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Talent Acquisition vs. Talent Management vs. HR: A primer

Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and HR are distinct yet interconnected functions within an organization. Talent Acquisition focuses on attracting and hiring skilled employees, Talent Management concentrates on developing and retaining these employees, and HR oversees these processes while managing other employee-related aspects.

Christina Pavlou
Christina Pavlou

An experienced recruiter and HR professional who has transferred her expertise to insightful content to support others in HR.

The terms Human Resource Management, Talent Acquisition and Talent Management are often used interchangeably, despite being different functions. Our guide will help you distinguish between these HR roles and learn how they work together to attract, hire, develop and retain skilled employees.

Here are some frequently asked questions about HR, Talent Acquisition vs. Talent Management:

What are the disciplines of Human Resource Management?

Human Resource Management (or HRM) relates to how companies manage employees, from recruitment to retention. The main disciplines of Human Resource Management are:

  • Talent Acquisition/Recruiting
  • Total Rewards/Compensation and Benefits
  • Talent Management/Performance Management

Depending on company size and goals, businesses may choose to focus on some or all of these disciplines. Human Resources departments can be structured so that small internal teams focus on one field (e.g. training and development) instead of all HR employees handling every aspect of HR.

How do you define talent?

The word “talent” is often used to label good job candidates. But its meaning is subjective, vague and imprecise. Instead of using talent as a qualification in your hiring process, focus on assessing measurable skills and values. Start by conducting a skills gap analysis to identify your hiring needs.

Once you perform an analysis, write a skills-based job description and create a structured interview process. Then, simulate real world job tasks with assignments during your interview. Follow these steps to hire the most skilled applicant for the job.

RelatedStructured interview questions: Tips and examples for hiring

What is Talent Management?

Talent Management is the ongoing process of developing and retaining employees throughout a company. Talent Management professionals:

What is Talent Acquisition?

Talent Acquisition is the process of attracting and hiring skilled employees to fulfill a company’s business needs. Talent Acquisition professionals:

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Why is Talent Management important?

Talent Management helps companies engage employees and prevent turnover. With successful Talent Management strategies, companies:

Why is Talent Acquisition important?

Talent Acquisition helps companies build workplaces with skilled employees who drive successful businesses. With good Talent Acquisition strategies, companies:

  • Transform recruiting from an as-needed function to a proactive hiring function
  • Create candidate pipelines for future staffing needs
  • Recruit diverse employees by sourcing candidates from various backgrounds
  • Hire people who have the agility to grow beyond their role

What does a Talent Management team do?

Talent Management teams develop new and current employees’ skills, making sure they align with their company’s organizational structure and overall goals. They:

  • Onboard new hires by scheduling first-day tasks and check-ins
  • Conduct skills gap analyses and schedule training programs
  • Design their company’s organizational structure and define each position’s responsibilities
  • Prepare succession plans for future hiring needs

What does a Talent Acquisition team do?

Talent Acquisition teams identify, attract and hire high-potential people. They:

Are HR and Talent Management two independent operations?

Talent Management is a function within HR, and HR attracts, selects, onboards, trains and evaluates employees. Talent Management comes into play as teams grow, when it becomes crucial to decrease turnover rates, retain employees and engage them to achieve bigger goals.

Effective Talent Management begins with a strong HR department. Likewise, a carefully planned Talent Management strategy can help you develop talent pipelines to facilitate HR department operations.

What role does HR play in shaping a Talent Management strategy?

Both HR and Talent Management teams work together to train and develop employees. The HR department designs and implements policies that facilitate employee training and internal promotions, so that the Talent Management team is able to create development plans for staff members.

Managing talent effectively means being able to identify training needs and build succession plans. HR compiles key data that helps inform Talent Management (e.g. performance reviews, employee relations and exit interviews.) Working together, Talent Management and HR teams help employees develop within their careers.

How can I build a Talent Acquisition team?

Structure your Talent Acquisition team based on your company’s size and needs. Team members should be familiar with recruiting practices and also have excellent networking skills to build relationships with potential candidates online and offline.

Your Talent Acquisition team could include:

Who is in charge of Talent Management at a company?

Everyone is. While HR roles are responsible for designing career paths and organizing training programs, a Talent Management strategy requires company-wide participation. Team leaders should identify high-potential employees and address their training needs. Also, upper management should promote a learning culture throughout the company. Then, it’s the Talent Management team’s job (consisting of HR Generalists and Training Coordinators) to develop employees.

How do I apply a Talent Acquisition strategy?

Plan your Talent Acquisition strategy around your goals. Consider your organization’s long-term needs. If you want to attract people with fresh ideas and perspectives, consider building internship programs for recent college graduates and entry-level employees. If you want to recruit more diverse teams, use blind hiring techniques. Keep in mind that nurturing relationships with potential hires takes time. The people you attract and recruit play an important part in your company’s future, so start your sourcing by participating in relevant networking events and interacting with passive candidates online.

How do I apply a Talent Management strategy?

Talent Management is not based on one-time seminars or annual performance reviews. It is systematic employee development that requires company-wide participation. To apply Talent Management strategies successfully, you should:

  • Analyze what employees need to know to get promoted or take on more responsibilities
  • Conduct skills gap analyses to identify employee training needs
  • Implement regular feedback sessions to recognize employees’ achievements
  • Train managers on motivation techniques and performance evaluation methods to better engage employees

What is the difference between Talent Management and Human Resource Management?

Talent Management is a distinct function of Human Resource Management. HRM’s objective is to hire the right people and manage them effectively through thoughtful policies and procedures. Talent Management focuses on ways to develop employees by mapping out career paths and training programs.

What’s the difference between Talent Acquisition and Recruiting?

Both Talent Acquisition and Recruiting professionals aim to find and hire qualified employees. A recruiter’s job begins with a vacancy, and involves sourcing, screening and interviewing skilled candidates. A Talent Acquisition team, however, takes a more proactive approach. They improve the company’s employer brand and network to recruit potential candidates. They also build pipelines to reduce time-to-hire and increase quality of hire for open roles.

Related: How to be a great recruiter

What’s the difference between Talent Acquisition and Talent Management?

First comes Talent Acquisition, then comes Talent Management. Talent Acquisition is about hiring candidates with the right skills and potential to evolve at your company. Talent Management is what follows after a candidate is hired. It involves training and developing current employees, keeping them satisfied and engaged and preparing them to take on more challenging responsibilities.

What’s more important: Talent Management or Talent Acquisition?

You can’t have one without the other. Talent Acquisition is the process of attracting and hiring qualified people. Talent Management is how you develop and retain these skilled hires. If you attract and hire good employees but don’t invest in their development, you won’t be able to retain them or unleash their potential. Alternatively, if you want to create a training culture and build successful career paths, you need to start by recruiting skilled hires who are eager to learn and grow. So, it’s best to use both Talent Management and Talent Acquisition techniques in your HR strategy to hire and develop your employees.

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