Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment: The Differences and HR’s Key Role

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Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment: The Differences and HR’s Key Role

Whether you are considering talent acquisition vs. recruitment, both are critical to the organization’s success. 

Employees are the real assets of any organization. And employing the right people contributes immensely to achieving productivity targets, making appropriate business decisions, and keeping employees motivated and engaged

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment: What HR should know
What is talent acquisition?
What is recruitment?
The difference between the talent acquisition role and the recruiter role
Tips for determining which role is best for your organization

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment: What HR should know

Talent acquisition and recruitment share the same goal of filling open positions. 

However, there are key differences between the two functions: 

Recruitment vs.Talent acquisition 
Short-term – emphasis on filling immediate vacancies Long-term – talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy by anticipating future staffing requirements based on business needs 
Regular recruitment and volume hiring, usually for entry-level roles Focuses on the strategic side of hard-to-fill positions
Can be deployed immediately – recruiters always hire for positions that are always needed, so recruiting tactics are deployed on the get-go Employs more time and planning – TA specialists study the company’s different roles and departments, as well as the skills and experience needed to succeed in each area

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is HR’s long-term strategy to attract the best talent to help grow the business. It focuses on finding executives, leaders, and managers with specific skill sets. 

Talent acquisition is critical in achieving business goals. Managers and high-level executives contribute significantly to the company’s productivity and innovation, which is essential to staying competitive in the marketplace. It also impacts employee retention. More than filling a particular vacancy, it ensures hiring the best candidate with the right skills and cultural fit to build and sustain a lasting career within the organization. 

Talent acquisition also helps in saving time and money.  Hiring unsuitable candidates can lead to poor performance and employee turnover. On the flip side, having the right talent in place could mean no disruption in productivity. 

A strategic approach to talent acquisition  

Here are different strategies to develop a solid talent acquisition strategy

  • Employer branding. Creating brand awareness for the company as an ideal workplace to attract high-quality candidates that match the company’s vision and values 
  • Recruitment marketing. Promoting the company’s job opportunities to potential employees using inbound recruiting, candidate engagement, candidate management, and candidate experience strategies 
  • Talent sourcing. Proactively looking for passive candidates that might be suitable for the company’s future business objectives. The sourcing of candidates can be performed via social media, networking events, and professional associations. Sourcing takes time and 

requires multiple interactions in company emails, newsletters, social media DMs, and tests to build relationships that will finally end up in a job offer

  • Employee referrals. Employees refer candidates from their personal and professional networks that they know and believe to have a high organizational fit.
  • Talent pipeline: Identify, nurture and recruit talent to build a strong candidate pool to fill roles as needed. Like sourcing, the talent pipeline needs to be nurtured to ensure a healthy pipeline of potential hires.
  • Succession planning. Prioritizing employee promotion over external hiring to fill vacancies is an excellent way to save money on recruitment costs while providing career development opportunities to employees. 

HR’s role in talent acquisition

To get the most out of your talent acquisition initiatives, here are steps HR can follow: 

Step 1: Evaluate the organization

Consult with management and business leaders to identify the organization’s overall objectives. Understand the needs of each department to gain insights into their long-term talent requirements. For example, the company could be in the middle of mergers and acquisitions or planning to launch new lines of business in the next 8 months and would need additional people on the team. 

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Step 2: Perform a talent gap analysis

Examine the responsibilities and competencies of current employees. What’s skills are missing? Check employee records for performance evaluations, and notes on exit interviews to determine the skills needed to achieve business objectives. 

Step 3: Build a talent acquisition strategy

Based on the skills requirements and the ideal candidate profile, develop a strategy outlining attracting and recruiting the right talent to meet your business objectives. It may involve rewriting job descriptions, performing recruitment marketing, creating employer brand campaigns, or launching an employee referral program. 

Step 4: Create talent management initiatives

Once you have hired the right candidate, implement talent management programs to help your employees develop the skills and competencies needed to achieve your business objectives. It can be a combination of training, mentoring, coaching, and other forms of learning and development

Step 5: Conduct regular evaluation and monitoring

Finally, it is vital to continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your talent acquisition and management strategies. It means tracking the performance of recruitment marketing or employer branding: Did you notice an improvement in the quality of the candidate hired? Was the employee happy with their role or the organization? 

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is the process of finding and hiring qualified candidates to fill job vacancies within an organization. It involves a series of activities aimed at attracting, screening, selecting, and hiring the most suitable candidates for a particular role.

Compared to using a recruitment agency, having an in-house recruiter can benefit the company because they can help simplify the hiring process using recruitment software, can better assess if the candidate is culturally-fit for the company, hire better quality candidates since they have more information about the company’s business and staffing objectives and have direct access to the hiring managers who can provide in-depth information about the ideal candidate. 

In contrast to talent acquisition’s proactive nature, recruitment takes a more reactive approach to hiring. Talent acquisition anticipates the future workforce needs of a company, while recruitment fulfills instant staffing needs.  

Being reactive can be problematic because it places pressure on HR to find the right person immediately. Finding and hiring top candidates takes time, but because of the urgency of the situation, recruiters sometimes settle on what is available in the market. You could find the right candidate, but if there’s a mismatch between goals and values, you will likely recruit again. 

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Recruitment usually occurs when: 

  • Employee resigns
  • A department expands
  • Line managers badgers recruiters to find more employees because of ongoing work 
  • Recruiter posts vacancies on job boards and social media
  • Candidate accepts job offer but must render their notice period with their last employer 

HR’s role in recruitment

HR plays a huge part in the hiring cycle. Here are some key duties of HR in recruitment: 

  1. Analyze job specifications: Analyze job requirements based on the individual’s role in the organization
  1. Writing job descriptions and posting them: Developing JD that accurately reflects the skills needed to perform the job and the day-to-day tasks of the selected person and publishing them on different platforms and job boards
  1. Screening and background checking: Reviewing resumes to determine the most appropriate candidates. Making initial phone calls to candidates to evaluate applicants further. Performing reference checks to vet the person’s qualifications and work experience
  1. Conducting interviews. Asking questions to determine the person’s fit for the position. They may also work with hiring managers to conduct interviews as part of the candidate selection procedure 
  1. Managing job offers and salary negotiations. Extending the job offer to the selected candidate, guaranteeing the right benefits and compensation is provided based on the qualifications and job market information
  1. Onboarding. Welcoming new hires to the organization and ensuring they are set up for success in their roles 
Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment: The Differences

The difference between the talent acquisition role and the recruiter role

The role of the talent acquisition manager

Talent acquisition managers’ responsibilities are much larger than just filling vacancies. They’re also tasked with building a strong employer brand and providing a good candidate experience that guarantees a steady stream of qualified candidates interested in working for an organization. 

Common tasks include: 

  • Analysing current and future staffing needs
  • Design and implementing employer branding and recruitment marketing activities to attract the best talent 
  • Developing talent acquisition plans and strategies 
  • Executing employee referral programs
  • Study talent acquisition process to find bottlenecks and address them 
  • Conducting candidate satisfaction evaluations 
  • Reviewing candidate experience to find ways of enhancing it 
  • Employing different sourcing methods for hard-to-fill roles
  • Assessing talent acquisition performance to ensure staffing KPIs are reached

The role of the recruiter 

Recruiters fill vacancies to meet organization’s hiring goals. They commonly manage the whole recruiting cycle, from writing job descriptions to facilitating job offers. 

Typical duties include: 

  • Develop hiring objectives in alignment with the company’s goals 
  • Collaborate with hiring managers about their candidate needs and preferences, specifically the responsibilities of the role, KPIs, and performance objectives and skills required
  • Use different recruitment techniques to attract candidates like social media, job boards, paid advertising, attend networking events and career fairs
  • Conduct background checks and references
  • Initiate and coordinate job interviews 
  • Prepare job offers 
  • Manage onboarding process for new hires 
  • Evaluate recruitment process to check bottlenecks and address them
  • Ensure recruitment KPIs are met 

Key differences between talent acquisition manager and recruiter

Recruiters and talent acquisition managers are both responsible for filling open positions. However, they have different responsibilities in the company. 

Recruiters are more tactical in their approach, as they go through the usual step-by-step process of hiring people quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, talent acquisition managers use a strategic approach in addressing staffing requirements. TA managers recruit for managerial and people with specific skill sets, they have to develop long-term plans to attract these individuals. They brainstorm different ways of building positive impressions and relationships (employer branding) to persuade these people to join the organization. 

Tips for determining which role is best for your organization

Determining whether a talent acquisition specialist or recruiter fits your organization requires a careful analysis and consideration of the organization’s needs for specific skills. Here are some tips for HR professionals to guide them in their decision-making process: 

  1. Identify the talent acquisition needs. Does the organization need to hire people for leadership positions? Or is the company ramping up entry-level positions due to company expansion in a certain location? Distinguish whether the company is looking to pipeline candidates or fill immediate vacancies. 
  2. Evaluate the competencies required for the position. Once you have identified the organization’s needs, assess the employee who will manage the responsibilities. Does the company require a recruiter to perform ongoing sourcing and screening or a talent acquisition specialist to build a talent pipeline and nurture candidate relationships. 
  3. Assess the existing HR department. Consider the skills of your current human resource team. Check if they have the expertise to conduct talent acquisition activities or if the organization can hire an external recruiter who can work independently. 
  4. Consider the organization’s culture. Examine the company values. Is the organization looking for a recruiter who can quickly fill open positions or a talent acquisition specialist to boost the employer brand and organically attract future employees? 
  5. Check the cost and time investment. Can the company hire a talent acquisition specialist who may require time and effort to accomplish deliverables or a recruiter who can hire people quickly? 

When should HR use talent acquisition versus recruitment?

Talent acquisition is appropriate for organizations looking to create a strong employer brand, develop a healthy talent pipeline, and hire top talent. It is a long-term approach that needs significant time, effort, and resources. Organizations clearly understand their workforce requirements and are willing to invest in building candidate relationships. Usually, TA specialists recruit for high-level positions or people with specialized skills. 

Meanwhile, organizations needing to fill positions quickly are best suited to hiring a recruiter. Recruiters are best suited to work in organizations that know their immediate workforce needs and typically hire people in entry-level positions. 

Key takeaways

  • Talent acquisition and recruitment are essential parts of the company. They are tasked to attract and hire candidates for job openings. 
  • The approach that HR should use depends on the company’s goals and needs 
  • If the company aims to build a strong employer brand and attract top leaders and skilled professionals, talent acquisition is the way to go
  • If the organization has an urgent need to fill a job opening, recruitment may be the better approach.
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