Explore the five most important differences between talent acquisition and recruitment, based on diverging approaches, strategies, planning, and more.

The words recruitment and acquiring talent are often used interchangeably. Both are indeed core aspects of any hiring process, from direct hire recruiting to headhunting. But while both are related, they are not the same. In fact, there are several important differences that are important for employers to know.

Whether you’re working with a staffing agency or using your own resources, you need to be clear on whether you are recruiting or acquiring talent. It can mean the difference between a successful hiring outcome and a poor one. Here are 5 key differences between the two:

The objective of both recruiting and talent acquisition is to hire the right candidate for the right role. But they have very different approaches to achieving that objective. Acquiring good quality talent is a process that always stays on. Even when your business has no open position, you should be on the lookout for the next big performer to add to your workforce. To make the acquisition bit easier, recruiters will leverage a focused strategy. They may also rely heavily on your employer brand and employee value proposition.

Conversely, recruitment has a much more focused approach to filling an open position. As such, recruitment is usually deployed when the position opens up. Recruiting efforts will depend on the type of position, such as a permanent or contract-to-hire role. But it usually aims to deliver results in the short term. Meaning, the approach is to fill an open role with the right candidate as soon as possible.

Diverging Strategic Focus

The difference between the two recruiting processes also exists on a strategic level. A talent acquisition strategy is based on a broader HR strategy. However, its core focus is to align with long-term business growth. Therefore, talent acquisition involves the use of goal setting, metrics, and evaluation. Then, the process of building a pipeline begins, filled with qualified candidates that could offer value to their employer.

On the other hand, recruitment employs a more tactical approach to hiring. It still follows the same HR strategy. But it will only see use when a position actually opens up. Once deployed, recruitment strategies will involve identifying the best areas to target to source the best candidates as quickly as possible. Decentralized recruitment models may even allow employers to leverage employee references and other channels.

Different Depth of Planning

Recruitment often comes with very tight timelines. No business wants to leave a key role open for too long. Especially if it impacts productivity and profitability. Therefore, most recruitment efforts will include several immediate steps executed in quick succession. This can be narrowed down to understanding the job requirements and the specific qualifications desired from a candidate. This helps them source, qualify, and hire candidates that fit those needs.

But acquiring quality talent involves more long-term planning. A lot of this takes place before a position even opens up. Talent acquisition specialists will usually first familiarize themselves with business functions and how key roles and skills fit into those functions. They may even have to research additional specific skills that make certain candidates ideal for certain roles.

Pipelines and Nurturing

Since recruitment typically takes place when a position opens up, you don’t always have to spend time building rapport with every candidate. There are shorter timelines and that means recruiters can’t afford to nurture all sourced candidates, even without hiring bias. However, the talent acquisition approach relies heavily on building and nurturing a talent pipeline.

In this case, hiring professionals will have to reach out to potential candidates long before the position opens up. After building a rapport with them and nurturing them through frequent contact, a business already has several quality candidates lined up when a position does open up.

Difference in Analytics

Talent acquisition involves a proactive approach to hiring. The metrics used to measure its success are not limited to successful onboarding. Instead, they extend beyond the initial hiring and onboarding. Metrics and analytics on performance, job satisfaction, attrition, and even exit interviews are of great value in determining success.

But recruitment is a far more reactive process. It can be harder, therefore, to measure accurate success beyond the ratio of successful hires to unsuccessful ones. Even a seemingly could hire could later turn out to be a poor performer though. So, it can be challenging to reliably measure the success of a recruiting drive.

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