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Full Cycle Recruiting: What Is It and Who Should Be Doing It?

Kristin Bachman
7 min read

What is full cycle recruiting? Who should be doing it? Why is it good, and what’s the business case? And perhaps most importantly, if you do want to deploy a hiring infrastructure like this, what are some of the trademarks of a good full cycle recruiter?

Full cycle recruiting isn’t easy, but it can be a great way to find quality talent when it’s done well. What does quality full cycle recruiting look like? Let’s dive in. 

Quick definition: what is full cycle recruiting?

Full cycle recruiting (sometimes called “end-to-end recruiting” or “full life cycle recruiting”) refers to the recruiting process in its entirety, and it’s usually used to describe a person or (often) a recruiting agency that can plan and execute the entire recruiting process from start to finish.

In other words, a full cycle recruiter will likely start the recruiting process from zero and end their job after a qualified candidate is onboarded. 

The main difference between full cycle recruiting and other kinds of recruiting is that full cycle recruiting houses all components of the recruitment process in one place. The alternative is a fragmented approach, where each part of the recruiting process, such as sourcing, scheduling or screening, are handled by a specialist. You might see this in larger companies with more internal resources to allocate to the recruiting process, while full cycle recruiting might be more common in small- to mid-sized companies. 

Who uses full cycle recruiting?

Full cycle recruiting takes place in many scenarios, but these are among the most common:

  • Businesses hiring full cycle recruiting agencies
  • Smaller businesses hiring a single, in-house full cycle recruiter

Use case #1: full cycle recruiting agencies. Businesses with internal HR resources that don’t have the capacity for recruiting might turn to a specialized recruitment agency to do the job of finding, screening, and hiring quality talent. Often, it’s more efficient to let the agency handle the entirety of the full recruitment cycle than it is to keep a portion of those responsibilities in-house.

Use case #2: in-house full cycle recruiters. In other cases, usually for small- to mid-sized organizations, a company hires a single individual as an in-house full cycle recruiter. This person would be responsible for the same duties of a full cycle recruiting agency, but on a smaller scale. 

Find out just how much do recruitment agencies charge?

What does it look like?

No matter what, full cycle recruiting means executing the recruiting process from end to end. However, depending on who you ask, that can vary by industry, company, or department. 

A general overview of the recruitment methods involved in full cycle recruiting include the following: 

Phase 1: Attracting talent

  • Outlining the position. The full cycle recruiting process starts by outlining the position that needs to be filled. This is often referred to as “identifying the talent gap.” This is the phase in which salary budgets are set and job descriptions are written. 
  • Sourcing quality candidates. There are so many places recruiters can find candidates, it’s almost fruitless to mention just a few. But this is when recruiters might start pulling on those levers—whether it’s a job board or a social platform—to start conversations with potential candidates or to collect applications and resumes. A good recruitment agency might also be able to leverage internal databases to source qualified candidates.

Phase 2: Selection

  • Screening candidates. Here, a recruiter will start narrowing down the candidate pool using criteria defined when outlining the positing that needed to be filled. Quality screening can significantly reduce the recruiting workload downstream, so this is also where a good recruiter might lean on smart, current technology to streamline the screening process.
  • Interviewing candidates. After the pool of applicants has been screened, a full cycle recruiter then conducts interviews or works with a hiring manager to conduct interviews. 

Phase 3: Hiring

  • Extending an offer. After a final candidate is selected, a full cycle recruiter can move directly to the offer phase, which might include compensation benchmarking, salary and benefits negotiations, career development planning, and serving as a liaison between the candidate and the company to help set reasonable expectations on both sides. 
  • Onboarding. Finally, a good full cycle recruiter will likely help facilitate (or at least be present for) the onboarding process.

Never worked with a recruitment agency before? Here’s everything you need to  know.

Why should you be doing full cycle recruiting?

So, that’s what full cycle recruiting is.

But what’s the business case? Why should you be doing full cycle recruiting? 

There are plenty of benefits to full cycle recruiting, especially for small- to mid-sized operations who don’t have the budget or operational muscle to break the recruiting process into specialized roles. 

But for most companies who adopt this strategy, there are two primary benefits: (1) it consolidates the recruiting process, and (2) it produces a better candidate experience.

Let’s dig into those a bit more.

The central benefit: it consolidates the recruiting process.

Perhaps the most important benefit of full cycle recruiting is that it consolidates the recruitment process into a single entity (in the case of an agency) or a single role (in the case of a in-house recruiter). 

And it doesn’t just consolidate processes. It consolidates almost everything.

First, it consolidates accountability. If all recruiting tasks are in the same bucket, everyone knows who’s responsible for the next step, which can drastically increase the efficiency of the overall workflow. It can also make it easier to identify missteps or inefficiencies. 

Second, it consolidates vision and strategy. If the same agency is taking care of the recruiting process from start to finish, it is easier to create and maintain a central recruiting vision. But even more importantly, it is easier for the recruiter or agency to integrate hiring objectives into larger business objectives. 

It also consolidates data. When one recruiter or agency works with a single recruiting project, they may likely be generating, organizing, analyzing, and storing all of the data for that campaign. Aside from the straightforward organizational efficiency this produces, it also makes it easier for recruiters to access past candidates who may not have been the right fit for one position, but may be a good fit for another.

Lastly, it consolidates relationships. If one recruiter runs multiple recruiting campaigns for a company, not only can they start to build a database of good candidates, they can also build relationships with past candidates, which can make up part of the intangible toolkit that separates a good recruiter from a great recruiter. 

But it also improves the candidate experience.

It's impersonal to be handed from one person to another as if you’re a car moving down an assembly line, but that’s what the experience of being hired can feel like: every time you make it further in the hiring process, you’re talking to a new person who has new information and new tasks. 

Full cycle recruiting produces a more personalized experience; instead of being passed from one desk to another, candidates have a single point of contact from the moment they start the hiring conversation to the first day of their job. 

And this can have a positive impact on the bottom line:

  • It can reduce “buyers remorse” a new employee might feel if their experience is too impersonal;
  • It can increase a new employee’s sense of community and belonging, which can reduce turnover and increase productivity
  • And it can make negotiations smoother, reducing time-to-hire (which is vital, since unfilled positions are costly).

Things a good full cycle recruiter should be doing

While there can be a great business case for full cycle recruiting, it also means leaning more heavily on one recruiter or agency. And that, in turn, means that whichever recruiter is doing the job needs to be doing it well. 

What’s it mean for full cycle recruiting to be done well? Of course, every recruiter is different, and “good” can mean lots of things, but here are a few common trademarks of an engaged, invested full cycle recruiter.

They should work with hiring managers, and they should be involved early.

A good full cycle recruiter will usually be involved early on, and they’ll probably want to be working closely with the hiring manager. Working with a hiring manager from the get-go allows a full cycle recruiter to do just about everything better. 

It allows for a better understanding of the position to be filled. It helps them understand culture for a specific team. It gives the hiring manager an early opportunity to outline things they value in a candidate. 

In short, early communication between full cycle recruiters and hiring managers helps create a clearer picture of who the ideal candidate is, and the recruiter can carry this with them through the full hiring cycle. 

Perhaps most importantly, it creates an ongoing dialogue between the manager who needs to hire someone and the entity helping them find that person, which streamlines the process and reduces time-to-hire

Learn how Bellhops saved $12,500 in hiring costs by recruiting their CFO with  Hunt Club.

They should be technology-enabled and technology-forward.

If one recruiter is managing the full recruitment cycle, that usually means that recruiter has a lot of balls in the air. So, full cycle recruiting necessitates not only a strong understanding of what recruiting technologies exist, but also a technological savvy and a willingness to adopt emergent technologies that can help recruiters do their jobs better and more efficiently.

A recruiter working with an employer focused on hiring a diverse workforce, for example, might be familiar with apps that analyze language used in job posts and tells recruiters which demographics the copy used in their posts might be most likely to attract.

Or, our platform, for instance, leverages the power of referrals and relationships to find qualified candidates (we also wrote an eBook about it).

There’s no shortage of recruiting technologies out there, and full cycle recruiters typically need to have a better grasp on the technological recruiting landscape than specialists do. And good full cycle recruiters often have a “stack” of preferred technologies they’re already using and familiar with. 

They should help with onboarding.

A recent study notes that, “the average company is losing 1 in 6 of their new hires each month for the first three months.” In other words, onboarding can make the difference between having to spend all that money hiring another employee and retaining the quality candidate you found the first time. 

Good full cycle recruiters will help. They should understand that, for candidates who are in the middle of the hiring process, they’re usually the acting “face” of the company, and it can be jarring for the person you’ve been interacting while you were being hired to disappear. 

A full cycle recruiter who’s invested in onboarding might take on responsibilities like:

  • Assisting with the transition from recruiting to onboarding and ensuring it’s timely and smooth
  • Helping hiring managers create engaging onboarding processes
  • Removing frustration by helping candidates tackle hiring paperwork
  • Checking in with candidates a few weeks after being hired

Wrapping it up

Full cycle recruiting, when done well, can attract high quality talent, consolidate recruiting processes and relationships, create a better hiring experience for candidates, reduce time-to-hire, and decrease immediate turnover. 

That said, it’s not easy, and it can be difficult to hire full cycle recruiters in-house, which is why lots of companies hire agencies to recruit for them. Agencies have all the pieces of a good recruiting machine in place: the people, the processes, the technology, the databases, and the relationships. 

And that’s what we do. We can help you source, screen, interview, negotiate, and hire.

Want help managing your next recruiting cycle? 

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