Why Talent Acquisition vs. Recruiting - A Definition With A Difference

Reposted from Bearing Fruit Consulting at www.bearingfruitconsulting.com

Lipstick_pig I have often been asked what is the difference between Talent Acquisition and Recruiting. A conversation popped up on Twitter on his topic between me, @Animal, @TalentSynch and @MikeVanDervort which prompted me to dust off this blog draft and publish it.

Many in the HR and recruiting space will say that this is really just a question of semantics. It is only semantics if you rename the team (or the leader the Director of Talent Acquisition) without a significant change in strategy, tactics and better results. In my experience as a Director of Talent Acquisition (DOTA) and in working with clients on moving to a talent acquisition model there is a significant difference between those organizations that practice recruiting and those that have a talent acquisition engine.

Yes, you read that right, Talent Acquisition Engine. Engines make things go. Real talent acquisition makes a business go. Think of it this way. If your company or client is a car it's the engine that makes it go. The engine is talent acquisition and the fuel for that engine is the talent they provide to the engine. Simple but true.

If you rename your recruiting function Talent Acquisition but those on that team still perform HR functions or if your HR team is doing your recruiting under this new name but also doing talent management, engagement, benes, payroll, compensation and whatever else your HR team is doing these days then calling yourself Talent Acquisition is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Renaming yourself really does just become semantics and an effort to remake yourself without actually changing what you do.

More after the jump - Read on at your own risk!


Ok, so here is The Diff (as Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans/Cleveland Cavaliers would call it). First, let's take a look at the definition of the words. I use good old Websters Dictionary but you can use whatever reference source you wish as it will all pretty much come out the same.

  • Recruit (ing) - To enlist as a member of an armed service or to enlist the services of a person.

  • Talent - A special often creative, artistic or mental gift.

  • Acquisition - To gain possession of something as a result of effort or experience.

So, from a candidate perspective which would you rather be? Someone who is getting "enlisted" to perform a "service" or someone who has a "special often creative, artistic or mental gift"? I think it is a no brainer but this deserves a bit more explanation. Recruiters look at prospects and candidates as a means to an end - filling the opening/requisition. Talent Acquisition professionals understand that each talent has something of value to offer and, if not in their company or with their client, they validate this talent and seek to guide them toward something that will make sense and allow them to shine. They also build relationships with the best of this talent that lead to more successful networking, more referrals, more business and an amazing give and take of expertise, knowledge and information. All too often I hear from recruiters that relationship management and building pipelines are critical to their success but their processes, activities, behaviors and even their name (recruiting or staffing) all operate contrary to this well intentioned goal. Just calling yourself Talent Acquisition without a change to processes, activities and recruiter behavior is putting lipstick on a pig.

Now take a look at the definition of Acquisition above. Go ahead and read it again please. I will wait.

Are you back? Did you read it? Good.

Real recruiting takes tremendous effort. Real recruiting...err...talent acquisition requires great relationship management. Real talent acquisition takes efficient and productive processes that are easy to use and candidate centric.

Real talent acquisition is hard.

If it were easy everyone would be in the search business and making money hand over fist.

Talent Acquisition is more than just semantics. It actually has a definition and can be the guide post, mission statement or value proposition in a move toward actually executing and getting better results. It can be how you become a TRUE talent acquisition engine rather than an HR or Recruiting function that puts on lipstick to look like something else.

Here is BFC's definition of Talent Acquisition:

The identification, relationship building and selection of people who possess special, creative, artistic and/or mental gifts who can influence, contribute to and/or drive revenue to our business by exerting extraordinary effort, exercising strong relationship management and providing candidates and hiring leaders the ultimate experience.

There you have it. Certainly not rocket science. The challenge for most who desire to truly make this transition in fact rather than in theory is building your strategy, process and technology around this mantra. Then, and this is key, training your newly named Talent Acquisition Consultants properly to execute in every facet of the recruiting life cycle. All of these things must be done in order to truly build your Talent Acquisition Engine to drive your business and succeed. Doing some of it may give you some lift but executing well in each of these transformational areas will make you a hero to your company or client.

Give me a call or send me an email if you want to explore this further.

The fact remains that some of the best in the business at executing these principals are the most successful talent acquisition engines in the world and they are adding HUGE value to their companies and clients.

What's in your arsenal?

Views: 13166

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on August 12, 2013 at 7:44am

I've read your article and I still think it's just a question of semantics.

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