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Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment: Understanding the Difference

Why leaders should focus on fulfilling the future needs of the company


Recruitment and talent acquisition are often used interchangeably. And from first glance, appear to be the same thing - this is far from the truth. In fact, the difference is simple: recruitment is short-term planning; talent acquisition is long-term planning.  


Regardless of their differences, recruitment and talent acquisition are crucial stages of the employee journey and for the growth of the organisation. But what does each entail exactly? 

Here’s a rundown on talent acquisition and recruitment and why understanding the difference is crucial for your growth strategy.  


Firstly, What is Recruitment?  

Let’s start with the basics. When we talk about recruitment, we’re referring to the start-to-finish process of sourcing, filtering and screening potential candidates for a specific job role with the intent of offering the position to the preferred candidate. It’s reactive. There's a vacancy and recruitment jumps to fulfill the role.  


It’s often a fast (ish) process and reactive to filling in a vacant position, however, it can be difficult when the position requires a niche or senior level of skill. As a result, it’s often a challenge to find the right fit and ultimately puts pressure of the recruitment team and hiring manager.  


At the end of the day, if your company has multiple positions to fill because of expansion or high turnover, recruitment comes in handy.  

What we’re seeing as a post-pandemic response is a pool of new roles that recruitment needs to fill. This is a direct result from employees being made redundant or opting for early retirement from quarantine and workforce stand downs. In fact, a staggering 91% of employers are facing this need to hire as they readapt and, no doubt, reinvent the workplace wheel.  

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What is Talent Acquisition?  


Talent acquisition is a strategy rather than a process. While recruitment is seen as a short term solution, talent acquisition is long-term.  


It’s a way to find the right people to fulfil those ‘harder-to-acquire’ roles like executives, leaders and specialists. It requires planning, building and showcasing the company brand and strategically developing and maintaining relationships with past candidates. It also involves attracting the attention of passive job seekers.  


The result? You have a solid company brand with a good and lasting impression to give candidates. Furthermore, talent acquisition strategies are able to track overall objectives and growth trajectories. This way, talent acquisition teams have a deep understanding of the positions that are needed for future growth.  


These roles may not even be available (or exist) in the company when this planning begins - it’s all about the forethought of where the company is heading and preemptively filling these positions.  


A good talent acquisition strategy requires all teams to work coherently and in synergy, if not, the desired outcome is all but lost.  

What Should You Focus More On & Why?  


In short, it depends. Some companies are in more need of more recruitment, but those who are facing an extreme talent shortage (and 75% of HR professionals say they are) should focus on a talent acquisition strategy.  


What’s interesting is job-seeking trends that are coming to light after the pandemic. There’s more emphasis on workplace culture and education, learning and development and career development than ever before. Employees don't want to be paper pushers - they want meaningful work, a purpose and a chance to develop their careers. Talent acquisition supports this in a way that recruitment doesn’t. Why? Because it focusses on employee retention strategies like strong engagement, and creating opportunities to upskill to progress beyond the role they were hired to do.  


So, do you need positions that need to be filled quickly? Or do you need to build a solid talent pool? For those looking at more long-term focus, talent acquisition is the way to go.  

Here’s why:  


Talent Acquisition Focusses on the ‘Bigger Picture’ 


You can’t always guarantee to find the right people for the company straight away - it’s an ongoing process to actively find a qualified candidates that suits the role and the direction of the company. If you’re familiar with the term “impact players”, then you know that there a qualities in some employees that are more valuable than others. These are the qualities (and skills) that talent acquisition teams search for. Those who a) have the skills, and b) have the potential to progress their career further.  


With this mindset, the need flips from simply fulfilling a position to fulfilling the future needs of the company. Investing in “the bigger picture” is a great strategy for companies who are in the growth phase and looking to secure qualified talent for future roles.  


An emphasis on learning & development (L&D) strategies also apply here - nurturing, grooming and upskilling employees is an essential cog in the talent acquisition machine. In fact, a 2021 LinkedIn report found that 82% of L&D experts say that “engaged learners” are more likely to progress further than their role in the same organisation.  


Talent Acquisition is a Strategy, Not a Process 


Talent acquisition isn’t linear like recruitment is. Recruitment is an ever-churning device of ad posting, screen applicants and interview after interview to source the skills to match the job. Talent acquisition is the opposite.  


Instead, you’re looking at the company goals and reflecting what the future of the company needs in order to gauge what kind of hires you are after. Even if the jobs aren’t relevant now, chances are they will be in 12 or even 24 months from now.  


This is not to say that recruitment is now redundant. Recruitment is crucial and will always contribute to the overall strategy. It’s a collective effort from PR, Marketing, HR and talent acquisition teams to ensure an effective execution.  

According to LinkedIn, 72% of recruitment leaders think employer brand has a big impact on the hiring process. So company branding need to be secure, company reputation needs to be solid and recruitment needs to understand the company goals to begin the hiring process.  


Talent Acquisition Focusses Beyond Skills  


More often than not, the first thing any recruiter or hiring manager will look at is the candidates skills: proof they can complete the role they are applying for. But leaders at any level know will know that talent is more than skills on a resume.  


We’re talking about those rhetorical skills that can’t be taught in an online course: empathy, effective communication, emotional intelligence, and other qualities that suggest good leadership potential. It could also mean underlying social media experience, an interest in a specialist field or simply an eagerness to develop and grow their career.  


These are the skills that leaders will look to groom, nurture and develop over time to retain their best talent.   


Other than the obvious, this focus creates new avenues to help overcome some of the biggest recruitment challenges we’re facing today like employee retention and the skills gap.  


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Growth Faculty Passes give you and your team access to the best minds in leadership, effective strategies and talent acquisition tips with weekly live, interactive and virtual masterclasses to discover leading workplace culture strategies.   


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Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash


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