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The Different Recruitment Processes And When to Use Them

different recruitment processes

It’s been quite an unsettled period in business recently and hiring has been stop/start at best.

For many companies trying to ramp things up, they’re looking at other recruitment processes to assist them. But, how do you know which option is the right one?

The last few years have been turbulent for recruitment. In 2020, the pandemic forced many companies to scale down their talent teams while everything was up in the air. The majority of ompanies stopped hiring or hugely scaled back until things settled down.

The remaining members of talent teams kept things ticking over, making vital hires, and ensuring recruitment stayed on the right track during “the great shut down.”

Teams were forced to do more with less and make hiring process resources stretch to a changing market.

The Ramp Up

Then companies began to ramp back up. They realised that their hiring was backed up, they needed to get great people in, and their HR team needed to get new employees fast.

But it’s not easy to just start hiring prospective candidates. Before businesses could start building their teams, they need the people in place to do it.

With the average interview process taking 27 days and adding on time for job descriptions and candidate searches, it’s not a quick process.

The Downturn

Now, we’re in an economic downturn and the old rules seem to have gone out of the window.

While we’d normally expect plenty of candidates to be on the market in an economic period like we’re currently experiencing, that’s not the case.

The Market Has Flipped

The market has changed drastically. Potential candidates are now the ones in charge and the top talent is still in high demand. They’re still being propositioned by recruiters daily and businesses are still struggling to find the best talent.

While many talent teams have scaled back up, there’s also a recruiter shortage to deal with and the recruiter recruitment process is long and arduous.

Stretched talent teams now need to spend more time finding and engaging top talent, all while training new people, and doing their day-to-day jobs.

Candidates Want More

Additionally, candidates are demanding more from recruiters and businesses. They want a positive candidate experience, not one they have to endure. When they’re in the engagement phase, candidates no longer respond to impersonal messages with a general job description.

They want to know they’re actually someone the business wants to talk to – not just that their skills matched up on LinkedIn.

Better Communications

It’s no longer acceptable to leave candidates hanging at various points in an effective recruitment process. They want to receive updates regularly from their main contact and they want good communication throughout, from initial engagement to the job offer.

The hiring team taking weeks to get from job description to engagement to the interview process just doesn’t cut it with today’s candidates.

They see it as a negative example of company culture and a qualified candidate will just move to the next offer.

Turning to Outside Partners For Help

All these factors have led talent teams to reach out to recruitment agencies to help them in their search for top potential candidates and to improve their hiring process.

But it can be difficult to know where to start, with multiple recruitment processes, and many many recruiters.

(A quick LinkedIn search reveals two million people with “recruiter” in their job title…)

The Big Questions

How does a hiring manager know what type will be an effective recruitment process?

Which will work best with their internal recruitment teams?

How can you tell an effective recruitment and selection process from an ineffective one?

Is there a way to tell if they’ll be able to meet their hiring needs?

Can they assist with internal employee referrals or promoting existing employees?

Changes Are Still Ongoing

It doesn’t look like the recruitment industry is going to slow down soon. In the last few years we’ve gone from a reliance on “spray and pray” and job boards to a more intelligence-led approach. And the changes will continue.

Not All Recruiters Are Made Equal in a Recruitment Process

More than a job description and a laptop

It’s become a lot easier to “be a recruiter” since the advent of the internet and the digital age. Anyone with a laptop and a phone can put out a job description, gather CVs, send them to businesses, and call themselves a recruiter.

An Unregulated Industry

There are no industry-wide qualifications and recruitment is an unregulated industry. While different recruitment people and agencies will have different practises, there aren’t official guidelines or rules for any recruitment process.

But that doesn’t mean that every recruiter is winging it or doing the bare minimum to get by. Far from it. Most recruiters are hard-working professionals who want the best from their clients.

Recruitment has moved on a lot from the “spray and pray” age and many recruiters are methodical, data-driven, and conscentious.

What Are The Main Processes?

There are thousands of recruiters in the UK alone, tens of thousands in Europe and the US, and each will have their own specific recruitment process and recruitment strategy. However, there are traditionally three main types of recruitment:


The selection process that most people think about when they think of recruiting. Hiring managers pass their open roles out to various recruiters and see who can get them the best (or fastest) suitable candidates.

No Win No Fee Recruitment Process

If your role doesn’t get filled by the recruiter, the company doesn’t pay anything.

This type of recruiting is usually used for volume hiring or for lower-level jobs where there will be many candidates qualified for the role. As you move up the skills chain, there are less qualified candidates and contingent becomes much less useful.


Retained recruiters work exclusively on one (or multiple) roles for a business.

Retained recruiters will do both volume hiring and more in-depth searches but they are often time constrained and will be working on many roles at once.

Few Guarantees

They are generally billed on providing a shortlist of qualified candidates from a job description, not on actually placing people, and at least a portion of the fee is paid upfront.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

This is when businesses outsource part or all of their recruitment process steps, from candidate engagement and employee referral program, to their interview process, to another business.

They may even conduct interviews with the talent pool, manage the applicant tracking system, and assist with the onboarding process for each new employee.

In RPO, the recruiters usually work on a long-term contract and the payment is usually made upfront, meaning the company is locked into the contract.

Embedded Recruitment

Embedded recruitment is a more bespoke version of RPO, allowing companies to outsource some or all of their recruitment process to an outside company.

How embedded differs is that it’s more bespoke to the business. Rather than being tied into muli-year contracts, embedded recruitment can be for shorter periods of a few months to a year.

You’re in Control

Embedded recruitment also doesn’t involve the outside company taking over part of your recruiting. Instead, you can contract from one recruiter to many to integrate as part of your team and help in the areas most needed.

Your business is still in charge, you just don’t need to deal with hiring new recruiters or training them on technical competencies, they simply help flex your team when it’s needed. 

Recruitment Process Intelligence

Rather than another type of recruitment, Recruitment Process Intelligence (RPI) is a methodology for getting the right hire, first time every time.

A Methodology For Any Process

Used to hire single business critical roles or for longer term embedded projects, Recruitment Process Intelligence takes data and intelligence, inside specific processes, providing recruiters with the framework for success.

How Do You Know Which Recruitment Process to Use?

Companies will have different needs at different times. And different types of businesses will have needs for different roles.

While for non-business critical roles, you might choose a contingent recruiter as a back up if your own team can’t succeed, you’ll need something with a more indepth, effective recruitment process for business critical roles where you need highly qualified candidates.

And it’s worth considering how each type of recruitment will work with your internal team.

If they’ll compliment how you recruit candidates and if they’ll either work with you to improve your own recruitment plan, or not.

Find out about all the different recruitment processes and when to use them in our new ebook, explaining how Contingent, Retained, RPO, and RPI all work.

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