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Recruitment refers to the process of attracting, screening, selecting, and onboarding a qualified person for a job. At the strategic level it may involve the development of an employer brand which includes an "employee offering".

The stages of the recruitment process include: job analysis and developing some person specification; the sourcing of candidates by networking, advertising, and other search methods; matching candidates to job requirements and screening individuals using testing (skills or personality assessment); assessment of candidates' motivations and their fit with organizational requirements by interviewing and other assessment techniques. The recruitment process also includes the making and finalizing of job offers and the induction and onboarding of new employees.[1]

Depending on the size and culture of the organization, recruitment may be undertaken in-house by managers, human resource generalists and/or recruitment specialists. Alternatively, parts of the process may be undertaken by either public-sector employment agencies, commercial recruitment agencies, or specialist search consultancies.

Internal recruitment[edit]

Internal Recruitment refers to the process of a candidate being recruited within their current workplace, from another team or division of the same organization. An advantage of this is the organization's familiarity with the employee, their competencies (insofar as they are revealed in their current job) and their trustworthiness. It can also be quicker and lower cost-to-hire someone from another part of the same organization.[2]

A temporary internal recruitment for a period of a few months, after which the employee would normally be expected to return to their previous job, is known as a secondment; someone on a secondment is said to be seconded to the new team. Secondments may also take place between related organizations.

Recruitment process[edit]

Job analysis[edit]

In situations where multiple new jobs are created and recruited for the first time, a job analysis and/or in some cases a task analysis might be undertaken to document the actual and intended requirements of the job. From these the relevant information is captured in such documents as job descriptions and job specifications. Often a company will already have job descriptions that represent a historical collection of tasks performed. Where already drawn up, these documents need to be reviewed or updated to reflect present day requirements. Prior to initiating the recruitment stages a person specification should be finalized to provide the recruiters commissioned with the requirements and objectives of the project.[1]


Sourcing is the use of one or more strategies to attract or identify candidates to fill job vacancies. It may involve internal and/or external advertising, using appropriate media, such as local or national newspapers, specialist recruitment media, professional publications, window advertisements, job centers, or in a variety of ways via the internet. Alternatively, employers may use recruitment consultancies or agencies to find otherwise scarce candidates who may be content in their current positions and are not actively looking to move companies. This initial research for so-called passive candidates, also called name generation, results in a contact information of potential candidates who can then be contacted discreetly to be screened and approached.[1]

Screening and selection[edit]

Suitability for a job is typically assessed by looking for relevant skills, knowledge, aptitude, qualifications and educational or job related experience. These can be determined via: screening résumés (also known as CVs); job applications; interviews. More proactive identification methods include performance assessments, psychological, aptitude, numeracy, physical and literacy testing. Many recruiters and agencies use applicant tracking systems to perform the filtering process, along with software tools for psychometric testing and performance based assessment.[3] Performance based assessment is a process to find out if job applicants perform the responsibilities for which they are applying. [4] In many countries, employers are legally mandated to ensure their screening and selection processes meet equal opportunity and ethical standards.[1]

In addition to the above selection assessment criteria, employers are likely to recognize the value of candidates who encompass "soft skills" such as interpersonal or team leadership, and have the ability to reinforce the company brand through behavior and attitude portrayal to customers and suppliers. Multinational organizations and those that recruit from a range of nationalities are also concerned candidates will fit into the prevailing company culture.[5]

A British Armed Forces recruitment centre in Oxford.

Lateral hiring[edit]

"Lateral hiring" refers to a form of recruiting; the term is used with two different, almost opposite meanings. In one meaning, the hiring organization targets employees of another, similar organization, possibly luring them with a better salary and the promise of better career opportunities. An example is the recruiting of a partner of a law firm by another law firm. The new lateral hire then has specific applicable expertise and can make a running start in the new job. In some professional branches such lateral hiring was traditionally frowned upon, but the practice has become increasingly more common. An employee's contract may have a non-compete clause preventing such lateral hiring.

A lateral hire may also refer to a newly hired employee with no prior specific applicable expertise for the new job, and for whom a job move is a radical change of career. An example is the recruiting of a university professor to become chairman of the board of a company.


"Onboarding" is a term which describes the process of helping new employees become productive members of an organization. A well-planned introduction helps new employees become fully operational quickly and is often integrated with a new company and environment. On-boarding is included in the recruitment process for retention purposes. Various companies have on-boarding campaigns in hopes to retain top talent that are new to the company; campaigns may last anywhere from 1 week to 6 months.

Recruitment approaches[edit]

There are a variety of recruitment approaches and most organizations will utilize a combination of two or more of these as part of a recruitment exercise or to deliver their overall recruitment strategy. There are five common models:

In-house recruitment[edit]

Many employers undertake at least some of their own in-house recruitment, using their human resources department, front-line hiring managers and recruitment personnel who handle targeted functions and populations. In addition to coordinating with the agencies mentioned above, in-house recruiters may advertise job vacancies on their own website and other job boards, coordinate internal employee referrals, target and headhunt external candidates (much like an external agency or search firm), work with external associations, trade groups and/or focus on campus graduate recruitment. Some large employers choose to outsource all or some of their recruitment process (recruitment process outsourcing), however a more common approach is for employers to introduce referral schemes where employees are encouraged to source new staff from within their own network.

Internal recruiters[edit]

An internal recruiter (alternatively in-house recruiter or corporate recruiter) is member of a company or organization and typically works in the human resources department. Internal recruiters may be multifunctional, serving in an HR generalist role or in a specific role focusing all their time on recruiting. Activities vary from firm to firm but may include, screening CVs or résumés, conducting aptitude or psychological testing, interviewing, undertaking reference and background checks, hiring; administering contracts, advising candidates on benefits, on boarding new recruits and conducting exit interviews with employees leaving the organization. They can be permanent employees or hired as contractors for this purpose. Contract recruiters tend to move around between multiple companies, working at each one for a short stint as needed for specific hiring purposes. The responsibility is to filter candidates as per the requirements of each client.

Employee referral[edit]

An employee referral program is a system where existing employees recommend prospective candidates for the job offered, and if the suggested candidate is hired, the employee receives a cash bonus.[6] Job seekers may also be referred or recommended by a third-party affiliate within a particular field based on certain criteria resulting in a lead or interview with a potential future employer.

In some cases the organization provides the employee referral bonus only if the referred employee stays with the organization for stipulated time duration (most cases 3–6 months). Referral bonus depends on the grade of the referred employee, higher the grade then higher the bonus however, this method is not used for senior level hiring.


An external recruitment provider may suit small organizations without the facilities to recruit. Typically in large organizations, a formal contract for services is negotiated with a specialist recruitment consultancy. These are known in the industry as Recruitment Process Outsourcing. Recruitment process outsourcing may involve strategic consulting for talent acquisition, sourcing for select departments or skills, or total outsourcing of the recruiting function.

On-Campus Recruiting[edit]

Job Interview

College recruiting may not be living up to its potential:

Recruiters tend to form a positive or negative impression about an applicant's qualifications in the first few minutes of an interview, which is hardly sufficient time to collect information on which to base a recruiting decision. Recruiters also tend to spend more time talking with applicants they consider to be qualified and less time with applicants they dismiss on the basis of a superficial judgement. Often, recruiters do not follow the corporate script about:

  1. The topics to be covered in an interview
  2. Sometimes they fail to discuss important issues with applicants.

All these points reflect a lack of interviewing skills.

Employment agencies[edit]

Employment agencies operate in both the public and private sectors. Publicly funded services have a long history, often having been introduced to mitigate the impact of unemployment in economic downturns, such as those which form part of the New Deal program in the United States, and the Job Center Plus service in the UK.

The commercial recruitment industry is based on the goal of providing a candidate to a client for a price. At one end of the spectrum, there are agencies that are paid only if they deliver a candidate that successfully stays with the client beyond the agreed probationary period. On the other end. there are agencies that are paid a retainer to focus on a client's needs and achieve milestones in the search for the right candidate, and then again are paid a percentage of the candidate's salary when a candidate is placed and stays with the organization beyond the probationary period.

The agency recruitment industry is highly competitive, therefore agencies have sought out ways to differentiate themselves and add value by focusing on some area of the recruitment life cycle. Though most agencies provide a broader range of service offerings, at the two extremes are the traditional providers and the niche operators.

Traditional agency[edit]

Also known as employment agencies, recruitment agencies have historically had a physical location. A candidate visits a local branch for a short interview and an assessment before being taken onto the agency’s books. Recruitment consultants then work to match their pool of candidates to their clients' open positions. Suitable candidates are short-listed and put forward for an interview with potential employers on a contract or direct basis.

Niche recruiters[edit]

'Specialized recruiters' exist to seek staff with a very narrow specialty. Because of their focus, these firms can very often produce superior results due to their ability to channel all of their resources into networking for a very specific skill set. This specialization in staffing allows them to offer more jobs for their specific demographic which in turn attracts more specialized candidates from that specific demographic over time building large proprietary databases. These niche firms tend to be more focused on building ongoing relationships with their candidates as is very common the same candidates are placed many times throughout their careers. Online resources have developed to help find niche recruiters.[7] Niche firms also develop knowledge on specific employment trends within their industry of focus (e.g., the energy industry) and are able to identify demographic shifts such as aging and its impact on the industry.[8]

Financial arrangements operated by agencies take several forms, the most popular are:

Executive search firms or headhunters[edit]

An executive search firm or "headhunter" are industry terms for a third-party recruiter who seeks out candidates often once normal recruitment efforts have failed. Headhunters are generally considered more aggressive than in-house recruiters or may have existing industry experience and contacts. They may use advanced sales techniques. They may also purchase expensive lists of names and job titles but more often will generate their own lists. They may arrange a meeting or a formal interview between their client and the candidate and will usually prepare the candidate for the interview, help negotiate the salary and conduct closure of the search. They are frequently members in good standing of industry trade groups and associations. Headhunters will often attend trade shows and other meetings nationally or even internationally that may be attended by potential candidates and hiring managers.

Headhunters are typically small operations that make high margins on candidate placements (sometimes more than 30% of the candidate’s annual compensation). Due to their higher costs, headhunters are usually employed to fill senior management and executive level roles. Headhunters are also used to recruit very specialized individuals; for example, in some fields, such as emerging scientific research areas, there may only be a handful of top-level professionals who are active in the field. In this case, since there are so few qualified candidates, it makes more sense to directly recruit them one-by-one, rather than advertise internationally for candidates. While in-house recruiters tend to attract candidates for specific jobs, headhunters will attract both candidates and actively seek them out as well. To do so, they may network, cultivate relationships with various companies, maintain large databases, purchase company directories or candidate lists and cold call prospective recruits.

Headhunters are increasingly using social media to find and research candidates. This approach is often called social recruiting.

Executive research & resourcing firms[edit]

These firms are the new hybrid operators in the recruitment world, able to combine the research aspects (discovering passive candidates) of recruiting and combine them with the ability to make hires for their clients. These firms provide competitive passive candidate intelligence to support companies' recruiting efforts. Normally they will generate varying degrees of candidate information from those people currently engaged in the position a company is looking to fill. These firms usually charge a daily rate or fixed fee. Executive research can help companies uncover names that cannot be found through traditional recruitment methods and will allow internal recruitment and resourcing managers more time to deal with face to face interviews.

Internet recruitment services[edit]

Recruitment websites[edit]

Such sites have two main features: job boards and a résumé/curriculum vitae (CV) database. Job boards allow member companies to post job vacancies. Alternatively, candidates can upload a résumé to be included in searches by member companies. Fees are charged for job postings and access to search resumes. Since the late 1990s, the recruitment website has evolved to encompass end-to-end recruitment. Websites capture candidate details and then pool them in client accessed candidate management interfaces (also online). Key players in this sector provide e-recruitment software and services to organizations of all sizes and within numerous industry sectors, who want to e-enable entirely or partly their recruitment process in order to improve business performance.

The online software provided by those who specialize in online recruitment helps organizations attract, test, recruit, employ and retain quality staff with a minimal amount of administration. Online recruitment websites can be very helpful to find candidates that are very actively looking for work and post their resumes online, but they will not attract the "passive" candidates who might respond favorably to an opportunity that is presented to them through other means. Also, some candidates who are actively looking to change jobs are hesitant to put their resumes on the job boards, for fear that their companies, co-workers, customers or others might see their resumes.

Job search engines[edit]

The emergence of meta-search engines allows job-seekers to search across multiple websites. Some of these new search engines index and list the advertisements of traditional job boards. These sites tend to aim for providing a "one-stop shop" for job-seekers. However, there are many other job search engines which index solely from employers' websites, choosing to bypass traditional job boards entirely. These vertical search engines allow job-seekers to find new positions that may not be advertised on traditional job boards, and online recruitment websites.

Recruitment Agency Directories[edit]

The emergence of the Internet provided the functionality to provide recruitment agencies with a low-cost alternative to advertising. Unlike a standard directory, these niche directories have helped those searching for employment representation, a way to narrow down their requirements based on their own job-searching requirements. Recruitment agencies are then able to showcase their services directly to those looking.[9][10]

Social recruiting[edit]

Social recruiting is the use of social media for recruiting including sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.[11][12]

Strategic Talent Acquisition[edit]

Talent acquisition is the targeted recruitment/acquisition of high performing teams for example; in sales management or financial traders into a company from a competitor or similar type of organization. Organizations requiring external recruitment or head-hunting firms are now employing "talent acquisition" specialists whose job it is to identify, approach and recruit top performing teams from competitors. This role is a highly specialized role akin to that of a traditional recruiter/headhunter specialist but carrying greater visibility and strategic importance to a business. In many cases the talent acquisition person is linked directly to a company's executive management, given the potential positive impact a company can benefit from by getting high-performance sales people into the business, whilst removing the same performing sales people from competitors.

See also[edit]

Recruiting Companies[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d The recruitment process "Acas", Accessed 5 August 2012
  2. ^ Dan Schawbel (15 August 2012). "The Power Within: Why Internal Recruiting & Hiring Are on the Rise". Time. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Teacher's Guide to Performance-Based Learning and Assessment. "What is Performance-Based Learning and Assessment, and Why is it Important", Chapter 1, ISBN 0871202611
  4. ^ Lou Adler. "The Complete 2-Question Interview", The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, ASIN B00B9JZMKE.
  5. ^ Hays Quarterly Report Sharing our recruiting know-how, Nick Deligiannis, April - June 2012
  6. ^ Editor (15 August 2012). "The rise of the internal recruiter". recruiter. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "How to Find Recruiters in Your Niche". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Directory of Recruitment Agencies". Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  10. ^ "List of REC members across the UK". Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  11. ^ "Social Recruiting and Your Job Search". About. Retrieved 2012-07-18. 
  12. ^,atlassians-social-hiring-spree-pays-off.aspx
  13. ^ Schultz & Schultz, Duane (2010). Psychology and work today. New York: Prentice Hall. p. 53. ISBN 0-205-68358-4.