The process of acquiring and managing staff has grown in complexity in recent years, with numerous changes in the technology, processes, and goals contributing to a shift in how organizations approach personnel.
Human resource executives find themselves in a position where they need to have a strong understanding of how their organization operates, its short- and long-term goals, and how they can help facilitate growth. As more data becomes available thanks to cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM) systems and other powerful tools, those in the HR field also find themselves assuming a more analytical and consolatory role within the organization.
While these changes have impacted every aspect of the HR function, hiring has been especially affected. What was once called simply “recruiting” has transformed into “talent acquisition.” While some may use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two, and understanding those differences can reveal how this crucial role has evolved.
Recruiting vs Talent Acquisition
For the sake of clarity, lets discuss the differences between recruiting and talent acquisition. Perhaps the easiest way to differentiate between the two is to think in terms of reactionary hiring vs. a more forward-thinking approach to filling positions.
Recruiting is narrower in scope, homing in on the open position. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, considers the organization’s larger workforce planning efforts and seeks to align hiring with the organization’s overall strategy.
For example, if an organization is planning on undergoing a finance transformation later in the year with the goal of automating much of the data collection reporting processes and is looking to fill an open position on the finance team, then recruiters would want to take this into account. An applicant with experience with the selected financial management system and strong analytical skills, one who can then support others in the department through the transition, would therefore be ideal.
Talent acquisition can also be applied to succession planning; if a VP of Sales is a couple years away from retirement, for example, and there is no clear replacement within the organization, then an open, high level sales position can be filled with the intent of eventually promoting the new employee into that role.
Put another way: talent acquisition recognizes that it isn’t about having staff, it’s about having the best talent possible with the right skillset to help the organization meet its goals.
A Multifaceted Approach to Hiring
Talent acquisition is broader in scope than traditional recruiting. With the goal of attracting top tier talent, talent acquisition managers need to do more than simply post an open position on a job board; they need to work with others in the organization to attract the best talent and take a more considered approach to hiring.
Modern talent acquisition should start with the organization’s overall workforce strategy and define the skills, experience, and other factors that are needed from talent to achieve the organization’s broader goals. From there, talent acquisition professionals can define the roles necessary to guide the organization to success, then get to work finding the right hire.
The move from simply recruiting to talent acquisition has prompted other changes in how organizations attract talent. It has caused organizations to start thinking of their brand as an employer. It has prompted many HR teams to work with their marketing departments to help promote that brand and attract better talent. Talent also prompts organizations to look at what makes them unique as employers and find new ways to deliver a better employee experience.
Incorporating Technology into Your Talent Acquisition Strategies
According to a study by LinkedIn, 68% of respondents said that “better recruiting tools and technology” was the best way to improve talent acquisition in the future. One technology listed in the study that was seen by respondents as critical was technology that could track soft skills, which are increasing in importance as more hard skills are rendered unnecessary by AI and other advances.
Central to taking a strategic approach to talent acquisition is data. Some organizations, especially larger enterprises, struggle with basic information, such as having a clear picture of who is in the organization and their role. With better, more actionable data, such what hard and soft skills each employee possesses, organizations can take stock of their current capabilities and then build out their workforce strategy, which includes talent acquisition. As more organizations undergo HR transformations and data becomes easily accessible to HR teams and key stakeholders, we see a shift to this more strategic approach to hiring.
Other technologies play a role in transitioning traditional recruiting to talent acquisition as well. Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation reduce the number of manual tasks necessary for hiring, leaving more time for data analysis and planning. Activities like sending out confirmation emails or compiling reports, for example, can be automated.
The field of talent acquisition has seen significant changes in recent years, and these changes will most likely continue for years to come. As the fight for top talent grows in intensity, organizations need to be more strategic in how to approach hiring or face falling behind.
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