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The challenges talent acquisition teams are facing

Kirsten Mayer, vice president of Cielo

Businesses and organisations often question how much internal or outsourced resources they need or what specific skill sets they require. Therefore, it is important that talent acquisition departments are made a priority for the future of any organisation. Employers are quickly realising the advantages of tackling skills shortages with proactive talent strategies rather than reactionary recruiting. It is now common for talent acquisition professionals to advise FDs, MDs and CEOs on workforce planning issues.

That said, our recent research into European talent acquisition trends revealed that most employers in the UK and Europe believe that their talent acquisition departments are not functioning optimally either operationally or in terms of their processes. There are plenty of reasons this could be the case, including that many talent acquisition departments are dealing with increasingly complex situations, whether from operating in a global environment, navigating the constant changes that come with mergers and acquisition, etc. The need to be agile is greater than ever, with the mindset that all talent acquisition models need to evolve to remain relevant and successful. 

Below are six areas that organisations should focus on to ensure that their talent acquisition department is run both effectively and efficiently.


Structure the talent acquisition team according to the type of organisation. This allows hiring needs to be specific to geography, language, skill set, business unit and type of hire (contractor or temporary). Tailoring each team to the specific requirement allows talent acquisition departments to not only be efficient but to also make sure they are achieving quality hires consistently.


Identifying the scope of service expected from the talent acquisition team allows the organisation to define a clear outline of predictable outcomes. Some talent acquisition teams may be tasked with running the whole onboarding and pre-screening process, while others may be expected to take on HR responsibility, run interviews or liaise with in-house shared service functions. But with a clearly defined scope, the talent acquisition function is likelier to feel more confident and in control.

Learning and development

While the scope and function of talent acquisition is evolving quickly these days, less than 30 per cent of respondents to Cielo’s Talent Acquisition 360 survey believe their organisation is assigning sufficient resources to properly equip their recruiters. This means that core skills needed within the team are absent and businesses are falling further and further behind the times – limiting talent acquisition teams’ abilities to deliver consistently and appropriately. Improving the talent acquisition function by investing in learning and development provides a key focus on the skills of those it is entrusted to and encourages a continuous learning culture at the heart of the organisation.

Design process

Design thinking is about solving complex problems in a human-centred way. Organisations that do not use design thinking have a harder time building sustainable talent pipelines and aligning talent acquisition strategies to business strategies. Organisations that use design thinking establish more empathy upfront, which can help the various constituents communicate and collaborate more effectively on such complex tasks. For instance, building a talent pipeline requires the recruiter to have a heightened understanding of a function's hiring goals, future needs, and type of target talent, as well as the ability to empathise with and engage particular candidates over the long haul. At Cielo, we use it as a core methodology in our SkyLabs innovation engine, which serves as a framework to help us develop solutions to the most difficult recruiting and talent acquisition problems for ourselves and our diverse base of clients. So while design thinking is typically thought of as a tool for designers to create new products, talent acquisition teams can use a modified version of it to improve processes and enhance services.


With an increasing amount of access to new technology and recruiting analytics, talent acquisition departments can use the latest and most efficient tools to drive talent for a business. Whether it’s capability analytics that measure the organisation’s talent, competency acquisition analytics that assess the acquisition of skills, or capacity analytics that assesses the efficiency of personnel, there’s a wealth of analytical techniques you can utilise. While recruitment technology will become more useful going forward, these solutions cannot replace the personal touch in finding the right candidate for the job. Automated processes can scan resumes and skills data in order to build a talent pipeline, but they cannot yet adequately recognise whether an individual will mesh with an organisation’s culture goals, vision and values. The best solution in talent acquisition will strike a careful balance between technology as an enabler and personal interaction to assess the fit beyond what the facts and figures indicate.

External influences

From new legislation to economic and technological changes, there are many external factors that affect talent acquisition teams. These can have a significant impact on an organisation’s current operations, growth and long-term sustainability. Mangers ignore external forces at their peril. It is imperative, in fact, that they continually monitor and adapt to the external environment, working to make proactive changes earlier rather than having to take a reactive approach, which can lead to a vastly different, and more negative, outcome.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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