The SAP Guide to
Talent Acquisition

Encourage diversity, drive referrals, find the perfect fit.

For highly skilled employees, the job search is currently a candidate-driven market. That adds a new layer of challenge for talent acquisition specialists: In addition to being efficient and choosing the right candidates, they have to compete to recruit top talent.

Talent acquisition needs to evolve to meet these challenges. The changes must be both tactical and strategic. The next version of talent acquisition requires new tools and technology, but also new ways of thinking about how to find, evaluate, and ultimately extend offers to candidates.

The Current State of Talent Acquisition: 4 Key Facts

Candidate Experience Is Crucial

78% of candidates say the overall candidate experience is an indicator of how a company values its people. But almost 60% of job seekers report having a poor candidate experience.

Hiring Processes Are Slowing

Time to hire has grown by nearly 4 days in the last decade to an average of 22.9 days.

Diversity Matters for Choosing the Right Candidate

Diversity and inclusion are a top hiring concern for 69% of executives.

Hiring the Wrong Candidate Is Costly

41% of employers say a single bad hire costs $25k, while 25% said $50k or more.

This guide will help talent acquisition professionals reach the next evolution of candidate selection and hiring. We combined our expertise with advice from top minds in the field, and we’re recommending tools that can help your organization find, recruit, and hire the right people.

Evaluating Top Talent

The right candidate for a job may not necessarily be the one with the most experience, the most prestigious degree, or even the right connections. Some candidates may be great on a resume, but ultimately not a good fit for the job. We asked William Tincup, President of RecruitingDaily, how he evaluates talent:

William Tincup, President, RecruitingDaily.

“For me, the identification of top talent comes down to seven things:

1. The candidate/employee must share the values/morals/ethics of the firm
2. The candidate/employee must be extremely adaptable
3. The candidate/employee must be moldable and ultimately coachable
4. The candidate/employee must demonstrate a high ceiling for growth
5. The candidate/employee must have a true willingness and desire to grow and get better
6. The candidate/employee must be relentlessly ambitious
7. The candidate/employee must have a high and balanced EQ & IQ

That's how you objectively identify top talent. Once you identify them, the hard part starts as now you need to nurture them to greatness." Click to tweet

For more about helping employees develop after they’re hired, see our guides to employee experience and employee well-being.


SniperAI: Source, screen, and hire with AI and Machine Learning

The Key Challenges of Talent Acquisition

At its core, talent acquisition is a type of marketing. The product you’re selling is the organization itself, and the target audience is those candidates whose skills and values make them compatible with the organization. As with any marketing initiative, the challenge is to reach the right audience, create affinity, and move them to a decision as quickly as possible.

1. Find the Right Audience: Ensure Diversity in Recruiting

Employees with different cultural, social, even ideological backgrounds provide a wide array of viewpoints and life experiences. That diversity of ideas can make your company more innovative and, ultimately, successful. As such, it’s vital to make sure your recruiting process is free from bias that might stifle diversity. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Make diversity part of your policy. Make sure your mission statement and other public messaging shows your commitment
  • Check your job listings for bias. Make sure the language is gender-neutral and inclusive
  • Reflect diversity. Make sure the diversity of your current team is on display in photos

2. Create Affinity: Build Engaging Candidate Experiences

Candidate experience is just as important for potential recruits as employee experience is after the hire. A positive experience will help ensure the candidate considers your offer. Beyond that, candidates will share with their network what type of experience they had. The cycle of building a positive candidate experience goes like this:

3. Compel Action: Find New Efficiencies in Recruiting

Once a candidate is going through the recruitment process, it’s crucial to move quickly while still making informed decisions. Artificial intelligence can help process more candidates in a shorter time frame, surfacing the most relevant data to select the right fit from your candidate pool. Here are a few ways AI is changing the recruiting process:

Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst & VP, Constellation Research, Inc.

“HR Leaders need to be the champions to move the decision making around people further away from gut feel towards data driven. When enterprises move more to data and fact based decisions they make better people decisions, eliminate potential bias and stay compliant. At the same time, HR leaders have to do more to tackle all data that is relevant in the enterprise, by moving beyond the HR silo, use more BigData and realize the potential of AI / Machine Learning for scalable and better people decisions.” Click to Tweet

Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst & VP, Constellation Research, Inc.


Chatbots Can Automatically Answer Questions

Virtual Assistants Can Schedule Interviews

AI Can Perform Social Media Listening to Evaluate Candidates

AI Can Scan Resumes and Rank Candidates

JDMS: Manage and maintain your job description library

Reducing Talent Acquisition Costs

Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte.

Finding the right candidate can be a long and expensive process. With a growing need to find more cost-effective, efficient solutions, many companies are finally realizing the value of employee referrals. Your current employees can be your organization’s strongest ambassador. What they say about your company will resonate through their extended network, bringing in pre-screened candidates who are more likely to share the brand’s values. Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte LLC, explains the three pillars to encouraging high-quality employee referrals:

“In a hot job market like we have today, employee referrals can be one of the best sources for new candidates. There are three keys to making a referral program work.

First, you have to tell employees about the open positions, and make it very easy for them to forward job opportunities to their contacts. In most companies employees have no idea what jobs are open, and it's too time consuming for them to cut and paste job descriptions and send to their friends and colleagues.

Second, the referral program itself needs to be funded and marketed well.  Employees who take their time to convince a friend to join are taking a risk - they have to feel that they will be rewarded, their contacts will be treated well, and the referral program is important. If their friends receive a poor candidate experience it will impact the employee's perception of the company.

Third, the entire company has to communicate its culture, values, and employee brand strategy. When employees understand and feel the brand value of the company, it's much easier for them to confidently recommend their friends and associates. When they aren't sure what a particular department will be like, or they don't know the hiring manager, they are going to be more reluctant to bring in a strong referral. This gets back to the big issue of ‘building an irresistible organization,’ which I have written about extensively.” Click to tweet

Plum: Make objective and predictive hiring decisions with AI and Psychology

Developing a Talent Acquisition Strategy

For talent acquisition to be most effective, it should be a strategic endeavor. That means starting with clear, measurable goals in mind, tracking progress, and evaluating to improve over time.

Most organizations have some variation of the following four goals:

  • Lower sourcing costs
  • Speed up time to hire
  • Boost quantity & quality of candidates

With goals set, you can focus on the tactics that will help reach those goals:

Controlling Costs

Employee referrals are a good tactic for lowering sourcing costs, especially when you include former employees who left on good terms. These “alumni” can be advocates for your company to their networks, driving quality referrals your way.

Speeding Up Processes

Reducing time to hire without reducing quality can be challenging, but it can be done. Artificial intelligence can help scan through the candidate pool to identify potential best fits. Email assistants can automate interview scheduling as well. It’s worth revising your job postings as well, to make sure you’re attracting candidates with relevant skills and experience.

Increase Quantity & Quality

This is another goal that can be met through making employees your brand ambassadors. Employees who have a sense of the corporate vision and are invested in the company culture are more likely to spread the word, bringing in candidates who are likely to fit with the organization.

Overall, your talent acquisition strategy should include all of the tactics available to a modern talent team, including external and internal communication channels, tools, and technology.

As you narrow down to tactics, make sure that your strategy has measurement built in. For example, if you’re tracking the effectiveness of employee referrals, you’ll need a baseline for comparison (how much it costs to acquire a candidate now), and tracking of how effective your employee referral program is versus the resources invested in it. With measurement in place, you can regularly evaluate your progress and make adjustments.

EnterpriseAlumni: Drive Recruitment, Business Development & Corporate Evangelism

Automating Talent Acquisition for Increased Efficiency

Making your process more efficient is good for your organization and for the candidate experience: It can lower costs and improve communication with candidates, ultimately reducing time to hire. These three categories should be top priority for automation to tighten up your acquisition process:

Candidate Screening. Use software to scan candidates and create a short list for manual review.

Sourcing. Use software to consolidate candidates from multiple sources, such as online postings, social media, and referrals.

Data Processing. AI can match candidates to job descriptions and rank their potential suitability for a specific position.

Evolve Your Talent Acquisition Strategy

In a candidate’s market, it can be challenging for organizations to find the right candidate, reach them, and ultimately persuade them to join the team. Ultimately, the organizations that can increase efficiency and reduce time-to-hire will be better equipped to provide a great candidate experience. Investing in automation can help lower costs and bring in quality candidates.