Talent acquisition: Key skills every HR student should study

“You have to have a talent acquisition strategy that includes how to work with the gig economy, the global economy, market demand, and compensation.”

Jenny Hayes, MSOD, PHR
Astreya Partners, Senior Manager of HR Operations
Talent Acquisition Instructor, UCSC Extension
Human Resource Management certificate program

Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but in Silicon Valley where unemployment is near a nation low, the demand for skilled recruiters is high.

“It’s a very hot economy for HR professionals in Silicon Valley,” says Jenny Hayes, MSOD, PHR.

A senior manager of HR Operations with Astreya Partners, Hayes has seen an increase in demand for the skilled recruiter in today’s stronger economy. She is the author of The Cheating Boyfriend (And Other Organizational Indiscretions) and a talent acquisition instructor in the UCSC Extension Human Resource Management certificate program.

“Recruiters are definitely going to have in-demand skills,” Hayes says. “A compensation analyst is going to make more money than a generalist, but the jobs are out there.”

A more detailed BLS projection for the 10 years between 2014 and 2024 includes:

  • Human resource managers: 9% increase
  • Compensation and benefit managers: 6% increase
  • Training and development managers: 7% increase
  • Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists: 4% increase
  • Human resources specialists: 5% increase

“In Silicon Valley, where unemployment is particularly low, however, HR is still really competitive,” Hayes says. “You need to understand the market in Silicon Valley. You have to have a talent acquisition strategy that includes how to work with the gig economy, the global economy, market demand, and compensation.”

Three key areas


“Understanding the technology piece of HR is going to be very important,” Hayes says. “When the economy fluctuates you have to make lot of changes in the way you source and the technology you use. There are so many tools out there that provide ways to save time and get better qualified people.”

Although it varies from company to company, HR students will have a sense of what’s out there and what’s coming down the line as far as automation, artificial intelligence and analytics.

While some companies are relying heavily on employee referrals to find new talent, others are using automation to do the initial screening of talent, and still others are beginning to use new tools for facial recognition that read applicant’s expressions to determine suitability.

“But essentially they’re going to need a human being at the end of the day to be able to further the relationship with the candidate,” Hayes says. “The recruiter becomes more of a strategic partner rather than asking basic questions. The recruiter is going to build that human bond which is a crucial step in the process.”

Compensation and Benefits

Understanding compensation and benefits is a critical piece of the HR generalist’s toolbox.

“You need to understand where the market is and what the trends are,” Hayes says. “When you’re trying to compete for talent, how do you know if the salary you’re offering is in line with the market?”

Global HR

So many companies are bridging out to other parts of the world. Today’s HR specialist is going to understand how this impacts an organization’s HR responsibilities.

“There are many companies that have a global footprint, particularly in Silicon Valley,” Hayes said. “It’s critical to familiarize oneself with global HR trends. For example, when you are staffing in the EMEA, what works in the U.S. may not work in another part of the world.  Overtime laws are different; worker mobility can be both easy and complex. There is a lot to consider.”

JENNY HAYES, B.A., M.S.O.D., P.H.R., has over 15 years’ experience in staffing, training and technology management. She is the senior human resources manager at Astreya, a global IT staffing services firm based in Santa Clara. Hayes is also a freelance writer for business and staffing magazines and blogs such as Small Business Growth Magazine, Careerealism and ERE.net. Hayes is also the author of The Cheating Boyfriend (And Other Organizational Indiscretions), an entertaining compilation of blog pieces she’s written over the years about key problems in an organization illustrated through pop culture references.

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