Recruitment vs. Talent Acquisition

Talent Acquisition (TA) has been defined as “a strategic approach to identifying, attracting and onboarding top talent to efficiently and effectively meet dynamic business needs.” Very fancy. For me, simply put, this is a true indication that the effective practice of TA affects the bottom line of the business you work within.

When “Talent Acquisition” is mentioned, many think, “Recruitment”. I believe they are as similar as saying “Finance” and “doing sums”, or “Communications” and “sending emails” – there are gulfs between them! They are separate practices which have an entirely different skill-set and crucially, mind-set. The analogy that I use the most often is that, it’s like rugby and soccer….both played on grass, but with different shaped balls, goals, rules, fans and critically, a different set of tactics.

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Recruitment is part of Talent Acquisition, a key part but one that, in rapidly evolving times and a candidate driven market, comes second. I firmly believe that doing the basics well is the foundation for success and once you’ve done so, you can then build TA on top of it.

Let’s look at “Recruitment” in more detail first. Recruitment for me has the standard activities we all know well, such as sourcing (which predominantly means using a job board for 2-4 weeks and specifying a specific geographical area), screening (whoever applies), interviewing (the best from who applies), assessing (the best of who applies), selecting and hiring (again…of the people who applied to a role that was advertised for 14 days!). What if the best candidate was on holiday for the two weeks your role was advertised for and what if they don’t search the specific job-boards you use etc.

I’m sure you can see the major failings with that approach. If not, go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200! I am not saying that you will never get a good hire by using this approach. You can, but it is incredibly restrictive. Imagine yourself researching and buying a house – do you only walk down the street and look into the window of ONE estate agent every day for two weeks? NO! You use the Internet, apps, read reviews, ask for help etc.

Talent Acquisition goes a bit further and it’s basics are built on to complete an entirely different proposition.

Strategy – Understand your business, needs, pressures, ensure business alignment, examine/create workforce plans, understand the total addressable market. This is truly a global set of considerations.

Employment Branding / Employee Value Proposition – There has been a significant increase in roles specialising in this and also, the amount of investments poured into it by major companies. Why? Effective branding and market positioning attract talent – simple. In TA we successfully uncover, articulate and define a company’s image, organisational culture and its unique selling points. Employment branding can help you depict what it is truly like to work for that organisation from the people who matter – the employees.

Know your Audience – Necessitates defining and understanding the audiences in which an organisation needs to source for specific roles. Different sourcing strategies should be applied based on the understanding of the jobs and where the audiences will come from to fill them.

Candidate Relationship Management – Includes building a positive candidate experience, managing candidate communities and maintaining relationships for those candidates not selected. Crucially, here is the process of onboarding, if you have successfully navigated the process to land true talent. The conversation does not stop when the offer is accepted and this is, in essence, the most crucial part of the conversation.

Ever bought a car or a house? Did you stop speaking to the company you bought them from once the payment has cleared? In sales, I am sure they call it aftercare or post-sales and this is usually done consistently and (in my experience) well. If buying a house and changing jobs are two major life events, why do it for one and not the other?

Data – Without this, we are nothing. It really is as simple as that! The more we know, the better placed we are to have detailed, well informed conversations with the talent and with hiring managers.

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There is more emphasis on data than ever before. The days of tracking time and cost to hire are long gone. Even if these are still fundamental, in the world we operate in, we want to know gender splits, sources, and not just collate the data but use it to make informed decisions that add value to our overall proposition. This can be something as simple as a job board’s performance right down to when is the best time to advertise a certain role. To ignore the importance and impact of using your data correctly is a massive oversight, one that ensure your progression to true TA is significantly hindered.

Within each of these core elements of TA are many other sub-activities and best practices. In truth the role is much bigger than most people give it credit for as it affects the bottom line of the company that you are operating in.

The next few years in TA are going to be incredibly exciting, but regardless of the newest app, the newest piece of functionality on a platform, our candidates should be at the heart of everything we do, always!

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