What is Talent Acquisition? What is Recruitment? Learn the Difference

Are you able to explain the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment? Perhaps it all seems clear cut to you, but many people still lump them together as though they are interchangeable.

Not only is this confusing, it also shows why there is little consensus on what it would take to transform talent acquisition from being a reactive and transactional function to becoming the strategic partner to business it should be. Simply renaming your recruitment function “talent acquisition” without any change in strategy, tactics and results, is just semantics. Truly differentiating between the two is the first step to building a coherent and proactive strategy that equips companies for a brighter future.

Bersin by Deloitte defines talent acquisition as “a strategic approach to identifying, attracting, and onboarding talent to efficiently and effectively meet dynamic business needs.” Recruitment is defined by the group as “the tactical component of attracting and identifying job candidates.” The difference comes down to connecting talent to business needs versus just addressing a momentary need.

What Is Talent Acquisition?

Talent acquisition takes a long-term view, identifies future business needs and builds talent pools for that future. It is a component of talent management and includes other strategic elements with each having their own subset of elements and activities as shown in the diagram above.

When done right and aligned to business strategy, talent acquisition leads to improved performance, growth and competitive advantage. Very few organizations have a true talent acquisition engine in place – from multinationals where practices vary from country to country, to regional organizations that are not yet aligned to global best practices. The key difficulties are twofold: a lack of understanding of all the elements of talent acquisition and the inability to implement it. This is further compounded by resistance to change.

What Is Recruitment?

Recruitment is a subset of talent acquisition that is often the knee-jerk response to a resignation or newly created role with a rigid set of skills and competencies to meet. While some organizations have in-house capability and rely on job boards and active incoming applicants, many tend to rely on contingency search firms to meet their needs. This results in organizations failing to reach passive candidates, leading to inconsistent Quality of Hire and an ever-rising time-to-fill.

The sooner organizations move from a reactive recruitment-centric approach to a proactive talent acquisition strategy, the better they will position themselves to be agile and competitive players in the marketplace.

Transforming Talent Acquisition

Transforming talent acquisition is essential if organizations are to meet their business objectives. They need the right talent, in the right role, at the right time to innovate, grow, launch new products or simply compete and survive. The first step is recognizing that they need to go beyond recruiting and implement a talent acquisition engine. That is only possible if organizations understand what talent acquisition is and how it differs from recruitment. The next step is understanding the elements of talent acquisition and having the advisory capability to build the engine in-house and execute it well.

So, when we discuss Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), it actually is more accurate to describe it as Talent Acquisition Process Outsourcing (TAPO), because all facets of meeting your organization’s talent needs are covered. Hey, we didn’t name the industry, we just lead it.

Interested in what organizations worldwide are saying about their talent acquisition functions? Check out Cielo’s exclusive report, Talent Acquisition 360: Aligning Talent Practices With Business Performance.