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  • Writer's pictureScott Harrison

The Art of Aligning Talent Acquisition Teams and Recruiters



The recruitment world has evolved significantly over the last two decades: the two largest change factors being technology, specifically LinkedIn, and the rise of the internal talent acquisition team. This evolution invites us to reconsider the dynamics between TA teams and traditional recruiters.


Traditional recruiters, who once enjoyed working directly with line managers, often feel like a wall has been built around the way they can operate with the business. They may as well sport a sign that says, ‘Speak with the TA team’, which is taken as “Go Away”! This shift has been substantial and, in some ways, divisive.


From my 20 years of managing and working with recruiters, I’ve seen many who continue to deny the existence of the talent acquisition team, in fear of undermining their relationships with the client. These recruiters are doomed to fail, often by creating conflict over CV ownership, not following process and not understanding how many large firms operate today.


To avoid further clashes, recruiters and talent acquisition teams must collaborate, rather than compete. I propose some strategies to achieve this in this piece. 


Is talent acquisition the same as recruiting?


Talent acquisition and recruiting, though related, serve distinct functions in the hiring process. 


Talent acquisition refers to focusing on long-term human resources planning and finding potential candidates for positions that require a specific set of skills. It's about building a talent pool and ensuring a good fit not just for the current needs but also for the future growth of the company.


Recruiting, on the other hand, is more about filling open positions as they arise, often with a shorter-term focus. 


But when the time comes to fill open positions, the talent acquisition specialist and recruiter should work hand in hand to identify, persuade, and hire the best qualified candidates.


The art of aligning talent acquisition and recruiting 


As a former organisational psychologist, my focus in recruitment has been on mastering the ‘art’ of placement and the science of managing the recruitment processes laid out by our clients. 


The best recruiters I have worked with understand how to engage, educate, and involve the TA teams. However, some TA folks sometimes fail to properly educate consultants about their role and could be more transparent about how they work.


But there is no doubt that talent acquisition specialists are highly skilled, and they have a keen eye for the different types of recruiters in the field. They actively manage the Preferred Supplier List (PSL), often working with a smaller group of recruiters and providing them more opportunities which is a trend in today's market. This approach is more effective than signing up everyone, especially in markets that are not entirely candidate-driven.


For recruiters and TA professionals to work effectively however, the talent team needs to clearly state their goals, how they engage recruiters, and discuss the benefits of collaboration for both parties. 


A common issue is the lack of transparency regarding who else is working on a role or if a suitable, shortlisted candidate already exists. Consultants often express a need for more feedback from TA teams on CVs presented. This transparency is always appreciated, as it helps all parties understand the client's real intentions. 


Additionally, any changes in the recruiting process need to be communicated and managed carefully by the TA teams, often using a mix of incentives and guidelines to maintain alignment and cooperation.


Talent acquisition is here to stay


The talent team has evolved from being administratively oriented to proactively sourcing talent through referrals and headhunting to drive down costs and control the supply of talent. 


The quality of the TA professional has risen tremendously and posed a threat of sorts to some traditional recruiters who cannot evolve with the times. Where there has been a focus on quality, with stats on everything from staff retention to agency usage, the implementation of a TA team has been extremely successful. 


In larger teams, the TA heads can manage dozens of internal recruiters and can often have Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) teams on site too, adding another layer of complexity to how to drive costs and when to engage external recruiters.


Recruiters will always add value


Recently I met a senior manager who told me she had hired a fantastic candidate to join her team. The profile and background was an exact match on skills and she was genuinely excited and very happy to have this candidate in the team. 


Six months later I met her again and asked her about how that person was doing in the team. Disaster! The brilliant new team member had just been performance managed out after numerous coaching and training interventions.  This case illustrates how recruiters are still very much necessary to find the right talent. 


The value of the recruiter lies in their specialisation and speed to deliver the right talent. This is market intelligence as an art form as we spend our lives talking to and understanding the talent pool in the market. 


A lifetime spent understanding job seekers allows me to quickly and accurately assess the skills, personality and cultural fit of a potential employee and work collaboratively with candidates and clients.


Future Changes are Likely


Looking forward, TA teams are poised for long-term growth and increasing sophistication. They may eventually function more independently from traditional HR roles, focusing more strategically on talent development within businesses. Effective recruiters can leverage the expertise of TA teams, educating and collaborating with them to strategically position roles, represent their firms, and streamline recruitment processes.


If you need an experienced recruiter with a track record of working hand in hand with internal talent acquisition teams, Aquis Search is here for you.


Reach out today at [scottharrison@aquissearch.com] for a confidential chat.


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