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

When it comes to making sure you have the best of the best on your team, you’ve probably tossed around the word talent. But talent is a vague and imprecise term. Furthermore, attracting talent and then keeping that talent around require totally different skill sets. If your HR department is in charge of creating job descriptions, attracting new applicants, managing all of those applicants’ benefits, and trying to keep employee churn low, that’s a ton of responsibilities to place on one team. Parsing out which roles are the most important at any given time and having good definitions for each role will help the job become much more manageable.

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Using terms like talent management and talent acquisition interchangeably will be to your detriment. It’s important to know and understand the difference between these two vital HR actions.

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition refers to the recruiting of new employees to fulfill specific roles on your team, but it’s also so much more than that.

  • Talent acquisition starts by ensuring your brand is attractive to potential workers, thereby attracting high-quality candidates from the get-go. Do people seem excited to come and work for your company? Do you have a good reputation in the community and in your industry? What makes people interested in learning more about your business and what you do? These are all important questions for a talent acquisition team to be familiar with.
  • Creating skills-based job descriptions will help immensely when it comes to recruiting new talent. Words like a people person or a hard worker aren’t going to get you very far. Try to use numeric descriptors and specific experience requests when crafting descriptions of open job positions in order to attract the highest-quality candidates.
  • Instead of sitting back and waiting for qualified candidates to come to you, talent acquisition involves actively seeking out people who would be a great fit for your company now or in the future. Surfing LinkedIn, attending industry events, and keeping up with former employees will allow you to do this well.
  • Actively maintaining relationships with people in your network or college students who will soon be graduating can be an important way to facilitate a talent acquisition pipeline. If someone were to give his or her 2 weeks’ notice suddenly, you may not have a ton of time to find a new employee. Therefore, it’s extremely beneficial to have a pool of potential employees to pull from.
  • There’s also a difference between an acquisition team and a recruiting team. A recruiting team focuses on positions that are currently open. An acquisition team may be more focused on finding potential employees for future openings or creating new positions that are needed within a company.
  • Onboarding new employees can be the job of either talent acquisition or talent management. Although it may seem like it makes more sense for your acquisition team to be focused on finding new candidates and your management team to be focused on the ones you currently have, it can be nice to have a bit of a bridge there for new employees so the person they’ve already spoken to and are familiar with can be present throughout the onboarding process and available for any questions.

Talent Management 

Talent management refers to the development and retainment of employees. But again, managing your workforce isn’t as easy as it sounds.

  • Talent management should be largely focused on retaining your employees. Companies with a large amount of turnover will spend valuable time and resources recruiting and training new employees—time and resources that could be spent elsewhere if they didn’t always have to rehire.
  • It’s also important to help your employees reach their fullest potential and perform their best when it comes to their individual roles. If your employees are sticking around but aren’t performing at a high level, that’s even larger of a problem than employee churn. Talent management involves making sure your training systems are up to date and implementing metrics that ensure your employees are achieving their goals. If there are roadblocks in the way of this, talent management can also be involved in identifying and removing those roadblocks.
  • Where are your employees hoping to head in their career paths? Talent management can be involved in identifying potential standout workers as future managers or executives and implementing some kind of mentorship program in order to help those employees flourish. It’s important that any such program be available to any interested and capable party so you’re not seen as “playing favorites,” but by identifying the employees who go above and beyond, you can set your business up for future success.
  • How do you retain a skilled workforce? By keeping morale high and providing worthwhile benefits. It’s easy to think of things like health insurance and vacation, but where does your company land on flexibility of hours? A rewards system? Other perks or incentives? These practices can help keep employees happy to be working for you.
  • Managing your employees may also involve a heavy dose of conflict resolution. If your employees have differing opinions on how to solve a problem or find themselves in some sort of conflict, you may be brought in to help smooth problems over.
  • Talent management can also involve promotions from your current employee base. Finding internal employees to promote instead of hiring outside applicants can be beneficial for both morale and your company’s bottom line.

What Do They Have in Common?

Both talent acquisition and talent management involve making sure your company has the most qualified people working for it, but as you can see, these two ideas have very different needs. Having the same person, or even the same team, in charge of both talent acquisition and talent management may be a mistake. The skills required to recruit a qualified potential employee and the skills required to help the person reach his or her fullest potential may not necessarily be the same. It’s important to have a focus on both acquisition and management if your goal is to have a highly qualified workforce.

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