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For other uses, see Recruitment (disambiguation).

Recruitment refers to the overall process of attracting, selecting and appointing suitable candidates for jobs (either permanent or temporary) within an organization. Recruitment can also refer to processes involved in choosing individuals for unpaid positions, such as voluntary roles or unpaid trainee roles. Managers, human resource generalists and recruitment specialists may be tasked with carrying out recruitment, but in some cases public-sector employment agencies, commercial recruitment agencies, or specialist search consultancies are used to undertake parts of the process. Internet-based technologies to support all aspects of recruitment have become widespread.


These are the steps taken by a recruiter in order to select the best qualified candidate for a position/job in an organization. The "process" is a guide to how recruitment and selection should be carried out.

Job analysis[edit]

In situations where multiple new jobs are created and recruited for the first time, or the nature of a job has substantially changed, a job analysis might be undertaken to document the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) required or sought for the job. From these the relevant information is captured in such documents as job descriptions and job specifications. Often, a company already has job descriptions for existing positions. Where already drawn up, these documents may require review and updating to reflect current requirements. Prior to the recruitment stage, a person specification should be finalized to provide the recruiters with the project's requirements and objectives.[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 recruitment 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, in many cases, may be content in their current positions and are not actively looking to move. This initial research for candidates—also called name generation—produces contact information for potential candidates, whom the recruiter can then discreetly contact and screen.[1]

Screening and selection[edit]

Recruiters typically assess suitability for a job by looking for a candidate with the KSAOs (see above) desirable for that job. They determine these via one or more of:

Job interviews.

Various psychological tests can assess a variety of KSAOs, including literacy. Assessments are also available to measure physical ability. Recruiters and agencies may use applicant tracking systems to filter candidates, along with software tools for psychometric testing and performance-based assessment.[2] In many countries, employers are legally mandated to ensure their screening and selection processes meet equal opportunity and ethical standards.[1] Some employers seek to go further than the bare minimum of "equal opportunity awareness" among hiring staff, by specifically seeking to create diversity in their workforces.

Employers are likely to recognize the value of candidates who encompass soft skills such as interpersonal or team leadership.[citation needed] Many companies, including multinational organizations and those that recruit from a range of nationalities, are also often concerned about whether candidates fits the prevailing company culture.[3]

Disabled candidates[edit]

The word disability carries few positive connotations for most employers. Research has shown that employer biases tend to improve through first-hand experience and exposure with proper supports for the employee[4] and the employer making the hiring decisions. As for most companies, money and job stability are two of the contributing factors to the productivity of a disabled employee, which in return equates to the growth and success of a business. Hiring disabled workers produce more advantages than disadvantages.[5] Disabled workers are more likely to stay with the company and make their a work a career than most due to the fact that they appreciate having a job and are more stable because they can work at high levels.[citation needed] There is no difference in the daily production of a disabled worker.[1] Given their situation, they are more likely to adapt to their environmental surroundings and acquaint themselves with equipment, enabling them to solve problems and overcome adversity as with other employees. The U.S. IRS grants companies Disabled Access Credit when they meet eligibility criteria.[6] These funds can assist with costs of reasonable accommodations and other expenses such as supervision and assistance of those who encounter problems, or the hiring of more qualified personnel (to cover for a supervisor when they are unavailable). Ensuring adequate space and property changes such as ramps, restricting parking spaces, and posting handicap signs can be fairly inexpensive. Sometimes companies lose skilled workers due to the depth of responsibility entailed in overseeing employees that are disabled.[citation needed]

A British Armed Forces recruitment centre in Oxford.


Recruiting involves a variety of approaches, and most organizations use a combination of these in their overall recruitment strategy.


Many employers undertake 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.

In-house recruiters (also known as internal recruiters or corporate 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, onboarding 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.

Internal recruitment[edit]

Internal recruitment (not to be confused with internal recruiters!) refers to the process of a candidate being selected from the existing workforce to take up a new job in the same organization, perhaps as a promotion, or to provide career development opportunity, or to meet a specific or urgent organizational need. Advantages include the organization's familiarity with the employee and their competencies insofar as they are revealed in their current job, and their willingness to trust said employee. It can be quicker and have a lower cost to hire someone internally.[7] An employer may choose to advertise a job both externally and internally simultaneously, or only externally or only internally.

A temporary internal appointment for a period of a few months sometimes occurs, after which the employee would normally be expected to return to their previous job. This 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.[citation needed]

Lateral hire may refer to the hiring of someone into a position that is at the same organizational level or salary from another, similar organization or to an employee moving from one position to another within the same organization, possibly luring them with a better salary and the promise of better career opportunities.[citation needed]

Employee referral[edit]

For more details on this topic, see employee referral.

An employee referral program is a system where existing employees recommend prospective candidates for the job offered, and in some organizations if the suggested candidate is hired, the employee receives a cash bonus.[8] 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 (in most cases, 3–6 months). The referral bonus depends on the grade of the referred employee - the higher the grade, the higher the bonus; however, this method is not used for senior-level hiring.[citation needed]


An external recruiter may suit small organizations without the facilities to recruit. Typically, a formal contract for services is negotiated, known in the industry as Recruitment Process Outsourcing. It may involve strategic consulting for talent acquisition, sourcing for select departments or skills, or total outsourcing of the recruiting function.[citation needed]

Job Interview

Employment agencies[edit]

For more details on this topic, see employment agencies.

Employment agencies operate in both the public and private sectors. Publicly funded services have a long history, often having been introduced to mitigate unemployment in economic downturns—such as occurred in the New Deal program in the United States, and the Jobcentre Plus service in the UK.[citation needed]

The commercial recruitment industry strives to provide a candidate to a client for a price. Agencies at one end of the spectrum are paid only if they deliver a candidate that successfully stays with the client beyond an agreed probationary period. Agencies at the other end charge a retainer to focus on a client's needs and achieve milestones in the candidate search, and receive a percentage of the candidate's salary when the candidate stays beyond a probationary period.[citation needed]

The agency recruitment industry is highly competitive, therefore agencies have sought out ways to differentiate themselves and add value by focusing on a particular part of the recruitment life cycle. Most agencies provide a broad range of services, and with the extremes being the traditional providers and the niche operators.

Traditional agency[edit]

A traditional agency historically has had a physical location, where a candidate visits a local branch for a short interview and an assessment before being taken onto the agency’s books. Recruitment consultants 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.[citation needed]

Recruitment Broker[edit]

An agency or consultancy representing multiple "traditional agencies" is called a broker. A client employs the broker who supplies candidates from potentially multiple recruitment agencies. The consultants work to match their pool of candidates to the Brokers' open positions. Suitable candidates are short-listed and put forward for an interview with potential employers on a contract or direct basis. Typically the broker fee is paid by the recruitment agency as a percentage of the placement rather than direct from the client.[citation needed]

Niche recruiters[edit]

'Specialized recruiters' exist to seek staff with a very narrow specialty. These firms can 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. Niche firms tend to focus on building ongoing relationships with their candidates, as the same candidates may be placed many times throughout their careers. Online resources have developed to help find niche recruiters.[9] 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.[10]

Agencies' financial arrangements may take several forms:

  • A contingency fee paid by the company when an agency-introduced candidate accepts a job with the client company. Typical fees range from 15% to 35% based on the candidates first-year base salary (fees as low as 12.5% can be found online[citation needed]). This type of recruitment usually has a rebate or replacement guarantee should the candidate fail to perform or leave within a set period of time (often up to a three-month period and as much as a 100% rebate).
  • An advance payment that serves as a retainer, also paid by the company, is non-refundable and paid in full depending on outcome and success (e.g., 40% up front, 30% in 90 days and the remainder once a search is completed). This form of compensation is generally reserved for high level executive search/headhunters[citation needed]
  • Hourly charge for temporary workers and projects. A negotiated hourly fee in which the agency is paid and then pays the applicant as a consultant for services as a third party. Many contracts allow a consultant to transition to a full-time status upon completion of a certain number of hours with or without a conversion fee.[citation needed]


For more details on this topic, see executive search.

"Executive search firm" and "headhunter" are industry terms for a third-party recruiter who works on behalf of an employer and seeks out candidates for executive and professional positions on their behalf. 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 generate their own lists.

They may arrange a meeting or a formal interview between their client and the candidate, and 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.[citation needed] Headhunters may attend trade shows, college job fairs and other meetings nationally or even internationally that may be attended by potential candidates and hiring managers.[citation needed]

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.

In-house recruiters tend to attract candidates for specific jobs. Headhunters both attract candidates, and actively seek them out. 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.[citation needed] Headhunters are increasingly using social media to find and research candidates, also called social recruiting.[citation needed]

Executive research and resourcing firms[edit]

These firms are the new[when?] hybrid operators in recruitment, discovering passive candidates and making them hires for their clients. They may generate varying degrees of candidate information from people currently engaged in the position a company is looking to fill and provide "passive candidate intelligence" to the recruiting company. These firms may charge a daily rate or fixed fee.[citation needed]

Internet recruitment services[edit]

Recruitment websites[edit]

Recruitment websites typically provide a:

Employers post job vacancies on job boards and candidates can search these postings. Candidates can upload a résumé to the résumé database, which employers can search. Job boards typically charge employers fees for job postings and access to résumé search.

Since the late 1990s, e-recruitment has evolved to encompass end-to-end recruitment. Websites capture candidate details and 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 partly or entirely conduct recruitment electronically.[citation needed]

Online recruitment software helps organizations attract, test, recruit, employ and retain staff with minimal administration. Online recruitment websites can help find candidates who actively look for work and post résumés online. Online sites may not attract "passive" candidates who might respond to opportunities presented through other means. Some candidates actively seeking to change jobs may be hesitant to put résumé on job boards for fear their companies, co-workers, or customers might discover they are looking for other work.[citation needed]

Social recruiting[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Social recruiting.

Social recruiting is the use of social media for recruiting including sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.[11] It is a rapidly growing sourcing technique, especially with middle-aged people. On Google+, the fastest-growing age group is 45–54. On Twitter, the expanding generation is people from ages 55–64.[12]

Mobile social recruiting is rapidly expanding. CareerBuilder ran a survey[when?] of the Fortune 500 companies and discovered that 39% of people in the United States uses tablet computers.[citation needed] Another recent survey done by revealed that 43% of candidates research company policy, culture, and history all within the fifteen-minute time period before an interview begins. However, 80% of Fortune 500 companies fail to use mobile-optimized career sites.[12]

A recent CareerOne article predicts the growth of mobile employee value proposition (EVP) in 2015. Both candidates and employers are expected to increase their use of mobile recruiting in 2015 with a recent CareerOne poll showing that about 25% of respondents do their job searching “mainly by mobile and sometimes by desktop”. Employers will need to continue to invest in optimising their careers site for mobile and develop a mobile plan for recruitment.[13]

Candidate-paid recruiters[edit]

Some recruiters work by accepting payments from job seekers, and in return help them to find a job. This is illegal in some countries, such as in the United Kingdom, in which recruiters must not charge candidates for their services (although websites such as LinkedIn may charge for ancillary job-search-related services). Such recruiters often refer to themselves as "personal marketers" and "job application services" rather than as recruiters.

See also[edit]

Recruiting companies[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Recruitment and induction, Acas. Accessed 10 May 2015
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Hays Quarterly Report Sharing our recruiting know-how, Nick Deligiannis, April - June 2012
  4. ^ Darling, Peter (Aug 2007). "Disabilities and the Workplace". Business NH Magazine 24 (8): 28. 
  5. ^ N/A. "DISCUSSION: ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES, AND STATISTICS". Valdosta State University. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  6. ^ N/A. "Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities". IRS. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Dan Schawbel (15 August 2012). "The Power Within: Why Internal Recruiting & Hiring Are on the Rise". Time. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Editor (15 July 2015). "What is an employee referral program?". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "How to Find Recruiters in Your Niche". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Atlassian’s social hiring spree pays off". iTnews. 
  12. ^ a b Meister, Jeanne (January 6, 2014). "2014: The Year Social HR Matters". Forbes. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ robinson, tess (February 7, 2015). "2015: The Year Social HR Matters". Launch Recruitment. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 

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