While I attended several great sessions at this year’s HRTEch conference in Las Vegas that included speakers from Google, APD, Oracle and Microsoft, the one that really had an impact on me HR Tech 20/20: That Talent Acquisition Journey Forward.

While some of the meetings revolved around tech trends like social recruiting, mobile optimization and advanced talent analytics, the most intriguing part for me was the discussion around the need for a shift in perception regarding talent acquisition from executive teams.

For decades (and still to this day), talent acquisition teams have been dropped into a cost center “box” by many executives. Considered a necessary process to fill empty jobs and follow metrics that do not actually present a competitive advantage for the organization.

Today’s candidates don’t sit around waiting for the right job; they drive their careers forward by engaging with potential employers on social and professional networking sites. Recruiters must have the tools to find these candidates, engage them with a positive candidate experience and, differentiate themselves from competitors. Very difficult to do when you are last in line for budget dollars. To really compete in the talent race, leadership must see talent acquisition teams as vital strategic partners that truly drive business goals.

In short, it was a call to all recruiters to make every effort to create a critical paradigm shift for the C-Suite. Convince them that they should be investing in the greatest competitive advantage there is – getting (and keeping) the best and brightest talent available.