What Does a Talent Acquisition Associate Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore a career as a talent acquisition associate and strategies you can use to attract and hire top candidates for your company. Learn more about this career, including salary and job outlook.

[Featured Image] Female talent acquisition associate accepting a resume from a male job candidate.

Talent acquisition is the process of recruiting and hiring qualified candidates into your organization. As a talent acquisition associate, you will oversee the recruitment process for your company. While talent acquisition is part of the broader human resources department, it represents a different hiring side than recruitment. Recruitment focuses on filling vacancies as quickly as possible, but talent acquisition is about continuously looking for the most skilled professionals who will fit into your company's culture and goals. 

In this article, you will learn more about the work that a talent acquisition associate does, the skills and education you need to become a talent acquisition associate, and the job outlook for this career. 

What is a talent acquisition associate?

A talent acquisition associate is a human resources professional who focuses on attracting and hiring qualified applicants on behalf of their company. In some cases, you may work within the HR department or for a dedicated talent acquisition department. 

In an increasingly competitive labor market, companies need to find ways to stand out among the crowd and make themselves attractive to potential applicants. Companies can’t only think about recruiting when they have open positions but also need to always look for potential candidates. Talent acquisition departments empower companies to think about the kind of candidates they want and pursue strategies to attract those professionals.

How is talent acquisition different from human resources or recruiting?

Both talent acquisition and recruitment fall under the human resources umbrella, but they have subtle differences. Human resources is the broader term for all the activities required to support staff. Talent acquisition can fall under the HR department, but in some cases, it has a dedicated department.

Recruitment and talent acquisition both bring new employees into an organization, but they represent two different approaches to achieving that goal. Recruitment addresses open positions in an organization by finding bodies to fill them as soon as possible. Talent acquisition is an ongoing effort to find and attract the most qualified candidates to the organization.

What does a talent acquisition associate do?

As a talent acquisition associate, your main goal will be to find and attract the most qualified candidates possible to your company. You will look for the right person to fit the role, company goals, and culture. You may work on a team with other HR professionals.

The process you’ll follow as a talent acquisition associate will look something like this: 

  • Step 1: Understand the needs of your organization. You will need to understand what qualities a candidate needs to be successful in the role you’re hiring for. For this reason, it’s important to understand your company's culture, values, and goals. The right applicant will be similarly aligned.

  • Step 2: Create a network where you can make contact with talent. Through networking, you can meet potential candidates or people who may be able to introduce you to potential candidates. You can build relationships with people online, such as through social media, or connect in person, like during industry events or conferences.

  • Step 3: Interview professionals who apply to your organization. You'll need to assess the candidate’s resume and interview to determine if they will be a good fit. Some applicants may actively seek a job and apply to your organization. Others are passive candidates who aren’t trying to find a different role but might decide to take a better job with another company.

  • Step 4: Make your candidate selection. You may need to narrow down your list of candidates before making your final choice. You may also choose backup candidates if your first selection doesn’t accept your offer. 

  • Step 5: Onboard your new employee. Create an onboarding process that makes it as easy as possible for new employees to join your team and feel comfortable in their new roles. This means ensuring they have all of the information and resources they need and a clear understanding of company expectations.

Tasks and responsibilities

Some of the tasks you might perform as a talent acquisition associate include:

  • Analyzing strategies for attracting talent to determine the best fit for your organization

  • Making connections with professionals in your industry

  • Marketing and representing your company’s brand and reputation

  • Interviewing candidates

  • Managing a team of professionals in recruitment or talent acquisition activities

Talent acquisition associate skills

As a talent acquisition associate, you will need a set of skills to help you succeed in this role. Those include technical skills like using application tracking systems, human resources information systems, and knowledge of the recruitment cycle and process. However, you will also require skills like communication and empathy because you will work closely with others, including team members and potential candidates.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the talent acquisition associate skills you’ll need to be successful in this role:

  • Application tracking systems: Most companies use some form of ATS or application tracking system to manage potential candidates. Experience with these systems will be important to working as a talent acquisition associate. 

  • Human resources information system: The HRIS contains all the company's stored employee data. You’ll need experience with this technology to work as a talent acquisition associate.

  • Recruitment process: You’ll need to be familiar with the steps involved with the recruitment process: understanding what you need, networking, interviewing, selecting, and onboarding.

  • Recruitment strategies: You should have experience with recruitment strategies, such as properly positioning your brand or focusing on incredible employee experience, to help you successfully attract candidates as a talent acquisition associate.

  • Communication: Networking, interviewing, and working with a team are all examples of how talent acquisition associates interact with people. Communication will be an important asset to manage relationships in this role.

Talent acquisition associate salary and job outlook

According to Glassdoor, the average talent acquisition associate salary in the United States is $59,710 [1]. The average person in this role reports earning $4,946 in additional pay, which could constitute bonuses, profit sharing, tips, and other miscellaneous pay, bringing the total average salary to $64,638 [1]. Factors that can affect your pay include your geographic location, highest level of education, experience in the field, and more.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the human resource specialist career is projected to grow at a rate of 6 percent between 2022 and 2032 [2].

Talent acquisition associate career path

You can become a talent acquisition associate as an entry-level path into human resources or move into the field from a similar entry-level position, such as a recruiter or a human resources consultant. After gaining experience at this level, you could become a recruitment consultant or talent manager.

Education and training

A talent acquisition associate's most common level of education is a bachelor’s degree, typically in business, human resource management, or psychology. Alternatively, or in addition to a degree, you can enroll in certificate programs to help you learn more targeted talent acquisition skills or to demonstrate your credentials to an employer.

Learn more with Coursera.

Take the next step toward a career as a talent acquisition associate, and consider earning your Human Resource Associate Professional Certificate offered by the HR Certification Institute on Coursera. This five-course series covers topics relevant to the work of human resources specialists, human resources associates, or human resources coordinators.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Salary: Talent Acquisition Associate in 2024, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/talent-acquisition-associate-salary-SRCH_KO0,28.htm.” Accessed March 18, 2024. 

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