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Talent Management vs Talent Acquisition

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Talent Acquisition and talent management team members in a discussion at work

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Working in silos decreases productivity, leads to double work and can reduce morale. 

On the other hand, building transparency and collaboration within and between teams has been proven to boost innovation, increase productivity and create a stronger work culture. 

Moving to a more holistic way of working is a trend occurring across industries. Different departments are breaking down walls to work more closely together. 

For instance, engineering and business teams around the globe are working to bridge the gap between them, as are sales and marketing teams and recruiting and HR teams. 

When it comes to recruiting and HR teams, the distance between both functions depends on the organization. 

Smaller organizations may have one person who handles the entire employee lifecycle. Larger organizations can have entire teams dedicated to each part of an employee’s journey. 

Often, the larger the organization, the more siloed recruiting and HR work becomes. But even smaller teams can fall prey to separating each function. 

The problem with separating recruiting from HR is that relationship building doesn’t end once an employee is hired. Continuously building and maintaining relationships with employees is an essential part of building strong engagement and retention. This process is known as talent management. 

Creating a strong employee experience requires collaboration between talent acquisition specialists and talent management teams to manage talent effectively from hire to departure. 

In this blog, we explore what talent management means, how it differs from talent acquisition, and how you can ensure your organization has a comprehensive strategy in place. 

Talent acquisition vs talent management 

Talent management and talent acquisition are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably but, their meaning is different. Talent acquisition is only one stage of the talent management process. We explain further below. 

Talent acquisition is the process of attracting and hiring qualified employees. This process usually falls under the responsibility of recruiting teams. 

Effective talent acquisition includes: 

  • Sourcing and attracting candidates 
  • Building an employer brand 
  • Creating talent pools 
  • Coordinating recruitment 
  • Planning and forecasting hiring needs

A talent management model follows the process of developing and retaining these employees. This process is usually managed by HR teams. 

Talent management includes: 

  • Creating learning and professional development programs
  • Maintaining recognition and reward programs 
  • Ensuring a strong work culture 
  • Actively engaging in mentoring and performance management
  • Building relationships and establishing systems to check morale and employee engagement 

A strong talent acquisition process is essential for an equally strong talent management process. After all, it’s been proven good first impressions can have a huge impact on employee retention. That’s why it’s important for recruiting and HR teams to work together to create a talent journey that is positive and engaging from start to finish. 

Why talent management is important 

As discussed, talent management is the process of developing and retaining employees. 

Employee retention is crucial as it leads to a happier and more productive workplace. More engaged employees equals stronger profits and higher return on investment. 

It’s also really expensive to replace employees. According to Gallup, replacing an employee costs up to one-half to two times the original employee’s salary. 

The worldwide talent shortage has made this cost even higher as it’s harder than ever to replace talent when employees leave. 

The longer a position takes to fill, the more work falls by the wayside and productivity slows. 

A robust talent management program is an essential part of an employee retention strategy. 

Talent management programs oversee an employee’s experience from hire to exit helping to boost engagement and retention. 

More than that, a strong talent management program leads to a stronger workforce overall. Talent management programs should help nurture and encourage employees and assist them in reaching their full potential. 

A strategy geared at maintaining retention will see employees upskill, adapt to new technologies and progress up the management chain. All these personal achievements will also benefit your organization as a whole. The more knowledgeable and empowered your talent becomes, the more innovation and achievement will occur. 

Xref branded graphic with the benefits of talent management

Building a talent management strategy

A well implemented talent management strategy considers everything from the talent acquisition phase to an employee’s departure. 

The first step to building a strong strategy is to map out what an employee journey looks like from start to finish and get all relevant teams aligned around this vision. 

Here is a breakdown of what each stage of the talent journey should include: 

Talent acquisition

This refers to the recruiting phase and begins before an employee is hired. It often consists of: 

  • Employer branding and candidate experience 
  • Devising ideal candidate profiles with hiring managers 
  • Talent mapping 
  • Sourcing candidates
  • Coordinating interviews and assessments with hiring managers  
  • Hiring the best-fit employees
  • Compliance and reference checks 
  • Pre-boarding 
  • Initial compensation and benefits 


This phase can fall into talent acquisition or management depending on the organization. It may include tasks such as: 

  • Onboarding program (from 30 to 100 days depending) 
  • Rating candidate experience and onboarding
  • Initial goal setting 
  • Early learning 
  • Recognition and rewards 
  • Probation periods 
  • Mentoring by managers and peers
  • Initial performance reviews  


This phase occurs after onboarding when an employee is settled in their role and past probation. As part of this phase, you can expect to cover: 

  • Learning and development 
  • Performance reviews 
  • Mentoring by managers 
  • Measuring engagement and happiness 
  • Recognition, rewards and benefits programs 
  • Career pathway progression 
  • Goal setting and achievement 
  • Culture building 


This phase occurs after an employee has handed in their resignation. It tends to include things like: 

  • Offboarding program
  • Exit surveys 
  • Final compensation and benefits 
  • Alumni network 
  • Recognition  
Xref branded graphic with stages of the talent journey

Every stage of employee lifecycle interlinks and so, as mentioned, it’s important they feed into each other to create a coherent end-to-end process. 

For example, the talent acquisition process doesn’t end once a new hire begins onboarding.  

At a recent Xref event in Sydney, Maur Bell, TA Manager at Torrens University, shared a strategy for collecting data around the quality of new hires. Maur said, “We introduced a really simple two-question survey sent to our hiring managers at the 4-month and 12-month mark, and that’s been eye-opening for us.”

The data Maur and her team collected was used to improve talent acquisition and retention programs. 

Similarly, once an employee hands in their resignation, talent management does not end. 

Departing employees can be invited to complete exit surveys and join alumni networks so they can be kept in the loop with company updates and future job roles. 

In fact, during an exit survey, Xref allows you to ask departing employees if they’d like to be included in a talent pool for future roles. ‘Boomerang’ or returning employees are on the rise and there’s plenty of reasons to hire someone who has previously left your organization. Our recent webinar dives into the details. 

A well-designed program will ask current hiring managers to rate employees before they get added to talent pools so future hiring managers have comprehensive data to work with. 

How Xref can help with talent management

Xref helps recruiting and HR teams manage the talent journey from hire to exit. 

First, Xref provides a platform for comprehensive reference and compliance checks helping speed up the talent acquisition process. 

While an employee is active, Xref helps with engagement by offering Pulse and engagement surveys. These measurement strategies help leaders assess employee viewpoints, opinions and engagement. Using this data, management can strengthen retention strategies. 

For departing employees, Xref offers Exit Surveys. Using Exit surveys, HR teams can collect data around resignations to spot problem areas and create a strategy for organizational improvement. Exit Surveys also offer an opportunity for departing employees to opt-in to alumni networks and talent pools.   

Final thoughts 

The right talent management strategy will help retain employees and build a stronger work culture. 

Talent management includes all aspects of the employee lifecycle including the talent acquisition process. 

The current talent crunch makes talent management critical as it costs it costs more now than ever before to replace departing employees. Retaining talent is therefore just as important as attracting new talent into an organization. 

A comprehensive talent management strategy will involve cooperation from recruiting and HR teams as well as hiring managers and senior leadership. It will limit silos and favor working toward an aligned vision for the entire employee lifecycle.

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