Talent acquisition: definition, process and the difference to recruitment
April 17, 2024
min read

Talent acquisition: definition, process and the difference to recruitment

Rebeka Meszaros
Rebeka Meszaros

The terms 'recruitment' and 'talent acquisition' are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings. Recruitment is about quickly filling open positions. It's a reactive process that focuses on immediate needs to keep operations running smoothly. Talent acquisition (TA), however, takes a strategic approach. It involves not just filling current roles but also planning for future needs, such as building a strong employer brand, nurturing long-term relationships, and developing a pipeline of talent that aligns with the company’s culture and future goals.

The role of TA has evolved as companies recognise the impact of hiring on long-term success. According to a LinkedIn study, 77% of talent leaders now view talent acquisition as a key strategy for adding value beyond just saving costs, significantly up from 45% the previous year. Additionally, 87% of recruitment professionals see the growing strategic importance of talent acquisition, with 70% noting that TA teams now have a strong influence on company decisions.

With these distinctions in mind, let's explore how talent acquisition works, how it differs from basic recruitment, and its importance in building successful, future-ready organisations.

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is essentially recruitment at a larger scale. It's about finding, attracting, and hiring people who can help achieve an organisation's long-term goals. Unlike standard recruitment, which quickly fills current openings, talent acquisition takes a strategic approach. It plans for the future, looking for candidates who fit the company's long-term needs and culture. This strategy is vital for building a workforce that can handle today's tasks and contribute to future growth.

Employer branding is a critical part of talent acquisition. It involves promoting the company as an attractive place to work by highlighting its culture, values, and benefits. A strong employer brand helps draw in top talent who are highly skilled and also a good fit for the company's environment — supporting better retention and job satisfaction.

When talent acquisition becomes essential:

  • A company is scaling up and needs to fill a large number of vacancies effectively.
  • Scale-ups that have received significant investment and need to expand quickly.
  • Large organisations continuously need to fill numerous roles.

What are the main roles within a talent acquisition team?

  • TA Specialist: Focuses on filling specific roles, often with specialised skills.
  • TA Coordinator: Manages the logistics of the recruitment process.
  • TA partner: Aligns departmental staffing needs with strategic business goals.
  • Head of TA: Oversees the TA strategy and ensures it supports broader business objectives.

In smaller companies, these roles may be merged with general HR responsibilities, including payroll and other operational tasks. In tech startups or scale-ups, you might find positions like tech recruiters who focus on filling specialised technical roles. As companies grow, the structure of the TA team may expand to include dedicated roles like employer branding specialists — particularly in medium to large companies. In smaller firms, employer branding might initially fall under marketing until the need for a specialised role becomes clear.

For instance, consider a tech company with ambitions to dominate a new software market within the next five years. Talent acquisition in this context means looking for software developers who possess not only the current technical skills but also the potential for future leadership and creativity. Hiring strategically prepares the company for future challenges and opportunities, rather than just addressing the immediate need for staff.

What’s the difference between talent acquisition and recruitment?

It’s important to note that recruiters are part of the TA team. With that being said, talent acquisition goes beyond basic recruitment in the following ways:

Scope and objectives

While recruitment swiftly addresses vacancies to keep operations running, talent acquisition takes a strategic approach, planning for future organisational needs. For instance, it involves scouting talent early for a new department or expansion, ensuring a ready pool of skilled candidates.

Timeframe and focus

Recruitment typically focuses on the short term, quickly filling positions to maintain smooth operations. In contrast, talent acquisition plans for the long term, aligning recruitment with the company's future goals and cultural fit, setting the stage for lasting success.

Day-to-day role

Recruiters handle urgent hiring tasks like posting job ads, screening candidates, and conducting initial interviews. Talent acquisition specialists, on the other hand, focus on wider strategies such as creating career development programs, refining the onboarding process, as well as improving the work experience for new hires.

Sourcing methods

While recruiters often rely on job ads and databases for quick hires, talent acquisition specialists employ a variety of methods to build a future-focused team. They create a strong employer brand, engage with potential talent at industry events, and maintain relationships with promising candidates even before roles become available.

Candidate relationship

Recruitment interactions typically end once a position is filled. However, talent acquisition emphasises long-term relationships, maintaining a pool of candidates for future opportunities, which facilitates smoother and more effective hiring processes.


Talent acquisition involves forecasting future hiring needs based on the organisation's growth plans and market trends. For example, anticipating the need for more developers and product managers as a tech company plans a new product launch.

High-quality pipeline

This involves maintaining a roster of pre-vetted candidates who may have been strong contenders in previous rounds or were identified through proactive networking, managed by sourcing strategists within the team.


Effective talent acquisition requires collaboration across departments. A talent acquisition partner, for example, may work closely with the marketing department to ensure hires meet specific creative or strategic needs.

Employer brand and marketing

Within the talent acquisition team, an employer branding specialist creates content that showcases the company's culture and benefits. They collaborate closely with the marketing department to ensure these values are communicated effectively. Additionally, talent acquisition uses targeted advertising and social media engagement to strategically market job openings and attract the right candidates.

The talent acquisition process

Talent acquisition expands traditional recruitment. It incorporates strategic elements and long-term workforce integration. Here’s how:

Step 1: Strategic planning and forecasting

Effective talent acquisition starts with a strategic plan aligned with the company's future goals. Talent acquisition teams work with leadership to identify key roles needed for growth and innovation. This step includes setting a recruitment budget, establishing timelines for urgent and future hires, and planning for workforce changes tied to business expansion or market shifts.

Step 2: Building and optimising employer branding

A strong employer brand is vital for successful talent acquisition. It involves actively promoting the company as an ideal workplace by showcasing its culture, values, and benefits. This includes updating the careers page, engaging dynamically on social media, and ensuring all communications accurately reflect what the company has to offer.

Step 3: Enhancing lead generation

Lead generation in talent acquisition involves detailed candidate personas to guide recruitment efforts effectively. For instance, if targeting marketers who are passionate about sustainability, efforts would focus on relevant platforms and content. Networking at industry events and using platforms like LinkedIn are key to engaging with potential candidates and making them aware of the company's culture and opportunities.

Related: 4 Steps To Build A Strong Talent Pool

Step 4: Sourcing and attracting talent

Utilising proactive sourcing strategies is crucial for attracting suitable candidates. Talent acquisition teams send personalised messages through LinkedIn and host webinars to highlight the company’s projects. The aim is to actively engage potential candidates, and nurture a connection with the company’s mission and team even before they submit an application.

Related: 7 Proven Ways To Actively Source Candidates

Step 5: Comprehensive assessment and selection

Talent acquisition actively ensures candidates are well-suited for both the role and company culture by employing several methods. These include personality tests, skill-based evaluations, and comprehensive interviews that delve into candidates' experiences and problem-solving skills. Teams also deploy behavioural questions to assess candidates’ potential for future growth and their alignment with the company’s values.

Step 6: Optimising onboarding

The onboarding process in talent acquisition focuses on the smooth integration of new hires. Tools like BambooHR streamline administrative tasks and help new employees acclimate quickly. Mentorship programs and regular check-ins ensure new hires feel supported and become productive members of the team efficiently.

Related: Learn How To Build An Effective Talent Acquisition Strategy

Key takeaways

In wrapping up, it's clear that connecting with the right talent is paramount, whether it's about immediate hiring needs or strategising for the future. But where do you find this talent, especially when looking for specialised roles in the tech and development sector in Europe? This is where WeAreDevelopers steps in, offering a unique solution by connecting you directly with an exclusive network of software engineers.

Imagine not having to rely on the scattergun approach of generic job boards. WeAreDevelopers offers you the chance to:

  • Reach a targeted audience: Benefit from over 1.2 million unique visits annually, all centred around development and IT, ensuring your job listing finds its way to the eyes of dedicated professionals.
  • Engage with an active community: Tap into a social media reach of almost 22 million and connect with over 120,000 members actively engaged in the developer community.

We've built a community where developers feel at home, a platform they trust. This trust translates to a more engaged audience for your job listings, significantly increasing your chances of attracting not just any talent, but the right talent. If you're looking to make a tangible impact with your recruitment efforts and win the war for tech talent, our IT recruiting services are precisely what you need. 

Ready to revolutionise how you hire? Explore how WeAreDevelopers can support your talent acquisition strategy.


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