How to Move From a Career in Recruitment to Talent Acquisition

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover how you can make a transition from recruitment to talent acquisition. Learn about the talent acquisition cycle and how the two professions differ and are similar.

[Featured Image]:  A talent acquisition manager is compiling information on the company's recruitment needs.

Recruitment and talent acquisition share some similarities and crossovers, so it’s common to see movement between these two roles. Recruitment consultants often move into talent acquisition teams to progress their careers. It is a popular transition because the role requires similar skills, experience, and qualifications. Learn more about the skills, qualifications, and certifications that can help you make the transition and other roles you can pursue. 

What is talent acquisition? 

Talent acquisition is the process and strategy of identifying, acquiring, and retaining talent to meet a company’s needs. A business might have a whole team of talent acquisition professionals, or they can be part of a human resources (HR) team, working on sourcing, assessing candidates to fill open positions, establishing a future candidate pipeline, and nurturing talent. 

Talent acquisition teams are responsible for implementing strategies to attract candidates that align with the organization they are working for. They do this partly through branding, communication, and producing messages. 

Once you've identified, the talent acquisition team monitors the talent acquisition lifecycle from application to a job offer, with continual responsibility for retaining and developing the person they recruit.

How does talent acquisition differ from recruitment?

Recruitment is a subset of talent acquisition. While you'll notice some crossovers between talent acquisition and recruitment, the two also have some key differences. Recruitment is a linear process involving sourcing candidates for a particular role, while talent acquisition takes a more cyclical approach, known as the talent acquisition cycle. This involves building an ongoing strategy to attract and source talent, recruit, hire, and onboard, ensuring this can be utilized repeatedly.   


How does a person qualify to work in talent acquisition?

The skills, experience, and qualifications you need to work in talent acquisition vary depending on the job role and how senior the position is. Generally, you need a bachelor’s degree, ideally in human resources, and relevant recruitment experience. Skills needed to succeed in these positions include excellent communication, leadership, decision-making ability, and being up-to-date with industry standards and trends. 

What are the roles within a talent acquisition team?

Some companies have teams dedicated to talent acquisition, and others are part of larger HR teams within an organization. A single person may be responsible for the talent acquisition cycle in smaller companies. In cases where a team exists, it will vary according to the organization's size. In general, you may find the following  roles:

*All average annual salary is sourced from Glassdoor as of January 2023

Talent acquisition manager

Average annual base salary (US): $81,553

The talent acquisition manager builds, implements, and manages a company's recruitment and talent acquisition strategies. This role may be at the director level in larger organizations, with various management positions below it. However, talent acquisition managers generally are in charge of the process. 

As a talent acquisition manager, you’ll work to understand the company's recruitment needs, oversee employer branding activities, work with employees to understand their needs, and work on retaining staff and recruiting. 


Average annual base salary (US): $51,646

Sourcers provide the talent acquisition team with a stream of new candidates. These may be internal candidates that have been nurtured and trained, new graduates, or candidates from external sources. As a sourcer, you provide the recruiter with a pool of talent to recruit from. 


Average annual base salary (US): $52,390

This could be a single recruiter or team comprising a recruitment manager, recruitment coordinators, and recruitment consultants. Recruiters work to select potential interview candidates by assessing whether they have the right skills and are a good fit for the company ethos. They will also work with and support candidates through the recruitment process, providing feedback and support with questions they may have. 

Is it easy to move from a recruitment role into talent acquisition?

Given that talent acquisition and recruitment often go hand in hand and that, in smaller organizations, a single person is responsible for both, it is relatively easy to move from a recruitment role into talent acquisition. It is essential that you have the relevant experience and qualifications:

Recruitment experience

If you work in recruitment, you will already have experience in the field. Talent acquisition managers must have experience in HR or on a recruitment team, so you can check this box. 

Entry-level recruitment experience is typically enough, but if you have experience in a more senior role, managing a team of recruiters, and taking on more strategic responsibility, you will be more marketable. It can be advantageous if your recruitment experience is in the same field as the talent acquisition role you apply for since you’ll have prior industry knowledge.


The qualifications companies look for are primarily the same in both professions. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in human resources, business, or a subject relevant to your recruiting field. Some companies may ask for a master’s degree, and this is useful if your bachelor's degree doesn’t directly relate to talent acquisition. If you are looking to advance to a senior level, a master’s degree is helpful. 


Certifications aren’t required for a talent acquisition role, but it can boost your credentials and enhance your resume. If you have a certificate from your time in recruitment, add it to your resume. Certifications to consider include:

SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)Validate your human resources skills and experience
HRCI Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)Validate your human resources leadership skills
NAPS Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC)Validate your knowledge of employment laws and legal implications of direct-hire and temp employees
NAPS Certified Temporary Staffing-Specialist (CTS)Validate your knowledge of employment laws and legal implications of temp employees 
NAPS Certified Employee Retention Specialist (CERS)Validate your mastery of human capital management and talent acquisition
HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition (STA)Validate your talent acquisition skills, knowledge, and experience

Read more: How to Become SHRM Certified And Build HR Credibility

Salary for talent acquisition manager 

Salaries for talent acquisition managers vary depending on the organization and the rate of bonuses. This is the same for recruitment salaries, as base salaries don’t always represent a person’s earnings, given that commission is earned by the number of candidates you place. 

The average base salary (before bonuses) for a talent acquisition manager in the US is $81,509 [1]. This is generally higher than a recruitment manager, who earns an average base salary (before bonuses) of $74,350 [2]. 

Get started

If you’re working in recruitment and looking to switch to talent acquisition, you have excellent prospects with the qualifications and experience you may already have. Building your credentials with an additional course or certification will typically enhance your chances of landing a role. Consider this course in Managing Talent by the University of Michigan for an excellent start.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Talent Acquisition Manager Salaries,,2_IN1_KO3,29.htm.” Accessed January 25, 2023.

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