What is a Talent Acquisition Manager? Job Description and Role

What is a Talent Acquisition Manager? Job Description and Role
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Because people are central to an organization’s success and culture, an experienced talent acquisition manager is an essential role at any company. Talent acquisition managers are responsible for helping growing businesses build teams of qualified workers who possess in-demand skills and are motivated by the organization’s vision and values.

Whether you’re looking to expand your team with a skilled talent acquisition manager or are exploring career opportunities in the space, learning about what the role entails and understanding keys to success can help you get started.  

Table of contents:

What is a talent acquisition manager?

A talent acquisition manager is responsible for identifying, attracting, and retaining qualified candidates. Talent acquisition professionals have in-depth knowledge of an organization’s overall business goals and develop and implement a talent acquisition strategy to ensure the right team is in place to support overall business objectives.

Talent acquisition managers focus both on near-term hiring needs and building a long-term strategy that forecasts which skills or roles will be in-demand in the months and years ahead.

What types of companies need a talent acquisition manager?

A talent acquisition manager can be beneficial to any business looking to scale. Talent acquisition and hiring might be managed by business owners or human resources generalists at small companies when budget and resources aren’t yet available for a talent acquisition manager. However, as an organization grows, a successful long-term strategy generally requires a dedicated professional.

Related: 7 Business Scaling Strategies for Growing Your Business  

Talent acquisition manager versus recruiter

Many people perceive talent acquisition specialists and recruiters as the same role. While both involve identifying and engaging the right talent for a team, understanding how the two roles differ is useful.

Recruiting is typically a reactive process that focuses on immediate hiring needs for a specific role or handful of roles. On the other hand, talent acquisition managers take a more proactive, strategic approach, with the intention of bringing on talent with the right skills to meet both current and long-term business goals.

Other aspects of talent acquisition that aren’t necessarily part of a recruiter’s role include focusing on ways to improve the hiring process, reduce hiring time and costs, and build a strong employer brand.

Related: What Is Talent Acquisition? Definition and Overview

Is talent acquisition the same as HR?

In some cases, talent acquisition is its own distinct team within an organization, with several specialists reporting to a talent acquisition manager. At other companies, talent acquisition falls under the broader human resources department, but the two aren’t the same.

Talent acquisition managers help ensure an organization has a team of qualified talent with relevant skills in place. HR professionals are responsible for many other aspects of the worker lifecycle, including but not limited to career pathing, training and development, compliance, benefits, payroll, and conflict resolution.

Related: Top HR Trends: The Latest Priorities and Concerns

Role, requirements, and skills for a talent acquisition manager

While the role of a talent acquisition manager can vary based on company size, industry, and location, the general overview, requirements, and skills largely remain the same.  

Role summary

An experienced talent acquisition manager excels at attracting and engaging qualified workers as an organization’s talent needs evolve. Skilled talent acquisition managers identify creative strategies to source and screen talent, drive a more efficient hiring process, and support the best possible candidate experience.

Some core talent acquisition manager responsibilities include:

  • Defining and evolving talent acquisition strategies. Impactful talent acquisition strategies are ever-evolving and align with an organization’s shifting business needs. Examples of evolving priorities include expanding geographically, launching new product offerings, transitioning to remote or hybrid work, and aligning resources during mergers and acquisitions.
  • Sourcing and attracting qualified talent. An effective talent acquisition manager has in-depth knowledge of which channels drive the most qualified candidates and return on investment for specific roles. Common channels include the company careers page, job boards, social media, work marketplaces, and more.
  • Building a strong employer brand. An employer brand is a company’s reputation from a candidate perspective. Often working in partnership with marketing, talent acquisition managers identify ways to strengthen the employer brand and excite top talent about joining the team. Aspects of an organization’s employer brand include the company careers page, team member testimonials, corporate social responsibility actions, social media content, and worker review websites.
  • Interviewing and assessing potential candidates. Once candidates apply to open roles, a talent acquisition manager is responsible for initial interviews and administering assessments to ensure individuals are qualified to move forward with the process. Assessments can include tests to gauge a candidate’s hard skills for a specific role, as well as soft skills to evaluate how an individual might work with other team members.  
  • Improving the candidate experience. In today’s competitive job market, candidates won’t hesitate to abandon a hiring process if it’s disorganized or time-consuming. Continuously identifying ways to improve the candidate experience can help talent acquisition managers ensure they don’t lose top candidates to competing job offers. Some ways to do this include automating certain hiring steps and improving candidate communication throughout the process.  
  • Identifying and implementing talent acquisition technology. The latest technology can make the hiring process more efficient, reducing costs and time spent on talent acquisition as a result. Examples of talent acquisition technology include applicant tracking systems (ATS), talent assessment tools, video interview software, and candidate marketing platforms.
  • Overseeing talent acquisition and recruitment teams. At larger organizations, the talent acquisition department consists of several team members in addition to the talent acquisition manager. A skilled manager has experience overseeing talent acquisition specialists, recruiters, and others to ensure the team achieves overall goals.

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Requirements and skills

A talent acquisition manager who meets key requirements and possesses relevant skills can start driving positive business outcomes soon after they join your team.

Requirements and skills for a talent acquisition manager can include:

  • Bachelor’s degree. Most talent acquisition manager roles require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area of study such as in human resources or business administration or a field related to the core focus of the business.
  • Professional experience in talent acquisition. Proven success in talent acquisition is important, as a manager is responsible for ensuring your organization reaches talent acquisition goals. Prior experience might include an internship, talent acquisition specialist role, or relevant projects as an independent professional.
  • Knowledge of applicant tracking systems. Most organizations today use an ATS and related technology to make the talent acquisition process more efficient. When searching for a talent acquisition manager, look for technology experience listed on candidates’ resumes or profiles and ask about it during interviews.
  • Willingness to learn different roles and requirements within a company. Every business has a different organizational structure, so engaging a talent acquisition manager who has experience attracting candidates across different roles and departments and can adapt based on evolving business needs is key.
  • Relevant soft skills. Communication, creativity, organization, and strategic thinking are a few of the many soft skills that come into play with a talent acquisition manager role. These skills can help managers develop more effective talent acquisition strategies, think outside the box to attract talent, and communicate goals and progress.


Related: Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills: Differences and What They Are

Common goals for a talent acquisition manager at an organization

Actionable, measurable goals are central to any successful talent acquisition strategy. Experienced talent acquisition managers identify both short- and long-term goals that align with broader business objectives. Gaining approval on talent acquisition goals from key decision makers across the organization is also important, as doing so ensures business leaders understand how success will be measured.

Some examples of goals talent acquisition managers set and track include:

  • Identify skill gaps across the organization
  • Attract more qualified candidates
  • Diversify the candidate pipeline
  • Speed up total time to hire
  • Reduce hiring costs
  • Improve the candidate experience
  • Increase worker engagement and retention

Related: How to Create a Talent Management Strategy

Questions a talent acquisition manager should be able to answer

Whether you’re looking to bring on a talent acquisition manager at your organization or you’re considering a career in the space, qualified talent acquisition professionals should be able to answer key questions that showcase their expertise.

Common questions include:

  • How do you ensure a positive candidate experience?
  • Which candidate sourcing channels drive the best results?
  • How do you stay updated on the latest talent acquisition trends and technology?
  • What steps have you taken to reduce hiring costs?
  • Which data points do you measure to improve talent acquisition?
  • Can you share an example of a time you had difficulty filling a role and how you overcame it?

Average salary of a talent acquisition manager

As is the case with any role, salaries for talent acquisition managers have a large range. Various factors can impact salary, including but not limited to education level, certifications, years of experience, and location.

According to data from Salary.com, the median salary for a talent acquisition manager in the U.S. at the time of writing is $124,050, with the range spanning from $93,649 to $154,790.

In addition to base salary, depending on the organization, some talent acquisition managers receive bonus compensation related to company performance, successfully filling in-demand roles, retention among recent hires, and other criteria. Other expenses that add to a talent acquisition manager’s total compensation can include benefits, insurance, and training.

Keep in mind, this average salary applies to full-time, in-house talent acquisition managers. When engaging independent talent management professionals, pay is typically structured as either hourly or project-based. Seeking independent support can drive cost savings while providing access to a broader pool of talent.

Related: The Cost of Hiring an Employee: Explanation and Formula

How to become a talent acquisition manager

If you’re looking to jump start your own career as a talent acquisition manager, doing so requires the right balance of education and experience. While no two talent acquisition career paths are identical, some common steps can help set you up for success.  

Earn a bachelor's degree

Most talent acquisition manager roles require a bachelor’s degree as the minimum level of education. Not all colleges or universities offer degrees specifically focused on talent acquisition and human resources, so other focus areas for aspiring talent acquisition managers can include business, finance, and marketing.

Complete a certification

Whether you earned a bachelor’s degree related to talent acquisition or are looking to make a career change from a different industry, completing a certification can help you learn in-demand skills. Doing so can also show organizations that you’re dedicated to continued learning. Two examples are the Strategic Talent Acquisition (STA) Certification from Human Capital Institute and the Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Gain work experience

Before you become a top talent acquisition manager, gaining relevant work experience can help you build a strong professional resume and portfolio. This can include starting out with an internship or entry-level talent acquisition role. Consider further expanding your skills and client base by exploring talent acquisition jobs and projects on Upwork.

Join professional organizations and associations

Organizations like the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP) and SHRM offer members access to exclusive content and events and can give you the opportunity to network with and learn best practices from other professionals in the talent acquisition space. Most professional associations charge a nominal annual fee and might have a list of requirements to meet to be formally accepted.

Get a master's degree

While many talent acquisition manager jobs require only a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can help you further hone your skills and stand out from other job candidates. Some programs to consider include a master’s degree in human resources management, organizational development, or business administration.

Where to find a skilled talent acquisition manager

The right talent acquisition manager can help you build a team of skilled individuals to support long-term business goals. If you’re looking for an experienced talent acquisition manager to join your organization, Upwork is here to help.  

Skilled independent professionals are available on Upwork to help your business develop and implement impactful talent acquisition strategies. Make it easier to access experienced talent acquisition talent by using Project Catalog™. Search fixed-price projects or one-on-one consultations and select the option that meets your talent acquisition goals and budget. Search available talent acquisition and recruiting projects today.

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Author Spotlight

What is a Talent Acquisition Manager? Job Description and Role
Beth Kempton
Content Writer

Beth Kempton is a B2B writer with a passion for storytelling and more than a decade of content marketing experience. She specializes in writing engaging long-form content, including blog posts, thought leadership pieces, SEO articles, case studies, ebooks and guides, for HR technology and B2B SaaS companies. In her free time, you can find Beth reading or running.

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