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Understanding talent acquisition vs. recruitment in 2020

We all understand it is more costly to replace than retain talent, especially when it comes to high performers. But there will always be a need for companies to have a viable process for recruiting and hiring whether due to growth or attrition. This leads to questions about talent acquisition vs. recruitment, which are often confused with each other. Let’s look at the subtle differences between the two processes essential to finding top talent and building out the best possible team for your organization in 2020 and beyond:

A difference of vision

The biggest differentiation between talent acquisition and recruitment is their roles in the short and long term of your workforce development strategy. Recruitment is more concerned with the nuts-and-bolts of looking at potential employees, finding the top talent, extending a job offer and onboarding your new hires. But it can also involve what are essentially stopgap measures – e.g., working with a staffing agency to fill vacancies temporarily. In other words, recruitment is more applicable to the “what” and “how” behind getting people in the door and working in the short term.

Understanding talent acquisition vs. recruitment in 2020Recruitment and talent acquisition largely differ in terms of their respective value to short- and long-term company needs.

On the other hand, talent acquisition is more concerned with the “why” of hiring, as well as more in-depth investigations of “who:” A specialist in this ongoing process might ask questions like these:

  • Who is the most ideal candidate for a crucial or high-level position? What educational background and experience should they possess?
  • Why do these qualities matter? Should they be prerequisites across the board that hiring managers don’t budge on? Or is there some wiggle room for an exceptional candidate who doesn’t fit all the criteria but is too intriguing to ignore based on something showcased in a cover letter or interview?
  • Will projected changes to the industry the organization belongs to – or trends in its revenue generation – make a difference in how it should pursue talent in the future, and/or who it should search for?

Close consideration of these and similar questions is why talent acquisition professionals, and the ideas they explore, are valuable to long-term goals. Talent acquisition is a strategic, campaign-like endeavor, devised and enacted to ensure an organization continuously hires well over many years.

Key components of talent acquisition

Like all processes that are intended to benefit a company on a long-term basis, talent acquisition strategies involve a number of distinct phases. Recruitment is one of them, but several other steps precede it:

  • Developing a strategy: Acquisition specialists and other HR team members who focus on hiring get together and look at the business as a whole, projecting both its short- and long-term prospects in terms of revenue and growth. Broader predictions of the industry are also involved.
  • Workforce segmentation: HR and talent specialists look at what departments are most in need of staff now and which of them will most likely need new talent in the near future (as well as in what order, for prioritization purposes). According to HR Technologist, collecting data and closely analyzing relevant key performance indicators will be pivotal to this step.
  • Employer branding: In collaboration with your marketing or communications staff, the talent acquisition team devises a brand identity for the organization specifically for use in recruiting materials, as LinkedIn noted. All employer branding efforts and materials, especially those circulated through social media, should emphasize the company culture and attributes that make it unique aside from its standing in the industry – for example, evidence of a commitment to reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
  • Recruitment: This phase and its associated processes represent the raw mechanical steps of bringing in talent: lead nurturing, candidate sourcing, candidate selection, interviewing and onboarding.
  • Candidate relationship management: It’s critical to start and maintain a robust dialogue between all worthwhile candidates. For one, the hiring process for managerial and C-level roles will often take some time as high-level stakeholders across the business consider different options, so HR must keep in touch with them to ensure they don’t lose interest and pursue other opportunities. Also, it’ll be wise to stay in contact with applicants who weren’t perfect for one role but could be just right for another down the line.

Creating an effective talent strategy

There will be times when recruitment alone can serve you well, such as when hiring for entry-level positions, or roles that will be temporarily vacant and require competent coverage. But more often than not it’s best to run your hiring efforts according to a more complex talent acquisition strategy that is carefully calibrated to attract the best people. HR and HCM tools are central to these efforts, but every department can play a role in perfecting them.

All of the steps detailed above will be important in creating this acquisition plan, though it’s vital to adjust them precisely to best fit your organization. For instance, the attributes of your company that appeal to the financial staff you hired last year may not be as interesting to the information security team you need this year, so you may have to change things up. You can also vary branding by platform: Emphasize the company’s stability on job-search sites used by older applicants, while your social channels showcase efforts at assuming greater corporate responsibility to the local environment. And if you rank on any “Best Places to Work” lists, that’s an unequivocally huge win for your brand identity.

Once you get into the recruitment phase of acquisition, you can tout more tangible perks of your organization, like competitive pay and a comprehensive benefits package. These – particularly the latter – have obvious appeal across all applicant demographics. But perhaps most of all, a talent acquisition strategy has to hinge on a robust company culture that people want to be a part of, and such an environment can only be created with contributions by every member of staff.

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