Recruitment vs Talent Acquisition—The Strategic Difference

Last week, I discussed the case for a year-long onboarding experience. Onboarding represents an investment in our new hires, a commitment to their training and development, and a promise of a fulfilling and ongoing relationship between a new employee and their new organization.

But before we bring on new talent, we must consider the acquisition of that talent at least as well-planned and strategic a process as the first-year experience.

Until the last decade or so, businesses used basic recruiting as a means to fill vacant positions. Recruitment meant waiting until an incumbent left and then, all too often, frantically searching for someone to fill the role. It meant finding a candidate who matched as closely as possible the qualifications, certifications, and experience to fit the position. Recruitment was a wholly reactive process. Recruiters I have known have told me that this process can be frustrating and painstaking when it is launched with the departure of an employee. It can take too long, especially when someone leaves a position in a hurry, and when there is a dearth in the marketplace for qualified candidates. And a vacancy left too long in the team, practice area, or organization poses a financial and cultural risk to the organization. (It costs 150% of an employee’s base salary to replace them.)

Today, in the smartest organizations—for profit and not-for-profit—companies use the process of Talent Acquisition as a robust strategy for finding, hiring, promoting, and nurturing top-notch and well-prepared employees. Yes, recruitment is embedded in Talent Acquisition, but it is only one part of the acquisition process.

Where recruitment is mostly tactical and reactionary, Talent Acquisition is wholly strategic.

Talent Acquisition requires a long view of industry trends and specifically, an understanding of an organization’s long-term planning and future needs.

Talent Acquisition includes the following elements:

  • Workforce planning. Workforce planning means analyzing the current workforce and identifying strength and gaps, as well as looking at the future needs of the organization. It also includes an internal process of ongoing assessment of skills, attributes, potential, and development of internal candidates as successors to current positions. Utilizing internal candidates to fill vacancies is much more cost-effective, given existing employee engagement and loyalty and investment in their growth.
  • Building employer brand. According to SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), 62% of candidates rank employer brand as the key factor in applying for a job. These days, social media is the number one mechanism for building brand. People want to work for employee-friendly organizations with a strong mission. The brand must reflect the true mission and culture of the organization, and the organization must live up to the promises it propagates in its advertising.
  • Sourcing and recruiting candidates. Rather than using ad placement as the sole tool in sourcing candidates, it is essential to establish relationships with colleges, universities, and other institutions with like missions to connect with potential candidates. Internships and externships are also great mechanisms for sourcing candidates.
  • Analytics and Technology. Technology can and should be used in a number of ways. Data analysis of dynamics such as turnover rates, job performance, employee engagement, and even cultural fit can fold into a dashboard that monitors the employee talent pool. In addition to organizational branding, technology can also be used for basic recruitment through mobile apps and various social media.
  • Onboarding. As I discussed last week, onboarding plays a key role in the bigger picture of talent acquisition. The employee experience is key in attracting and retaining top talent.

While the initial creation of a talent acquisition process takes planning and strategy, once a structure is in place, the entire workforce can incorporate it into their day-to-day work—from being an ambassador for the organization through social media and professional affiliations to internal training and professional development, and the articulation and manifestation of a culture that is reflective of the mission and character of the organization. Talent acquisition is cost effective and ultimately results in a more productive, committed, and loyal workforce.

I am curious about your talent acquisition process. What works?