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Recruiting vs. Talent Acquisition: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between recruiting and talent acquisition and which option is better? Having a strong team lays the foundation for business growth and ensures you have the skills you need in your organization.

Learn the difference between talent acquisition vs. recruiting to help your human resources team strengthen their efforts.

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Recruitment vs. talent acquisition

While the goal of talent acquisition and recruitment is to fill vacant job roles, there are key differences.

Put simply, recruitment is a reactive solution. Someone leaves their job role, and managers and HR fill that position. However, talent acquisition is a proactive solution for sourcing a pipeline of potential employees who have the skills you might need. Recruitment can solve a company’s immediate problem, while talent acquisition is an ongoing process that advances a company’s mission. 

When you look at recruitment vs. talent acquisition, which is right for your business? That depends on the type of business and what your company goals are.

If variables are naturally stable in your industry and the skills you require are more general, you might get by with regular recruitment. This is because recruitment is an easier means of hiring. You don’t typically need as many resources for recruitment methods as you do with talent acquisition strategies, which can make recruiting less costly and time-consuming.

However, if you’re trying to keep up with a dynamic industry and need highly specific skills, you might want to consider hiring a professional in talent acquisition vs. a recruiter. 

What is recruitment?

Recruitment means hiring people to fill current vacancies. It’s a short-term strategy that’s linear, has a specific end-point and usually uses passive sourcing methods. This means hiring managers rely heavily on applicant tracking software (ATS), job boards and the company website to find new hires. Recruitment can be used for any job role and in any industry.

The recruitment process usually starts with someone leaving their position. In response, HR or management posts a job description online and conducts interviews to fill the role quickly. It usually follows a predetermined, highly standardized recruitment process performed during periods of expansion or significant personnel turnover.

Examples of recruitment methods include:

  • Posting positions on career sites and job boards
  • Attending networking events
  • Using social media for sourcing
  • Encouraging referrals from employees and industry colleagues
  • Promoting or transferring people internally
  • Using video interviews to screen employees before offering an in-person interview

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is comparable to recruitment in that it identifies potential employees. Unlike recruitment, talent acquisition is all about a company’s long game. It entails a more flexible, adaptive approach and a wide awareness of the company’s long-term strategic goals. It’s a long-term strategy developed between business leaders and the HR department. The aim is to ensure you’re attracting talent with the specialized skills required to keep your company competitive and successful.

In addition to using ATS software, job boards and a company website, talent acquisition involves actively seeking top talent. Hiring managers and HR might tap into social media, online forums, industry events, conferences and communities where specialists congregate. Instead of hard-selling, they network to find top talent and nurture a relationship over time. In doing so, they develop a pipeline of qualified candidates who are highly suited to your company culture.

Examples of talent acquisition strategies include:

  • Building a strong company identity to attract talent
  • Using data and marketing materials to appeal to your ideal candidate
  • Partnering with local universities to build a talent pool
  • Offering additional incentives and work options
  • Designing a competitive and comprehensive benefits plan
  • Aligning your approach with your business goals

How can talent acquisition vs. recruiter benefit your business?

A talent acquisition strategy can help you efficiently find and onboard candidates with the specific skill sets your company needs. This is especially helpful for companies that anticipate fast growth. It’s also effective for senior leadership, engineering and technology roles, which can take up to 6 months to fill.

What’s more, if your company is in a specialized field, such as IT or healthcare, talent acquisition can ensure you’re consistently pursuing talent with the necessary qualifications.

Other benefits include:

  • Avoiding the urgency of recruitment
  • Improving your ROI for your hiring costs
  • Taking a long-term approach and not rushing the hiring process
  • Reducing stress and setting the tone for a calm, well-organized workforce

Talent acquisition strategies

Looking at talent acquisition vs. recruiting strategies can help you better understand the process. Consider these strategies to get started.

Succession planning

Succession planning is the internal process of acquiring talent. This method is ongoing and can last for months or years. It involves identifying high-performing employees who embody company culture and work passionately in their roles and earmarking them for senior roles.

Over time, you prime them for leadership by offering training and leadership opportunities. Internal mentorship programs often deliver exceptional results because the employees who are chosen become ambassadors for your brand. What’s more, when other employees see promotion from within, they’re likely to work harder under the premise they could be next in line for promotion.

Company branding

Effective company branding can attract talent. When comparing organizations, many people choose the one with the best values, culture and work-life balance. By having exceptional company branding, you’ll naturally recruit people who want to work for a company like yours, and you may achieve longer-lasting success with candidate retention.

Think about what message you want to send your employees. Do you pride yourself on being a forward-thinking, innovative organization? Maybe you want to be known as a luxury brand with high-end amenities and perks for your staff. Building an identity that shows how much you value your workers can attract exceptional talent. Those who are considering working for your business want to know your workplace culture, current employee satisfaction and career advancement opportunities.

To answer some of these questions, talk to your employees to understand how they feel about working for you. You can then use this information to construct an image on your website or social media pages that highlights the best attributes.

Data and analytics

Like other marketing strategies, talent acquisition aims to persuade others that your business is attractive. You’re simply persuading them to choose a position with you instead of buying your goods or services. 

Data can help you develop the perfect persuasive techniques for this purpose. For example, you could use data to determine where your best talent came from. You can then target your talent acquisition efforts toward those sources.


Software supports and simplifies the talent acquisition process. Artificial intelligence and automation can reduce the number of manual tasks required for hiring. This allows for greater focus on tasks such as analyzing data and planning. For example, sending confirmation emails and producing reports are tasks that can be automated.

5 tips for an effective talent acquisition process

Successful talent acquisition requires significant planning and strategizing. Use these tips to help.

1. Forecast your needs

Review your company’s plans and objectives for the next one to five years. Anticipate potential growth as well as the leadership, managers or specialists you will need to achieve your goals.

2. Source quality talent leads

Building a talent pool based on your needs allows you to select from a large group of professionals when you make a new hire. Maintaining a talent pool is an excellent way to create a database of candidates suited to your company, even if you don’t have a current vacancy to fill. Using Indeed or a traditional recruiting agency is a great way to build and maintain a talent pool.

3. Recruit

Consider the qualities that attract clients to your brand. Often, these are the same aspects you’ll want to highlight when attracting talent. Be sure to highlight your company culture and values as well as compensation packages, benefits and career advancement opportunities.

Additionally, consider setting up internal employee referral incentives. Your current team can offer potential candidates the best representation of what it’s like to work at your company. Plus, their personal networks may be full of skilled individuals seeking new opportunities.

4. Improve your talent acquisition materials

Revamping your job descriptions, career pages, emails and other materials can also help attract talent. You can encourage your HR team to work with your marketing team to ensure there’s nothing in your job descriptions or career pages that may deter people from applying.

5. Align strategies with your business goals

If you have long-term business goals in mind, you can tailor your talent acquisition strategies to find employees who will help you achieve them. This can involve filling open positions or hiring for new positions to expand your company.

For instance, if you want to expand internationally, you can search for a candidate who has experience with international business relations. If you’re looking to create a new product, it may be best to take on more software developers or product managers. Thinking in terms of the future when selecting candidates to hire can help your company move forward and show your employees that their work is valued.

FAQs about recruiting vs. talent acquisition 

Is talent acquisition vs. recruitment better for your business?

Both recruitment and talent acquisition have an important place in the hiring process. Talent acquisition isn’t possible for every role, and recruitment isn’t thorough enough for many roles. In some instances, forward planning is a luxury, and the priority is simply to get a position filled ASAP using traditional recruitment practices. However, talent acquisition takes into account attracting, engaging, hiring and advancing handpicked employees at all levels. If you aim to develop a cohesive, top-tier team, it’s worth putting aside a few hours each week to dedicate to talent acquisition. 

Which talent acquisition methods are best?

The recruitment vs. talent acquisition strategies you decide to use to attract new employees depend on what your vision is for your company and what message you want to send to prospective candidates. By using a talent acquisition approach, you aren’t just evaluating employees to see if they’re the right fit for you—you’re also showing them why joining your company is the right move for their career.

What skills are needed for talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition requires a mix of hard and soft skills, including marketing, sales, communication, branding and strategy. However, the main skill required for the position is the ability to work with people. Talent acquisition managers should possess exceptional people skills, particularly regarding empathy, listening and competency assessment skills. 

They should be highly adept at building relationships and understanding a brand inside out in view of selling it to the best applicants. Finally, in today’s digital-led world, a great talent acquisition specialist should be an expert in social media and online forums, which is arguably the best place to locate potential star employees.

Who’s responsible for talent acquisition?

In larger organizations, HR personnel typically manage the logistics of recruiting and hiring new employees. In smaller businesses, it’s the job of hiring managers and senior executives. It’s important to include stakeholders in the process because they can clarify the company’s plans and determine the talent necessary for meeting those objectives. 

Additionally, employees are familiar with your company’s mission and vision, so they may know someone in their network who would be a great fit. Employee referral schemes and recommendations can be highly effective talent acquisition strategies because skilled people tend to know other skilled people. 

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