What is a Talent Acquisition Specialist? Explanation and Job Description

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What is a Talent Acquisition Specialist? Explanation and Job Description

Every business needs employees. Talent Acquisition Specialists focus on finding and recruiting these candidates. While they are not the final decision-makers (that lies with the hiring managers), they have a tremendous influence over the entire talent acquisition process.

Because of this influence over the available candidates, and the amount that a Talent Acquisition Specialist works with people outside the business, your choice of a Talent Acquisition Specialist may be one of the most important hiring decisions you make. A bad Talent Acquisition Specialist can sink your company.

Here’s what you need to know about this specialty.

What is a Talent Acquisition Specialist?
The talent acquisition specialist vs. the recruiter
Talent acquisition specialist job description
Senior talent acquisition specialist
Talent acquisition specialist salary
Wrapping up

What is a Talent Acquisition Specialist? 

A talent acquisition specialist (TAS) manages the entire recruiting cycle. The process can be a bit more involved than it seems from the outside. Of course, what each person will do varies depending on company size and responsibility level, so this is generally speaking. A talent acquisition specialist in a smaller company will wear more hats. Here are some of the duties you will expect to see from a talent acquisition specialist.

  • Job Description Preparation. Job descriptions need to be written by experts in the specific field and an expert in recruiting. The hiring manager is the field level expert, and the talent acquisition specialist is the recruiting expert. Job descriptions need to comply with all relevant laws, as well as containing information about the vacant position. Depending on where you live, references to age, gender, or other characteristics may be illegal.  Additionally, specific word choice can influence who applies. The number of qualifications also influences who applies by gender. Men will apply when they meet 60 percent of the requirements, while women generally don’t apply until they meet 100 percent of the requirements. A good Talent Acquisition Specialist knows that putting in 40 requirements that are not absolutely critical just serves to reduce the number of female applicants. Every job description should be reviewed and polished by an expert in recruiting, with input from the subject matter expert.
  • Candidate sourcing. The Talent Acquisition Specialist finds candidates. Sometimes, this is an easy task – post a job description on the company website and watch the job applicants role in. For some positions, the TAS must literally go out and find candidates. This can be in the form of job fairs or university visits. Most, though, rely on connections made in the field, working with specialized headhunters, and working with current employees to obtain referrals.
  • Candidate screening. Once a Talent Acquisition Specialist has candidates, she needs to determine which one meets the requirements and should move forward. When jobs have multiple applications, this can mean more time is spent rejecting candidates than accepting candidates for further review. TAS often use applicant tracking systems to manage the search, focusing on keywords. When the TAS curates the applicants to a reasonable number, she then reaches out to provide additional, personal screening. Traditionally, this is done through a telephone call, although texting is starting to rise. Some companies have started to use Artificial Intelligence to conduct very basic candidate screening at this stage, but keep in mind that your AI is only as good as the programmer. Artificial intelligence screening bots can have biases just like humans can. A TAS should be monitoring any such screening. Video conferencing is also possible. Typically, a TAS doesn’t meet in person with candidates at this stage.
  • Recommending candidates. When the TAS has selected and screened candidates, she offers the information to the hiring manager. The hiring manager can decide who, from this list, she would like to interview. Naturally, the hiring manager may recommend people who come through non-traditional methods. A TAS should take these recommendations seriously, as the hiring manager is the field expert. However, she should also take care to ensure the company follows local laws and that the non-traditional candidate would be a good fit and meets minimum criteria.
  • Arranging interviews. This is an administrative task that often falls to the TAS. Depending on who needs to be involved, it can be a difficult task arranging schedules and making arrangements for anyone.
  • Advising hiring managers. While the hiring manager (or her superiors) have the final say in hiring decisions, the TAS should train and guide managers through the process. There are many pitfalls, especially when it comes to discrimination laws, and managers hire infrequently. The TAS specialist should ensure that any hiring manager is prepared to interview, and then helps the manager evaluate the candidates.
  • Makes the formal job offer. This can come from the hiring manager (and probably should), but the TAS ensures that it is written correctly, with the correct salary and benefits information. They should work closely with the compensation department to help determine a market rate salary for the candidate.
  • Handles onboarding. From the paperwork to helping the new employee feel at home in the new company, the Talent Acquisition Specialist is there during the onboarding period. She is the face of HR to the new employee, and so this is a critical role in setting expectations of a new employee. 
  • Reporting. Many countries have reporting requirements for recruiting and hiring, and the Talent Acquisition Specialist is the one who keeps those numbers and does the required reporting.
  • Participates in succession planning. Companies should prepare for inevitable changes in leadership positions. As such, planning takes place, which includes not only training and development but hiring. When a Talent Acquisition Specialist is part of the succession planning team, she can work to hire someone who can work their way into the next position as well as fill the first role. 
  • Manages candidate experience. This is not only important for hiring but this actually a public affairs role as well. The Talent Acquisition Specialist regularly meets with people who will never work for the company but could be potential customers – either as individual customers or as a B2B client. Therefore, the Talent Acquisition Specialist must treat candidates properly, as it not only ensures a broader option of candidates for hire but also improves the company’s general reputation.

The talent acquisition specialist vs. the recruiter 

The term talent acquisition specialist is relatively new. Previously people with the same functions were referred to as recruiters, and some companies still use this designation. Some organizations claim a difference between the two titles. Jobvite describes the difference as follows:

“Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy to find specialists, leaders, or future executives for your company. Talent acquisition tends to focus on long-term human resources planning and finding appropriate candidates for positions that require a very specific skillset.”

This implies that a TAS is a high-level recruiter with an advising role as well as a recruiting role, while a recruiter just fills positions without thought for the future. In reality, it depends on the company culture and the job. The terms can be used interchangeably and are for most people.

Another recruiting role is that of the headhunter. This person works outside the company and focuses on candidates in a narrow field rather than on a specific company. They often work with recruiters and TAS on hard to fill roles.

Talent acquisition specialist job description     

A Talent Acquisition specialist focuses on the full life cycle of recruiting, including succession planning, sourcing, candidate screening, management training, legal compliance, and reporting. 

The successful candidate focuses on long term recruiting strategies, looking for the future, rather than just the current vacancies. The TAS works with line management and the Human Resources department to plan for hiring and internal candidate development. 

A Talent Acquisition Specialist should have the following qualifications:

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  • Industry experience, either in a line role or in an HR/recruiting capacity. 
  • A solid understanding of current employment law and the ability to learn and follow new developments.
  • Experience with applicant tracking systems
  • A bachelor’s degree in Business/Human Resources or the specialized field or equivalent experience.

Job duties include:

  • Job description creation
  • Candidate sourcing
  • Candidate screening
  • Advise management on interviewing, hiring, and candidate evaluation
  • Handle all administrative tasks related to the candidate cycle, including reporting to governmental agencies and internal clients
  • Serve on the succession planning team
  • Work with the compensation department to determine a market rate salary for each new hire.
  • Provide guidance and forecasting for future hiring needs.

Senior talent acquisition specialist     

The Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist performs the same functions as a TAS, but with a leadership role and often with more specialized clients and more challenging to fill positions. Their function can also focus on the strategic rather than recruiting.

Other talent acquisition jobs are the Talent Acquisition Manager, the VP of Talent Acquisition, and the Head of Talent Acquisition.

Talent acquisition specialist salary            

This is a salary that can vary widely depending on industry, workload, location, and experience. Payscale estimates the average salary for a US-based Talent Acquisition Specialist is $56,309, as of April 2020. However, an experienced TAS in New York City has an average salary of $71,216, with a $9,500 bonus

Glassdoor says that in London, the average Talent Acquisition Specialist’s salary is £37,873 (or $46,815.76 in US dollars.) That’s a considerable difference in salaries.

The wide variation in salary is indicative of the wide responsibilities in roles. A talent acquisition specialist working in an industry that has an abundance of applicants is a far easier role than the same job in an expanding area where companies battle for talent and training is expensive and hard to come by. Additionally, actual roles and responsibilities vary widely from company to company.

Wrapping up

The Talent Acquisition Specialist is a critical part of the Human Resources team. A good one can bring in the best possible candidates and help a company grow and develop. A bad one can destroy a company’s reputation and severely limit the number of people who are willing to work for the company.

To learn more about this role and the broader talent analytics process, check out our online Talent Acquisition Certificate Program!

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What is a Talent Acquisition Specialist?

A talent acquisition specialist manages the entire recruiting cycle. Duties will vary depending on the size of the organization and the responsibility level but can include candidate sourcing and screening, writing formal job offers and managing the candidate experience.

How to become a talent acquisition specialist?

Qualifications usually include industry experience, either in a line role or in an HR/recruiting capacity, and a solid understanding of current employment law and the ability to learn and follow new developments.

How much does a talent acquisition specialist make?

Salaries can vary widely depending on industry, workload, location, and experience. Payscale estimates the average salary for a US-based Talent Acquisition Specialist is $56,309, as of April 2020 while Glassdoor says that in London, the average Talent Acquisition Specialist’s salary is £37,873 (or $46,815.76 in US dollars.)

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