Recruiters are equal, but some are more equal than others. Talent acquisition may sound like plain old recruitment, but it is a distinct discipline brought about by the modernisation of the human resource (HR) function. 'Recruitment is a more reactive and administrative process involving, for example, posting jobs and then waiting to see what comes in,' says Dimi Crossley, talent acquisition manager at technical and management service firm Aecom in Asia. On the other hand, talent acquisition entails formulating human resources strategies to help companies increase the size of the talent pool from which they can hire, such as by creating policies for employee referrals. Talent acquisition roles are typically present in organisations that are progressive in their HR practices, Crossley says. A talent acquisition co-ordinator provides support for those directly involved in the recruitment process. This could include database entry, scheduling interviews, placing advertisements, assisting with on-campus recruitment campaigns, doing reference and background checks on potential employees, and researching potential candidates. Talent acquisition co-ordinators typically begin their career in recruitment firms. Crossley says the ideal candidate is an administrator with at least one to two years' experience working in such an agency. Genevieve Wong, manager at Robert Walters' HR and business support division, says those who are already in the role either progress by moving up to more senior roles in the recruitment team, or move into more general areas of HR. Professionals with more than 10 years of experience, and with good management skills, may eventually be chosen to take on the role of HR director. Wong says talent acquisition co-ordinators are usually found in larger organisations that are likely to divide their HR function into specialist roles. She adds that commercial organisations, with HR teams of more than 10, may employ talent acquisition co-ordinators and that many would be employed in the financial services sector since banks are typically large organisations. They typically earn between HK$16,000 and HK$30,000 a month, depending on the organisation and their seniority. Financial services organisations, including insurance firms and banks, tend to be more generous with their packages. Multitasking essential Strong multitasking and co-ordination skills are required because talent acquisition co-ordinators manage multiple portfolios or jobs at any one time, provide support to in-house recruiters and line managers, who make the hires by keeping tabs on all their diaries, screening resumes and matching time slots so that job candidates can be interviewed by all concerned. They also need to be presentable and have good communication skills because they are the first person in an organisation a prospective candidate comes into contact with when applying for a job. University graduates qualify for role To qualify for the role, candidates need to be university graduates. Preferably, they should have at least an undergraduate degree in business administration, specialising in either human resources management or marketing and communications. Most universities in Hong Kong offer such programmes. For example, City University has a three-year bachelor of business administration programme in human resources management, designed for those who are seeking to serve as in-house recruitment specialists or in recruitment agencies.