How to Create an Effective Talent Acquisition Strategy for Your Small Business

Small businesses are constantly in a fight for talent. In today’s job market, experienced and talented workers have many options to choose from. As a small business owner, how do you ensure that you get the best people to join your company when you can’t match the same salaries and benefits as larger companies? 

On top of that, because you are running a lean operation makes it even more vital for you to hire the right people who have the necessary skills to help your business grow.

So how do you find and attract top candidates? Do you need to pay a high salary? Do you need to match the benefits and perks of the larger companies? Not necessarily.

Small business owners can recruit and hire great candidates with the right talent acquisition strategy and process in place.

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Recruitment vs. Talent Acquisition

The terms “Recruiting” & “ Talent Acquisition” are often used interchangeably and thought to mean the same thing. Recruitment & Talent Acquisition are NOT the same thing. Understanding the differences between them and building your hiring process accordingly can help you to hire top talent better.


A linear process that involves searching for a specific candidate to fill a specific position.

Recruitment is re-active (a position is vacated or created and a new person must be found to fill it).

The core function of recruiting is to find candidates for existing jobs that are currently available.

Talent Acquisition:

Instead of a linear process, talent acquisition is a cyclical approach that is geared towards building relationships, anticipating future hiring needs, and creating a sustainable pool of candidates. 

It is a more strategic approach that develops and nurtures a talent pipeline with a long term view. In today’s economy, building a talent acquisition organization is critical to the success of an organization!

2017 PWC survey showed that Talent & Technology are CEO’s top two business priorities because both affect business result.

5 Pillars of Talent Acquisition

Establishing a solid talent acquisition strategy is a forward thinking approach that involves planning & strategizing. 

Part of talent acquisition is working with management to anticipate the needs of the business, understand the growth of the business and then strategizing on how to support that growth. 

By planning & strategizing, you are avoiding – as much as possible – being reactive.

1. Workforce Segmentation

Workforce segmentation

Talent acquisition depends on understanding the different work segments within a company, as well as the different positions within those segments. You need a thorough understanding of your company’s inner workings, as well as knowledge of the skills, experiences, and competencies that each position requires for success.

A Talent Acquisition organization must work with management to really understand the inner workings of the company:

  • What are the roles that are difficult to find?
  • What are the roles that have a huge impact on revenue for the company?
  • How do we build a strategy to find these people, and then keep them?

2. Employer Branding

Employer branding is marketing. Ensuring that your company’s brand is clear and attractive is a main element of talent acquisition. As such, it’s important that corporate marketing and HR/TA work together. A recent study done by Bersin, an HR Consulting arm of Deloitte, found that employee turnover can be reduced by 28% simply by investing in employer branding.

employer branding

3. Talent Sourcing & Management

There are two buckets of candidates – active and passive.
  • Active candidates are those that are actively searching for jobs.
  • Passive candidates are people not actively looking for a new position. They are people that you must find and reach out to directly. They typically have qualifications that are a stronger match for your position needs.
Finding these passive candidates can be done a number of ways and through a number of sources. it’s typically not easy and is time consuming. So once you do identify them and engage them, you’d need to manage those relationships.

4. Metrics & Analytics

Talent Acquisition Metrics
Key Talent Acquisition Metrics

No talent acquisition strategy is complete without using key metrics to conduct proper tracking and analysis of how well your talent acquisition process is performing.

Metrics and analytics provide evidence as to where the talent acquisition process can be improved and how talent acquisition is benefiting the needs to the business.

5. Who does what in the talent acquisition process?

Talent Acquisition really is a partnership between the hiring exec and the recruiter. The hiring executives are a key driver of the experience and how engaged they are in the process has a critical impact on the quality of the hire and retention.

  • Hiring manager: Owns, initiates and facilitates the requisition process. Provides resources and guidance. Provides ongoing feedback with regards to process and candidates.
  • Recruiter: Defines framework, process and tools which support and guide effective talent acquisition. Provides management with skills development for improved assessment of key talent
  • Employees/Team Members: Participates in the interview cycle. Helps to assess fit with the role as well as the organization. Advises manager on their thoughts and recommendations.

Finding candidates for positions will do little good if we neglect the rest of the hiring process. Thus, taking the time to train employees and management on how to interview is very important. It’s a team effort!

Why careful interview & selection are important

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is equal to at least 30% of the employees first-year earnings. For a small company, a six figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business. Careful interview and selection are imperative to the overall success of the business.

The end-to-end process of talent acquisition

Talent Acquisition covers the process of identifying, sourcing, selecting and on-boarding new employees into a company. It is often seen by business leaders as the most important HR discipline.

It’s important that throughout the process, candidates have a positive experience – from initial contact to hire.


  • Requisition management
  • Application intake
  • Resume intake
  • Internet sourcing
  • Networking


  • Employment branding
  • Pre-screening
  • Screening
  • Assessments and testing
  • Interview coordination
  • Interviews


  • Final management interview
  • Offer approval process
  • Offer extension
  • Reference checks


  • Background screening
  • Record/ paperwork management
  • Third party vendor management
It’s been found that 15% of candidates who have a positive hiring experience put forth more effort in the job.

Tools to support talent acquisition

Finding top talent is an on-going process. Recruiting success has not only to do with your hiring process, but also the tools you use for talent acquisition. Top tools to improve talent acquisition are:


LinkedIn continues to be one of the best recruitment tools. There are millions of users and countless features to post jobs, receive resumes and connect with potential candidates. Purchase a LinkedIn recruiter account to unlock some of the many benefits of LinkedIn.

Employee Referral Programs​

Employee referral programs are the most overlooked but effective recruitment tools. Who knows better what a great candidate looks like, than your own employees. Establish a competitive employee referral program.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)​

A good ATS has the power to overhaul your entire talent acquisition process in to the most productive, profitable and efficient business it can be. The right ATS can increase recruiter productivity, save time, and provide the necessary organization and structure for your talent acquisition organization.

What is an ATS and why should we use one?

What is an ATS?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) automates an organization’s talent acquisition operations, and provides a central repository for candidate data, including resumes and applications. An ATS is built to help you manage every stage in the recruiting process, from application to hire, while delivering greater overall efficiency.

Applicant Tracking System

Why should we use an ATS?

An ATS is a powerful tool for saving time and improving productivity. These are some of the reported benefits from firms that have switched to using an ATS (statistics provided by Bullhorn Technologies).

10% increases in placements per month
70% increase report generation speed
15% decrease in time to fill
75% decrease in unproductive time

Old rules vs New rules of talent acquisition

Old Rules New Rules
Recruiters used internet tools to find candidates. Recruiters continuously expand their use of social media sites for sourcing - including Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor ... in addition to LinkedIn.
Employment brand is viewed as a piece of the overall marketing strategy. Employment brand is its own marketing strategy – reaching in to all possible candidate pools and channels.
Recruiters run the recruiting process. Recruiters partner with hiring managers to create an end to end talent acquisition process that aligns with the success criteria of the company.
Job descriptions communicate what the company demands from the potential employee. Job descriptions focus on the needs of the candidate – stressing professional development, work autonomy, etc. – this yields 3x as many highly rated candidates.
An application tracking system is the only tool needed. Talent acquisition strategy starts with an ATS, but the entire acquisition platform also includes solutions for sourcing, video interviewing, interview management, etc.
Talent acquisition metrics only track time to hire. Talent acquisition processes and metrics are not only built around metrics that show the effectiveness of the talent acquisition process, but also metrics that show the success and performance of those candidates hired.

Next Steps

The benefit of implementing a talent acquisition organization is that it will help you pro-actively look at the growth needs of your organization and to ensure that the best employees are hired to meet those needs.

Questions to consider:

  • How many employees do I hope to hire in the next 12 months?
  • Do I have dedicated bandwidth or a dedicated individual to focus on acquiring talent?
  • Do I have the necessary technology solutions & support in place to support talent acquisition?
  • Do we have a process in place that ensures we are making quality hires?
  • Do we have a process in place that ensures we are compliant with US Government labor laws?
  • Can we ensure that the hires we make will not only make a beneficial financial impact to the bottom line of the company, but will also act as key contributors to the overall corporate

Call to Action

The Melita Group can help support you with the build out of your talent acquisition infrastructure.
  • A recruitment organization will fulfill your short term hiring needs, and address the linear process of bringing in new hires.
  • A talent acquisition organization will strategically look at both your short term and long term hiring needs, a methodology will be built, and tools will be acquired to ensure success. A cyclical approach that attracts new talent and nurtures the talent pipeline will be put in place.

Melita can support the implementation of talent acquisition process by providing the following:

  • Recommendation and build out of talent acquisition process & methodology
  • Identify talent acquisition personnel – either in-house or outsourced
  • Recommend & train on necessary talent acquisition technology
  • Train hiring managers and employees on interview best practices

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