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Hiring 101: What Does a Recruiter Do?

Kristin Bachman
4 min read

If your business has hiring needs of any sort, using the services of a recruiter can fast track the sourcing, interviewing, and onboarding processes, making a typically tedious experience a relatively stress-free and enjoyable one, both for the hiring manager and candidate.

From a business’s perspective, recruiters play an equally important role. Executives and HR departments often lack the time, resources, and expertise to commit to the hiring process. By assigning these duties to a recruiter—whether internally or externally—the company can often save money and make a better hire.

The roles and responsibilities of a recruiter

Put simply, a recruiter works for a company or recruiting agency to match viable candidates with open positions. Depending on the type of recruiter, these duties can range from filling a couple of job openings to working more than 40 positions at a time. However, strong recruiters take on many additional responsibilities as part of their role in talent acquisition. 

Relationship-building and networking 

The relationships in a recruiter’s network are critical to finding the right candidate at the right time, so they work to develop trusted relationships with candidates, hiring managers and their peers. When a recruiter cultivates trusted relationships with potential candidates, those candidates are more likely to be interested in a position when it becomes available. Recruiters meet candidates by networking, attending recruitment events and staying in touch with candidates they’ve worked with in the past. 

Recruiters also rely on relationships to secure referrals. When hiring for a hard-to-fill position, asking for referrals from their own professional network or an established expert network, can be the difference in landing the perfect candidate. 

Sourcing and screening talent

When a recruiter receives a new job requisition, he or she uses a wide range of recruitment methods to identify top talent who could be a fit for the role. Sourcing is the process of searching for and contacting candidates who may fulfill the qualifications for the open position. To source candidates, the recruiter will: 

  • Post the role on the company career site and online job boards 
  • Search for talent with the right skills on LinkedIn
  • Explore their company’s internal candidate database 
  • Reach out to their network and current employees for referrals 

After identifying a pool of potentially qualified candidates through these methods, recruiters contact the top candidates and learn more about them through an initial phone or video call. During this initial recruiter screen, the recruiter seeks to understand the candidate’s background, experience and skills, and gauge their interest in the role. A recruiter may also ask the candidate about compensation expectations and discuss any relocation that may be necessary for the position.  

Preparing for and conducting interviews 

Following sourcing and screening, a recruiter identifies a smaller pool of top candidates and coordinates with the hiring manager, candidate and interview team to settle on dates and times for interviews. Many recruiters employ scheduling software to streamline the interview scheduling process.

In addition to coordinating interview times, recruiters also work closely with candidates and hiring managers to prepare each for the interview. Prior to the interview, recruiters partner with the hiring team to:

  • Ensure each member of the team understands the role, the need for the position and the skills needed to succeed in the job. 
  • Present each candidate and walk through the qualifications the recruiter has identified that makes them a potential fit. The recruiter may also share their notes from the screening call to provide the hiring manager a deeper understanding of the candidate. 
  • Help prepare candidate interview questions that will inform the hiring team’s decision of whether or not to advance the candidate. When multiple people are interviewing a candidate, a recruiter works with the hiring team to ensure each person is prepared to ask unique questions. 

Recruiters also work with candidates to ensure they have all the information they need for their interview, including:

  • Date, time and location of the interview
  • Attire
  • A list of interview team members
  • Any requirements to prepare before the interview, such as a presentation or technical test 

Take a deep dive into how recruitment agencies work in this step-by-step  overview.

Extending and negotiating job offers 

The recruiter often hosts a debrief meeting following candidate interviews to understand the hiring team’s evaluation of each potential employee and qualifications for the role. During this meeting, they discuss each candidate’s experience and decide who will be the best fit for the position. 

When a candidate is selected to move forward and receive an offer, the recruiter reaches out to share the exciting news and extend an offer. The recruiter negotiates salary expectations and shares company benefit information, and ultimately, secures an accepted offer! 

Keeping in touch between offer and onboarding  

When an offer is accepted, the recruiter works closely with HR to ensure a seamless onboarding experience for the candidate. A strong recruiter maintains close contact with the candidate until his or her first day, acting as the candidate’s point-person for any questions and ensuring the candidate is excited and prepared to join the company.  

Prioritizing the candidate experience 

Throughout every step of the hiring process, top recruiters never lose sight of the candidate experience. More than 80% of candidates say that a negative interviewing experience directly impacts their decision to accept a role, so recruiters take steps to ensure the best experience for every candidate. 

Offering a positive candidate experience may include: 

  • Being transparent about next steps and the timeline for the interview process
  • Following up with candidates in a timely manner
  • Offering constructive feedback even if a candidate is not the right fit for the current role. This can make that individual four times more likely to consider applying again in the future. 

Staying up-to-date on market trends

On top of sourcing, interviewing and building relationships, recruiters must also be experts on the industry for which they recruit. They need to understand market compensation rates, skills needed for specific roles and the best places to find top candidates in the industry. The best recruiters are also data-driven, examining the success of sourcing channels, tracking time-to-fill and testing candidate outreach messages to continue to refine their recruitment methods and hire the best talent, faster. 


Types of recruiters

Hiring needs vary from business to business, as do the resources that can be allocated to filling open roles. It’s important for businesses to be familiar with different types of recruiters so that they can hire one who can help the company attract and acquire the best talent available.

Internal recruiters

As keeping internal recruiters on staff can be expensive for a company without significant hiring needs, they are typically only used by larger companies that have a constant need for new hires. These in-house recruiters are considered to be on par with other employees, receiving a salary accompanied by benefits.

Staffing agency or contract recruiters

Contract recruiters are used by small and large companies alike and are beneficial for companies that are looking for a temporary employee. The hired employee works for the contracting agency directly, and his or her main point of contact is the recruiter.

Contingency recruiters

Contingency recruiters are the solution for companies that are looking for a contract to hire an employee before making a commitment. Like contract recruiters, contingency recruiters will handle the interviewing and onboarding processes.

Retained search firms

A retained recruiter is usually a part of a retaining agency, in which the client company will pay an initial sum before the recruiter or headhunter begins his or her search. The final sum is paid after a candidate is hired.

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