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.
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*