Talent Acquisition

      Recruitment and Talent Acquisition: Why You Need to Know the Difference

      Recruitment and talent acquisition may seem like the same thing, but these two hiring strategies are very different. It’s important to understand the differences between these hiring methods so your company can implement the best hiring process possible. Below outlines the company mindset and processes that differentiate recruitment and talent acquisition.

      What is recruitment?

      Recruitment is a reactive hiring process that begins with an open company position. The purpose of recruiting is to locate qualified candidates that can fill an empty role within a company.

      In most cases, companies have an established recruiting process that goes into effect as soon as a position becomes vacant. The recruitment process is essential to any business, addressing a company’s immediate staffing needs. 

      What is talent acquisition?

      Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a long-term process. With talent acquisition, HR works to build relationships with promising talent in anticipation of future company needs. The approach to talent acquisition tends to be more dynamic and requires much more patience. It’s also vital for the HR team to understand the company’s overall strategic plan so they can target the right talent for the future. 

      Is recruitment or talent acquisition more important?

      Both recruitment and talent acquisition have their part to play in a company. Overall, however, talent acquisition can be more valuable long-term. This is because talent acquisition isn’t just about finding the best people, it also focuses on how to retain employees once they’re hired. 

      Talent acquisition really focuses on how to invest in employees. This strategy not only reviews a company’s current and future staffing needs, but it also takes into consideration workforce trends and factors that attract top talent. Hiring managers know that money isn’t the only thing necessary to attract the best talent.

      When an employee leaves the business, strategic exit interviews should be conducted to determine what could’ve been done to prevent the resignation. Recognizing why employees leave the company is a powerful tool for improving the overall company culture and retaining future talent.

      When a company recognizes ways to improve the business, this strengthens current employee relationships and creates an attractive workplace setting for future employees. Insightful exit interviews and monitoring the pulse of employee satisfaction are just two small aspects of strategic talent acquisition.  

      When to use recruitment vs. talent acquisition

      In some cases, you might not be able to use talent acquisition to fill a position. If you have a sudden vacancy within the company, recruitment is usually the best route for quickly filling the position. If you receive an employee’s two-week notice and weren’t anticipating the resignation, it’s too late at this point to start the talent acquisition process. In this case, reach out to your recruiting firm to have the position posted on the job boards.

      Talent acquisition comes in handy when you’re considering long-term hire needs. For example, growing businesses often create new leadership positions to manage growing departments. Your business may need a chief marketing officer or perhaps a social media manager in the near future. With this in mind, the HR team can start finding talent in similar positions to not only put together their own job description but also to start building a potential talent pool.

      Overall, there are three main instances when your company should consider talent acquisition over recruitment:

      • Searching for niche talent
        Your business may be anticipating specific talent needs such as cybersecurity, virtual reality, or software development.
      • Expanding the business
        As your company grows, you need to be able to attract top talent with new skill sets and advanced expertise. 
      • Creating a new role
        Recruitment is used for existing positions, so talent acquisition is necessary when new roles are created. Top talent is needed for new roles because the position will be shaped by the hire. 


      Talent acquisition is about more than finding the right hire for your company. It’s also about ensuring your company can meet the employee’s needs. A talent acquisition strategy is vital for the long-term success of your business, so if you don’t already have one in place now is the time to add it to your business strategy.

      Recruitment, of course, will always have its place within a business but it should mainly be used for sudden vacancies. In all cases, remember to look at hiring as an investment and remember to show your employees how valuable they are to the business.

      National Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners Executive Search

      Cowen Partners is the nation’s executive search firm, enabling companies to harness the power of human capital to fuel their success. Our elite team of experienced executive recruiters give our clients access to the top 1% of human capital to create opportunities that accelerate their growth and market share. With Cowen Partners, clients can grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world class talent.

      Our clients are both small and large, public & private, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million to multi-billion dollar revenue Fortune 1000 companies, or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite and include VP and Director level leadership roles.

      Our partner-owned model guarantees that every engagement is led start to finish by senior partners.

      Read more of our industry-leading C-Suite resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leading retained executive search firm in New York CityChicagoSeattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

      CHRO Role: Unlocking the Value of Human Capital

      Historically, HR has garnered a reputation as a purely administrative function. Apart from the work they do in onboarding/offboarding talent and ensuring everyone toes the line, there’s often a temptation to see little else. In fact, some go so far as to tag HR as “the complaints department” and no more. 

      Unsurprisingly, this view tends to detract from the premium placed on the work that HR does and the value of its personnel. For context, a survey by HR tech firm, Namely, found that, out of 1,000 midsize organizations surveyed, just 7% had a C-level HR executive. Worse, when asked what departments they felt were most valuable to their organization, CEOs ranked HR in ninth place, according to research from McKinsey and Conference Board. 

      Yet, the imperative for proactive, multi-dimensional recruitment and talent management is only increasing. As we are seeing, the human resource is emerging front and center as a critical concern for organizations, and the majority of CEOs now see attracting and retaining talent as a top challenge. 

      Considering this, it may be time to rethink these dated perceptions about the HR function and what it brings to organizations, as well as the role that a Chief Human Resources Officer plays in unlocking this value. 

      Chief Human Resources Officer Job Description: What Does the CHRO Do? 

      The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) operates at an executive level and is primarily concerned with running point on human resources strategies. While HR traditionally deals with the functional aspect of managing an organization’s workforce, the CHRO brings on board a business-critical aspect to the HR function. 

      The CHRO is particularly valuable in bringing a strategic focus to recruitment, company culture, and talent management. In addition, they help coordinate the overall execution of HR functions in line with broad organizational objectives and aspirations, from the C-level downwards. 

      Described in this way, the role of the CHRO almost seems to add a different characterization to what HR does and how it functions. In fact, this might actually be the case. As the Harvard Business Review points out, the modern HR function can be split into two – administrative and strategic. 

      The administrative function is essentially HR in the traditional sense, although augmented by modern technology and a data-oriented approach. But in the strategic sense, HR becomes not just an expense, as it was considered in the days of “personnel management”, but a critical player in aligning an organization’s workplace environment with its key business aspirations – and the CHRO is key to achieving this.

      Since HR teams rarely have time to focus on the bigger picture, the CHRO provides top-level guidance on core HR functions while adding an external perspective backed with an understanding of market dynamics and the competitive landscape. 

      Why the CHRO Role Is Critical 

      As we gradually transition into the future of work, organizations are finding that the human resource is rapidly ascending the pyramid of key business assets. While AI and automation have radically altered the complexion of several jobs and will eliminate others, they only serve to highlight the dynamic nature of the roles that remain (and will emerge). We are already seeing a mismatch in available talent and open roles in many industries, and even when supply increases, there will still be stiff competition for the best. 

      It is organizations that are able to draw up and implement an authentic, well-considered approach to designing an environment where people want to work that will compete in this rapidly-approaching future. Put this way, it’s easy to see why being able to call on an executive who can bring the strategic perspective of the C-suite into the HR function is so important. 

      CEOs around the world already see human capital as one of their biggest challenges, and leaving a CHRO out of the C-level equation is unlikely to solve that problem. With a CHRO who possesses proven experience in hard-core HR functions balanced with extensive exposure to business strategy, organizations can evolve a strategic approach to their human capital outlook while also meeting their recruitment challenges. 

      Challenges of CHROs

      Despite their clear importance to organizations, CHROs continue to face multiple challenges. As Boyden indicates in their report on the state of the CHRO role, these challenges are “numerous and complex” and often vary depending on how much support HR receives from management. These challenges include: 

      1. Compensation mismatch: According to Boyden, compensationand representation on C-suite committees differs for CHROs, compared with equivalent C-level roles. Although the degree of variance depends on the level of buy-in that the role enjoys from the Board of Directors and other executives, it is still a concerning phenomenon for senior HR practitioners. 
      2. Misalignment with CEOs: As mentioned earlier, CEOs generally do not rate the HR function, or CHROs, very highly. A common complaint is that CEOs believe that, being more pre-occupied with processes and rules, the CHRO does not make for a good strategic partner. The expectation is that a C-level role should bring broad strategic benefits to the organization, but HR is too mechanical a function to provide this. But this is unfair, as CHROs clearly play a critical role in tying broad organizational goals to administrative functions across HR. What CEOs need instead is to clarify the expectations they have of their CHRO right from the recruitment phase.
      3. Perception issues: In many ways, the value attributed to HR is limited by the perceptions and long-held beliefs of senior-level colleagues. Senior HR practitioners vying for a seat at the C-table have to work hard to make the case that talent is an organization’s greatest asset and that managing this properly is key to profitability. 

      While these challenges are concerning for HR practitioners, it is clear that we are on the cusp of another paradigm shift in the general perception of HR. With the rapidly-evolving concept of the modern workplace, employee satisfaction and engagement is beginning to rank as high as (if not higher than) customer satisfaction. As a result, we expect these challenges to be short-lived as more organizations awaken to the value in their human capital. 

      CHRO Competencies

      When hiring a modern CHRO, organizations need to look out for specific competencies. These CHRO competencies will vary across organizations, depending on their unique needs and culture. Nevertheless, prior experience in business-related functions, as well as HR competencies, will be critical. 

      CHRO Skills

      Since the role of chief human resources officer is inherently strategic, CHROs need practical skills, like payroll processing and compliance. They should also be data-minded leaders and exceptional communicators who excel in:

      • Crafting and fine-tuning broad, data-oriented strategies
      • Overseeing short- and long-term strategic planning
      • Measuring, analyzing, and communicating the impact of initiatives
      • Tweaking strategies and initiatives, as needed

      What Is a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)?

      A chief administration officer (CAO) manages the day-to-day operations of a company and acts as the go-between for the CEO and senior-level management. A CAO also helps lessen the burden on a CEO by taking over time-consuming managerial tasks. By relieving the CEO of executive-level administrative duties, the CAO provides the chief operating officer with more time to focus on business strategy and important business relationships. 

      Main CAO responsibilities and duties usually include:

      • Ensuring compliance with all laws, government regulations, and other mandator rules.
      • Managing communications between top-level executives and management.
      • Supervising operations of various departments such as sales, HR, marketing, and finance.
      • Reporting performance metrics to the CEO and other top-level executives. 

      Qualities of a Top CAO

      A chief administrative officer must be able to juggle multiple tasks and projects at one time while acting as a critical liaison between the C-suite and top management. To be successful in this role, CAOs need to be:

      1. Highly effective communicators
      2. Exceptionally organized
      3. Compelling leaders

      Here’s more on how each of these skills and qualities is essential to the success of the chief administrative officer role.

      1. Highly Effective Communicators

      The CAO has to manage messages to and from the CEO as well as effectively relay orders to department leaders. Clear communication is required to give concise messages and instructions without confusing any parties involved. 

      2. Exceptionally Organized

      Many administrative and managerial duties involve tedious paperwork and other menial tasks. Organizational skills are vital when performing these duties to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. 

      3. Compelling Leaders

      While the CAO relays information to the CEO for department leaders, the chief administrative officer also has to wear a leadership hat when supervising various departments. The ability to lead people with professionalism and charisma is an ideal quality you want in a CAO. 

      Cowen Partners is a national HR executive search firm. Read more of our industry-leading C-Suite resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leading retained executive search firm in New York CityChicagoSeattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

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