Attracting and retaining top talent are essential components of building a competent workforce. The online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources (HR) program from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UWP) emphasizes the importance of creating a cohesive, productive workforce.

Among trends for these aspects of HR are talent acquisition and talent management. Some use the terms interchangeably or as two sides of the same general process. However, these HR functions are nuanced in their distinct purposes and the specific processes they involve.

What Are the Differences Between Talent Acquisition and Talent Management?

According to the job site Indeed, “Talent acquisition is the process of attracting, hiring and onboarding well-qualified employees.” Indeed defines talent management as “the ongoing process of building relationships with employees and assisting in their professional development.”

This generalized separation between processes surrounding prospective or new employees (talent acquisition) and existing employee retention and development processes (talent management) is standard, and both are critical to building an employee base.

Still, many HR leaders further distinguish talent acquisition from basic recruitment processes. As the Jobvite blog notes, “Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy to find specialists, leaders, or future executives for your company.”

Jobvite describes recruitment as a tactical, short-term effort focused on finding qualified candidates for existing positions. On the other hand, talent acquisition is a long-term, strategic process. It involves attracting and engaging highly skilled top talent in an ongoing manner.

These prospective employees may need to fill leadership positions immediately. Yet, acquisition is also highly proactive, as it aims to prepare individuals for eventual leadership openings or high-demand positions not yet in place.

What Similarities Do Talent Acquisition and Talent Management Share?

The roles of talent acquisition and talent management can overlap at times. For instance, the acquisition team may handle both initial onboarding and new-hire development. However, these processes could also be passed off to talent management personnel.

In addition, talent acquisition and management may focus on filling leadership positions or newly created positions requiring specific, in-demand skills. Talent acquisition strategy generally focuses on finding qualified candidates from outside the organization. Talent management focuses on succession planning, developing existing employees for leadership roles and upskilling or reskilling employees for evolving roles.

Best Practices for Talent Acquisition

Effective talent acquisition requires a holistic, proactive approach to attracting and securing top talent.

Talent acquisition professionals must consider and project future vacancies in leadership roles and positions that require advanced, specialized and in-demand skill sets. The talent acquisition team must also consider evolving conditions (political, societal, economic and environmental), business and technological innovations, market trends and disruptions. All these factors can rapidly change an organization’s needs, goals and employment structure, creating new departments and positions.

The talent acquisition process may include hiring specialists and leaders like diversity officers, sustainability directors, data management experts and cybersecurity professionals. Competition for such cutting-edge, highly skilled professionals is fierce.

Anticipating the need for these professionals and attracting prospective, qualified job candidates proactively is essential for adapting with organizational agility to evolving circumstances. This adaptation means defining, designing and gaining approval for potential positions (and competitive compensation packages) ahead of time.

Attracting such in-demand professionals also requires ensuring the organization has a good reputation for company culture and corporate responsibility. Today’s job seekers increasingly base employment decisions on culture and value alignment. Plus, building a workforce of shared culture, goals and values helps foster cohesion, engagement and loyalty.

These acquisition efforts ideally develop a talent pool or pipeline of prospective, qualified employees who are engaged and interested. Then, when a high-level hire is needed, the talent acquisition team and applicant are ready.

What Does Effective Talent Management Look Like?

Current talent management trends focus on improving the employee experience and driving performance through building a positive work culture, encouraging innovation and providing opportunities for growth and advancement. Fostering a positive culture and employee experience involves listening to employees, addressing their needs, providing constructive feedback and actively supporting their health and wellbeing. Targeted professional development opportunities help employees hone and learn new skills. Identifying and coaching talented employees with high potential makes them feel valued and helps build a talent pool for succession planning.

This leadership fosters engagement, intrinsic motivation, collaboration and loyalty, which all improve employee productivity and retention. Plus, improving employee job satisfaction and engagement helps improve an organization’s reputation, which helps recruiting and acquisition teams attract the best candidates for vacancies and developing positions.

Talent acquisition and talent management both drive modern workforce development. Taken together, they help organizations attract, retain and maximize the potential of top talent. Through optimizing these processes, HR can build the cohesive, agile workforce needed for organizational success amidst today’s ever-changing business environment.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Human Resources program.