Talent Acquisition vs. Recruitment: What’s The Difference?

Time to Read: 4.4 minutes

Updated: January 11, 2023

Understanding the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment may seem confusing as, at first glance, they look like they mean the same thing. To understand whether your organization needs to recruit or acquire talent, you need to know if your hiring needs are for future roles you can strategically plan, or if you need reactive hiring completed in the short term.

So, What Is Talent Acquisition?

Talent acquisition refers to an ongoing strategy for planning when you’ll need specialists, leaders, and even executive-level professionals to join your organization, and how to target them when you do. It tends to be a long-term HR process focused on bringing in niche skills and experience into the organization to achieve growth and strategic objectives.

What Are the Benefits of Creating a Talent Acquisition Strategy?

If your talent acquisition strategy is basically the process of building your talent pipeline for the future, doing it right will have several benefits including:

  • Improving your time to hire for specialist roles
  • Driving better efficiency for your HR teams
  • Reducing the risk of having an important position open for a long time
  • Helping you plan for the future by investing in the right people
  • Helping you see a greater ROI on each hire
  • Improving candidate experience
  • Driving better equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Giving your business a competitive advantage

However, sometimes ‘recruiting’ makes more sense and will solve more business needs than ‘acquiring talent’.

What Is Recruitment?

Recruitment is more of a reactive process. It usually means filling a vacancy that has been created by sourcing, screening, and hiring the best possible candidates for the role. It can be done on a case-by-case basis, or it can be done at volume.

While recruiting does have a strategic element to it, it usually has tighter timeframes to fill the vacancy than talent acquisition would.

The difference between talent acquisition and recruitment boils down to whether you can think long-term about how you’ll access and recruit targeted hires, or if you just need to fill a position asap.

How do You Know If You Need a Talent Acquisition Partner or a Recruiter?

If your organization’s HR teams have the capacity to manage all their talent acquisition needs, then they can bring in the strategic elements of their talent acquisition methods into their recruiting to drive better efficiency across all their hiring.

However, if your organization’s internal hiring resources are stretched to capacity on business-as-usual projects, you may want to look at external support from an RPO services provider to act as your talent acquisition partner or reach out to a recruiter. Which one you need depends on the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment; whether you need long-term planning for specialist hires, or if you need to fill roles quickly. Some of the deciding factors between the two are:

Your Industry:

Different industries experience different challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified staff. Some industries may find it easy to access candidates but others, such as manufacturing and tech, can experience skills gaps that mean organizations need to focus on talent acquisition strategies such as reskilling and developing passive talent. A study by Gartner found that talent shortages were the biggest barrier companies face when adopting new technologies.

Similarly, for industries like healthcare and retail, that experience seasonal peaks, geographical staffing challenges, and fluctuations in the numbers of qualified staff, talent acquisition strategies can be an excellent way to mitigate the effects of any changes and future-proof your workforce.

Your Tech Stack:

The technology your internal hiring team has at its disposal can greatly impact its ability to engage in long-term talent acquisition and workforce planning strategies. There are numerous tech solutions on the market that promise to streamline applicant tracking, improve candidate experience and automate workflows, but choosing the right technology can be difficult and costly. Without the right tech available, it may be simpler and less expensive to focus on tried and tested recruitment methods. Partnering with an RPO provider can help you access the best talent acquisition tools available as and when you need them.

Your Candidate Pool:

Organizations with access to large talent pools may find recruitment a better solution than those who are seeking niche or in-demand skills. Talent acquisition can be a great tool to help those organizations tap into new sources of talent or approach passive candidates to deepen their talent pool. According to LinkedIn, only 30% of the global workforce is actively seeking a new role at any given time. Tapping into the other 70% requires cohesive talent acquisition strategies.

The Volume of Hiring You Need:

Talent acquisition can be a great way to anticipate low-volume hiring needs at executive levels, pinpoint candidates with specific hard-to-find skills and identify roles that will need filling early so you can avoid the stress of recruiting for multiple roles at the same time.

When you do need support to fill large numbers of roles quickly, high-volume recruitment can feel like the obvious choice.
Now you know the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment and how you can identify which approach would be most useful for your unique requirements.

If you do require a talent acquisition partner, Pierpoint can help you with everything from talent mapping to strategic workforce planning and even volume hiring. Contact us today to discuss your talent needs.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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