Hiring Manager vs. Recruiter: What's the Difference?

Updated June 24, 2022

Finding and retaining qualified employees is a top priority for most companies. Recruiters and hiring managers both participate in the hiring process, but their roles and objectives differ. In this article, we explain the difference between a hiring manager and a recruiter, describe the responsibilities for both roles and highlight the necessary steps to becoming a hiring manager or a recruiter.

Related: What Is Recruiting?

What's the difference between a hiring manager and a recruiter?

A hiring manager is someone who ultimately decides which candidate is most qualified and then hires that candidate for an open position. A hiring manager is involved in determining the criteria for candidates, interviewing top candidates and then handling the onboarding of the selected candidate. This role is usually a member of the team hiring and often becomes the candidate’s supervisor after they are hired. Hiring managers can function alone or with an outside recruiter.

A recruiter is generally someone who is tasked to help the hiring manager find and screen qualified applicants. Recruiters sometimes help a hiring manager prepare a job description and a list of skills and experience that are necessary to perform the open role. The recruiter’s job is to help the hiring manager by casting a wide net for candidates and then presenting the most qualified people from that larger pool.

Hiring manager

Hiring managers are typically the manager or the lead on a team that's looking to fill an open role. They help vet and interview potential candidates for their departments when needed, but they usually spend the majority of their time leading their department or team. For example, an engineering manager might fulfill the role of the hiring manager when their team is looking to hire more members, but on a day-to-day basis, they are leading the engineering team. Usually, hiring managers know the exact skill set and expertise they're looking for in a candidate and interview applicants that have the specific requirements needed.


Recruiters work exclusively on finding excellent candidates for their organization. Some recruiters might look for applicants to fill specific roles, while others might look for talented people that would benefit the organization overall rather than in a currently vacant position. Many recruiters perform both functions—identifying candidates for specific roles and looking for great people to join the company in any capacity.

Related: What Is a Candidate Profile in Hiring?

What does a hiring manager do?

Hiring manager job duties can vary depending on whether they work alone or with recruiters or other human resources employees. Regardless of other responsibilities, common job duties for a hiring manager include:

  • Identify positions: Many hiring managers identify current or future vacancies to advertise for potential candidates.

  • Create job postings: Once they've identified an open position, most hiring managers write a job description and job posting for use in finding qualified candidates.

  • Collaborate with others: Some hiring managers collaborate with human resources employees or recruiters to find suitable applicants.

  • Review resumes: Hiring managers usually review resumes and applications as they receive them from recruiters or directly from applicants.

  • Interview candidates: One of the primary duties for a hiring manager is performing interviews and vetting potential employees for suitable open roles. - Negotiate contracts: After selecting a candidate, some hiring managers assist with the contract or salary negotiation step.

  • Assist with onboarding: Most hiring managers will schedule orientation, onboard and plan training for the new hire, especially if they’re joining the hiring manager’s specific team.
    Related: Recruitment Skills: Definition and Examples

What does a recruiter do?

Recruiters usually perform similar tasks regardless of the industry or type of organization. Common job duties for recruiters include:

  • Create a recruitment strategy: After consulting with a hiring manager, a recruiter will develop a strategy to find the best candidates for the open position. This could include reaching out to contacts online and expanding their network through conferences.

  • Maintain job postings: Recruiters post their open positions online through their company’s website, as well as job posting sites, such as Indeed.

  • Screen applications: Recruiters review applications and resumes from prospective candidates, interviewing the most qualified through a phone screen. - Assist with onboarding: Once the company hires a candidate, the recruiter may help with onboarding the new employee.

Read more: Learn About Being a Recruiter

How do you become a recruiter?

If you'd like a career as a recruiter, follow these steps to find a suitable job:

1. Earn a degree

Nearly all recruiters have a bachelor's degree at a minimum. While some major in human resources, many pursue other degree programs, including business, sociology, marketing and psychology. It's possible to become a recruiter with a variety of educational backgrounds.

2. Develop your skills

Recruiters should possess a number of hard and soft skills to help them perform their jobs well. During your time in school and in your early career, ensure you're working on:

  • Communication

  • Problem-solving

  • Time management

  • Active listening

  • Sales abilities

3. Gain work experience

Look for positions that will help you build your recruiter skill set and expand your professional network. Many recruiters start their careers in other departments or roles before promoting into recruiter jobs. Common entry positions for recruiters include administration, human resources, sales and operations.

4. Seek certification

Many companies like to hire recruiters with certifications. Whether or not it's a requirement for the company you hope to work for, a recruiter certification can provide you with a competitive edge over other candidates. There are a variety of reputable in-person and online certification programs you can consider.

5. Attend professional development

As the digital hiring landscape continues to develop and change, recruiters must stay up-to-date on recruitment best practices. Attend training and development sessions to stay knowledgeable about recruiting trends.

6. Look for positions

Seek recruitment positions within your professional network or through job sites. With applicable work experience, certification and training, you'll be well prepared for a job in the recruitment sector.

How do you become a hiring manager?

To become a hiring manager, you typically need to be promoted to a leadership role on your team or within your department. Since hiring managers take on some human resources and hiring-related responsibilities as part of their larger role in the company, it can be helpful to have knowledge of the hiring and recruiting process. If you're interested in becoming a hiring manager, consider the tips below:

1. Consider an internship

During your college career or following graduation, look for an internship to develop your skills and grow your professional network. Internships are a great way to find the industry and roles that are a good fit for your career path.

2. Seek work experience

Once you've gained some experience, look for suitable entry-level roles in your career field. If you're hoping to perform some hiring manager duties as a department head, look for companies that tend to promote from within.

3. Find a managerial position

After you've gained sufficient experience and skills, speak with your supervisor or boss about promotion opportunities that involve hiring responsibilities. If none are available at your organization, consider looking outside your company for other open roles.

4. Consider certification

To improve your competitive edge over other candidates, you can earn a certification specific to hiring managers or human resources professionals. The Society for Human Resources Management offers certifications that are highly regarded within the industry.


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