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36 Types of Recruiting

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Recruiting is the process of attracting, assessing and hiring talent. It is considered a fundamental element of competitive advantage as firms are a reflection of their employees. The following are common approaches to recruiting.

Hiring at Scale

Viewing employees in a profession as more or less interchangeable such that recruiting is focused on minimizing time and cost as opposed to discovering talent. For example, a bank that hires 500 software developers in the space of a few months such that anyone with proper qualifications and a reasonable interview is hired.

Hire at the Bottom

Hiring candidates for entry level positions and mostly promoting from within for management and specialized roles. This is a common approach for large firms in cultures with a lifetime system of employment whereby people tend to stay with a company for their entire careers.

Talent Sourcing

Developing and evaluating sources for talent. For example, a recruiting team that finds that a particular industry event is a good place to build relationships with candidates with difficult to find skills.

Relationship Building

Generally speaking, recruiters are expected to develop a large number of relationships with talent sources, industry influencers and potential candidates by attending events and using communication tools such as social media or a telephone.

Talent Prospecting

Using talent sources to identify potential candidates, build relationships and determine if they are qualified for a role.

Recruiting Events

Attending or hosting recruiting events that allow you to connect with candidates to have an initial conversation.

Passive Candidates

Strategies that seek candidates who are not looking for a job. This includes recruiting employees who are content with their current position and candidates who aren't partipating in the job market such as retirees.

College Recruiting

Developing relationships with universities, colleges and other education institutions to hire new graduates. It is common for a firm to have a close relationship with a set of schools. In some cases, a firm may also identify programs and classes that repeatedly yield successful candidates.

Internship Programs

Programs that offer roles for a limited period of time to students and other candidates who want to develop work experience. This has a variety of ethical implications. For example, some firms don't pay interns, overwork them or give them work that doesn't represent valuable experience. A well designed internship program offers high value to participants in terms of experience without taking advantage of their inexperience to overwork them. Extending a job offer to interns who perform well is a common practice.

Research Programs

Firms may engage and support research and development programs as a way to build relationships with emerging talent in a field. For example, a firm may sponsor research in robotics and artificial intelligence to build relationships with students and researchers in these areas.

Accepting Resumes

Accepting unsolicited inquiries from candidates, particularly resume submissions. Firms may immediately evaluate such inquiries for top talent, even if they aren't hiring. It is a poor practice to collect such submissions without consideration as they quickly grow stale.

Candidate Databases

Acquiring data about potential candidates, such as resumes and contact data. It is considered a poor practice to develop dark data that doesn't get used as this can become a compliance risk. For example, the risk of a data breach.

Data-driven Recruiting

Firms may compare the performance of employees over the first few years by recruiting source or method. For example, a firm may find that a particular school, event or interviewing technique has lead to unusually high performing hires.

Recruiting Pipeline

Viewing the recruiting process as a pipeline including stages such as prospecting, interviewing, selection, hiring and onboarding. Typically used to manage a large recruiting effort as you may need dozens of prospects for each hire. This requires planning as the process from prospect to onboarding can take several months.

Job Descriptions

The quality of job descriptions has a significant impact on the recruiting process. Top talent are primarily motivated by work itself and will avoid opportunities that sound uninteresting. Job descriptions are also the basis for interviewing and selection such that an inaccurate description produces a poor match.

Job Posts

Advertising available positions to the public and/or internally.

Skills Inventory

Developing a model of the skills you need and tracking your current capabilities in each area. For example, a development team may find that they have ample coding skills but are badly lacking information security capabilities.

Assessment Testing

Tests of aptitude, knowledge and attitude. These may be company specific tests designed to gauge a candidate's understanding of first principles in an industry. Alternatively, a firm may administer standard tests such as an IQ test.


A series of conversations designed to explore a candidate's knowledge, past performance and attitudes. It is common for each candidate to be interviewed by at least three different individuals or teams. Interviewers score candidates to produce a shortlist with the final call going to the hiring manager.

Culture Fit

Some firms hire primarily based on a candidate's ability to fit in with a firm's culture. For example, a firm may prefer candidates who are open minded risk takers as opposed to risk adverse and opinionated.

Intellectual Diversity

The opposite strategy of culture fit that seeks candidates with strong independent characters who all think differently. This prevents groupthink and may be the basis for creativity as an organization.

Internal Recruitment

Filling positions by promoting employees. Some firms mandate that employees be given an equal or preferred opportunity to apply for open positions.

Recruiting Partners

The use of recruiting companies to find candidates. As independent third parties, such firms can approach the employees of your competitors more easily. They may also have far deeper networks of connections than your human resources department.


The act of recruiting a current employee of a competitor. Many firms prefer candidates who work for a competitor. However, poaching has negative connotations as it can be viewed in the light of intellectual property rights and the knowledge that gets transferred with an employee. As such, firms that aggressively poach may risk a counter response from the target competitor. Poaching can become extremely aggressive and negative. For example, a firm may poach employees simply to hurt a competitor when they have no need of the employee's skills. This is known as "hire to hurt."

Lift Outs

Recruiting entire teams at the same time. For example, a firm that tries to hire the entire digital marketing team of a competitor by offering unusually high salaries. This is an aggressive type of poaching that risks a response from competitors that can include strategies well beyond the scope of human resources such as a price war. As such, aggressive poaching requires the support and blessing of senior management.


Acquiring a firm in order to employee their talent. This can be a friendly alternative to poaching. However, this can also be controversial because it often involves laying off employees, discarding products and abandoning the customers of the target firm.

Counter Cycle Hiring

Hiring during a low season for employment such as a retailer who hires after Christmas to enjoy a bigger pool of candidates.

Contingent Workforce

Hiring casual, freelance and temporary workers to meet current demand or to avoid the costs of full time employment such as benefits.

International Hiring

Recruiting on an international basis to tap sources of talent or to reduce salary costs.


Outsourcing is a common alternative to hiring. Recruiting may begin by comparing the costs and advantages of a full time position with outsourcing alternatives. Outsourcing can also be used as a stopgap measure when a position can't be filled in time.


Competitions can be used as a means of identifying up and coming talent. For example, a sporting goods company that holds a product design contest with the idea that several shortlisted entries might end up being attractive candidates for a design role.

Employee Referrals

Asking employees to introduce candidates in return for a referral bonus if they are hired. It is common for executives in particular, to introduce a large number of candidates. This can risk a bozo explosion if such candidates aren't thoroughly vetted.

Recruiting Culture

Shifting responsibility for recruiting to all staff. This is typically in the form of an aggressive employee referrals program that encourages employees to build relationships and discover candidates.

Wanted List

Developing a shortlist of the talent you would most like to hire. For example, an firm that identifies a dozen brilliant product designers in its industry. Attempts are then made to establish relationships with talent or find recruiters who have existing relationships that can be used to engage them.

Candidate Experience

Candidates commonly report negative recruiting experiences in social media, employment forums and employer rating sites. For example, candidates may complain of invasive questioning, poor communications and failure to meet commitments such as canceled interviews. Each candidate you don't hire goes on to work in your industry for many years. Some may go on to become influencers and leaders that hit your wanted list. As such, firms may take steps to measure and improve the recruiting process from the perspective of candidates.

Employer Branding

Developing your reputation as an employer and firm such that talent are naturally attracted to work for you. This is based both on your brand and reputation in areas such as working conditions, work-life balance and sustainability. There is often a great deal of social status attached to working for a top employer that motivates candidates beyond salary and benefits.
Overview: Recruiting
The process of attracting, assessing and hiring talent.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about recruiting.
Contingent Workforce
Culture Fit
Human Resources
Passive Candidates
Selection Criteria
More ...
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