It’s hard to put a value on talent. While talent is technically a renewable resource (when an employee leaves, they can be replaced), there is no guarantee the new hire will be as strong a contributor to the organization (of course, they could bring even more to the table!). That is why most companies focus on retaining the employees they have.
Still, employee turnover is unavoidable, especially in periods of low unemployment and when jobs are plentiful. As such, it is important to have a viable talent sourcing / recruiting process in place. This brings to mind a question about the differences between talent acquisition and recruitment, which are often confused with each other. Let’s take a look at the subtle differences between the two processes that are both key to finding top talent and building out the best possible team for your organization:
A difference of vision
The biggest distinction between talent acquisition and recruitment is the role each plays in the short and long term development of your workforce strategy. Recruitment is more focused on the processes necessary to fill an immediate need – posting requisitions; screening and interviewing candidates; finding the right talent; extending an offer; and, onboarding new hires. It also can involve stopgap measures such as working with a staffing agency to temporarily fill vacancies and not necessarily looking for “perfect” candidates. Recruitment is more suitable for the “how” to get employees hired for open positions in the short term.
On the other hand, talent acquisition is more concerned with the “why” of hiring and a more in-depth evaluation of “who:” A talent acquisition specialist might ask questions like:
- 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 company’s industry, revenue or size make a difference in how it should pursue talent in the future, and/or who it should search for?
Careful consideration of questions like these is why talent acquisition is essential to a companies’ long-term goals. Talent acquisition is a strategic, ongoing process designed to ensure an organization continuously hires the best possible talent.
Key components of talent acquisition
Like most programs that are focused on benefiting a company on a long-term basis, talent acquisition strategies involve distinct phases. Recruitment is one of them, but there are several steps that must come before:
- Developing a strategy: This step is largely conversational and hypothetical. Acquisition specialists and other HR team members 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 the organization’s 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 business’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 detailed 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.
While the steps outlined above will be important to build your acquisition plan, it is important to adjust each to best fit your organization. For example, what appealed 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 the recruiting channel; emphasize the company’s stability on job-search sites used by older applicants, while showcasing efforts at assuming greater corporate responsibility to the local environment on your social media channels. And if you rank on any “Best Places to Work” lists, be sure to tout that everyone as a huge win for your brand identity.
Once you get into the recruitment phase of acquisition, you can focus on 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.