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Talent Acquisition vs Talent Development

Your employees are your organization’s competitive advantage. Their collective skills and experiences are crucial to meeting your business goals and staying competitive in your market. But, as they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and great talent can be either acquired or developed. Which is best?

The case for talent acquisition

What is talent acquisition? Talent acquisition can be defined as the strategic process of recruitment, selection, and onboarding of new employees.

In order for your organization to be successful, you need to hire candidates who are capable of excelling at the job at hand. Candidates who have been top performers in roles similar to yours have exhibited your required skills and qualifications, and have the results to prove it. Based on past performance, you know they can do the job and exceed expectations—because they’ve done it before. Hiring these top performers for your team means they can hit the ground running so their impact can be seen shortly after they’re hired.

Remember that these top performers are in high-demand, and have a choice in where they work. Win them over with a solid compensation strategy, great employee benefits, and a strong company culture.

The case for talent development

What is talent development? Talent development can be defined as the strategic process of developing the skills and competencies of employees to advance their careers and prepare them for future roles within the company.

Focusing on talent development, on the other hand, can produce the same high caliber of talent—but with less competition and at a lower cost. Just because a candidate hasn’t performed a given job before, doesn’t mean that they are incapable of doing so. High-potential candidates can learn, and improve upon, the skills they need to do their jobs as they go. If you’re willing to take a chance on someone with less experience, you can significantly widen your talent pool by considering high-quality candidates that your competition has overlooked. When many candidates are willing to accept a lower salary for better benefits, talent development can help you employ more top-tier talent at a lower cost.

Should you focus on talent acquisition or talent development?

You don’t need to decide between talent acquisition and talent development—you can do both! Hire talent that meets your must-have qualifications and that has the aptitude to learn additional skills and software programs to improve their craft. If you can’t find that purple squirrel, consider a less qualified candidate who has the aptitude to learn the remaining skills needed to fill the role. Both top performers and high-potential candidates will appreciate your investment in them, and your organization will benefit from a more skilled workforce.

Conclusion: the difference between talent acquisition and talent development

Hiring and investing in both top performers and high-potential candidates will help you build a dream team of employees to reach your business goals. Not only will your organization benefit from their development now, you will also benefit when you have highly-skilled employees ready to step into newly created or vacated roles. As Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Investing in your employee’s professional development and providing opportunities for advancement will keep your employees engaged in your organization, helping you retain them long-term.