Talent Acquisition Specialist: 10 Key Skill Requirements for 2020


The narrative of talent acquisition is changing in response to the dynamic business ecosystem, evolving talent needs, and jumps in technology. Talent acquisition specialists of the future need to be aware of the demands of the changing workforce and workplace and develop skills that will help them thrive in this environment. In this article, we delve into the ten key skills that are a talent acquisition specialist must possess to truly be able to drive business success in 2020 and beyond.

A talent acquisition specialist can be defined as an expert who specializes in applying talent acquisition strategies to create and deliver systems that improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the talent acquisition process umbrella.

The increasing competitiveness that defines the current workplace, the changing personalities of workers, the growing number of diverse members of the workforce in terms of gender and generations, all demand a new hiring strategy. And to strategize to attract such talent, talent acquisition specialists must develop certain skills. As 2020 changes the landscape and the nature of all our jobs, here are the skills TA specialists must build.

Learn More: What Is Recruitment? Definition, Process, Techniques, Metrics, and Strategies for 2020Opens a new window

10 Key Skill Requirements for the Talent Acquisition Specialist of 2020

A glance through job portals is always helpful when trying to understand the traits and skills required to perform a specific role. It also allows insight into what organizations are looking for.

We combed through several job posts for talent acquisition (TA) specialists and found the most common skills listed as must-haves:

Professional skills

  • Hands-on experience in industry-specific recruitment
  • In-depth knowledge of candidate sourcingOpens a new window techniques for active and passive candidates
  • Working knowledge of the industry
  • Strategic understanding of staffing tools and electronic job boards

Core skills

  • Experience with HR tools and processes
  • Recruiting experience
  • Proven success in previous positions
  • Knowledge of using Microsoft Office applications

Advanced skills

  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification
  • Sector-specific long-term experience
  • Experience with full-cycle recruitmentOpens a new window
  • Prior knowledge of operating applicant tracking systems (ATS)

The job description and skill requirements above point out the key skills required for a talent acquisition specialist to succeed in their role. This list is, however, is only a glimpse into some of the TA skills companies expect.

But there is more to being a TA specialist who is prepared for the future of work. Developing these skills will help you deal with the uncertain future all organizations are headed toward and give you a competitive advantage as a professional ready for the future.

Here are the ten key skills that any talent acquisition specialist must hone in 2020:

1. Communication skills

This skill is a requisite for success in any role but more so for talent acquisition specialists. This is primarily because of how people-centric the role is. Being able to communicate effectively through both spoken and written media is essential. It comes to great use in drafting compelling job posts, engaging the target talent audience via social media, and corresponding with candidates and hiring managers through multiple channels.

As the liaison between the organization and the candidate, a TA specialist needs to be able to communicate well, negotiate intelligently, and mediate effectively. However, there is more to communication than what we say and write.

A talent acquisition specialist needs to understand the importance of body language and implicit nonverbal cues to manage their own overt behavior better and gain insight into the behavior of others. This ability to see beyond words is an especially useful tool during interviews.

The channels to communicate and engage with candidates have increased and diversify with the introduction of social media recruitingOpens a new window , mobile-centric recruitment processes, gamified assessments, and virtual presence tools. As a result, the smart talent acquisition specialist of 2020 needs to be able to master multichannel communication, as discussed in the following points as well.

2. Active listening skills

While listening is a crucial aspect of communication, active listening must be regarded as an advanced skill. This makes even more sense today than a decade ago because now there are so many more platforms and channels for us to express our opinions.

A talent acquisition specialist needs to be an active listener. This applies to situations beyond the telephonic or the first-stage interview to steps where there is actual face-to-face interaction as well.

TA specialists need to be able to pay attention to more than what is being said. Candidates today have a diversified online presence, and it requires active listening to create a consolidated candidate persona from all the fragments of information available to look beyond the social media persona. And while there are many software available that help create a complete profile of a candidate, the human touch will always remain essential.

Active listening goes hand in hand with wiser decision-making since the former presupposes a general curiosity in other opinions and perspectives and allows one to draw in the best from all sources.

3. Planning skills

As you engage in active listening and make wiser decisions, your ability to plan smarter increases exponentially. An essential prerequisite to effective planning is the ability to visualize the bigger picture. As Gestalt theories philosophize, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and big-picture thinking allows us to focus skillfully on the whole.

The talent acquisition specialist of the future cannot afford to be myopic. While you will have to focus on filling an immediate vacancy, you also need to build an active talent pipelineOpens a new window . And a strategy for succession planning would require a steady grasp of future goals and a broader vision for the organization.

Being able to see beyond immediate tasks at the bigger picture is a skill that needs to be developed by a specialist who will be dealing with an increasingly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environment.

4. Learning skills

While a healthy appetite for learning and an organic sense of curiosity are usually inherent traits, they can also be developed. Being open to learning effectively is a skill the ability to break habit loops and thought patterns and to rethink from a different perspective. This is among the most common habits of highly successful talent acquisition leadersOpens a new window .

The talent acquisition specialist of 2020 and beyond will need to be a proactive learner who is ready to adapt to new situations and encourage others to do the same. The focus needs to be on reinventing the ways of work, changing how we hire, and encouraging the evolution of talent acquisition practices in a world where the definition of talent itself is being redefined (think AI collaboration, evolving fields of education and specialization, and an essential revamp of performance metrics that measure the effectiveness of talent at work).

Learn More: Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment: Key Differences and SimilaritiesOpens a new window

5. Relationship-building skills

Candidate experience is an essential pillar on which the success of talent acquisition processes rest. The TA specialist of tomorrow must prioritize the candidate journey.

This trend is already picking up pace. SmashFly, Yello, and Talemetry are a few companies aiming to improve how organizations look at candidate relationship managementOpens a new window . As more organizations realize the importance of candidate experienceOpens a new window in building and promoting an employer brand, greater emphasis will be placed on relationship-building skills and the ability to sustainably engage with candidates, managers, consultants, and even vendors who aid your recruitment process.

Networking and relationship management skills will, as a result, be of prime importance to any talent acquisition specialist in 2020 and beyond. Moreover, with recent AI advancements, there is a growing need to embrace our human traits facets that separate us from AI and capabilities that are yet impossible to mimic fully. Networking skills and the power to connect with people as people will thus naturally grow in importance.

6. Empathy and social skills

While it is true that empathy is an innate ability to become a successful talent acquisition specialist for the future, it must be developed along with social skills. That EQ (emotional quotient) is the new IQ (intelligence quotient) is no mere fad. We live in a world where computers, AI, and algorithms surpass us in all our abilities that can be measured by IQ tests. When it comes to emotional intelligence, however, technology still has a bit of catch-up to play.

Thus, for the socially and emotionally intelligent talent acquisition specialist, honing social skills and the ability to empathize will be crucial. Empathy can also significantly elevate the candidate experience, as it assures the candidate that you truly understand their challenges, motivations, and emotions.

7. Analytical skills

We live in a data-dependent world, and to succeed, businesses need to be data-driven. As a TA specialist in 2020 and beyond, investing in improving your data literacy is essential to be successful. This is more than being able to read data it involves the ability to understand, analyze, and apply it to improve people processes.

A healthy dependence on data is key to developing analytical skills, which could then be applied to effective recruitment marketing and employer branding strategies. Recruitment, at its core, is a sales job, and with sharp analytical skills, the TA expert can source, screen, negotiate, and plan for talent better.

Learn More: Talent Acquisition Specialist: 10 Key Skill Requirements for 2020Opens a new window

8. Tech skills

The talent acquisition specialist of the future will be tech-savvy and open to adapting to and adopting new technology. New hiring technologies are being developed and perfected every day. Being able to use them efficiently is a skill that will be highly valued.

Moreover, TA specialists need to be trained by specialized coaches. These coaches can be external experts or leaders within the organization who have proven their expertise in adapting to new-age technology faster.

As a TA specialist, you must also understand that the secret to success lies not in just depending on technology but rather in collaborating with the latest advancements.

With applicant tracking systems (ATS)Opens a new window , performance management platforms, and human capital management (HCM)Opens a new window suites changing the way talent is acquired, recruitment specialists and TA experts need to adapt quickly before the trends change.

Being skilled in technological adaptability will help talent acquisition specialists in building confidence with candidates, especially when hiring for technical roles. Your knowledge of technology is tied together with the perception the candidate forms of the employer brand, after all.

9. Social media skills

With social media-based recruitment on the rise, new-age talent acquisition specialists must master the skill of engaging candidates across these social platforms. Besides, social media also opens up a variety of channels and communities where the employer brand can be effectively promoted, conversations can be started about the culture at work, and potential hires can be reached directly.

In addition, as mentioned earlier, being able to gauge the social media presence of candidates is also an essential skill since it can help to match the individuals social media persona to the candidate persona that you are targeting.

10. Multitasking skills

With the nature and perception of work, worker, and workplace undergoing considerable shifts, the talent acquisition specialist of the future needs to be able to adapt to changing demands of the workforce. For example, the remote workforce is growing in size and popularity, newer generations are entering the workforce, and each day changes the nature of human-AI collaboration. As a result, TA specialists of the future need to be able to multitask and manage expectations from multiple points of contact.

For full-cycle recruitment to be managed seamlessly, there is a need for the best-fit technology and a talent acquisition specialist with not only the right skill set but also the right mindset. Being able to multitask and manage time effectively between multiple sub-roles is crucial for the future TA specialist to be able to oversee and improve simultaneous processes all the while keeping in mind what the organization stands for and the broader goals that need to be attained.

Learn More: Future of Work: 10 Key Trends for the Next 10 YearsOpens a new window

Upskilling Today for Smarter Talent Acquisition Tomorrow

In many ways, the talent acquisition specialist of today and tomorrow will need to embrace their role as a customer service executive for candidates and employees. They are the pillars that, as a TA specialist, will enable you to uphold your employer brand, and investing in upskilling is a necessity.

Investing in your own growth, while seeming like the most natural thing to do, is often relegated to the fringes of the priority list. Whether it is taking up relevant courses on the many online learning platforms, finding a mentor who can guide you, or making it into networking events that can keep you aware of changes as they occur, these steps towards growth need time and commitment and must be taken to prepare for the future.

While you scour the grounds for the right balance of skills and personality traits to match existing and upcoming roles in your organization, pay close attention to opportunities to develop your own skills as well. The only way to stay ahead of the curve in 2020 and beyond is to keep honing your skill set even as you acquire new skills.

Are you a smart talent acquisition specialist? How do you invest in your skill set to stay relevant? Share your recommendations with us on FacebookOpens a new window , LinkedInOpens a new window , or TwitterOpens a new window . Were always listening.