What skill should TA professionals focus on right now for professional development?

We all know that to get ahead in any role you need to continuously hone your skills.

But Talent Acquisition is an ever-evolving function; over the past 3 years the priorities, skills-gaps, and market trends have shifted dramatically, making it difficult to predict which areas and skillsets would be best to invest time and resource into developing.

And with so many numerous areas to focus on, what is the one key skill that all talent acquisition professionals should prioritize for their professional development right now?

We reached out to 7 TA professionals from varying industries to find out what professional skills they think anyone working in Talent should be focussing on right now. From developing a better understanding of analytics and automation, through to “softer” skillsets like building resilience, developing skills to influence others, and design thinking, here are some areas you may want to start building out your professional skills in.

Define your value

Anna Hodges, Chapter Lead, Talent Acquisition @ Woolworths

My top 3 areas all TA professionals should be building their capability in would be defining their value, sourcing, and data & analytics.

  1. Ability to clearly define your value to the business and make sure you can both articulate and deliver on it. You won’t be remembered for how many roles you filled or your time to fill stats; you will be remembered for the impact you made within your team and more broadly across the business. Think about the problems you are trying to solve for the business and how you collaborate in order to implement solutions; how you have supported candidates through their career journey and navigated the internal talent management process with the business. This is related specifically to your level of competency around communicating to stakeholders at all levels.
  2. If you weren’t in the recruitment world before the GFC hit or even when LinkedIn wasn’t a “thing”, go and connect with someone who was. Ask about how they recruited when top talent wasn’t listed on social media. Go back to basics and think about how you might be able to consider these tools or techniques as part of your next sourcing
  3. Get familiar with data & analytics – if you want to start really influencing the business in strategic decision making, you need to be able to access relevant, tangible data and be able to pull it together to provide key insights to your stakeholders. Although data alone won’t solve all your problems, it will definitely help solidify your message and bolster any ad-hoc content you might be sharing.

Influencing Stakeholders

Kunal Gokuldas, Head of Talent Acquisition at Civica

It’s key for TA professionals to be respected in their company and industry. We require the ability to influence hiring managers on DEI, not wanting a unicorn for every role they want to hire, not thinking there isn’t competition for talent, how to best portray a role to the market to make it appealing (i.e. why would someone want to work with you). If you can influence through expertise, knowledge of your market, and industry trends, you will become a trusted partner in the recruitment process. If your company offers training in influencing others – take it up!


Pauline Hovsepian, Talent Acquisition Executive, CROSSMARK

In this challenging market, I think all Talent Acquisition professionals need to focus on resilience as a key skill in their Professional Development. Our roles have evolved significantly in the last couple of years, so being able to problem-solve effectively and adapt efficiently will lead to higher levels of resilience to help us overcome the challenges we face each day.

Content Writing

Jody SmithJody Smith, Talent Acquisition Lead @ Level Crossing Removal Project

A key skill that I think is important for EVERY talent acq person to have and hone is content writing. There’s nothing that gives me the “ick” for a company more than a poorly written advertisement. I love creative writing, but I know there are people that don’t so for those people I say – find the person in your team that enjoys it, and do a swapsies with them! They write your advert and you can write their report for them (or something like that.) Know the skills of your team and figure out how you can leverage them.

I got Kelly Stone in last year to do a creative writing session with my TA Team and it was great! Hire her to write your content for you!

Alternatively – get to know ChatGPT really well 😉

Data and Design thinking

Pavi Iyer, Head of People & Talent, Mindset Health

There are 2 key skills that I think TA Professionals should hone and upskill in to be more effective in their roles.

  1. Analysing data: Understanding how to use & analyse data can provide valuable insights into the recruitment process and identify areas for improvements across processes and measure success (ROI). Then using this data to DRIVE initiatives or decisions would be an essential next piece of this skillset.
  2. Design thinking & storytelling: Design thinking emphasises understanding the needs and experiences of users, and applying that understanding to create solutions that meet their needs. TA professionals who can apply this approach to recruitment are essentially focusing on the needs and experiences of candidates, and designing recruitment processes and experiences that are tailored to these. This skillset, in my opinion, is highly underrated within the TA industry and has so many more applications outside of just design. They can be utilised to strengthen your brand, redefine storytelling techniques, ideate new attraction methods, help to create personas, and tailor adverts to engage candidates that are more aligned with your organisation – in turn amplifying your messaging and strengthening employee retention.

Automation, and the ability to be nimble, flexible, and fast

Ranj Pillai, Head of Talent Acquisition, Asia Pacific @ Maltem

An ability to be nimble, flexible and fast! Many of our colleagues are unfortunately out of work currently and the market has some great talent to offer in this space. It’s important to remain well networked and proactively participate in this talent specialisation.

Recruiters need to think one step ahead. I always tell my team, “work as if you are already in the next role/ promotion/step up. Wherever you want to go, if you work in that way, the rest just happens.”

Post-Covid, the Talent industry has developed and taken a front seat at the table. For many years (with my marketing background) I have always advocated that TA are the true gatekeepers of the brand they work for and therefore should always be at the table. However pre-Covid this was a challenge and recruitment were an afterthought, now they save us a seat 😊 which is fantastic and half the battle won! However, we need to jump on this and always look at talent attraction and recruitment from this lens, not just as order takers and admin. Let’s drive this forward and really attract and retain market leading talent where TA are at the heart of every discussion where external hiring or internal talent mobility and retention strategy – they should all sit within TA.

Automation is also key in a specialisation where things haven’t evolved for decades, I have a true passion for TA Transformation and change; there is plenty we can learn, develop and teach the world we work in. TA need to feel empowered and represent this change within their own organisations.

Communication & Understanding

Steve Scannell, Senior Resourcing Adviser @ New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Communication, and asking questions and digging down into what a person is really saying.  It can be too easy for a Hiring Manager to send you a job advert and you “administer” a process, but if you dig and ask what they really want and what they really need it makes everything much easier.  The same goes for candidates don’t just ask scripted questions listen to what they are saying.

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