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What is Recruitment?

by | Aug 27, 2019 | Top Echelon Blog

There are some words in the English language that hold the same meaning, even if it’s being used in different contexts or circumstances. Recruitment is such a word. That’s why, when you’re exploring the meaning of recruitment, it’s important to clarify the context in which you’re using it.

Since you’re reading this, you’re more than likely an independent, third-party recruiter or search consultant. However, recruitment in business is just one way in which the term is used. There are other circumstances within which the term recruitment operates. However, before we examine those circumstances, let’s address the broad, yet simple, definition of the word.

What is recruitment?

Basically, recruitment is the action or process by which a person or people convince another person or group of people to join an organization and/or support a cause. There are, of course, a variety of ways that this can happen. In other words, the tools of recruitment can and do differ. What works for one person or group of people does not necessarily work for another. Makes sense, right?

The bottom line, though, is that a coercion of sorts takes place. A person or group of people who were not part of an organization and/or were not supporting a cause prior to the recruiting process are now part of the organization and/or supporting a cause. It’s the classic cause-and-effect relationship. The recruiting process causes an end result.

So now that we have a broad, yet simple definition of recruitment, let’s examine the three main situations involved with the term (with recruitment in business included):

Recruitment in the armed forces

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Everybody is at least generally aware that the armed forces of the United States engages in recruitment. You may have even been successfully recruited by a branch of the armed forces and served. Or, you may at least have been in a recruiting office. OR you may have been an armed forces recruiter before becoming a third-party agency recruiter. (There have been some members of Top Echelon’s recruiting network who have traveled that career path.)

Recruitment in athletics

This happens primarily at the college level, whereby colleges actively recruit high school athletes to participate in their program. (And also enroll at their university, although how many classes athletes actually attend can vary from program to program.) However, recruitment also occurs in professional sports, when athletes are free agents. Teams actively court these athletes with the hopes of signing them to a contract. And yes, to a lower degree, recruitment even happens at the high school level, whereby coaches recruit students to change school districts for athletic reasons.

Recruitment in business (employee recruitment)

Okay, this is where the real action is. At least, the action in which you’re the most interested. In terms of the business world and the employment marketplace, recruitment is the process by which a company or organization identifies, recruits, and hires candidates, with those candidates becoming employees of the company or organization.

However, it should be noted that an employer can recruit either an internal candidate or an external candidate. Recruitment is still being done in both cases. The only difference is that with an external candidate, the employer is recruiting them to switch jobs and also possibly switch roles. With an internal candidate, the company or organization obviously already employs them. As a result, they’re simply recruiting them to change jobs or switch roles. However, recruitment is still occurring.

What is recruitment in business?

Sure, recruitment could refer solely to the process of recruiting candidates and that’s it. Recruitment could mean recruiting, and hiring could mean hiring. However, for the purposes of this argument—and this blog post—recruitment includes hiring. It includes the entire hiring, in fact, from beginning to end. When you write the job ad, you’re recruiting. When you conduct a phone screen, you’re recruiting. And of course, when you’re interviewing, you’re recruiting, too.

This leads to a logical question. It sounds like recruiting is a lot like selling. Is that the case?

Yes, that is absolutely the case! Recruiting = sales and sales = recruiting. If you’re an independent, third-party recruiting agency, then your clients should be “selling” candidates all the way through the hiring process. This is especially the case in a candidate-driven market like the one we’re currently experiencing. There is a shortage of qualified candidates in most industries and niches. They have the leverage. They have to be “sold” on an employment opportunity in order to consider it.

Why is recruitment so hard?

Anybody who has ever recruited knows that recruitment is no easy. In fact, it’s difficult. And that’s under the best of circumstances. That’s why recruitment requires a degree of skill that not everybody possesses.

Why is recruitment so hard? Below are just some of the reasons why this is the case:

  • As mentioned above, there is a shortage of qualified candidates in most industries. The members of the Baby Boomer Generation are retiring in droves, and there are not enough people to replace them. This is why current conditions are often referred to as “The War for Talent.”
  • Because this is a candidates’ market, all job seekers and candidates have more opportunities and options. This is especially the case for the top candidates. Because of this, there is almost no margin for error during the hiring process. If an employer makes a recruitment mistake, it increases the chances that the employer will not hire the candidates that it wants to hire.
  • Even if a top candidate does not drop out of the hiring process, an employer will have to offer more in the way of starting salary, benefits, and other perks in order to successfully recruit and hire that top candidate.
  • Regardless of the state of the employment marketplace, successful recruitment requires a considerable investment of time, energy, and effort. (And in a candidate-driven market, it requires far more than just posting online job advertisements.)
  • Some employers do not have a well-defined, streamlined, and efficient hiring process. Instead, they have a process that is bloated, often chaotic, and ill-suited for identifying and recruiting the top candidates in the marketplace, much less hiring them.

There are more reasons for why recruitment is difficult. For brevity’s sake, we’re not going to list all of them here. But the reasons outlined above are the major ones, the ones that affect the hiring efforts of employers the most.

And successful recruiting is not a one-time deal. Hiring the right candidate once or twice is not enough. To enjoy real recruitment success, an employer must hire consistently well. What does this mean? It means that if a company or organization makes 10 hires, eight or nine of them should be great hires. (And the other two should be good—or merely average, at the very worst.)

This is exactly why some employers turn to independent, third-party agencies to do the recruitment for them. The reason they do so is because they lack the following:

  • Personnel
  • Resources
  • Time
  • The proper connections in the employment marketplace
  • Recruiting expertise

Sure, bigger organizations have the resources to build entire departments dedicated to the task of recruitment. However, not every employer is afforded that luxury. That’s why hiring the services of a third-party recruiting agency is such an attractive option.

Because then, the employer can ensure that they have the opportunity to hire the best candidate in the marketplace, all without having to sacrifice productivity (and profitability) anywhere else within the organization.

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