Hiring Managers vs. Recruiters: What’s the Difference?

IGNW has been working with companies for years as a preferred recruiting and staffing entity. When it comes down to getting your foot in the door of a new company, you’ll notice that you’ll be working with recruiters and hiring managers. So what is the difference between the two? Glassdoor has provided some hints on how to decipher between the two and what you need to know about interacting with both parties.


If you own or manage a business, you probably already know that your organization’s success depends on hiring the right candidates. After all, it’s your employees who keep the day-to-day operations of your business running. In order to attract, vet, hire and onboard talent, though, you’re going to need to work closely with two key parties: hiring managers and recruiters. But what’s the difference between these two roles, and what does each one do? Allow us to explain!

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What Does a Hiring Manager Do?

A hiring manager is, as the name suggests, the manager who is hiring for an open position on their team. For example, a Director of Sales looking for an Account Executive who will directly report to them would be a hiring manager. Generally, hiring managers are in charge of defining and scoping out a role — it’s on them to identify the skills and qualifications a new hire needs, the tasks and responsibilities they will take ownership of and the bigger-picture goals and milestones they will be working toward. Typically, a hiring manager will team up with a recruiter to share all of this information before the hiring process begins. At this point, they may write up their own job description or ask the recruiter to create one based off of their previous discussion. From there, the recruiter is usually the one who actively sources candidates, but the hiring manager will likely be pulled in to read resumes and interview promising candidates. Although other employees may be pulled into the interview loop, it is usually the hiring manager who has the ultimate approval over whether or not to hire a candidate.

What Does a Recruiter Do?

Although a hiring manager plays an active role in the hiring process, it’s usually not their full-time job. Whether they work in finance, customer service, sales, IT or human resources, their primary duty is to leverage their own area of expertise to contribute towards the company. Recruiters, on the other hand, spend day in and day out working to identify, attract and hire great employees. This might involve tasks like searching for qualified candidates, reaching out to them, reading resumes, conducting phone screens, scheduling interviews and more. While hiring managers are responsible for people — that is, evaluating and ultimately managing candidates — recruiters are responsible for the process of hiring overall.

Collaboration: The Key to Success

Because recruiters and hiring managers play different but complementary roles in hiring employees, the better aligned they are, the smoother the process will be. Below are a few ideas on how recruiters and hiring managers can best work together.

1. Hold a Thorough Intake

The initial meeting between the recruiter and hiring manager that sets expectations for the search — often called the “intake” — kicks off the recruiting process. Hiring managers should educate recruiters about their team and the function the role will play within it while also specifying the desired qualifications and experience. This gives recruiters a place to start by narrowing the search parameters, and gives them the background knowledge they need to successfully engage with candidates. In turn, recruiters can help establish a timeline and define the overall recruiting strategy.

While you might think that skipping an intake session will save time, it can ultimately increase the time-to-hire by sending your recruiter on a wild goose chase, so don’t do it!

2. Sell the Company

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Recruiting should be treated as a top priority with the same dedication as any other business project. Your company doesn’t exist without your people, so recruiting is an essential part of your business strategy. Encourage the recruiter and hiring manager collaborating on a given requisition to widen their reach by communicating to everyone on their teams, at the company and in their network about their hiring needs.

Every interaction with a candidate is a chance to sell your company, whether you end up hiring the candidate or not. In this step, recruiters and hiring managers must act like salespeople: never stop selling. A candidate might have referrals or may even turn out to be a client down the road. The best teams are formed by the companies that can sell the culture and opportunity at hand.

3. Create a Culture of Communication

To be as effective and efficient as possible, recruiters and hiring managers must be in constant contact with one another. A great way to do this is to debrief after every interview. This feedback can be in whatever form of communication they prefer — phone, Skype, in person — as long as it actually happens. This kind of constant communication will help both recruiters and hiring managers to stay on top of market challenges, applicant expectations and competitors. But if feedback is delayed or non-existent, it can result in postponing interview scheduling, hiring decisions and ultimately onboarding new hires.

And of course, open communication with candidates is essential as well. Setting clear expectations around next steps, providing prompt feedback, transparent negotiations, extending offers and onboarding all require constant communication. Even if you don’t hire the candidate in the end, it’s important that you offer a positive interview experience. Because companies like Glassdoor are increasing transparency in the workplace, a negative candidate experience can have a detrimental effect on your employer brand.

Remember: If you don’t take recruiting seriously, no one will. Everyone involved in the hiring process should be working towards the same goal of finding the best talent as quickly and cost-effectively as possible — so continue to foster positive relationships between recruiters and hiring managers.