, an organization should prioritize what it aims to achieve and what tools it intends to use. The process effectiveness is dependent on different recruitment strategies, which are:

1. Mass hiring

Bulk hiring is different from recruiting for a single position. The former necessitates managing a hiring ramp-up without increasing costs while maintaining the hiring quality. A strategy for bulk hiring includes sourcing talent and using talent assessment software to automate the pre-employment screening process to assess talent holistically via data-driven tools.

2. Recruitment for strategic roles

Finding highly qualified and capable candidates for senior roles is arduous, as they cannot be subjected to the initial phase that junior employees undergo. From the first day, senior-level employees are meant to be at the helm to steer the organization toward success. Therefore, one needs to craft a meticulous strategy for senior professionals with a different approach to sourcing and engagement. Partnering with a leading online talent assessment provider to meet critical talent acquisition requirements can be helpful.

3. Internal recruitment strategy

Internal employee referral is one of the most accepted talent acquisition methods despite a staggering increase in social recruiting platforms and job boards. It is because internally acquired candidates are already aligned with their organization as per their personality and culture fit, significantly alleviating the burden for talent acquisition managers. Some of the best ways to approach internal talent acquisition strategies are seeking endorsement across the organization, gamifying referral programs, and providing referral incentives.

4. Hiring for technical roles

With digital transformation becoming a pressing priority for every organization, tech hiring needs well-structured talent acquisition strategies, requiring high reliance on technical skills assessments rather than gut-based hiring approaches. Top tech talent also wants to be associated with an employer brand that gives them greater awareness.


How can technology-based hiring be a game-changer in talent acquisition?

Technological interventions enable HR teams to streamline their sourcing and recruiting processes. Technology in hiring can alleviate many looming concerns by helping recruiters ensure that only qualified candidates fill the open positions.

Mercer | Mettl’s talent assessment software can enhance the candidate’s experience by introducing automation into recruitment. Good user experience is essential in the hiring process. Many worthy candidates may not consider an opportunity because of an unsatisfactory hiring experience. Hence, innovative tech recruiting tools can deliver an experience aligned with candidates’ expectations.

Below are the benefits of bringing technology into strategic talent acquisition:

1. Helps score top talent

Technology is an enabler in seeking the most appropriate candidate on a local and global level. One can communicate with thousands of qualified candidates globally with just a command. Many applicant tracking systems or learning management systems can work in unison with advanced recruitment platforms to conduct customized online assessments secured with best-in-class proctoring integration.

2. Cuts down on screening time

Corporate job opening receives several resumes. From those stacks of resumes, only some candidates may possess the competencies and experience required for the job. Here, tackling a hefty stack of resumes is strenuous and time-consuming. To achieve the desired hiring goals, using recruitment software helps parse bulk resumes and assess candidates’ skills.

3. Improves the efficiency of video interviews

Technology has made the hiring process a breeze for evaluators and job seekers. While interview scheduling software addresses the logistical hassles by automating the scheduling and rescheduling process, video interview tools offer a broader array of options for hassle-free interviewing. They are helpful during the initial screening stages, allowing recruiters to save time and resources and improve the efficiency of the process. It further enables interviewers to schedule and conduct interviews and provide instant reports anytime, anywhere.

4. Ensures data-driven hiring

It is not logical to vouch for the accuracy of gut-based hiring; instead, one should base their decisions on data-driven insights. Businesses want to leverage data-based and analysis-driven inputs to make informed people decisions. They can employ the new age talent assessment tools to ensure a potential candidate’s cultural and job role fitment.

5. Ensures transparency with applicants

Many candidates do not receive communication on time after many months of applying for a job. Such instances do not improve the organization’s reputation as they impact the applicants’ morale. Therefore, technological tools allow employers to communicate in real-time, set clear expectations, and share feedback. Ensuring engaging interactions via recruitment software fosters better communication between hiring managers and applicants.


Top talent acquisition trends

Some of the top trends in talent acquisition are:


1) Skill-based hiring

More companies are shifting toward skill-based assessments and competency models over traditional qualifications such as degrees and certifications. This approach allows organizations to take a more holistic view of each candidate. They can hone in on candidates with the skills, competencies, and characteristics to succeed in the role and the organization.


2) Gig economy integration

Companies are embracing the gig economy by hiring freelance or contract workers instead of part-time or full-time employees. These workers possess specialized skills, and this way of working offers greater flexibility to both the worker and the company while reducing labor costs.


3) Inclusive hiring practices

Another trend in talent acquisition is creating an inclusive recruitment process by fighting discrimination, reducing bias, and actively seeking to attract and hire more diverse candidates. This is becoming particularly important as younger generations emphasize working for a company that visibly supports and encourages diversity and inclusion.


4) Talent nurturing

Building and maintaining relationships with candidates is a way for companies to build robust talent pools they can access in the future. More and more organizations are partnering with universities and colleges to nurture these relationships as early as possible and scout the best talent. These programs include internships, mentorships, and company updates communication.


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5) Generative AI use

As technology develops rapidly, TA professionals constantly look to update their working methods. For example, they use generative AI like ChatGPT to craft clear and compelling job posts and communicate with candidates for candidate sourcing. Staying ahead and utilizing the latest technology offerings will help TA teams gain a competitive edge and attract top talent.


How do AI hiring tools help in talent acquisition?

AI hiring tools play a crucial role in talent acquisition, as these tools streamline and shape hiring in the following ways:


Efficient resume screening:

AI tools can quickly analyze and screen many resumes, saving recruiters valuable time and effort. They can identify relevant skills, qualifications, and experience, helping recruiters focus on the most qualified candidates.


Bias reduction:

AI tools can help mitigate unconscious bias in the recruitment process by concentrating on objective criteria and qualifications. They can remove identifying information, such as names, gender, and age, from resumes, ensuring fair and unbiased candidate evaluation.


Candidate matching:

These tools can match candidate profiles with job requirements, identifying the best-fit candidates based on skills, experience, and cultural fit. It helps recruiters identify potential candidates who may have been overlooked through traditional methods.


Predictive analytics:

AI tools can analyze historical data to predict candidate success and job performance. Considering factors such as past performance, education, and skills, these tools can provide insights into a candidate’s potential fit within the organization.


Enhanced candidate experience:

These tools can automate communication with candidates, providing timely updates and personalized feedback throughout the hiring process. It improves the overall candidate experience and helps maintain a positive employer brand.




Talent acquisition best practices

HR managers should provide training and growth programs to manage and develop employees after hiring, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Some of the best practices of talent acquisition are:

  • Building a strong employer brand: It is essential to cultivate an image that showcases the company culture and highlights the positives on the website and social media profiles to attract top talent.
  • Focusing on diversity: In the current business landscape, a workplace that celebrates diversity and inclusion stands out. HR professionals must apply the same strategies to talent acquisition to build an unbiased workforce.
  • Creating a candidate pipeline: Hiring managers can engage with candidates early to build relationships and establish a talent pipeline for future roles, including graduates and applicants who may be suitable for future positions.
  • Establishing needs and priorities: It is helpful to prioritize areas requiring professional talent, determine necessary skills and experience, plan the approach and target industries to hire the top candidates.
  • Monitoring the talent pool: Recruiters can track shortlisted candidates, keep them informed about upcoming roles, and implement a talent acquisition strategy to save time and resources while recruiting great talent.
  • Staying connected: Being involved in online forums, discussion boards, and recruitment channels to stay updated on changes in the workforce and engage with potential candidates can aid recruiters in finding top candidates.
  • Offering flexible work options: The company must adapt to flexible work models, such as remote or hybrid work, to attract talent seeking work-life balance and increase productivity and focus.
  • Workforce planning and forecasting: Understanding organizational and workforce dynamics is crucial. It is imperative to predict hiring needs to ensure preparedness and a steady pipeline of high-quality candidates.
  • Expanding outreach strategies: Diversifying sourcing strategies using specialized job boards, partnering with academic programs, and attending networking events aids hiring managers in finding the most suitable candidates.


Talent management: A step beyond talent acquisition

Talent management goes beyond talent acquisition and involves a broader range of strategies and practices to develop and retain top talent. It takes a comprehensive approach to optimize the entire employee lifecycle. A critical aspect of talent management is compelling onboarding and orientation. It includes providing new hires with the necessary training, introducing them to the company culture, and setting clear expectations. Organizations establish a solid foundation to ensure new employees feel welcomed, supported, and prepared to succeed.

Performance management is another critical element of talent management. It involves setting performance goals, conducting regular evaluations, and giving feedback to help employees improve and grow professionally. Organizations can maximize individual potential and contribute to overall business success by actively managing and developing employee performance.

Learning and development programs are integral to talent management. These initiatives aim to enhance employees’ skills, knowledge, and capabilities. They include training workshops, mentoring programs, leadership development initiatives, and access to online learning resources.

Succession planning in talent management involves identifying and developing high-potential employees for future leadership roles within the organization. By proactively planning for leadership transitions, organizations ensure a smooth handover when key positions become vacant and maintain a strong leadership pipeline.

Talent management is a powerful tool that drives organizational success. It is about improving HR processes and creating a thriving, high-performing workforce that propels the organization to new heights.





Talent acquisition is vital for organizations to attract and retain top talent. Organizations can strategically source talent to support future growth and expansion by aligning talent acquisition with business goals. Workforce planning, forecasting, and expanding outreach strategies help ensure a steady pipeline of high-quality candidates.

In today’s competitive job market, a well-executed talent acquisition strategy can give organizations a competitive edge. Following the best practices outlined in this guide, companies can attract, hire, and retain the most suitable talent to drive success and achieve their long-term goals.



Is talent acquisition different from HR?

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How to structure a talent acquisition team?

What is the key to a successful talent acquisition team?

What is the first step in talent acquisition?

What are the steps in developing a talent acquisition plan?

Is talent acquisition an ongoing process?

What is a talent acquisition policy?

Why is talent acquisition necessary?

What are the crucial elements of strategic talent acquisition?

Originally published April 16 2022, Updated May 20 2024

Written by

Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

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