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Are recruitment and talent acquisition two sides of the same coin?
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Tuesday, 31 January 2017

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Recruitment and talent acquisition are the two most commonly used terms in HR departments across the globe. However similar they may sound or be perceived as being, there is an underlying difference between the two that many professionals tend to ignore. There exists a thin line between the two that creates a big difference in the way organisations manage talent.

Vinod Rai

Vinod Rai, head-HR (supply chain & vendors) and HR transformation leader, Maruti Suzuki
Talent acquisition is a process that involves proactive planning for the future, to avoid talent surpluses or shortages.

Recruitment is all about filling up job vacancies as and when they occur. It is a reactive and ongoing process.

Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is more of a strategic approach and less of a process. It highlights the current and future needs of the organisation by attracting, identifying and retaining talent. This means that organisations do not just hire a person but they acquire talent that can be developed further. By doing so, they take a long-term view of not only filling positions in the present, but also committing to developing the talent for the future.

Talent acquisition is a process that involves proactive planning for the future, to avoid talent surpluses or shortages. It is based on the premise that a company can be staffed more efficiently if it forecasts its talent needs as well as the actual supply of talent that is or will be available.

Attracting the best and brightest employees isn’t a one-time event. It is a continuous process. Companies that are serious about their long-term futures should be continually networking and building relationships with individuals who are at the top of their fields. Some day, they may wish to court them as potential employees.

Talent acquisition specialists develop recruiting goals and strategies for the company and hold all members of the leadership team accountable for their respective roles in recruitment and selection. Talent acquisition also takes into account the development and sustenance of an employer brand to attract the best of talent.

Also, with the Make in India plan in place, talented people will remain in high demand. To attract them, organisations will need to have a long-term talent strategy.

Unmesh Rai

Unmesh Rai, group head-talent acquisition, Piramal Enterprises
Talent acquisition assumes adequate pre-planning, presumes that employers will invest in articulating an employee value proposition, carefully identifies talent niche and develops deep sourcing capabilities.

One of the simplest analogies for recruitment is ‘digging a well when the house is on fire’. Recruitment can be linear and reactive. More often than not, the pressure it creates can lead to implications on cost and quality. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, assumes adequate pre-planning; presumes that employers will invest in articulating an employee value proposition; carefully identifies talent niche; develops deep sourcing capabilities; and provides for engagement with talent communities and catchment areas. Talent partners would rather see themselves as advisors to business-facing HR teams.

An organisation’s maturity when it comes to people, can be seen by the way talent is identified. Some of the questions that can help assess the same are:
• Do the critical roles have successors identified?
• Do the organisational processes and policies provide for internal mobility of the successors identified?
• If there are no successors, does the organisation have an internal job market where employees have first right of refusal?
• Do the talent acquisition metrics reflect the metrics beyond mere turnaround time and cost, and touch upon quality of hire and percentage of internal hiring?
• Does the organisation have a strong build principle and a graduate programme to develop talent internally?

Ajay Sharma

Ajay Sharma, deputy vice president, The Oberoi Group
Recruiting without a defined strategy can lead to hiring talent, which may be fine for a short term but may not work well with the long-term goals of the organisation.

Recruitment and talent acquisition appear similar but are two different terms. Most of the companies have started using the terms interchangeably or renaming their recruitment function without knowing the difference between the two.

Recruitment is the organisation’s response to a resignation or vacancy created due to any reason. It is mostly reactive and a-la-minute. Since such incidents are unplanned, even the response infuses inconsistency in the entire process. Talent acquisition on the other hand, is a proactive and strategic approach where organisations plan for, identify and engage the best talent for a role. It believes in building capability for the organisation for competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, for a lot of us in human resources, the never ending talent for war does not allow us time to think strategically and plan for our ‘human resources’. But it is not competition that is to be blamed; it is our own laxity in connecting the dots between the business strategy and HR strategy of the organisation. We need to know where the business and market is heading and what kind of talent we need, to maintain an edge over the competition or sometimes for our own existence. So, the key for any HR professional is to be a business partner in real terms, and have a vision, which can define the talent acquisition strategy of the organisation.

Recruiting without a defined strategy can lead to hiring talent, which may be fine for a short term but may not work well with the long-term goals of the organisation. For example, an organisation which aspires to grow geographically in a country will certainly need talent, which is mobile. Now, if the HR team is oblivious to the aspirations of the organisation, misfits may get hired, who will impede the growth pace.

There may be times when despite a well-defined talent acquisition strategy, the team struggles to find the right talent for certain critical positions. An organisation faces testing times when it has to choose between succumbing to such pressures and recruiting the ‘not so right fit’, and not straying away from the decided strategy and continuing to look for the right ones. Whatever may be the choice an organisation makes, in the long run, only the ones which do not compromise, outshine.

© 2016 HR Katha


  • Comment Link Mamta Kotian Wednesday, 01 February 2017 posted by Mamta Kotian

    Thank you Sir for providing us in depth knowledge of two concepts Recruitment and talent acquisition

  • Comment Link Sourabh Kane Tuesday, 31 January 2017 posted by Sourabh Kane

    Thanks gentlemen for throwing light on the minute difference between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition. This is indeed true.

  • Comment Link Babu Tuesday, 31 January 2017 posted by Babu

    Simple 2 liner definition used by all HR heads is really good !!!
    Good one to read

  • Comment Link Raghavendra Prasad Tuesday, 31 January 2017 posted by Raghavendra Prasad

    Well articulated article. I have seen fancy designations like Head of Intellect Acquisition. I feel its just that titles are becoming fancier, but the work remains the same.

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