Full Cycle Recruiting vs. Specialized Recruiting

Having a skilled workforce can be the difference between leading your industry or just scraping by. That’s why recruitment is such a critical process for any company, no matter the industry.

When it comes to recruiting, there are two main methods companies use: full cycle recruiting and specialized recruiting. Another name for specialized recruiting is common recruiting and we’ll use the terms interchangeably in this article as we compare the two processes.

The key difference between full cycle recruiting and specialized recruiting is that, with full cycle recruiting, everything is done in one place or handled by one person. In common recruiting, different stages of the recruitment process are undertaken by different people with a specialty in one area of recruiting.

Let's look at the full cycle recruiting and specialized recruiting model. We’ll discuss what each type of recruitment entails, and which model is better suited for your business. But first, an in-depth look at both models, the various steps involved, and then compare their pros and cons.

What is Full Cycle Recruiting?

There are six stages in recruiting, these are preparing, sourcing, screening, selecting, hiring, and onboarding.

Full cycle recruiting refers to a model where one recruiter handles a candidate’s entire process of recruiting from start to finish. It begins when a company needs to fill a position and ends when a new employee is fully onboarded.

From the applicant's perspective, they are assessed, hired, and onboarded by the same person who acts as their primary touchpoint with the company.

Full cycle recruiting is also often referred to as full life cycle recruiting, end-to-end recruiting, life cycle recruiting, or full cycle staffing.

What is Specialized Recruiting?

Although the process steps of specialized recruiting are identical to full cycle recruiting, a specialized recruiting process looks very different to the person getting hired. In a specialized recruiting model each part of the process is handled by a different person, team, or agent of the company.

Typically, if there is a person or team dedicated to people ops, they would need specific hires to be made. This takes care of the preparing phase. The requirements are then handed over to a recruitment team or agency that in itself may break their tasks down to a specialist in sourcing, a specialist in screening, and someone who ultimately selects the top candidates.

In a specialized recruitment process, hiring would be a task unto itself which may lie between the HR, legal and finance departments.

Finally, the new hire is onboarded by a person or team whose sole responsibility is to introduce, set up, and train new hires.

As mentioned before, specialized recruiting is also known as common recruiting.

Full Cycle Vs Specialized Recruitment

For the sake of this article, pitting full cycle recruitment against specialized recruitment isn’t a question of which model produces the best hires, or even which offers a better experience for the employee. The main consideration here is what works better for the company.

Size and the availability of resources play a huge role in whether a company uses a full cycle or specialized model for recruitment operations. Here’s why:

In small companies and start-ups, full cycle recruiting usually makes the most practical sense. There would likely not be enough resources to dedicate an entire department to the recruitment process, never mind each step within the process.

In medium or large companies, there’s usually an HR department that handles recruiting. In these cases, there are skilled people (specialists) dedicated to different stages of the recruitment process. It is a suboptimal use of expertise to have someone specialized in screening devote time to onboarding employees, and vice versa.

A large company may also want to avoid having star HR employees tied up making a hire from start to finish that may or may not turn out to be a good one.

According to a Glassdoor study, it takes 24 days and costs $4000 to hire a new employee. In some cases, it can cost more or take longer, depending on the role that needs to be filled.

If a full cycle recruitment model is used, one person would be occupied for those 24 days to acquire new talent. If a specialized recruitment model is used, those 24 days are split amongst different employees.

Advantages of Full Cycle Recruiting

Small and mid-sized companies, without the resources to have dedicated specialists for each stage of the recruitment process, can benefit the most from full cycle recruiting. Here are our reasons for saying so:

Specific accountability

One of the major benefits of full cycle recruiting is full accountability. When one person is in charge of the entire recruitment process, only one person is responsible for everything that happens. That means there’s only one source of information about the process and point of contact to address whenever things go right or wrong.

High efficiency

Another advantage of end-to-end recruiting is that it streamlines the recruitment process. Since there is only one person involved, time and energy are saved by significantly reducing communication gaps or passing candidates from one agent to another. Things run more smoothly as one person can take the candidate from the start of the recruitment process to the end.

Minimal time-to-hire

A full cycle recruiting process can keep the time to hire short as no step in the process is bottlenecked by another person. That being said, if the person managing a full cycle recruiting process is overwhelmed by too many hires, the limited time they can spend on each step may in itself cause delays.

Improved candidate experience

When candidates only have to deal with one recruiter from the beginning until they’re onboarded, they’re able to form a better relationship. A good relationship between a potential candidate and a recruiter can lead to a pleasant experience for the candidate which can aid salary negotiations, reduce turnover of staff and also allow for the recruiter to create a personalized experience for the candidate.

If a candidate completes the recruitment process with one person then that recruiter will be aware of the candidate’s wants, fears, and qualifications. There won’t be any need for them to repeat themselves to someone new each time they enter a new stage in the recruitment process or feel like they’re being lost in the gaps.

Disadvantages of Full Cycle Recruiting

While full cycle recruiting offers a host of benefits for companies, it has a few drawbacks.

A Limited Number of Candidates

When there’s only one person who is responsible for the entirety of the recruiting process, there’s a limited number of candidates that they can realistically access and serve.

In a small company, where full cycle recruitment is more likely to happen, this only becomes a problem where hiring demands exceed their capacity.

Due to this inherent limitation, full cycle recruitment can also be disadvantageous to larger companies. Say a large company favors a model where they have multiple recruiters, but each recruiter is running a full cycle recruitment process according to the roles they must fill. Each recruiter would exclusively communicate with their candidates throughout the whole hiring process. While this is a viable way of running a recruitment team, it does mean that candidates are siloed according to the recruiter they deal with. It can easily happen that recruiter number 1 is unaware that the ideal hire for a post they’re trying to fill is lying in recruiter number 2’s reject pile.

Full Cycle Recruitment Requires a Wide Skill Set

The recruitment process is multifaceted, with each step requiring a different set of skills. This is why many large organizations will have recruitment teams with different people specialized in the different stages of the recruitment process.

If one person is to undertake the entire process, they’d need to have a multitude of skills to sufficiently handle each stage in the requirement process.

Advantages of Specialized Recruiting

Similar to full cycle recruiting, specialized recruiting offers its own advantages and disadvantages for companies.

The Best Person For the Job

One of the main advantages of specialized recruiting is having specialists deal with each stage of the recruiting process. As such, that person brings their unique expertise to that stage of the recruiting process and is able to maximize the overall results of your recruiting system.

Casting a Wider Net

Before, when we looked at full cycle recruitment, we posed a scenario where a good candidate was overlooked because the recruiter who saw their resume was not hiring for a role that required their skills. In a specialized recruitment system, this is less likely to happen as screening is done by fewer people (perhaps just one) who are aware of all the vacancies within the company.

As an example, if a candidate who applied for a role in accounting has the technical skills to fill a vacancy for a budget analyst, the recruiting team can consider them for both positions.

Disadvantages of Specialized Recruiting

When you compare specialized recruiting to full cycle recruiting, its disadvantages are a mirror image of full cycle recruiting’s advantages.

Multiple Points of Contact

Specialized recruiting has multiple people involved in the recruiting process. This means candidates are passed on from one person to the other. The risk with this is that the candidate must repeat the same answers, concerns, and questions.

The company also runs the risk of the candidate feeling “passed around”, which may give them a poor impression of the company.

Handover Bottlenecks

Since there is a handover that happens with each step of a specialized recruitment process, there are as many chances for a delay or miscommunication to occur. This would be another red flag in the eyes of your top applicants.

Handover bottlenecks and the harm it does to candidate experience are avoidable, as long as the process is well managed. Employing great recruiting candidate relationship management software creates a smooth transfer of candidates from agent to agent.

Diluted Ownership of the Recruitment Process

Since a segmented recruitment process does not belong to any one person, there is less accountability if a bad hire is made, or if the company’s HR metrics point to a suboptimal conversion rate.

The Six-step Process of Recruiting

For a thorough understanding of the six steps of recruitment, here’s a closer look at each one:

Preparing for a New Hire

The preparation stage is where you decide what merits your ideal candidate would possess. This is what's known as a candidate persona.

Your candidate persona is created by outlining the characteristics, skills, traits, and qualifications that would make up your perfect hire. Building a persona helps to guide your process and makes the recruitment process easier. It’s also important to take diversity metrics into account when creating a character persona to ensure you don’t miss out on any great talent.

After creating your candidate persona, you need to craft your job description. Create a clear explanation of the role which lists the job's responsibilities, its day-to-day functions, and how it adds value to the company.

Include information on salary range, and benefits, as well as information about your company, such as continued education, free lunches, or company culture. According to Talogy, 84% of recruiters believe that culture fit has become a key factor in the candidate selection process. Being upfront about what candidates can expect in this context means you’re more likely to get applicants who will enjoy working at your company.

Sourcing Potential Talent

The second step in the recruiting process is sourcing candidates for the jobs. There are several ways to do this. Generally speaking, for the highest chance of finding a qualified candidate, you have to use as many methods as possible. Although, for a very specialized position, choosing the best channels to post can be more important than how many people see your job ad.

While posting on job boards is an effective way to get interested parties to apply for a job, it's not the only way.

Another method is web sourcing - where a recruiter scans the web for online profiles of potential candidates. Web sourcing can be a great way to get the sourcing process started. It’s proactive, targeted, and allows you to reach a wider pool of potential candidates - because you’re not limited to incoming applications.

Social sourcing, where a recruiter scans social media for potential candidates, is a similar popular sourcing method. You can find promising candidates on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Bear in mind, the best candidate may be right under your nose.

In-house recruiting is an effective method of finding talent who already understand processes and fit in with your company culture. Sourcing candidates amongst your existing employees can allow you the chance to promote a great employee and see them shine in a new role.

Alternatively, make use of employee referral programs. This is when existing employees recommend people they know for a vacant position at your company, and get an incentive if their candidate ends up being a successful hire. Utilizing your employees' networks is a great way to source high-quality talent with an added bonus. It comes with social proof - a friend’s recommendation that working at your company is a good call.

Screening Applicants for a Hire

The screening process is where you narrow down your existing applicant pool to the most qualified candidates. You can use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help filter out applications and find the most suitable ones.

An ATS scans the resumes for keywords and other key information, passing qualified candidates and rejecting unqualified ones. This can save you time as many job posts receive hundreds of applications. Research shows that ATS software can shave the time recruiters spend hiring by 20%.

For the remaining applications, you can take your time and go through their resumes, cover letters, and portfolios. Once you've reviewed your candidates' materials, you can call them to schedule a phone interview to see if they’re fit to move on to the next stage.

Selecting the Best Candidate for a Hire

The fourth step, selection, is the most critical part of the recruiting process. This stage is where you use different methods to determine who is the best fit for the role.

The most common method is face-to-face interviews as they give you a chance to see how a candidate behaves in person. This can give you an idea about how they'd fit in at the company, their temperament, and their communication skills.

In addition to face-to-face interviews, many companies use assessments, such as written assignments, programming tasks, multiple-choice quizzes, etc. to determine which candidates best fit the role.

Once the candidate pool has been narrowed, you can begin running background checks and reference checks to find the best possible candidate for the job.

Hiring the Successful Candidate

The hiring stage of the recruitment cycle consists of two things: a job offer and negotiations.

The job offer letter you send to the successful candidate should contain precise information on the position as well as compensation. This includes the job's salary and benefits. In addition to this, it'll include the terms of employment, such as the job's working hours and contract length.

As mentioned before, the offer letter is one part of the hiring process. After the letter has been presented, the candidate has the opportunity to negotiate the details of the offer. They may, for example, prefer to have more flexibility in exchange for more availability, or they may feel the value they bring to the table justifies better compensation than what the offer describes.

Once you've reached an agreement and acceptance about the terms of employment, the candidate is officially hired.

Onboarding a New Hire

Many people think that hiring is the final stage of recruitment but that’s not true. Once you’ve hired your new team member, you are still at the last and final stage of the recruitment process - onboarding.

Onboarding is where the new hire gets acquainted with the company. It starts when they sign their offer letter and ends only once they are fully integrated into their new role. There is no rule for how long this should take. We recommend reading our guide on onboarding new employees for more insight.

The onboarding phase is where introductions are made, the employee is sent the requisite information for their new role, and possibly included in company events. It is also when you make sure that your new hire is comfortable and ready to start contributing to their new position.

As a recruiter, it’s important to keep in touch with the candidate throughout the onboarding process to ensure that they’re settled in well at their new job. It has been proven that a thorough onboarding process positively affects employee retention, so it is well worth making an effort.

Our Conclusion on Full Cycle Recruiting

Both full cycle recruiting and specialized recruiting offers a range of benefits for companies and candidates alike. While neither model is perfect, these benefits often outweigh the cons.

Regardless of which model is best suited to your company’s recruitment priorities, using the right recruitment tools can help your HR team’s efficiency and success. That’s why we’ve pinpointed and reviewed the best recruitment software solutions available on the market.

For more on recruiting best practices and the latest news on HR tech, sign up for our newsletter, or join the SSR community of HR experts.

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