Only 18% of HR professionals describe their company’s talent acquisition function as “top-notch” or “advanced,” according to the HR Research Institute’s 2021 study on the future of talent acquisition.

That’s a considerable drop from the 29% found in last year’s effort. A possible reason for the decline: a loss of TA personnel or other capabilities during the COVID-19 downturn.

The Research Institute conducted the study of HR professionals, the Future of Talent Acquisition 2021, to examine the state of talent recruitment, recruiting technology, hiring metrics and perceived drivers that impact the TA team’s ability to meet strategic talent acquisition goals.

Fifty-one percent of HR professionals say their TA function is “progressing,” while nearly a third – 31% – describe it as “improvisational, chaotic or nonexistent.”

Scarcity of Talent

An analysis of the survey shows that the biggest barriers to TA success include not being able to find talent that meets the job requirements (61%) and not having the right skills in the applicant pool (46%).

Meanwhile, organizations that are considered recruitment leaders are almost three times as likely to use metrics for diversity and inclusion efforts, and more than twice as likely to expect an increase in employee referrals and use programmatic advertising.

They’re twice as likely to use sourcing technology, have a recruitment marketing system and leverage talent and skills analytics.

Other notable findings:

  • Some 54% say talent acquisition is among the top three HR issues their company faces.
  • Sixty-one percent say being unable able to find the talent that meets a job’s requirements is the top barrier to success.
  • Over half, 53%, use programmatic advertising to gain an advantage.
  • Video interview technology is used by 41% of TA teams, making it the second most frequently used solution behind the veritable ATS (53%). Performance management systems and referral systems came next, at 38% each.

“Talent acquisition departments are so busy trying to keep up with the pressures and demands of sourcing and hiring that companies are lacking clear hiring objectives and strategies,” commented Debbie McGrath,’s CEO.

“Employers will have to put more focus on developing strategic talent acquisition goals in order to find and recruit the right talent.”

By Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.