Is Talent Acquisition an Actual Profession? @ATAPGlobal

There’s something going on in recruiting. Can you feel it?

About a year and a half ago I got asked to join a forming board of directions for an organization called the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP). The easiest way to describe ATAP is it’s the SHRM for Recruiters. The other board members hate when I say that!

ATAP doesn’t want to be SHRM. We want to be something a bit different, and we clearly were not formed for HR professionals. Why I make the comparison is because I’ve been in both worlds, HR and Talent Acquisition. Also, I’m a twenty-year proud SHRM member with my SHRM-SCP.

SHRM sees talent acquisition as part of HR. I think those of us in Talent Acquisition see our profession as a completely different function within the organization. One that no longer has a need to be ‘bundled in’ with HR. It’s time we stand on our own.

SHRM and my SHRM certification gave me credibility and other’s outside of HR looked at me as a ‘professional”. I always had those letters behind my name. I knew how hard it was to study for that exam and pass it. No matter where I went in my career, I had those credentials, and I was viewed as an HR professional.

In my recruiting world, we have never had that.

Don’t get me wrong, there have always been silly programs one could take in recruiting and get letters behind your name. But, if we are honest with each other, no one ever really took those letters very seriously. Those programs weren’t really built on a body of knowledge and standards that were validated by a big giant group of recruiting nerds! Most of those programs were just money grabs.

I love talent acquisition. It’s my profession. I want every function in our businesses to view talent acquisition as the profession we know it is. That’s why I stepped up and accepted the ATAP board seat and do volunteer work every week to help grow ATAP and our profession.

My goal is to see ATAP be that one organization in the world that leaders can turn to and know if someone is affiliated with ATAP they are in the ‘profession’ of talent acquisition. I want talent acquisition leaders to look at a recruiter’s resume and see “ATAP” and see that recruiter passed an ATAP exam, and know they are hiring a recruiter who ‘gets it’! Who has proven they know how to recruit.

Talent Acquisition is not a profession right now. Any idiot can call themselves a recruiter. It’s one of the main reasons we have such a bad reputation amongst all professions. ATAP is going to change that for talent acquisition pros worldwide. Are you ready to join with me to make this happen!?


What the heck is ATAP?!? I get asked this question almost daily. ATAP stands for the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals. Founded in 2016, ATAP’s mission is to develop a body of unified educational, ethical and measurement standards, advocate on issues that impact those in our profession, and build a global community of inspired and informed professionals. I’m a member! You should be one too – Join Here – use my code to get $5 off your first-year “ATAPDISCTS”! 

3 thoughts on “Is Talent Acquisition an Actual Profession? @ATAPGlobal

  1. Tim, thanks for this post…

    Candace, as a point of reference, I’m one of the founding members of ATAP, Chair of the Governance Committee, and among other duties that make me wish for 36 hour days, on the Body of Knowledge Committee.

    I’ll echo what Sackett wrote about SHRM certs (yes, they’re known but outdated when it comes to TA) and the state of certs in TA (TA-related letters after one’ name have little bearing on the actual skill of the person possessing those letters). Nonetheless, I’d suggest you obtain the PHR as well as join and participate in the ATAP community.

    While ATAP is a work in progress, it is still the only body that is cataloging all that is TA. Frankly, we’re not sure if this work will end in the creation of certifications or simply a global platform where we can all share, learn, and elevate our performances.

    The increase in the number of great recruiting conferences – at a rate that I believe demonstrates how TA is leaving HR behind – is an indication that ATAP is on the right track.

    Again Candace, please join us…

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for this article – it was helpful to know that you support the advancement and development of the ATAP, but you are still a certified member of SHRM. For those of us in the mid / pre – management point of our career in Talent Acquisition, do you recommend that we “wait” for the ATAP to release professional training and certification content, or would you advise we proceed with obtaining the PHR / SHRM – CP certifications geared toward all HR Professionals? My concern is that the PHR and SHRM certs are more widely known and accepted vs some of the other newer ones.


    • Candace,

      I do have my SHRM certification and I will retain that certification as a leader in the HR space.

      I will disagree with Steve a little in that as a board member of ATAP it is a priority for us to develop a TA certification that will be recognized globally, and we would like for that to happen sooner, rather than later. But, that could still take some time. I think both the SHRM certification and an ATAP certification will complement a well-rounded HR pro, rather than distract. I do think those who have solely focused on TA, though, need something specific for TA.

      Good luck!


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