Redefining the recruitment cycle & making it work for you

Last updated:
February 26, 2021
December 20, 2021
min read
Bev Campling
Table of contents

As with most other things in life, the recruitment cycle isn’t (and never can be), cast in stone. Each company will implement its own recruitment and selection process policy and different vacancies have unique requirements.

Despite this, there are probably 7 steps in recruitment processes that are unavoidable if you’re going to find the best candidate.

  1. Identifying a new vacancy
  2. Qualifying the role
  3. Sourcing candidates
  4. Interviewing candidates
  5. References and verifications
  6. Making an offer
  7. Onboarding

But between those 7 basic steps in the recruitment cycle could be plenty of others as well, or nothing else. Executive, specialist and highly technical roles usually have many more steps, while average roles could include pre-screening and assessments. To fill entry-level jobs, these 7 steps will usually suffice.

Recruiters must manage the recruitment cycle

Each stage of recruitment is intended to clarify requirements, identify the most suitable candidates and ultimately employ the best person for the job. That’s much easier said than done though! Without a plan and process management steps in place, you’ll end up wasting time making poor hiring decisions under pressure.

Control of the recruitment cycle should be given to the recruiter on the hiring team. The role of a recruiter is a person-to-person relationship-builder. All the admin involved is peripheral (more about that later). Recruiters must be able to not only communicate with hiring managers, team members, applicants, and candidates- they must be able to engage with them.

The difference?

Communication is the transfer of information, ideas and instructions within or without a relationship based environment, and often without empathy. Engagement is the ability to communicate with people and foster relationships with shared obligations.

Many relationships in recruitment are short lived. A recruiter doesn’t spend much time with unsuitable applicants or unsuccessful candidates, but key to the relationship is respect, honesty, empathy, and keeping the person updated. Through engagement with all stakeholders, recruiters can successfully manage the recruitment cycle.

How do recruiters handle all the admin?

Admin in recruitment is a necessity, but it’s not a core function. So how do recruiters balance their priorities?

Digitization and automation! The modern recruiter has plenty of time-saving options at their disposal that takes care of the slog-and-grind in the recruitment cycle. By utilizing technology, most recruiters can manage full cycle recruiting with ease.

An ATS centralizes all recruiting functions, including all applicant and candidate information and allows for real-time updates and communication between recruiters and the hiring team. Integrated tech like chatbots, programmatic advertising, pre-selection tools, and onboarding tools take care of the mundane, time-consuming tasks. Recruiters are no longer deskbound administrators because they’re using the best recruitment techniques.

What is the full cycle recruiting process?

Full cycle recruiting is when a recruiter takes total responsibility for the entire hiring process, from initiation of a new vacancy to job offer and onboarding. Full cycle recruiting was mainly the domain of recruiters in small and medium-sized companies, but not anymore. Even in large organizations, individual recruiters can take on the full cycle for filling specific roles.

All recruiting is a process that happens in stages, and within each stage are crucial steps. Apart from the 7 steps in recruitment processes discussed earlier, there are vital stages to each hiring process.

What are the 5 stages of the recruitment process?

Full cycle recruiting typically happens in 5 stages. Each vacancy will have different steps in between each stage as well as different timeframes to moving to the next stage. Spend some time on planning and thinking of how to improve your pre-interview process before you begin.

1. Qualifying vacancies

New roles are identified by hiring and line managers and then passed on to recruiters. As soon as you’re aware of the new position, sit down with the managers to define the job requirements. Remember that section managers see jobs within the parameters of their department only. As a recruiter, it’s your job to understand and communicate the big picture. Don’t rely on old job descriptions. Technology has impacted every aspect of business and positions evolve and change rapidly.

Does the vacancy actually need to be filled, or can an existing employee be upskilled? Maybe the job can be merged with another role, giving someone more responsibilities and a welcome pay rise? And if the position must be filled, does the job description need to be re-evaluated and amended?

That done, get busy selecting the hiring team and briefing everyone on the processes and expected time to fill and time to hire. Also, be sure that everyone on the hiring team is on the same page regarding the interview processes as well as the maximum salary and benefits on offer.

2. Sourcing

When you’re using an ATS, your first port of call should be your talent pool and also turning to your employee referral program. Ensure that your job advert copy is well constructed and written to attract the type of person you need to fill the role. A bit of creativity and a programmatic advertising app will place your advert in front of the right candidates at the time of day they’re most likely to see it. (Just imagine, and this isn’t wishful thinking!)

You can include screening questions and even basic assessments with your job adverts so that only the most suitable applicants are shortlisted. Add a well-worded auto response for applicants that aren’t shortlisted. Knowing right away that your application won’t be considered will be valued because applicants will know their efforts were recognized, even if they weren’t successful. With the persistent statistic of 75% of job applicants’ not hearing back from employers, automated responses will do wonders for your employer brand.

3. Interviews

The potential dates for interviews must be set up early in the recruitment cycle to ensure that all members of the hiring team are available. Through automation, you can confirm interviews within minutes, and include preset reminders. Remember to brief the hiring team on each candidate before interviews and recap on the process.

Recruiters must always take, and keep control over candidates and the hiring team during interviews, much like an MC at an event. If you don’t, you can end up with one person dominating the floor, or have the candidate try to manipulate the hiring team. As recruiters, we’re not here to judge the person behind the CV; our role is to assess the candidate’s suitability for the job. Stick to that principle and make sure that you lead by example!

After interviews, discuss the outcome with the hiring team as soon as possible so that the candidate can be rated and a decision made whether to proceed with them or not. Once a decision has been reached, advise the candidate as soon as possible so that they know where they stand.

Once you’ve reached the final stages of the interview process and identified the best two or three candidates, it’s time for past employment references and verifications. Past employment references are essential, especially for senior roles and roles that carry a lot of personal responsibility. Try to build rapport with the ex-employer by making a brief introductory call and then ask if you can send across some questions by email. That way you show that you respect their time and don’t expect them to drop what they’re doing to answer your questions. Respect begets respect (mostly)!

Verifications are usually done through third party service providers and are time-consuming and costly, but keep an eye on blockchain breaking into HR shortly.  Blockchain in HR is still embryonic, but experts have quickly recognized the potential. A 2017 PWC study tells us that the effects of blockchain on HR could be huge. The prime benefits in the recruitment cycle will be things like trustworthy verifications without the involvement of a third party. Keep your eyes peeled!

4. Job offers

Once the hiring team has reached consensus on who the best candidate is, do a review on expectations. Has anything changed; is everyone still in agreement? Now that you’ve already established the candidate’s expectations, do they meet the team’s first job, salary and benefit limits? You don’t want to waste time making someone an offer that doesn’t meet their expectations. If a candidate is a bit more expensive than planned, come up with creative job offers.

Think of non-financial benefits that can be included to improve the offer. Not everyone is motivated by money alone. Think of motivators like flexible working hours, working from home, prestige, training, mentoring… the list is as long as your creativity. (A psychometric test will quickly and accurately tell you what motivates a candidate, despite what they may have said in interviews.)

One indelible rule as a recruiter should be to never knowingly mislead a candidate to get them to accept a job offer. Just like we don’t like being misled in our personal life, so we don’t want to be deceived in the working environment. Mislead a candidate during the recruitment cycle and on the job offer, and you can almost certainly expect an early fallout. Not only is it unethical, but it will also damage your employer branding.

5. Onboarding

Once the candidate has accepted the job offer, a recruiter’s job isn’t done yet. After all that hard work you’ve done, you don’t want to lose contact with the candidate or allow them to slip through your fingers. Research shows that 25% of companies don’t have an onboarding process, while 33% of new hires start looking for a new job within six months, and will turnover before their first anniversary. Calculate all the lost time and money before you start the recruitment cycle again.

There’s no excuse for these abysmal statistics today because most resignations could be saved with continuous engagement with new hires from the time they accept the job offer. Before their starting date, keep the process going and make them feel like a welcome and wanted employee from the moment they walk through the door. Onboarding is a critical time to shape an employee’s perception of your company, but it’s also a complicated process. Luckily technology has once again come to recruiters’ rescue.


Full cycle recruiting will become more popular as more companies embrace automation and technology. With recruiters having more time to engage with people rather than be bogged down by admin, they’ll have more impact on hiring decisions and play a more significant role in business success.

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