Talent Acquisition vs. HR: What Are the Fundamental Differences?

Filip Dimkovski - TBR writer
By Filip Dimkovski
Michelle Meyer - Editor for TBR
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Published October 21, 2022.

Man sitting at a desk stacking wooden blocks with icons of people on it into a tower

Business owners know that managing a business is no easy task, and as the business grows so does the responsibilities of managing it. Because of this, specific functions like human resource (HR) management and talent acquisition have appeared, making the process of employee management much easier.

Many use "HR" and "talent acquisition" interchangeably, because both functions contribute toward hiring new employees and keeping the existing ones satisfied. However, there are important fundamental differences—let's uncover them.

What Is Talent Acquisition?

Talent acquisition is the process of identifying, attracting, and hiring the best-suited candidates for a company. The talent acquisition team's ultimate goal is to hire employees that will help the company reach its long-term business goals.

To achieve this, talent acquisition teams use various recruitment strategies and tools, such as job boards, social media, and employee referrals. They also work closely with the HR department to ensure that they're hiring the right candidates for the company. So, the responsibilities of the talent acquisition team include:

  • Identifying and acquiring potential candidates.
  • Diversifying the employee team.
  • Sourcing and attracting prospective hires.

What Is Human Resources?

Human resources is the department within a company that's responsible for managing all aspects of an employee's life cycle, from recruitment and onboarding to development and retention.

The HR department is also responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all employment laws and regulations, and that each employee is properly compensated. So, the responsibilities of the HR team include:

  • Processing payroll for all employees.
  • Maintaining employee records.
  • Providing the right employee benefits in addition to paychecks.
  • Regularly updating company policies.

» How can you manage employee data? Discover how you can benefit from HRIS

3 Fundamental Differences

We've now established the innate responsibilities of both teams, but you might have noticed that there are some aspects where they overlap. Let's see the fundamental differences in their approach:

1. Perspective

Talent acquisition teams focus on the future and hire employees that will help the company reach its long-term goals. Because of this, they focus on branding and portraying the business in a positive light to make it an appealing workplace for prospective employees.

The HR department focuses on the present while ensuring the company complies with all employment laws and regulations. They make decisions based on what is best for the business, including monitoring employees' performance and ensuring that the hires are successful.

» Should new employees fit within the company's culture? Discover the importance of workplace culture

2. Stage of Involvement

Talent acquisition teams are only involved in the pre-onboarding process, whereas human resources teams are involved in every stage of an employee's life cycle.

This means that talent acquisition teams are only responsible for recruiting and selecting candidates, whereas human resources teams are involved post-onboarding, helping employees develop within the company and making sure they're satisfied, both financially and personally.

3. Length of Investment

Talent acquisition teams are invested in the long term because they align their goals with the company's long-term goals. They aim to find prospective employees that will stay with the company and not rotate within 2-5 years. Talent acquisition teams' work processes are also more long-term focused, because searching for and recruiting specific talents and building a talent database is a continuous process.

The HR teams are invested in the present and manage current employees' work cycles and needs. Their goal isn't to look to the future and new employees that may be hired—they're primarily invested in the development and retention of current employees and providing them satisfaction with salaries, bonuses, and benefits.


Although talent acquisition and HR are two different functions, they both play an important role in managing a company's employees. Talent acquisition teams focus on the future and hire employees that will help the company reach its long-term goals, while HR teams focus on the present and ensure the company complies with all employment laws and regulations. Understanding these differences will help you to correctly and fully optimize each team's roles and functions.

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