The role of L&D in talent acquisition

Many companies see L&D as something that happens after they hire. They pull out learning activities to plug skills gaps, or dangle development opportunities to keep people engaged.

Written by Mind Tools for Business
Published 13 September 2021
The role of L&D in talent acquisition

But your L&D program – or lack of one – could make the difference between someone applying for your job vacancy or looking elsewhere. Here’s why. 

Job seekers want L&D opportunities 

You may have read about “The Great Resignation” brought about by the pandemic. Employees are quitting, retiring or taking time out to reflect on their career and life priorities.   

There are record numbers of vacant jobs and not enough applicants to fill them. In the U.S., for example, there are 8.6 million people out of work but 10 million job openings. [1] 

In many sectors, it’s a job seekers’ market and employers are scrambling to offer higher wages and standout perks. But maybe they should be looking to their L&D departments first.  

Millennials, for example, value growth more than salary, with 65% saying they accepted a job because of development opportunities. This stat becomes more significant when you consider Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. [2] 

But the attraction of L&D crosses generations. Gallup reveals that 69% of non-Millennials also see development opportunities as key when choosing a job. [3]  

Investing in L&D shows you’re investing in people – regardless of age. And candidates are looking for what you can offer them now and how you can help further their careers.

L&D helps find internal talent 

The talent you’re looking for may already be in your organization. Re- and up-skilling employees can help fill the roles you need now and in the future.  

What’s more, organizations with “growth mindsets” have employees keen to apply what they’ve learned to their jobs – and share knowledge with colleagues. [4] Handy when you consider the World Economic Forum predicts more than half of employees will require “significant reskilling” by 2022. [5]. To up- or re-skill your people:

  • Identify in-demand skills when researching, developing, and updating your L&D program. 
  • Use data analysis and benchmarking tools to identify skills gaps to address.  

  • Offer easy-to-access digital resources for job-specific training plus sought after soft, problem-solving and creativity skills. 

Do that and you’ll better balance the skills required today with those needed in the future of your industry. Which LinkedIn research reveals is one of talent developers’ biggest challenges. [6]  

Promote your L&D efforts 

You should team up with your HR department to showcase the type of learning and development opportunities you offer. But think beyond job ads, because jobseekers will. They’ll scour your company site, employee reviews, and lists such as Fortune’s Best Places to Work For to see what L&D options are on offer. 

Jobseekers talk to their peers, too. Second only to job ads, Glassdoor research reveals that friends are their preferred source to learn about a job. [7]  

They’ll also follow your leaders and what they have to say about learning opportunities on social media. But that can be a stumbling block. Our research reveals that just 31% of business leaders recognize how their learning efforts align with their business plan. And only 24% can articulate the value of learning in their organization. 

That’s why L&D teams and leaders must agree on – and develop learning programs – together.

Getting your L&D right 

So, what’s the right approach for your learners? A 2018 LinkedIn report found that employees want to learn at their own pace and “in the point of need” with access to high-quality, digital resources. [8] And that was before the pandemic! 

Our research reveals that top-performing organizations go a step further. They:
Involve learners – asking what they want to learn and how. Creative or leadership skills? Online, in-person, or a blend? Ask!

  • Spark connections – embracing technology so people can collaborate and share knowledge.
  • Empower self-determined learners who can pick up the knowledge and skills they need when and where they want to.

When you put steps like these in place, you create the conditions for a culture of learning. Learning becomes a habit and a shared value for employees. 

A Culture Amp study found that employees with access to the L&D they need are 21% more engaged. Engaged people will stay on, develop skills needed now and for your organization’s future, and champion your company to attract talent. [9] 


[1] Staples, T. (2019). Why Collaboration Between HR and Learning Can Close Skills Gaps Faster [online]. Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[2] Cox, J. (2021). There are about 1 million more job openings than people looking for work [online] Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[3] Adkins, A and Brandon, R (2017). Millennials Want Jobs to Be Development Opportunities [online] Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[4] Lutin, L. (2020). Superlearning: Reskilling, upskilling and outskilling for a future-proof workforce [online]. Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[5] Emerald Works (2020). Back to the Future: Why tomorrow’s workforce needs a learning culture [online]. Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[6] [8] LinkedIn. 2018 Workplace Learning Report [online]. Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[7] Glassdoor, (2018). Glassdoor Study Reveals What Job Seekers Are Looking For [online] Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

[9] Croswel, L. Focus on learning and development to increase retention [online] Available here. [Accessed 9 September 2021]. 

About the author

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business brings accessible, on-demand performance tools and resources focused on leadership, management and personal effectiveness that empower colleagues to perform in today’s progressive workplaces. Helping them build happy and successful careers and to contribute positively to the success of organizations, the world over. At Mind Tools for Business, empowering people to thrive at work has been our passion for 25 years.

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