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Which Is Better: Recruitment or Talent Acquisition?

Which Is Better: Recruitment or Talent Acquisition?

The terms “Recruitment” and “Talent Acquisition” are usually thought to mean the same thing. They are often used synonymously, although they are not exactly the same thing. Visionary companies, who keep a close eye on the big picture, know the difference between these two words very well. The differences may seem subtle, but they are there. You can equate it to short term planning versus long term planning. Recruitment is akin to short term planning: a quick fix for an immediate need. Talent Acquisition is long term planning: a look ahead to see where needs are likely to arise. Today, both the approaches are being used in the hiring process, depending on the circumstances. Recruitment tends to be tactical where as talent acquisition tends to be strategic in nature. The one who understand this difference can adapt the hiring process accordingly and get top talent for positions and better results for the company.

First, let’s see the definition of the both terms.


In human resource management, Recruitment is a fairly straight process of searching and hiring the most qualified and best candidates for a specific job opening, and to do it in a prompt and cost effective manner. It can also be defined as a process of finding prospective employees and filling in the particular vacancy or newly created designations in the organization.


Most of the people think that Talent acquisition is absolutely the same as recruiting; after all acquiring talent only means hiring a good person. Is that so?

The answer to that is NO…!

OK, let’s be clear; Talent acquisition is not just a fancy term for recruitment, there quite a difference between the two. Instead of a straight process, as mentioned above, talent acquisition is a sequential process, a perennial approach, anticipating future hiring needs and building relationships to nurture a talent pipeline with a long term vision.

Talent Acquisition does not mean just filling positions or hiring replacements. It not only utilizes the skills a candidate has, but also identifies their talents, interests, and potential, which is the outcome of the meticulous hiring process as a means to fill future positions.

Now that we have defined both the terms as simply as possible, let’s see what the differences truly are between recruitment and talent acquisition.

What’s the Difference? Talent Acquisition vs. Recruiting

The approach for the both the activities, i.e. Recruitment and Talent Acquisition, are really very different. Recruitment is about filling vacancies promptly, and is typically more assertive than Talent Acquisition. It is very often a time sensitive process to keep work flowing as smoothly as possible. On the other hand, Talent Acquisition tends to focus on long-term human resources planning and finding potential candidates for the positions that require particular skill sets. It is a continuous process, a strategy to find specialists, executives, or future leaders for your company.

Recruitment requires an enormous effort within a short turnaround time, the vacant position needs to be filled as soon as possible and any further delays can be hazardous for the company’s progress. Inevitably, recruitment costs can tend to be high. To keep costs down, or at least reasonable, organizations may curtail the amount of time spent in recruiting process, and that could compromise the quality of applicants.

Talent Acquisition insinuates a more cost-effective process which focuses on the candidate’s skills, but it also looks at the talent and potential they possess.  It can be a simpler process than recruitment, but it’s not a linear endeavour. It is not designed to manage interim staff requirements. Instead it looks ahead, laying the foundation for filling the same position but at future date without too much trouble.

The process of acquiring talent undoubtedly attains plenty of the same functionalities of recruitment: posting job openings, reviewing applications/resumes, candidate interviews, and eventually hiring. That’s the nuts and bolts of talent acquisition. But you are forgetting talent acquisition is a big picture, there’s much more to it than that.

It’s true that both Talent Acquisition and Recruitment have the same end purpose -hiring someone to work for your company. Talent Acquisition focuses on future needs rather than present moment of Recruitment. They share common ground, but the outcomes are totally different. 

Hiring managers using the Talent Acquisition approach ask tough questions, such as:

  • Does this employee/candidate have the potential to blend with and enhance corporate culture?
  • What skills/talent does he/she have now, which can be beneficial in future positions?
  • What skills can be developed in him/her?
  • Is he/she good learner and have the ability to grasp new concepts or requirements quickly?
  • In 5 years, where will this person be in our company?

These and so many others are needed to filter out and find the perfect candidate who can be specialist, executive, or future leader.

Hiring managers, who are doing Recruitment, don’t consider questions like those above. Their concern is filling a position as quickly as possible. That is one reason recruiting tends to result in higher turnover. People getting hired through recruitment may be great employees, comprising well honed skill sets, but it’s hard to say if they will be a good fit for your company culture. They may leave at anytime if things don’t work out well, or if they get a better offer. This type of hiring doesn’t necessarily hire an employee that feels a vested, dedicated interest in the company.

Which One is better?

In many ways, both are essential for continued company success. You need Talent Acquisition just as much as you need Recruitment. As we’ve seen, Talent Acquisition is a time consuming, intensive process. It’s not, however, what’s needed for hiring a sales person during peak selling season.

Depending on the circumstance and the requirements of the company, you can shift your hiring strategy from Recruitment to Talent Acquisition and from Talent Acquisition to Recruitment. Understanding the difference and similarities will keep the Human Resources Hiring team bringing in the best and brightest for company growth and success.