Talent Acquisition has four distinct set of processes (IMHO)

In no particular order, and without vast detail on each, organizations should consider that there are really four different facets of Talent Acquisition.
Notice that I did not say Talent Management, or Talent – those concepts are broader. And this is more like 500 words…

Staffing. Using various tools, processes, resources and personnel to render an applicant into a position at a company. The defining characteristic of staffing is that the applicant has a general interest in the position, and has shown voluntarily and formal entry into a company’s evaluation process to determine if that applicant is a match for the respective position. The position has been deemed as worthy of the company’s typical investment of resources and development. The activity is performed repeatedly and results in filling said position.

Recruiting. Using potentially a different set of tools, processes, resources and personnel than those used in staffing, this is the rendering of a prospective or potential applicant into an actual applicant. It is arguable that once a person is already an applicant and they had to be “recruited” into the staffing process that additional efforts are required to keep them in the staffing process. The activity is performed and may result in filling said position, but there is no guarantee. The position is also worthy of a company’s typical investment or resources and development.

Scouting. Using again a set of potentially different tools, processes, resources, and personnel than both staffing and recruiting, this is the gathering of data, information, and the inevitable identification of talent in the marketplace in order to make recruiting and staffing decisions. This activity is typically done for certain roles or groups of roles in the organization where the ROI is differentiated somehow from other roles. Think baseball here. Its understanding what is actually in the market, and then making a determination what you will choose to go after should you be given the opportunity. The activity is performed and rarely results in filling a position, but when it does, the potential impact to the organization is much higher than recruiting activities. Additionally, the targeted positions are worthy of additional investment, resources, and/or development.

Contingent / Outsourcing / Temp Labor. A final set of tools, processes, resources and personnel potentially different from staffing, recruiting, and scouting are used to fill positions at a company. A decision has been made that the assignments that need to be done on behalf of the company do not require certain management, development, and other investments. The positions that are filled can be done so with a third party resource that will be charged with making those investments themselves OR a shorter duration is given to the assignment such that those investments are not done because the impacts would never be realized in that period of time by the company.

Effort, Duration, and the great variable we call Sourcing

It’s rare that any job has only 2 or 3 people that can do it. I will admit that given the right conditions, maybe only 2 or 3 people want to do it, good or bad. But ultimately, we work to get a couple of people to choose from for a job. How long it takes us to get those two or three people to choose from varies position to position, and the greatest variable that impacts the time that project is open is sourcing.

Now I said the biggest variable for time, not the most amount of time. Staffing processes can be long or short, but if it takes 40 hours of effort to go from interview to offer for one candidate, it likely does not take 140 hours for another candidate to go through the same steps on the same position. Don’t confuse effort (hours worked) with duration (time elapsed). 40 hours of work in regards to one candidate may be accomplished in 2 weeks, while another candidate takes 4 weeks to complete the same 40 hours.

Which leads us back to sourcing. It may take 40 minutes of effort over a 1 day period to find three candidates that you want to submit to a hiring manager or 40 hours of cold calls, research, etc over 3 weeks to find the same people. It’s up to you as a talent acquisition professional to keep your clients/managers informed of that variability.

Try separating your work estimates into three pieces…sourcing, recruiting, and staffing:

1 How much effort will it take to find people

2 how much effort to convince them to apply/enter the staffing process

3 and how much effort to go through your staffing process

Now do the same for duration estimates:

1 how many days will it take you to complete your sourcing work

2 how many to complete recruiting work

3 how many to complete staffing

Set expectations and happy hunting.