Creating Business Value through Talent Acquisition

We Believe that Talent Acquisition is Different than Recruitment. Much Different.

In fact, we see it as fundamentally different.

And that’s not to challenge the importance of recruitment – as you’ll see later in this article, we see both working beautifully together – they just have different purposes and therefore, require different capabilities to be successful. But let’s be clear from the outset, building a Talent Acquisition capability is not achieved by simply rebranding or renaming your Recruitment function into Talent Acquisition – it takes much more than that.

The Creation of Business Value through Talent Acquisition

At its very core, Talent Acquisition is built around creating business value.

And in the same way a successful company knows what make its products, services and solutions unique in the competitive market space (aka – its value proposition), Talent Acquisition must understand, identify and strategically source the people-side of that competitive advantage or value proposition.

To many, recruitment connotes a traditional process-view of attracting and sourcing a candidate to fill an open seat. Talent Acquisition, on the other hand, speaks to a much more holistic and strategic view of your workforce plan, talent pipeline or people supply chain.

Talent Acquisition – What Does It Mean?

Let’s start with breaking down the etymology of Talent Acquisition (tal·ent & ac·qui·si·tion).


Derived the from Latin word talentum which, in Ancient Greece, was a measurement unit for precious metal.

Interesting, I hear you say – as precious metal likely conjures up images of scarcity, high value, and success for those who know where to find or acquire it.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?


Even though this word has a potentially negative connotation in business (through M&A horror stories), its true meaning is quite positive in terms of gaining or earning.

And the intent of an acquisition in business is often about gaining capabilities of another organization in a strategic drive to create value. This could be in the form of gaining access to a target’s client-base, intellectual property, product-line, profit-line or people.

So, when these two concepts come together – we get something that’s crucially important in strategically identifying, finding and integrating precious value-creators (in the form of people) for your company – with a line of sight into helping them rapidly achieve their potential and create the value that you “acquired” them for.

This isn’t recruitment.

Are You Approaching Talent Acquisition with Recruitment Capabilities?

While it’s fair to say that some organizations (or some positions) require the more process-driven approach of recruitment (recognizing that strategic talent acquisition would be overkill in some instances), our focus in this article is really around why many organization are tackling Talent Acquisition with the processes, tools and mindset of recruitment.

I suggest this question could be simplified and answered by assessing whether you are focusing most of your efforts ahead of the curve finding the kind of talent that creates competitive advantage for your lines of business, or spending most of your efforts taking orders and filling positions.

Another way to look at this might be with the help of this handy-dandy Talent Acquisition-to-Recruitment Continuum (see below) – where Talent Acquisition lives down at the strategic, proactive end and Recruitment lives down at the reactionary, fill-the-empty-seats end.

While it might be rare for an organization to entirely live down at either end of the continuum, you likely live somewhere just east or west of the equilibrium.

Some questions:

  1. On this continuum, where do you live today?
  2. Where should you be given your clients’ current business needs?
  3. Where do you need to be in 2 or 3 years time given your corporate strategy and objectives?
  4. Does your “dashboard” look like the example below on the left, or the right?

What Does Successful Talent Acquisition Look Like?

For one perspective on this, which I happen to like a lot, we need to look at the Aberdeen Group for their definition of Best-in-Class Performance for Talent Acquisition.

In their September 2013 Study of Talent Acquisition – Adapt Your Strategy or Fail, Aberdeen Group base their definition on the following:

  • 94% of first-year employees retained
  • 80% of employees who received rankings of exceeds performance
  • 15% year-over-year improvement in hiring management satisfaction

They also articulate the characteristics of these Best-in-Class Talent Acquisition capabilities – which include:

  • The ability to link talent acquisition initiatives to organizational profitability through validated data
  • The use of talent communities to engage candidates and employees
  • The measurement of quality of hire based on organizational fit and performance, and
  • The integration of talent acquisition practices with performance management

Best-in-Class Talent Acquisition Creates Competitive Advantage

Best-in-Class Talent Acquisition isn’t rebranded Recruitment. It’s strategic, value-driven and supported by evidence in the form of business data and qualitative insight.

To come full circle back to the etymology of Talent Acquisition, mining companies don’t find their pools of precious resources through luck and random exploration. The same goes for the employee equivalent of talentum.

Acquiring, developing and retaining the right talent is truly about creating competitive advantage through your people – and don’t just take our word for it. Harvard Business Review make a pretty compelling case for this in their 2013 report Connecting Workforce Analytics to Better Business Outcomes where they state “the payoff for companies that get this right is enormous”.

View it as a journey and if you aren’t already driving down this path, there’s no better time to start than now….actually, yesterday.

Let us know if you need help!