Hiring manager vs. recruiter: roles, differences and FAQs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Recruiters and hiring managers are key human resources professionals who help organisations find talent. They typically work closely with each other and their skills and duties overlap, although there are some distinctions between them. If you're interested in human resources work, understanding the differences between these two roles can be very helpful. In this article, we explain what a hiring manager vs. a recruiter is, look at the key differences between them and answer some frequently asked questions.

Overview of a hiring manager vs. a recruiter

To understand the distinctions between a hiring manager vs. a recruiter, it's useful to first understand what each of these roles entails. Here's a description of each of these positions:

Recruiter

A recruiter is a human resources professional who helps organisations find and recruit staff members. They receive applications from candidates and can actively search for promising talent through various means, including social media, job sites and professional networking. Recruiters screen candidates for a vacancy by receiving their CVs, analysing their skills and experience, holding screening interviews and otherwise determining if they're a good fit for the role. They might have multiple organisations for their clients and may determine the needs of each to help them find the right talent.

Recruiters can also have a role in business development and expansion as one of the primary resources and drivers of growth for an organisation is its staff. Due to this, recruiters can meet with business decision-makers, help them find new clients, source the necessary talent for their expansion and headhunt for specific roles. In scenarios like these, the recruiter is like a consultant. They also tend to have good professional networks and maintain records of numerous candidates and talented individuals. Recruiters can work for an employer, independently for multiple clients or under a hiring manager.

Related: How To Be a Good Recruiter: Step-By-Step Guide

Hiring manager

A hiring manager is a human resources professional who heads a team of individuals to help organisations fill vacancies. They typically have experience in human resources or recruiting work, in addition to the necessary skills to lead and manage a team of others. Hiring managers can develop plans for talent acquisition, create postings for vacancies, develop interview processes, identify staffing requirements, extend job offers and make hiring decisions. They also allocate and delegate responsibilities to various team members. A lot of their work might involve collaboration with other managers and organisational decision-makers to identify staffing needs.

Hiring managers can also conduct interviews for candidates and can be the final interviewer during a hiring process. They can also negotiate employment contracts with successful candidates, assist with new employee onboarding, review CVs and cover letters, liaise with headhunters and help their team with any challenges they may face. A hiring manager may have significant experience as a recruiter and might head a team of recruiters to source talent for their employer. For some recruiters, becoming a hiring manager might be part of their career progression aspirations.

Related: Hiring a management team: how to and benefits

Key differences between recruiters and hiring managers

Here's a list of some key differences between recruiters and hiring managers:

Experience

A hiring manager typically has more experience than a recruiter. In many cases, a hiring manager might have started their career as a recruiter and then progressed to their current position after gaining experience. If you have the necessary skills and educational background, it's possible to become a recruiter with little relevant experience. Conversely, if you want to become a hiring manager, you'd typically require some years of experience in human resources or recruitment.

Related: Work experience: definition, importance and tips

Responsibility

A recruiter and hiring manager's responsibilities differ in some key ways, although there's still a certain amount of overlap. For instance, both can screen candidates, receive applications, conduct interviews and make hiring recommendations. Typically, a recruiter locates talented individuals and may interview them, but then leaves the final decision to someone else. This decision is often the hiring manager's responsibility, as they also bear responsibility for the outcomes of their hiring decisions.

Additionally, a recruiter typically works on their own or within a team and may utilise their professional network to help them locate talent. Hiring managers usually have a team that they supervise and to whom they can delegate tasks. Due to this, these managers are also responsible for their team's performance and morale.

Related: How to become a recruitment consultant: a 3-step guide

Duties

Although both of these roles can perform many of the same duties, there are some differences between them. A hiring manager can often do anything that a recruiter can, in addition to being able to lead and motivate a team. The reason for this is that hiring managers typically have significant recruitment experience. Within the same organisation, some of the initial steps in the candidate selection process might be the recruiter's responsibility. These duties include screening CVs, conducting preliminary phone interviews and reaching out to potential talent.

The hiring manager might then take over for the subsequent steps. These steps might include conducting subsequent or final interviews, negotiating employment contracts and making the final hiring decision. The separation between a hiring manager and recruiter's duties at the same organisation is typically the decision of the former, as they formulate workplace hiring processes and delegate responsibilities.

Related: What does a job in recruitment involve? (Plus skills)

Skills

Recruiters and hiring managers have many common skills, but some are distinct to certain roles. Both professionals typically possess the skills associated with the task of talent acquisition, such as communication, attention to detail, critical thinking, networking and negotiation. Hiring managers also benefit from leadership and management skills, including motivation, organisation, delegation and strategic thinking. When recruiters work for several clients, they might also require creativity, initiative, confidence and persuasion.

Related: 9 essential recruiter skills for career success

Frequently asked questions about recruiters and hiring managers

Here are some frequently asked questions about recruiters and hiring managers, together with their respective answers:

What educational qualifications are beneficial for becoming a recruiter?

Although it's possible to become a recruiter if you simply demonstrate the right skill set, a degree or apprenticeship can be quite useful. Good degree subjects to consider include human resources, public relations, marketing and psychology. If you're interested in becoming a recruiter for a certain industry, then studying for a degree in a subject that's relevant to that industry would be a good idea. Some apprenticeship options include an intermediate recruitment resourcer apprenticeship or an advanced recruitment consultant apprenticeship.

Related: How to become a recruiter (plus skills and qualifications)

What are the career progression options for these roles?

Both of these roles have multiple progression options, depending on your interests and experiences. For example, a recruiter may work towards becoming a hiring manager. Alternatively, they may prefer to continue working independently and seek to become a corporate recruitment consultant. From there, they may seek more senior positions or choose to start their own recruitment firm. For hiring managers, the option of becoming a recruitment consultant is also viable for those who prefer to work with multiple clients.

Alternatively, there are internal positions that can offer opportunities for advancement. For instance, a hiring manager may seek to become the head of recruitment for an organisation. After progressing to this role, they may aim to progress to a head of human resources role, which is a slightly more senior role with a higher salary.

What is the work environment like for these roles?

A recruiter's workday is typically active and varied and may involve plenty of interaction with clients, both over the phone and face-to-face. Typically, a recruiter works standard business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Despite this, they may occasionally work outside of these hours and this is particularly true if their duties for the day require them to work off-site. For instance, it might be necessary for a recruiter to visit a client at a particular location. Alternatively, their employer may ask them to complete an external training session, which may require them to leave the office.

A hiring manager also works in an office setting. Usually, they work a slightly longer workday than a recruiter. For instance, they may work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unlike recruiters, hiring managers rarely leave the office, unless they're attending an external training session or meeting with executives at one of the employer's alternative offices, as they don't meet with clients.

Explore more articles