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What's the Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition?

October 14, 2022 Talent Management
Michelle Hawley Freelance Editor and Writer
By Michelle Hawley LinkedIn

Recruitment and talent acquisition may look the same from the outside, but they have some fundamental differences.

Talent acquisition takes recruitment to the next level. It’s about more than filling an empty seat — the goal is to find the right person and entice them to choose a position with your company.

Every recruiter wants to find a good match for their open jobs. But COVID-19’s changes to the workforce have made this task more difficult. That’s where a focus on talent acquisition — rather than recruitment — could be the solution.

Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment

The difference between talent acquisition and recruitment can be hard to pinpoint, especially since many companies incorporate aspects of both into their hiring processes.

The best way to sum it up: talent acquisition is strategic, while recruitment is operational.

In other words, recruitment sees an empty position and aims to fill it as quickly as possible, allowing the business to continue typical operations. Talent acquisition takes a long-term approach to sourcing talent that can drive the company’s objectives. With this method, hiring managers consider the impact the individual will have on the business over the next three to five years.

Because talent acquisition looks at long-term goals rather than short-term needs, the strategies differ from typical recruitment.

First, it’s an ongoing process that looks to sell jobs to potential candidates. And once a company finds the right candidates and hires them, it also considers what’s necessary to keep them.

"Overall, we’re seeing the competition for top talent continue to heat up, and skills shortages are part of the fuel," Kathleen Quinn Votaw, TalenTrust founder and CEO, told Jobvite. "A technology firm seeking developers, for example, may need an overall talent strategy around strong culture, unique benefits, and enhancing and leveraging its employment brand."

Related Article: Want to Retain Employees? Invest in Training and Upskilling

How COVID-19 Made Talent Acquisition Essential

During the pandemic, people had time to assess their careers and workplace environments. However, contrary to some reports, wages haven’t been the driving force behind millions of Americans leaving their jobs — a phenomenon coined the Great Resignation.

Instead, toxic culture, job insecurity and a lack of recognition are among the top predictors of employee attrition, according to a study from MIT Sloan Management Review.

Participants in another study said they were attracted to new positions with greater flexibility, better work-life balance and options for remote work.

Talent acquisition gives businesses the opportunity to solve these issues. It allows hiring managers to recruit and retain employees who align with the work culture and organizational goals, leading to lower attrition rates.

How Talent Acquisition Can Solve COVID-19 Hiring Concerns

Most people today seek roles that offer flexibility, align with their values and make their lives better. Talent acquisition can help you address these wants and find the right employees.

Company Branding

Branding is a common buzzword for marketing departments looking to draw in clients. But it’s also essential when looking for employees. It’s not enough to offer a good wage — people want to know your company is a good place to work.

Make sure your company website and social media display your values and the positive culture of your workplace. Do you donate to social causes? Offer perks related to work-life balance? Foster family-friendly (or pet-friendly) work environments? Showcase it! These traits can grab candidates’ attention and convince them to apply.

Strategic Recruitment

It can be disheartening to start a job and find there’s no real reason for you to be there. If you’re sourcing talent, make sure you understand why you need someone and what they’ll bring to your company. An employee who feels valued is more likely to stick around.

Another aspect of strategic recruitment is determining where someone fits into the company's future and how they can help build the business. As workers look for positions with security, seeing an established career progression can be a major benefit.

Workforce Planning

As it becomes harder to find candidates, it’s important to prioritize requirements — especially if you have niche roles. Think about which positions offer the most value to the company and which employees you can’t live without.

Outline positions that require specific training or extensive experience, ones that could take months to fill, even in a robust hiring environment. With this information in mind, hiring teams can start networking and searching for talent as soon as possible, even before positions become officially open.

Succession Planning

It takes less time, money and energy to promote from within than to hire someone new. Existing employees have the advantage of understanding the role, company culture and the business's operations. They’ll take less time to train and already have a rapport with other team members.

Look for ways to help current staff members expand on their skill sets or take on new responsibilities. Have conversations with promising employees on stepping up into openings you know will arise.

Mark Lobosco, LinkedIn’s vice president of talent solutions, told SHRM that internal recruiting can encourage employee retention.

"Our data show that employees stay 41% longer at companies that hire internally compared to those that don't,” said Lobosco. “As companies continue to experience the benefits of internal mobility, we'll begin to see it shift from an ad hoc solution to an essential corporate strategy.”

Related Article: Where's the Technology to Address Internal Mobility Needs?

Finding Talent in a Hiring Drought

The COVID-19 pandemic may be winding down — workers are heading back to the office, mask mandates are ending — but the recruitment challenges caused by it are likely to continue for some time.

While finding the right employee may not be as easy as it once was, talent acquisition is a tool that can help. With the right talent acquisition strategy, you can find skilled workers who can meet and exceed your business goals.


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