by Barbara Mitchell, Managing Partner, Mitchell Group
I believe there is nothing more important than bringing the right employees into an organization. If you haven’t read Jim Collins book, Good to Great, I highly recommend you read it. It is full of great insights, but one of the things he said that is often quoted is, in order to be a great organization you have to “have the right people on the right bus in the right seats.” Simply put, it doesn’t matter how great your product or service, if you don’t have the right people, you won’t be successful.
So, what is now being called “talent acquisition” is critical to the success of any organization—be it for-profit, not-for-profit governmental, or educational institution.
I really like the name talent acquisition. It is so much more powerful than recruiting and it gives the function some real importance—as it should. So how do you get started in talent acquisition and what does it do?
Many organizations have the talent acquisition function as part of human resources, but there is an increasing trend to either have it as a separate department or as part of marketing because so much of talent acquisition is selling. When you are recruiting people to fill open positions in any organization, the talent acquisition manager has to sell the opportunity to the job applicant.
When you are recruiting people to fill open positions in any organization, the talent acquisition manager has to sell the opportunity to the job applicant.
When I was starting out in recruiting, my company recognized that recruiters needed to also be sales people and they sent each person who recruited to a five-day selling skills course—and they sent the sales teams to an interviewing course since when you are selling you have to understand your prospective client’s needs and to get there, you need to listen well and ask great questions. This experience was fantastic on both the recruiting and sales side—we all learned so much that allowed us to be successful.
So if you want to be a recruiter or work in talent acquisition, what should you do? First of all, take classes online or at your local university in interviewing techniques. Learning how to ask and interpret behavioral interviewing questions is a must. It is not something you can read about and learn—you need to be in a setting where you can practice what you’re learning on real people. In fact, I’ve taken interviewing classes where the school actually brought in applicants for open positions for us to practice on and the applicant got interview practice as well.
I also recommend you take a class in active listening or just listening skills in general. So much of recruiting is listening carefully to what the applicant says in answer to your well-crafted, job-related interview questions.
A large part of talent acquisition takes place using social media, so be sure you are up to date on LinkedIn and Twitter or any other site you might consider useful. LinkedIn is considered the Facebook for business and it is where a great deal of recruiting happens so make sure you have a well-written profile.
Many people who want to enter this field start by working for a temporary agency or staffing firm. This is a great way to get a lot of interviewing experience in a business setting.
I love the talent acquisition process. You get to meet a lot of people and learn a lot from each person you interview. Do your research and find some classes you can take to get you started in human resources training and I wish you great success!
Barbara Mitchell, Managing Partner of The Mitchell Group, is co-author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook.