What’s the Difference Between HR and Talent Acquisition? 

Updated Dec 21, 20223 min
What’s the Difference Between HR and Talent Acquisition? 

What’s the Difference Between HR and Talent Acquisition? 

Caroline BantonUpdated Dec 21, 20223 min
What’s the Difference Between HR and Talent Acquisition? 

Human resources and talent acquisition are not quite the same things. Human resource professionals are more concerned with today. For example, finding the skills their companies need in the short term, managing salaries, and benefits, overseeing conflict resolution, and ensuring adherence to personnel and safety rules and regulations. On the other hand, talent acquisition plays a more strategic role and creates staffing plans to ensure resources in the future.

This article explains the difference between human resources management and talent acquisition and management. Also, for job seekers, we explain why it's better to contact a human resources representative about potential employment rather than a talent acquisitions manager.

What Is HR Management vs. Talent Management?

Talent management is really a subset of human resources management. A human resources department performs many functions, including workforce strategy planning, recruitment, performance management, staff training and development, compensation and benefits, conflict resolution, and talent management.

Organizations manage these different disciplines in varying ways. For example, one HR manager might manage all of them for one particular department or the whole organization. Alternatively, an HR manager may be in charge of overall recruitment, another for staff training and development, etc. Many companies also use third-party providers to manage certain HR disciplines, such as staffing and recruitment or payroll.

For more on human resources management, read “What Does a Human Resources Manager Do?

What Does Talent Management and Talent Acquisition Involve?

The term “talent” refers to the skills and core competencies a person has and that an organization needs to fulfill its production or service obligations. For example, a software engineering firm needs engineering teams with coding skills to build its tech products, marketing teams to develop PR campaigns, sales teams to work with customers, and product managers to oversee projects.

The company must plan its staffing so that it has the skills and resources it needs in the future to reach its goals. 

Companies will typically perform a skills gap analysis to determine what core competencies they lack in their current workforce. Once a company identifies what skills they need, it can develop job descriptions and search for potential candidates with the sought-after skills—the talent.

Talent management also encompasses the retention of talent. Once hired, it’s expensive to replace valuable employees, so companies develop incentives to motivate staff and keep them engaged.

Fundamentally, talent management is recruiting candidates with the skills the company needs (also called talent acquisition), training existing staff in the skills the company needs, retaining valued employees, and letting go of staff when necessary. A talent management team might include talent acquisition or recruitment managers, specialists, sourcers, and coordinators.

Here’s a deeper dive into the disciplines of talent management.

Talent Analysis

A talent management strategy begins with analyzing a company’s current position regarding its workforce’s core capabilities. This gap analysis reveals all the human resources a firm needs, but, most importantly, what is missing. 

Creating a pipeline of potential employees is crucial to replacing lost talent or bringing in new talent. Succession planning is part of that process. Succession planning is when employees are identified and upskilled to replace an outgoing employee. It is important because when employees leave or retire, they take their expertise and institutional knowledge with them.

The Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report found that 42 percent of valuable company knowledge is unique to an individual employee. So, if an employee leaves, 42% of that employee’s work is not covered and will have to be learned from scratch by someone new.

Succession planning is necessary to harness valuable knowledge from exiting staff so that it is not lost forever.

Talent Acquisition

It can be difficult to find candidates with the exact skill sets a company needs, particularly in a tight labor market where other companies are competing for talent. Here are some talent acquisition strategies to use to compete for top talent.

Build a strong employer brand to attract candidates.

Part of the talent acquisition process is building a strong company brand that will attract candidates. This might involve showcasing on social media and the company website the company culture and the advantages of joining the firm. For example, being involved in cutting edge projects, working with other experts in their field, offering bonuses, great healthcare, childcare, or other benefits.

Visiting schools and hiring on campus

By visiting university campuses, and maintaining relationships with schools, employers can find and hire the best candidates before they graduate and accept jobs with competitors. Companies must sell themselves to the best talent.

Source potential hires from diverse backgrounds

Some companies will contact minority associations and groups to find diverse candidates to strengthen their workforce and encourage an inclusive culture.

Attend job fairs

Job fairs are a common way for companies to tap the local talent pool and fill open positions. Job fairs are also a great way to build relationships with the community and boost their brand recognition.

Ensure a smooth onboarding process

It’s important that an employer provide a great candidate experience. This gives a good impression to a new hire from the outset for maximum employee engagement beyond the recruitment process.

Talent Retention

Finding qualified candidates in a tight labor market is difficult, but retaining valued staff is also a challenge. When lots of employers are competing for skills, it won’t take much for a prized employer to jump ship. A higher salary, annual bonus, or better benefits can be highly persuasive.

Staff turnover is carefully tracked and measured by organizations because the costs associated with replacing a good worker are steep. Indeed, the job board platform, estimates that replacing an employee costs around one-third of that employee’s annual salary.

The costs of replacing an employee include hiring the new candidate (advertising, screening, and interviewing), onboarding, lost productivity, the errors made by a new inexperienced employee, training, the cost of paying for other workers’ extra shifts, and background checks. The longer the position stays open, the greater the costs.

Companies use incentives to encourage staff to stay with a firm, such as higher pay, bonuses, benefits, such as health care and childcare, and a clear path for professional development.

Talent Training and Development

Training and development keep employees motivated and engaged. If staff are given the opportunity to learn and advance as professionals, they will be more likely to take advantage of company initiatives and stay. Examples of training and development initiatives are:

  • Taking online or in-person courses and certifications at a university

  • Technical, management, or leadership training programs

  • Attending conferences and seminars

  • Rotating to different departments, locations, or working with external partners to gain experience in other areas

Related: “What Is a Recruiter’s Role?”

Should Job Seekers Contact Talent Managers or Human Resource Managers?

If you are a job seeker and considering reaching out to a hiring manager, it’s probably best to reach out to the HR or recruitment manager rather than the manager on the talent acquisition team. Why? Because human resources and recruitment are more focused on short-term goals and filling current skills needs. Talent acquisition is more concerned with their talent pipeline in the future.

A candidate’s recruitment is considered complete once the new hire is brought on board while talent acquisition is an ongoing process that lasts long after the hiring process is complete. In short, you are likely to get a quicker and more accurate response from human resources.

In Summary

In a nutshell, talent management is an ongoing process of managing employees from recruitment to exiting. It takes a holistic view of a company’s skills, core competencies, and business needs to develop a strategy to ensure a pipeline of new employees in the future. It is a component of the overall HR team functions focused on professional development and retention.

Human resources management encompasses all of the other functions of HR, such as immediate recruitment, managing compensation and benefits, and conflict resolution. For job seekers, it is better to contact a manager in the HR department rather than a talent acquisitions manager because HR professionals are more focused on filling immediate vacancies.

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications

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