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

Kristin Bachman
6 min read

Competition is fierce in the labor market. Up to 87% of companies report current skill gaps or expect to see them in the future. This aligns with BLS data that there are about 2.8 million more jobs available than there are workers to fill them.

So, how do you draw in the best talent for your organization? Years ago, it was all about putting out calls for resumes and posting a few help-wanted ads. But these days, if you want to compete in the labor market, you need both recruitment and talent acquisition strategies. We’ll explain both types of sourcing and show you how to combine strategies to keep talent flowing into your organization.


What Is Recruitment?

Recruitment is the active process used to fill open positions as soon as possible..The recruitment process includes placing job ads and posting job descriptions to draw in candidates you can review, vet, and interview for an open role. Full-cycle recruiting refers to the entire process, from marketing open roles through hiring and onboarding.


What Is Talent Acquisition?

Talent acquisition is a continuous process in which you develop a pool of highly qualified candidates you can draw from whenever you need to hire. You don’t necessarily need open positions since this is a proactive approach to sourcing talent according to business needs that may come up.


Recruitment vs. Talent Acquisition: Similarities and Differences

What’s the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition? We’ll compare their similarities and differences below.


  • Both recruitment and talent acquisition focus on hiring qualified candidates for your organization.
  • Both require marketing skills — placing job ads, utilizing social media, and other methods to attract the attention of job seekers.
  • Both need someone with strong networking and communication skills to develop short-term or long-term talent pools.


  • Recruitment is reactive, meaning it happens when you have immediate needs to fill open roles.
  • Talent acquisition is proactive in that you’ll maintain a talent pool of qualified candidates that you can reach out to when roles become available.
  • Talent acquisition specialists rely heavily on several tactics, including networking, leveraging industry connections, industry events, and diverse social networks as part of an ongoing strategy to pull together a collection of the best candidates.
  • Recruitment often means quickly posting job ads or job descriptions when you need staffing now, whereas talent acquisition gathers talent you may need in the future through tactics like referrals and brand marketing.

Which One Is Better?

In this instance, one is not better than the other. Rather, both have their uses depending on the scenario. Let’s take a look at some scenarios to illustrate.

Let’s say that a key project manager quits abruptly due to unforeseen family issues. There’s no help for it, and now you have an urgent hiring need. If you’ve adopted a talent acquisition approach, you may already have a list of candidates with specific skill sets who could fit the skills needed for this role, and you can reach out to them to see if they’re available and interested. Otherwise, you’ll need to recruit to fill the vacancy.

In another scenario, perhaps you’ve added a new product to your lineup, and now you need a team of engineers, marketers, and other personnel to handle the development and placement. The talent acquisition process typically focuses on filling single roles with candidates that have highly specialized skills. So for this scenario, you’d likely rely on recruitment to build out a large talent pool of active candidates.

In the case of senior management and C-suite leaders, none may currently have plans to move on, but there is always the chance that someone might. Talent acquisition is useful in this case because it helps build relationships and maintain a network of people who could be great fits for these types of roles should you ever need them.


What Is the Difference Between a Talent Acquisition Partner and a Recruiter?

Whether contracting someone or hiring in-house, recruiters and talent acquisition partners will have two very different jobs.

Recruiters are:

  • Necessary when you have open positions, and you need new hires immediately
  • Responsible for placing job ads, advertising on social media, filtering candidates, and selecting the right candidates for the openings that you have
  • Often (but not always) hired to fill entry-level positions or roles where qualifications aren’t as demanding.

Meanwhile, acquisition partners:

  • Focus more on your long-term strategy for attracting new talent
  • Spend time boosting your employer brand, networking, advertising, and more, all with the idea of building a pool of talent that you can draw from later when the need arises
  • Typically search out people with highly specialized employee experience, like experts in cybersecurity, certain types of engineering, people with C-suite experience, etc. 


How To Combine Your Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Strategy

Talent acquisition and recruitment aren’t mutually exclusive things — and in fact, you can make finding and hiring new team members more efficient by combining your recruitment and acquisition strategies. We’ll show you how.

Review Your Current Sourcing Strategies

The first step is to review your current sourcing strategies. While you do this, keep the idea of combining recruitment and talent acquisition in mind — with the goal of improving the candidate experience. If your hiring process leads to a bad experience, you can expect to see all kinds of negative effects. Eighty-three percent of job seekers are unlikely to apply to a company again after a bad experience, 63% are unlikely to take a job offer, and nearly 59% will even tell their peers not to apply.

Get started by reviewing the following:


Networking can mean many things, including but not limited to:

  • Attending job fairs and career events
  • Attending trade shows and industry events
  • Getting involved with commerce chambers and local business associations
  • Engaging with colleges and universities to hire interns or potential outbound graduates

Review your current networking activities — and add to them, if possible. Combine recruiting with talent acquisition by keeping detailed records of potential candidates. For instance, if you attend a job fair, it will likely be mainly for recruiting because you have several positions that you need to fill. But what happens when someone with excellent experience approaches you even though you don’t have a current role for them? That’s the perfect time to take their name and contact information so that you can contact them if anything arises.

Job boards and social media

It’s relatively easy to combine recruitment and talent acquisition where job boards and social media are concerned. Use venues like LinkedIn or Indeed to network online, showcase your employer brand, and actively recruit when needed. However, also be sure to keep tabs on applicants or potential candidates who stand out with exceptional skills or experience. Even if you don’t have a spot for them now, you might in the future.


Referrals are one of the top ways to bring in high-quality talent — so if you don’t already have an employee referral program, you should create one.

Again, you can combine recruitment efforts and talent acquisition by using talent tracking systems. Use your referral initiatives to attract candidates, hire those you need immediately, and keep the contact information for qualified individuals you may like to hire in the future.

Build and Maintain a Strong Team Culture

Team culture is imperative in all things — including hiring and retention. SHRM’s Global Culture Research Report for 2022 finds that 90% of workers who rate their company culture as poor have thought about quitting, and 72% who rate their workplace culture as average thought about quitting. That’s a sharp contrast to only 32% who report a good culture yet still considered moving on.

Where recruitment and talent acquisition is concerned, team culture is crucial for several reasons:

  • Word spreads about companies with bad cultures and high turnover, leading to fewer applicants per job opening for recruiters and less long-term interest in talent acquisition.
  • Toxic cultures can be evident during the interview and hiring process, causing applicants to reject job offers.
  • Poor culture is liable to contrast with the positive image that employer brand marketing will portray — and that leads to new hires turning over quickly when they realize the role isn’t what they imagined.

Evaluate Your Employer Brand

Where talent acquisition is concerned, employer branding is important because this is the image you showcase to potential candidates as part of your acquisition and recruitment strategy. A strong, positive employer brand will draw in top talent and keep your talent pipeline full. On the other hand, weak or inconsistent branding will fail to build excitement or worse, drive people away.

Identify Key Metrics and Analytics That Overlap

Recruiters track a variety of key metrics to judge the success of their campaigns, their application system, hiring processes, and more. Many of these metrics have some overlap with talent acquisition. Combining talent acquisition with recruitment means that, at the bare minimum, you should be using recruiting software to measure the following:

  • Candidate callback rates for both short-term and long-term strategies
  • Candidates per hire
  • Candidates per source (like networking, LinkedIn, or individual job boards)
  • Cost per hire and cost per hire per source
  • Employee referrals
  • Quality of hire per source
  • Retention rates
  • Time to hire
  • Turnover rate

There may be other metrics you can track, but the above will give you an accurate picture of how recruitment and talent acquisition strategies are performing.

Strategically Plan for the Future

Strategic planning encompasses several things — and it’s all about long-term planning and future-proofing. Consider the following:

  • Assess company needs in the future. As technology evolves, will you have skill gaps in the coming years? Start planning how to fill them now.
  • Continually assess recruitment campaigns and talent acquisition efforts so that you can make future improvements.
  • Analyze hiring managers’ current capabilities and compare them to future needs based on whether you think hiring needs will grow or shrink.
  • Always keep turnover in mind. Talent acquisition is an ongoing process, and you can stay productive by planning ahead in case current team members move on.

Synergize Your Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Efforts With Hunt Club

You need to source the best talent, whether it’s on short notice or as part of a long-term recruitment process. Hunt Club can help with that. When you make Hunt Club your partner in recruiting, you’ll enjoy the expertise of a fantastic talent acquisition team backed by cutting-edge technology and an extensive network of great candidates.

Contact us to learn how we can help you source, qualify, and hire talent so that you can spend more time focusing on your business.

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