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What’s the Difference Between Recruitment and Hiring?

Though many people use the terms recruitment and hiring interchangeably, major differences exist between the two. These differences mean employers must understand the nuances between the two phases of bringing in new people when they want to attract and secure the talent they need. So, just how do these two processes differ?

The short answer is that recruiting fills your talent pool, while hiring singles out individual candidates. Use this guide to learn the ins and outs of each process, streamline your talent identification and hiring efficiency and know why your HR department needs both things to round out your staff with quality employees.

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Defining hiring and recruiting

Effectively using tools for finding quality job seekers means understanding the concepts behind them. Use the following definitions to help your organization find and onboard candidates quickly when you need to hire and recruit quality employees.


Recruitment involves identifying, attracting and interacting with potential candidates.Recruiting staff first focus on job vacancies and then analyze the jobs to see which skills, experience and traits matter most when filling the role to streamline hiring. Industry professionals may do this to fill currently open jobs, or they may build talent pools for jobs they anticipate opening up in the future, especially in high-demand sectors.

Some ways recruiting professionals get the job done include:

  • Advertising job openings on social media and job boards
  • Participation in job fairs at trade schools and universities
  • Accepting referrals from past and current talent pools

When working within a company to fill internal job openings, recruiters first and foremost seek out potential hires who enhance their employer’s brands. They connect with them and encourage them to apply. Other responsibilities include accepting and managing applications, screening candidates and forwarding their selections to hiring managers who are ultimately responsible for completing the hiring process. Many times, recruiters already have quality candidates on deck who align with the company’s future goals and workforce requirements.


Hiring involves making definitive decisions about candidates, extending job offers and onboarding new employees. Once recruiting staff provides a pool of potential hires, professionals in your hiring department take over and evaluate each candidate’s information.

Note that the scope narrows in the hiring process but widens during recruitment. This is due to hiring managers looking more at candidate details than broader aspects of their skills and experience. Hiring managers already know these job seekers have the qualifications due to the recruitment process, so they focus on determining which candidates would integrate successfully and provide optimal job performance.

In general, the hiring process includes these steps:

  • Screening applications provided by recruiters and internal postings
  • Interviewing potential hires to see if they’re suitable for the role
  • Verifying candidate qualifications via background and reference checks
  • Offering job packages with employment terms, salary and benefits
  • Onboarding new hires with orientation and on-the-job training

Each step of the hiring process helps ensure that new hires blend seamlessly with company goals. Sometimes, this involves choosing candidates who mesh with existing objectives. In others, it means finding new employees who can shake up the status quo. No matter what type of employee hiring managers are tasked by their superiors to bring on, the ultimate goal of these professionals is supporting growth and success within the business.

The differences between hiring and recruiting

Though recruiting and hiring share many components, both have their own distinct place when you’re acquiring new talent. Let’s look at the differences so you can tailor and optimize your approach to finding new employees when you need to hire and recruit quality candidates for open positions.

Proactive versus reactive

When you compare the objectives of recruitment and hiring, differences become clear in terms of their aims. Recruitment takes a proactive approach by building a talent pool that hiring managers can dip into when an empty job needs filling. By contrast, hiring takes a reactive approach that focuses on delving into specific candidate details to determine which individual would best fit the currently vacant position.

Timeframes and duration

Recruitment doesn’t end when you fill an open position—this ongoing process continues by constantly engaging with potential hires so they remain in the talent pool to meet future employer needs. By contrast, the hiring timeframe necessarily has a more clear-cut objective and ends once a job seeker accepts the position and HR completes the onboarding process.

Roles and responsibilities

Broader in scope than hiring, recruiters may be positioned internally within various corporate departments, such as HR and management. Sometimes, external agencies do the heavy lifting of recruitment, collaborating with hiring managers to find great candidates. Your hiring department, however, usually has personnel that do preliminary work like reference checks and senior leaders who make final decisions concerning potential employment.

Techniques and strategies

Simply put, recruitment uses strategies and techniques that reach out to potential hires and pique their interest in your company. Professionals in this field may utilize things like employer branding at job fairs and on social media, getting your name out there and organically marketing your job openings. By contrast, hiring managers evaluate candidates carefully, selecting them based on more objective measures than interest, like interview questions and skills tests.

Hiring and recruiting: Why you need to know the difference

Recognizing the differences between hiring and recruiting helps you communicate your needs better and influences your company’s effectiveness and culture. In fact, it impacts strategy and planning by affecting how well potential employees align with bigger business goals. This is because employer branding matters, so a recruitment strategy focused on what makes your company attractive to job seekers is more apt to get quality candidates who are excited to work for you.

Using recruiting properly gets talent with interest and skills in front of your hiring department, boosting your readiness levels and general adaptability. Likewise, hiring managers can easily pluck those with the right talents out of the pool provided by recruiters and place them where you need them within your company.

Hiring and recruiting also typically require their own budgets and resources, so understanding what each phase needs helps you plan better. For instance, you have to keep funds flowing to recruiting because it’s an ongoing process, while hiring may need only a set amount of assets for labor, testing, background checks, onboarding and orientation for new employees.

Best practices when you hire and recruit

Though effective brand marketing and your company reputation go a long way in helping you recruit excellent talent, good communication often matters more—both with your own team and with potential hires. Your team has a good idea of what they need to do their jobs well, and most of the time, they can offer great suggestions for what to look for in a candidate. Likewise, the candidate experience determines whether they accept your job offer, and part of that comes down to touching base with them as you make decisions.

Robust screening during the recruiting phase also prevents hiring managers from wasting time on candidates who aren’t really interested or don’t have the skills to fill the position. Candidates who arrive in the hiring department need to find positive engagement with carefully constructed interview questions that assess competencies without any sort of bias. Paying attention to detail during the hiring process ensures everyone you interview and evaluate can effectively fulfill the role.

Understanding your needs when you hire and recruit

Hiring and recruiting success depends on your company using each distinct component of talent acquisition most effectively. Mastery of these two phases lets you fill your workforce with employees who strive to meet your objectives and foster growth over the long term.

FAQs about recruitment and hiring

What metrics do you use to measure recruiting success?

Certain metrics help get a more objective measure of how your recruiting process operates. For instance, applicant source tracks success levels of your recruiting sources, while time to fill measures how long it takes to fill open positions.

What metrics do you use to measure hiring success?

Like with recruiting, some metrics aid you in tracking hiring success. These include new hire turnover rate, which tells you how long new workers stay, and time to productivity, which tells you how long it takes new employees to start performing their duties effectively.

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