What Skills Are Most Critical for Talent Acquisition Professionals?

Talent Acquisition (TA) has different specializations, much like Learning or Compliance. Talent Acquisition professionals have similarities that other HR practitioners might not share, such as sourcing or marketing. One thing that is true across all areas of TA is that the ability to find candidates in unique or rare spots is always in demand. 

Top 10 Critical Talent Acquisition Skills

The biggest challenge in determining critical skills in TA professionals is that industry knowledge is, by its nature, highly specific. A recruiter who is well versed in sourcing software professionals for instance, probably developed their skills through years of experience. Organizations are faced with the difficulty of finding and developing TA professionals with general abilities across all specializations but also possessing the deep industry knowledge that many positions require. 

Having the right TA team in place has far-reaching effects beyond standard metrics such as time-to-fill or immediate retention rate. Candidates who have a more successful and enjoyable candidate experience are much more likely to transition into being more meaningful contributors to the organization. In addition, the majority of candidates are more likely to have a positive impression of your organization if their time during the hiring process was efficient and constructive. For any organization seeking re-applicants or possible customers, the ability to provide a great candidate experience is highly important. 

For an organization trying to determine what the most important skills TA professionals should have, they must first decide what specific business needs are. Key questions organizations should include: 

  • Who is accountable for overseeing the TA team at your organization and improving the candidate experience? 
  • How will you measure the impact of improved candidate experience? 
  • What training and development currently exists for upskilling TA professionals in your organization? 
  • What tools and technology are in place to support TA professionals in their job? 
  • What will be the ultimate business impact of hiring or developing TA professionals with critically important skills? 

The most important ability for any TA professional is creating a lasting, positive candidate experience. Most organizations agree that sourcing, general recruiting, and industry knowledge are the most vital skills to have for this task. 

Although at first glance, it may seem that general recruitment knowledge and industry-specific knowledge are contradictory, they are complementary. Despite what some HR professionals might believe, each industry isn’t completely unique. There may be some significant differences between them such as levels of unionization, amount of contingent workers, compliance or other regulatory pressures, but every industry wants to attract and retain quality workers. 

For a successful TA professional, organizations should be hiring for and developing universal skills, such as using and communicating data and analytics (nearly half of organizations agree that this is critical) and sourcing in non-traditional areas. Too many TA professionals treat recruitment and hiring as a pure numbers game where if they turn in x number of candidates they will fill x number of requests, without truly understanding the lasting impact of a quality hire (or non-hire). 

As for industry knowledge, that is another skill that can be developed easier than it can be hired for. Industries such as aerospace, healthcare and the public sector have unique challenges but if organizations only look for TA professionals with previous experience in their specific industry, they will find a very shallow pool of possible hires. Instead, organizations should develop their own TA professionals through rotations, immersive training and coaching and mentoring from veteran TA practitioners. 

The key takeaway for any organization seeking to determine the skills that are most important for their TA team is to work backward. First, determine the specific business issues you are trying to solve, then find the alignment between your TA strategy and the business strategy to solve those problems. Look at your current TA team organization to see if they possess the experiences, skills and attributes that will help you succeed. If not, make a determination of how you can hire or develop those specific and general skills in a way that will most effectively create success.


Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact [email protected].

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

Like what you see? Share with a friend.

Mike Cooke



Stay connected

Get notified for upcoming news subscribing

Related Content

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.