Talent acquisition and recruiting are related terms, but they are not the same in definition, objectives, or overall strategies to aid in hourly hiring efforts. Those who work with these two practices daily likely understand the critical differences between the two—they work together but are not interchangeable. Let’s start by looking at the definitions of talent acquisition and recruitment strategy more closely.
Talent acquisition is a long-term strategy that aids in company growth. It fuels effective workforce planning to accommodate finding the right talent as it’s needed to support business objectives and human resource planning. It’s often used to find candidates for roles that either require a specific skill set or are harder to fill—but it doesn’t have to be siloed to just these activities.
For instance, a hiring manager is likely more focused on building an effective recruitment strategy than a talent acquisition strategy. However, having a good understanding of the company’s talent acquisition strategy aids in ensuring the recruitment strategy is aligned to the same objectives.
To determine when a talent acquisition strategy is needed, think about the upcoming hiring needs of your organization and determine, 1) which roles are the hardest to fill, 2) are there skills and backgrounds needed that are either hard to find or in high demand, 3) is there a need for high-volume hiring, 4) which roles have extremely high turnover, and 5) is there a need to hire candidates for jobs that fall into a “skill shortage” category. Any of these questions you answer yes to will benefit from a talent acquisition strategy because an effective strategy will provide a passive talent pool that is ready when roles need to be filled—essentially saving you time and giving you a competitive advantage in your hiring strategy.
For most industries that require hourly hires attracting the right talent is a continuous process, often considered evergreen hiring. This makes a talent acquisition strategy a valuable tool to put in place and evaluate on a regular basis.
A strong talent acquisition strategy should include assessing a candidate's skills and culture fit—to ensure they replicate your top-performing employees. It should also showcase the cultural elements of your organization and the employment brand, i.e., what it’s like to work there, who thrives and who just survives, what are the emotional drivers, and what’s the overall personality of the organization—the soft side versus the hard side.
Think about elements like, does your culture thrive on titles or think little of hierarchy? Are there strict guidelines to follow, or are policies more suggestions than rules? Is being innovative rewarded or frowned upon? The answers to these types of questions paint a picture of the environment and culture and what it takes to succeed within your organization.
For example, if you’re looking for a night shift manager, you may want a strategy that tells the story of the organization through an employment brand and strong cultural values, so they understand expectations and the “personal side” of the organization before they opt-in to be a candidate. You may also want to include testimonials from other employees working night shifts, so applicants get a sense of the experience, i.e., is it quieter and less hectic in the evenings, is there anyone available to answer questions, is it safe and secure, and how does the night shift culture differentiate itself from the culture of the day shift, etc.
Unlike a talent acquisition strategy, a recruitment strategy is a short-term approach to hiring candidates. In simple terms, it’s about filling vacancies. It’s a familiar process to hiring managers and HR that generally looks something like this:
Often, recruitment strategies follow a very specific, pre-mandated process that doesn’t change per role or department. It’s littered with legal requirements and mandates and usually highly standardized across an organization. Essentially, it’s the path that every candidate follows when an organization is searching, evaluating, and hiring for a position.
Many times, this process results in a hiring manager making their best guess or hiring on a “hunch,” which often results in candidates not sticking around and company turnover continuing to pace at higher than desired levels from leadership. Backing up a recruitment strategy with a talent acquisition strategy cuts down on the guesswork, pinpoints with a higher level of accuracy who the quality candidates are before they waste company money and time, decreases turnover, and creates major efficiencies in the hiring process.
Recruitment efforts and recruitment strategies are processes and actions that solve an immediate need for an organization of taking a candidate through the hiring process. A talent acquisition strategy is a long-term method and game plan for securing and attracting talent even before it’s needed. One could equate talent acquisition strategies to external brand awareness for an organization—it’s about attracting people to your brand and your company even before they are ready to buy or be hired. So, when you do call, they already know who you are and have a sense of “their fit with your organization.”
Check out our other recruiting and acquisition resources.