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What is the Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition?

Women Business MeetingMany people think that the terms recruitment and talent acquisition are synonymous, but companies who keep an eye on the big picture know there’s an important difference between the two. Recruitment and talent acquisition are comparable to short-term and long-term—quick fixes versus long-term planning. Both approaches may be used depending on the circumstances, but one tends to be tactical in nature and the other, strategic.

Internal hiring managers can improve overall recruitment planning with a basic understanding of the strategic nature of talent acquisition. Independent recruiters can likewise improve relationships with employers by better understanding the unique role that acquisition plays in helping a company achieve its strategic vision.

Recruitment vs. Talent Acquisition

Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy to find specialists, leaders, or future executives for your company. Talent acquisition tends to focus on long-term human resources planning and finding appropriate candidates for positions that require a very specific skillset.

Ryan Naylor, founder and President of, a company connecting local jobs with local job seekers, said that talent acquisition, “is more focused on the strategic side of tougher positions to fill.”

It’s important to project three to six months ahead of when you need to fill leadership and speciality positions. Many tech positions take six months or longer to fill. If your company is awarded a new client and you need to deliver the work ASAP, it can be tough to recruit for those positions in short turn around.

Companies must ask themselves which positions will be difficult to fill when a vacancy comes up (as it inevitably will, eventually). Niche markets, technology skills, highly specific experience, and leadership roles call for a thoughtful, long-term approach to talent acquisition.

Should Your Company Be Recruiting or Acquiring?

Some of the niche markets that may call for talent acquisition strategies include technology, medicine, law, and financial management. Forbes reports over a million job openings in cybersecurity alone in 2016. Niche roles in some specialty industries may narrow the pool of potential candidates even further.

If your company expects faster than normal growth for the next several quarters, then a talent acquisition strategy can save you a great deal of time finding people to lead that growth forward. Kathleen Quinn Votaw is the Founder and CEO of TalenTrust, a human resources consulting firm, and author of Solve the People Puzzle: How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent. She has seen the competition for the best talent escalate.

The areas with the greatest skills shortages are those that most need a talent strategy. Overall, we’re seeing the competition for top talent continue to heat up, and skills shortages are part of the fuel. 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.

Sharon Koifman, Founder and CEO of DistantJob, a recruiting firm specializing in placing virtual employee, and an expert in global recruitment, agrees.

With the rapid advancement of technology and the rise of highly specialized technology-related jobs, it’s safe to say that the IT and tech fields are in much greater need of a strong talent acquisition strategy than other fields.

DeeAnnTurner.PhotoCredit_JeffRoffmanOthers, like Dee-Ann Turner, an executive with restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, believe that all industries should focus on talent acquisition rather than recruitment because acquisition builds a stronger company, fosters teamwork, and boosts productivity.

In today’s competitive environment for people, all talent markets need a talent acquisition strategy. At any given time, some markets might be “hotter” than others, but the best organizations are projecting future needs and are always scouting the best talent.

A robust talent acquisition strategy will benefit any organization to the degree that you hire. If your industry is characterized by high rates of turnover, your co-workers may visibly see your stress level decrease with a move to talent acquisition strategies. If you only hire once every other year, that process can be easier and more effective with a talent acquisition plan in place.

How to Move Beyond Recruitment to Acquire Top Talent

Attracting the best and brightest employees to your company isn’t a one-time only event. It is a continuous process. Companies that are serious about their long-term futures should be continually networking and building relationships with individuals who are at the top of their fields. Some day, they may wish to court them as potential employees.

Votaw uses the acronym ABC:

I advise clients and executives to Always Be Cultivating (ABC) by thinking of recruitment as a sales process. If you want A-players on your team, your company must spend as much time and effort attracting and retaining employees as it does on finding and keeping customers.

Naylor goes further, suggesting that talent acquisition should in fact be run like a marketing campaign for a product.

Promoting your company culture on social media can be a great utility to building your employment brand. If you find your business constantly on the lookout for top tech talent, you need to build a marketing campaign around that. Engage your marketing team to showcase your company culture. Grab your best office pictures and run targeted social ads to profiles with keywords and skill sets you’re hiring for. Facebook ads have a tremendous targeting ability that many talent acquisition teams fail to utilize.

Tiffany Brown is the HR manager for Freight Center, a company that helps businesses find the lowest possible rates for all their shipping needs. She agrees that getting the right people on your teams is everyone’s job.

Don’t silo your HR department or talent acquisition efforts. Get the whole company involved in recruiting efforts. Work closely with your marketing department, especially on employment branding. A strong employer brand can be your greatest strength.

How do you get started? Setting up a talent acquisition program is a big project, but it’s worth the effort. Take it one step at a time:

  • Get organized.—How are you going to keep track of the talent you find and the resources you’re using? A small company with only a few positions may be able to keep track of everything in well organized spreadsheets. If your company is larger, or growing steadily, you’ll want to start shopping for specialized software.
  • Improve your employer brand.—As you connect with top talent in your industry, you can be sure they’re going to look up your company. Make sure your website and social profiles speak to your target audience and prospective future employees.
  • Start sourcing talent.—Identify social networks and communities forums where specialists in your industry gather. LinkedIn Groups are popular with professionals, marketers like Twitter, and everyone is on Facebook. Start building relationships with a follow, retweet, conversation, etc.

Schedule time daily or weekly for acquisition activities, networking, and outreach to potential candidates. You will very quickly start building relationships and filling in detailed profiles on top talent.

Jumpstart Your Talent Acquisition Efforts

While recruitment remains an important activity to fill immediate vacancies, talent acquisition is a long-term strategy to make hiring more efficient and more productive. Newcomers will be attracted to your company as a great place to work, and the company will thrive. Human resources can be one of the drivers of corporate success, an integral part of the team propelling your company to growth.

Talent acquisition takes more time up-front, but in the end it will help you build the best possible team for your company.

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