Every business needs the best people if it wants to not only survive but thrive in the competitive market environment. But when hiring new employees, executives and HR managers often talk about recruitment and talent acquisition as if they were the same thing.
They’re not. In fact, recruitment and talent acquisition are distinct enough that they often involve different hiring strategies and efforts. Recruitment is more focused on filling open positions as quickly as possible, while talent acquisition is focused on cultivating talent to fill positions at organizations long-term.
Today, let’s explore recruitment vs. talent acquisition so you can determine which hiring strategy better suits your business needs.
In a nutshell, recruitment is a temporary process that involves searching for and hiring specific people to fill specific vacancies at a company.
For example, say you’re looking to fill an accounting position for your organization. The need is high priority and immediate. Recruitment is simple, straightforward, and to the point and it’s only overleveraged when needed.
This is not to say the search and vetting won’t be thorough. Not only must the candidate be fully qualified for the position, but they must also be able to use accounting software that comes with crucial features like claim management tools and compatibility with your tax process. In that case, you’ll do an in-depth search for the right candidate for the position, evaluate them, and make a choice.
Talent acquisition defined
Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is an ongoing process which is a little more complex. While it is like recruitment in that it is trying to find great people to work for an organization, talent acquisition is focused on the long game.
As a flexible and more dynamic approach, talent acquisition involves working with your recruitment team to find talent for your organization’s most important positions, including:
- Head managers or executives like the CEO or CFO
- Up-and-coming workers who can play leadership roles in the next few years
- Heads for new departments who are on board with the broader direction of the company
In a way, talent acquisition is about acquiring the best talent for your organization overall and in the long term. It’s not about merely filling positions with those who are qualified to do a specific job. But at the same time, your talent acquisition efforts must take recruitment policies and practices into consideration.
Which is more important?
Both talent acquisition and recruitment are necessary for you to fill out the positions in your organization and ensure that you have the best people possible for all of your business goals.
That said, talent acquisition often has an outsized importance in startups and larger organizations alike, especially when you are sourcing talent for major positions like CFO and similar spots.
Talent acquisition means finding the right talent for your company in terms of both skill qualifications and personality. With talent acquisition, you’re not just looking for anyone; you’re looking for the best person to join your team for the long haul.
It involves going through a more extensive searching process, sometimes spending months or even years finding the right person for the position. Oftentimes, it requires looking inward and elevating people already in your organization to higher positions. It also may involve courting or cultivating recruitment resources for a while until you acquire the talent you need to reach new heights of success.
In contrast, recruitment is needed on a case-by-case basis and may be handled in a more rote and procedural way. For example, if you need to staff a new warehouse to avoid supply chain disruptions, you’ll use recruitment practices rather than talent acquisition practices. You just need people who can get the job done, not necessarily warehouse workers who will stick with your company for decades to come.
Anticipating changes through talent acquisition
Talent acquisition is an important part of making sure your company evolves and adapts to changing market conditions. For example, the manufacturing industry is undergoing a big trend toward green technologies and manufacturing practices. While far from complete, company executives who want to stay on the ball and remain relevant in 20 years will want to acquire talent that understands how to leverage green technologies.
Because of this, a manufacturing company may decide to prioritize talent acquisition from eco-friendly or green energy industries and companies. They might start opening a few new green technology positions, might decide to replace current department heads with new managers who are more adjusted to the changing industrial environment once they retire, and more.
When to focus on recruitment
Since talent acquisition is often discussed in higher-level recruitment meetings, it can be tough to tell when you need to focus on recruitment instead of long-term talent acquisition efforts. Think about what you need out of the new recruit. If you need to hire a web developer to build your website for instance, you might not expect them to be around in a few years. You just need a professional highly skilled in a particular area to do a short-term project.
Generally speaking, it’s time for your employee management department to focus on recruitment when:
- You need to hire a lot of employees or fill a lot of positions in rapid succession
- You have a short deadline to hire
- The positions that need to be filled are not necessarily leadership material. These include entry-level positions or even middle management positions depending on your industry
Your recruitment process will include all the standard strategies, like:
- Appearing at job fairs or similar meetings
- Using job sites and similar platforms to post open positions
- Offering applications to individuals who visit your website
Leveraging both strategies successfully
Truly successful companies will leverage both talent acquisition and recruitment at the right times. Recruitment is often needed sporadically during times when several employees leave or when you open a new department or facility. In these instances, you need to recruit a lot of workers who can fill open positions to a capable extent without necessarily worrying about their long-term retention.
At the same time, executives should constantly be running talent acquisition strategies, including:
- Using brand marketing to make your workplace appear as an attractive place to work for the talent you want to acquire
- Taking referrals from partnered or competing companies
- Networking extensively, especially when it comes to executive talent acquisition
- Using career sites and job boards to begin your hunt for talent, generally without a set deadline in mind
In some cases, recruitment can funnel into talent acquisition by bringing stellar talent to the attention of executives. Some new recruits for your company might end up being cornerstone employees in a few years.
Overall, recruitment and talent acquisition are both key parts of ongoing staff management and human resources responsibilities. You shouldn’t ignore one in favor of the other, but managers and HR executives need to tell the difference between both efforts so they can fill positions efficiently while still nurturing talent over the long term.