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Blog>Guides>What’s the Difference Between a Hiring Manager and a Recruiter?

What’s the Difference Between a Hiring Manager and a Recruiter?

Article index


  • Understand the role of a recruiter vs. hiring manager
  • Leverage your employer brand to recruit for different roles
  • Source the best candidates through collaboration


If your company is like most, the ability to find, attract, and hire top candidates for open positions is important to your organization’s success and growth. Understanding the roles of the two most important players in the hiring process — the hiring manager and the recruiter — is key to establishing a great hiring protocol.

Hiring managers and recruiters often perform similar functions during the recruitment process, but there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of. This article covers what every organization needs to know about what a hiring manager does, what a recruiter is responsible for, and how the goals of the organization are best served when these two job functions work together.

What Is a Hiring Manager?

In many instances, the hiring manager is the successful candidate’s future boss. In other cases, the hiring manager might be part of the human resources department (HR). In a small business or startup, the CEO or founder might wear the hat of a hiring manager, while in larger organizations, the hiring manager could be a department head or team leader. Regardless of their title or where they fit in the organization, the hiring manager is the person who will ultimately decide whether a particular candidate gets the job.

Even though they might have the final say on who gets hired — or at least the power to move a candidate forward or not — filling job vacancies is usually not the hiring manager’s primary role. As an integral contributor to the company’s day-to-day operations, the hiring manager spends the majority of their time working on projects and fulfilling other core functions for the company. Their involvement during the entire hiring process is vital, however. As the future new hire’s direct supervisor, the hiring manager knows more than anyone else about the position that has to be filled. The hiring manager can articulate the exact skill set and culture fit needed to fulfill the team or department’s needs.

Jobs and Duties of Hiring Managers

The hiring manager has responsibilities from the beginning stages of the recruitment process all the way up to and beyond hiring the most promising candidate. As one of the primary stakeholders in the hiring process — after all, the person hired could be their direct report — the hiring manager will often contribute to the hiring process in the following ways:

  • Determine the need for a new hire. It’s the hiring manager’s job to identify the need for a new addition to the team. This need could arise from attrition, the growth of the department and/or company, or a combination of factors.
  • Draft the relevant job description. The hiring manager will often create a job description for the open position.
  • Set the criteria for candidates. It’s up to the hiring manager to communicate what criteria — such as experience, education, etc. — are required for candidates to be considered.
  • Interview candidates. The hiring manager will conduct interviews with candidates to assess their suitability for the position.
  • Select the best fit for the job. The hiring manager often has the authority to make the final decision regarding who should be offered the position.
  • Onboard the new hire. Once the candidate accepts the position, the hiring manager will proceed with onboarding the new employee.
  • Integrate the new hire into the organization and onto the team. The hiring manager resumes their supervisory role as the new hire becomes integrated into the organization.

What Is a Recruiter?

Unlike the hiring manager, the recruiter’s focus is primarily on talent acquisition. It’s the recruiter’s role to seek out candidates for employment using the job criteria and parameters provided by the hiring manager, vet promising candidates, and then present the best selection of potential hires to the hiring manager for their review.

A recruiter — who can be a third-party contractor or an in-house employee — is an expert in designing and implementing a recruitment strategy that identifies appropriate candidates for a particular position. This takes more than merely posting a generic employment ad and reading respondents’ resumes. A good recruiter knows where to search for potential hires who meet the hiring manager’s stated needs and goals and how to attract the right candidates for the position.

As the recruiter is often the first company representative the candidate interacts with, they must be mindful of how they present themselves and the company to potential hires. The hiring process is a two-way street as potential candidates are also sizing up the hiring organization to determine whether it’s a good fit for their purposes. It’s important for the recruiter to promote the hiring company in a favorable light to pique the interest and hold the attention of the best applicants.

Jobs and Duties of Recruiters

The recruiter is responsible for keeping the hiring process on track. They must serve the needs of both the hiring manager and job candidates, making sure they understand the goals of each. Toward this end, the recruiter typically engages in the following:

  • Obtain position parameters from the hiring manager. To embark on a successful candidate search, the recruiter must communicate with the hiring manager so they understand what the position entails and what type of candidate to look for.
  • Write and post job ads. A recruiter must be able to craft a job ad that adequately reflects the position requirements, as well as the benefits of working for the company (such as company culture, compensation, and future career opportunities). They must also know where to post the opportunity so that it reaches desirable candidates.
  • Develop a network of potential candidates. In some circumstances — usually for professional positions or jobs that require a high skill level — a recruiter will engage in the continuous development of a network of potential candidates in a particular industry they can tap into when the need arises.
  • Pre-screen candidates. The recruiter receives initial position applications and resumes and conducts preliminary screenings. They also may conduct preliminary interviews, background checks, and reference checks.
  • Present qualified candidates to the hiring manager. The recruiter refers top candidates to the hiring manager and arranges initial interviews.
  • Present the job offer to the candidate. Often, once the hiring manager makes a decision to hire someone, the recruiter will be in charge of extending the offer to the candidate and facilitating any negotiations over position title, salary, and benefits.

The Importance of Recruiter-Hiring Manager Collaboration

The best job-filling experiences — for both the hiring principals and the job candidates — occur when the hiring manager and the recruiter work collaboratively. When supporting each other in the hiring process and working in tandem, the recruiter and the hiring manager are much more likely to realize their shared objective of matching the best person to each available position. This happens when there are open lines of communication during intake and throughout the hiring process and when each party makes a concerted effort to promote the company’s core values and culture.

Maintaining Open Communication

All successful candidate searches have one thing in common: great communication between all stakeholders, including the hiring manager, the recruiter, and the candidates.

At the beginning of the recruitment process, it’s of paramount importance that the hiring manager can communicate all the relevant aspects of the open position and their expectations about the attributes of their ideal candidate to the recruiter. In turn, the recruiter needs access to the hiring manager to make sure they stay on track. This type of collaboration and communication will save the hiring manager and the company time and money in the long run, as the more open the communication channels, the less likely the recruitment process will be unnecessarily prolonged.

Great communication must also extend to the job candidates. It’s important that each candidate stays informed about how their candidacy is progressing and what they can expect as they move forward through the hiring process.

Promoting Company Values

Through each stage of the recruiting process, it’s important that all candidate-facing company representatives act as company brand ambassadors. By working as a team to promote the organization’s core values to prospective team members during the recruitment process, the hiring manager and the recruiter can attract the most promising candidates to their open positions.

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