Talent Acquisition

Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment

By Mike Baumgarten

Last updated: Mar 7, 2023

    Table of contents

Recruitment and talent acquisition often get used interchangeably. However, while they both have a similar goal — getting the best talent on board — talent acquisition and recruitment are vastly different in approach.

In this article, we’re diving into recruitment, talent acquisition, and the difference between the two.

We’ll cover:

  • What is recruitment?
  • What is talent acquisition?
  • What’s the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition?
  • Talent acquisition vs. recruitment — which approach is better?

Let’s get into it.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is the process of finding and attracting, evaluating, and hiring qualified and experienced candidates to fill existing vacancies at a company or organization. Recruitment usually follows a pre-defined, standardized recruitment process that is typically implemented due to one of two reasons:

  1. Company growth, or
  2. Staff turnover.

Essentially, recruitment is a short-term process whose purpose is to fill your immediate needs. This doesn’t mean that recruitment doesn’t take planning — it just means that when it’s time to recruit, you already have a pre-defined plan ready for implementation. The final step of recruitment is to have the candidate sign an offer letter - check out this template for job offter letter.

What is talent acquisition?

Like recruitment, talent acquisition is about finding the most qualified and experienced people to work for your company. While recruitment is a short-term process that tends to be standardized and reactive, however, talent acquisition is about the long game of your org.

Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy. It requires a broad understanding of your long-term business goals and involves a more flexible, dynamic approach from your recruitment team.

Talent acquisition initiatives include:

  • Referrals: Many orgs find that the best hires come from encouraging current employees to refer network contacts and friends for open positions within the company.
  • Networking: Being connected in your industry is an important part of talent acquisition. This includes attending relevant industry events and building diverse social networks online.
  • Social media: Part of networking is having an active presence on social media. LinkedIn continues to be the biggest online tool for recruitment and talent acquisition, and platforms like Twitter and Instagram also have great potential for both.
  • Online job boards: Just like social media, online job boards and career sites are an important tool for both recruitment and talent acquisition — particularly industry-specific boards.
  • Employer branding: This serves two important functions — first, to attract new talent by enhancing the appeal of your org, and second, to retain existing talent through high job satisfaction.

What’s the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition?

The difference between recruitment and talent acquisition is that recruitment is about filling vacancies. It’s an action, or reaction — a tactical process to solve an immediate problem.

Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a strategy. It’s an ongoing process whose purpose is to:

  • Make your org the most attractive place for the best talent to work, and
  • Ensure that you make use of the many avenues through which candidates can be sourced.

Talent acquisition tends to focus on long-term HR planning and finding the best talent for positions that require a very specific skill set. It’s often about finding specialists, leaders, or future executives for your org. Essentially, it tends to focus more on the strategic side of tougher positions to fill.

As mentioned, talent acquisition and recruitment share a similar goal. This means that there will always be a certain overlap between efforts within the two. For example, employee referral is a talent acquisition initiative, but it’s also a great candidate sourcing strategy within the recruitment process.

The difference lies in how it’s employed. Encouraging your employees to refer their friends and network contacts because you need to fill a position ASAP (recruitment), for example, is very different to having an ongoing referral program designed to cover both current and future hiring needs (talent acquisition).

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment — which approach is better?

Both recruitment and talent acquisition have an appropriate time and place. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to plan for every promotion, retirement, or departure. Sometimes, you simply need to fill roles quickly. In those cases, you need to have an effective recruitment process ready to go.

That being said, there are certain benefits to talent acquisition that make this approach a more sustainable solution than recruitment.

Below, we’ll focus on two important benefits to talent acquisition:

  1. Planning ahead gets the best talent on board
  2. Strategic efforts help you hold retain your talent

1. Planning ahead gets the best talent on board

Talent acquisition is about planning ahead and approaching people as a strategic investment. It continuously takes into account how to attract, engage, hire, and advance these people to help your company thrive.

Some of these elements also figure in recruitment. However, as we mentioned earlier, a recruitment process has to be ready to put into action when it’s needed. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is dynamic and flexible. It’s a continuous effort to establish your org as the best place to work while simultaneously improving the ways in which you do so.

It’s also worth noting that talent acquisition scales better than recruitment. Because recruitment tends to focus more on your current needs, the process’ success or failure is obvious and linear. After all, too many vacant roles that aren’t filled in time can result in issues such as lower productivity, employee burnout, and revenue loss.

Talent acquisition is based on strategic planning. For example, say you’re planning to launch a new product or service, or perhaps to open a new location overseas. Before these plans can take off, you’re going to need the right people on board — in this way, your long-term plans are facilitated by your talent acquisition efforts.

Because talent acquisition is a strategic effort that’s always running, it also helps you adapt to the unexpected better than recruitment can. In talent acquisition, you’re continuously building networks and engaging both internal and external talent. This means that when you need to fill that specialist role, if you don’t already have certain candidates in mind for it, you’ll probably know where to source them.

2. Strategic efforts help you retain your talent

Part of talent acquisition is to make sure that your org is the most attractive place for the best talent to work. Once you have that talent on board, you want to hold on to it — and a talent acquisition strategy can help you do that.

Many orgs don’t know why their employees leave. Business owners tend to think it’s all about money. It often is — but money isn’t everything. For example, in a recent study by Pew Research Center, 63% of participants said alongside low pay, that their main reason for quitting was a lack of advancement opportunities.

A talent acquisition strategy can help you prevent your employees from quitting their jobs by identifying and anticipating the reasons employees might consider leaving your org. This allows you to address these issues to prevent your recruitment team from having to hire due to a lack of awareness in your company.

For example, one effective way to find out why employees may quit their jobs is to conduct exit interviews. When employees leave, ask them:

  • How could we have made your time with us better?
  • What measures can we take to improve our workplace for current and future employees?

Your people are your most valuable asset. Your relationship with them doesn’t end when they sign their contract. And, if you do talent acquisition right, it doesn’t end when they leave either.

Employee insights can help you continuously improve your org as a workplace. This makes your future hires much more likely to stay long-term — and your past hires more likely to speak well of you to their network.

Remember — recruiting talent isn’t just about deciding if a candidate is the right fit for your org. It’s also about showing potential talent that your org is the right fit for them.

Note: Showing candidates how they fit into your org has never been more important. Want to stand out in the crowd? Set up your company page and let The Org help you with your talent acquisition efforts.

Key takeaways

While they serve a similar purpose, talent acquisition and recruitment differ vastly in approach.

Recruitment tends to be a short-term process whose purpose is to fill your immediate hiring needs. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a more dynamic, flexible approach — an ongoing strategy that requires a broad understanding of your long-term business goals.

Both recruitment and talent acquisition are important parts of running a successful business. You don’t always have time to plan ahead — and when you don’t, an effective recruitment process will help ensure that you get the best talent on board as quickly as possible.

However, in the long run, talent acquisition is a far more sustainable approach than recruitment. Talent acquisition is scalable, and it adapts far better to the unexpected than recruitment. It allows you to continuously plan ahead and get the right people on board at the right time — and, if done right, it helps you hold on to them, too.

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