Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment

Published: Nov 13th, 2023

What’s the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment? We explain below, with definitions and tips.

Hiring well is a business imperative. The problem so many employers face is finding and hiring the right person for the right job at the right time. The solution: understand the role recruiting plays in the broader function of talent acquisition. Then — make it a priority to be intentional and strategic about both acquisition and recruiting.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is the act of finding an employee for a job opening. Recruiters use social media, discipline-specific networks, alumni associations, competing firms, college campus visits, job fairs, employee referrals, and professional recruiting firms. Recruiting is more proactive than just posting a job opening.

Posting a job with online job sites or even on your website is a viable option, but it’s not proactive. The “post and pray” method may or may not attract the candidates you need.


Recruitment is finding an employee for a job opening. Talent acquisition is building a system of growing the talent in your organization."

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is finding the perfect employee for a job opening. It’s not usually about the urgent need. Instead, it’s about building your future. Talent acquisition seeks to define the talent gaps you have now and the ones will have in the future. Next, it seeks to grow the talent pool in the organization over time.

Talent acquisition is a mindset as well as a process. Are you looking for warm bodies to fill an empty space, or are you seeking team members to stick around and continue adding value? You can find the right talent within your organization. Internal sourcing can be far easier and cheaper than acquiring talent externally.

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

Talent acquisition is finding the right people to support your organizational goals. It’s not just about filling a position — it’s about supporting you, your company, your workforce, and your customers, both now and in the future. Recruiting is just one piece of the talent-acquisition puzzle. It’s the step where we work to fill the current job opening.

Just like a jigsaw puzzle, the right pieces need to fit in the right places. But recruiting is not the plan and process. That’s talent acquisition, and it must consider:

  • A detailed scan of your current human capital
  • Your business strategy and priorities
  • Determining what talent you need or to be successful
  • Your search
  • Your onboarding processes

After all, you want to keep those great people you recruited and hired.

The long game

There’s nothing linear about talent acquisition. What you need today is likely to change rapidly, even from day to day and certainly from year to year. Talent acquisition isn’t just about a recruiting or hiring transaction. It’s also about building lasting relationships with talent, to create a long-term value proposition for both of you.

Talent acquisition specialists and recruiters

A recruiter serves a special role for the talent acquisition team. Recruiters should know exactly what qualifies as the right kind of talent.

New hires must meet or exceed your clear criteria. The talent acquisition team and/or specialists should be well-versed in creating the right position descriptions. Those descriptions must convey the right messages about the job, your company’s values, expectations, responsibilities, and what success in the job looks like. The recruiter then works with that information to find top talent.

Recruiters search to find the perfect

Talent acquisition is a strategy

When you’re growing your company, your talent acquisition strategy has to bring in the right candidates. This is true whether you’re expanding products or services, merging, or even acquiring another business. It’s all about right-sizing and right-fitting your people to a purpose. Talent acquisition planning and process are critical to results. They’re also the best way to support your enterprise, your workforce, and your customers.

For startups and new businesses, having the right people is your chief competitive advantage. You can have the best widget in the marketplace, but if your people aren’t the best in delivering on promises to your customers, you won’t last long. This is true regardless of size, type of business, workforce numbers, geography, or the products or services you offer.

Who should handle talent acquisition and recruiting?

The question of talent acquisition ownership is rarely considered — yet it’s critically important. The answer may vary depending on your size and budget. However, one thing is constant — senior management needs to make talent acquisition — and within it, recruiting — into an ongoing, never-ending, top business priority.

So — talent acquisition should connect directly to the senior team. Like succession planning, talent acquisition must be a key part of your entire talent management strategy.

What if I have no positions open today?

If you don’t have a specific position in mind, should you still recruit?

That depends on the results of your workplace talent scan. You know — or you can find out — exactly what your turnover rate has been over time. You can compute the percentage of turnover in every position, and see where it’s highest and lowest. You can also predict it for the next several months or the next year and beyond.

Your talent acquisition team or specialists need to keep looking carefully at current trends in both your own business and in your industry. They need to create and curate a talent acquisition plan, and communicate it clearly to your recruiting team.

Talent acquisition must stay flexible

You may need more entry-level employees, or middle management, technical staff, or even senior management. Either way, getting caught by surprise and finding yourself short of critical talent is not fun, smart, or good for business.

Have you personally experienced seeing a restaurant or drug store close because they didn’t have enough staff to serve their customers? Most communities across the country have seen this situation in the last year or more, and there’s likely more to come.

Immediate vacancies

When you must fill immediate vacancies, do your best to be creative. Invite people within your business to step up and in, even if it’s temporary. But when you do hire, take the right amount of time and care to hire right. To make it in this highly competitive marketplace, you need to be ahead of the curve, not behind it.

With today’s job market in massive flux, it’s more critical than ever to take a deep dive into your talent acquisition and recruiting needs and practices.

Talent Acquisition Tips

  • Create a position storybook
  • Use hiring scorecards
  • Design a recruiting budget
  • Choose your search team well
  • Outline a smart search strategy

Talent acquisition best practices

To build a great talent acquisition and recruitment process and deliver the right results, consider these pre-hiring tasks:

  • Position storybook: Create a clear story in regards to what you need. Consider the impact on others’ work, absolutes and nice-to-haves, and how you’ll make the job and your business sound attractive to those you hope to hire.
  • Scorecards: With care about bias, identify all candidate requirements. Determine what kind of interviews, written submissions, testing, presentations, and roleplays you’ll require.
  • Pay to play: Know what you’re willing to offer in compensation and benefits to your recruits. Stick to your budget for recruiting efforts.
  • Search Team: Be thoughtful about who’s vetting your candidates. This includes recruiters, interviewers, and final decision makers.
  • Search strategy: Determine your plan — from advertising to recruiting firms. Carefully craft the approach you’ll apply, as well as the budget you’ll invest to find the right people.


Talent acquisition is about finding the right people to take your organization into the future. It’s not just filling a position. Recruiting is just one small part of talent acquisition — the part where we work to fill one or more job openings.

Talent acquisition and hiring right is a bottom-line issue for everyone. It must be a key part of your business success strategy today — not someday. No one succeeds without having most if not all of the right people in the right places for the right reasons.

Your decisions and approach to recruiting as a core function within your talent acquisition process demands a “digging for gold” mindset — and investing in the right people and process to help you do that brilliantly. Don’t waste your valuable human and financial resources only to end up with a bucket full of fool’s gold!