human resources

Not so differently, when someone asks me what I do for a living, and I tell them “I’m a recruiter”, a common response is “oh, so you’re in HR then?”. “No” I reply, “I’m not part of the HR department at all, I’m in Talent Acquisition,” to which they will usually give me a confused look. The funny thing is, I’m not too bothered about getting called an Australian almost everyday, but I do have a problem with people assuming I’m in HR – I can’t explain why I react differently about the perceived miscategorization of my profession vs my nationality, I just do.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why people assume that recruitment is part of HR. Recruitment was born out of HR many years ago, and was traditionally lumped in under the ‘HR umbrella’ throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s and most of the 2000’s. However, it’s different now: recruitment has gone through a major metamorphosis over the recent years and, in my opinion, has forged its own identity and therefore deserves it’s own department (aka Talent Acquisition). In this case, Talent Acquisition will still likely ultimately report to the CHRO’s office, but be seen and managed as it’s own business unit.

HR vs Talent Acquisition, What’s the Difference?

The way I see it, when you boil it all down it’s fairly easy to distinguish between the core functions of HR vs the core functions of Talent Acquisition: Talent Acquisition is responsible for attracting and bringing talent into an organisation, and HR is responsible for retaining and nurturing that talent.

It’s Time For An Honest Conversation:

Those in our industry know that attracting and bringing talent into an organisation ain’t easy, especially with the relentless ‘war for talent’ raging on around us. The fact is, you need specialised resources (i.e. recruiters), tools, and time to be successful in Talent Acquisition, and a traditional HR department typically isn’t in a position to supply these. In the same way, HR also needs their own specialised resources, tools, and time to be effective in performing their core function of retaining and nurturing talent effectively.

Many HR professionals openly admit that they despise the recruitment part of their role, and prefer to outsource it, even if it means using expensive and ineffective recruitment agencies. Similarly, most recruiters (including myself!) are turned off by the thought of dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities of HR such as employee relations, payrolling and performance management etc.

Hello Marketing!

The longer I work in Talent Acquisition, the more it becomes clear to me that the relationship between Talent Acquisition and Marketing is, in fact, much closer than one might initially think,. You see, both departments are essentially doing the same thing – the key difference is that traditional Marketing creates demand for customers to buy products and services, whereas Talent Acquisition creates demand for customers (aka ‘candidates’) to join an organisation. Commonly used terms like ‘employment branding’ and ‘employment value proposition’ stem from traditional marketing concepts.

Key Stakeholders are Key

Talent Acquisition has two key stakeholders: yup, you guessed it – HR and Marketing, and it’s critical that Talent Acquisition forms close relationships with both of these business groups to be effective. Talent Acquisition must work closely with HR to ensure hiring plans are aligned with business strategy and headcount. Also, recruiters are constantly evaluating long-term fit during the screening and interview process. There’s also crossover and collaboration with the onboarding process done by HR amongst other areas of overlap.

Talent Acquisition must also work closely with Marketing to ensure consistency of branding and market message. There’s also a lot of opportunity to partner on projects such as the company careers site, social media and industry events.


Although recruitment was born out of HR, it has evolved and matured over the years and now deserves its own identity in Talent Acquisition. However, in order to attract and bring talent into an organisation effectively, Talent Aquisition needs to build stronger relationships with Marketing, while still retaining some of its deeply-rooted connections with HR.

*these are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer*

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In today’s highly competitive job market, overlooking one of the most basic and simple parts of the recruitment process can reflect negatively on you, your company and your employment brand. Essentially, it will annoy and frustrate candidates and they’ll be less likely to want to work at your organization in the future.  Additionally, you also miss out on the opportunity to build your network and promote your employment brand

Ever since the early days of my recruitment career, I’ve made a special effort to differentiate myself from other recruiters and do my best to provide as much feedback as I can to applicants of my jobs. Admittedly, I haven’t been perfect in this area and there have been candidates that fell through the gaps, but over the years I have experimented with, developed and tested a number of simple ways  to improve my feedback rate and here’s a couple of easy tips that may help you:

1)    Implement a system to respond (and thank) every candidate applying to your job.

As well as a personal touch, this gives the candidate confirmation that their resume has been received. Thanking them for their application is polite and a good way to start the relationship.  This might sound like a lot of work if you are receiving hundreds of applications for a specific job but there are many quick and automated ways to do this depending on the technology of your recruitment process. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and job board software products will have a customizable auto-reply function for new applicants coming in. If this isn’t available to you, then a simple email auto signature will suffice and only takes a couple of seconds to do. Here’s one I’ve used in the past:

“Thank you for sending your application to us. We will review your application over the next few days/week/end of month and will be in touch via email or phone with some feedback.”

Many ATS systems and job board products will offer a standard response, but I recommend customizing this message to reflect your personality and the employment brand of your organization.

2)    Let every candidate know the final outcome of their application.

This seems obvious for the successful candidates, but what about the ‘rejected’ ones? Remember, they might not be the right fit for this job but they could be a great fit for another role that comes up in the future (or might be able to refer someone to you). Also, remember that candidates talk to each other and you could quickly get a bad rep around town.

Again, many ATS systems will have a customizable function that will allow you to do this with the click of a button. If you don’t have an ATS system, then you can use another quick email auto signature to respond to the candidate. Here’s an example of one that I have been using recently:

“Thanks again for your interest in this postition. Although you have gained some great working experience throughout your career, your profile isn’t close enough to match the needs for this particular position and so we will not be proceeding with your application. We will hold onto your details in case something more suitable becomes available and please keep an eye on our website careers@xyzcompany.com”

This message is polite and complimentary to the candidate and gives a clear indication of whether they are successful or not. It also lets the candidate know what you’ll do with their information and promotes your career page. It can also be another chance for you to promote your employment brand.

This has been extremely effective for me and I have received hundreds of replies to this message from candidates thanking me for my time and for actually getting back to them. This small step reflects positively both on me as a professional as well as the company I’m working for. It also keeps the door open for future relationships as I continue to build my network.


By using technology and a little bit of thought and planning, everyone should be able to respond to all candidate applications. Instead of viewing feedback as a burden and cumbersome to give, try viewing it as a great way to promote your employment brand and build networks in the talent market. By responding to every applicant that has shown interest the opportunity, you are creating a good first impression and taking the first few steps towards building a relationship with the candidate.

Photo credit: recruitingdaily.com

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