Recruitment: Definition, Process, and Tools

Recruiter in an interview

Your mission: to fill or refill a position. But which course of action will be most successful – and cost the least? In this article, you will learn all about the recruiting process, potential initiatives, and what is required of recruiters.

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What Is Recruiting?

Recruiting involves finding qualified employees and persuading them to accept a position at your company. Internal and external initiatives should be used to ensure the company can meet its staffing needs.

How Does Recruiting Differ From E-Recruiting?

The recruiting process includes both online and offline recruiting initiatives. E-recruiting, on the other hand, is a sub-area of recruitment focusing on online activities. Both the search for candidates and applicant management and communication are carried out digitally in e-recruiting.

The RecruitingProcess

To find candidates for positions at your company, you have several internal and external options. The type of recruiting initiatives you should use will depend on the target group you are trying to reach. Find out how to organize your recruiting effectively in the section ‘Which Recruiting Channels Are Suitable for You?’

Phases of the Recruiting Process

  • Job advertisement. It all starts with a job opening. HR and specialist departments then work together to create a job description.
  • Publication. The open position is then communicated via the company website, job portals, social media, through active sourcing, etc.
  • Preselection. This is typically carried out by HR, or tools are used to filter candidates on the basis of clearly defined criteria.
  • Interviews. The next step involves meeting the candidates and – depending on the role – testing them.
  • Applicant evaluation. When it comes to the evaluation, the HR department has to guarantee two things: that it can proceed quickly – there is nothing applicants criticize more than long waiting times – and that everything is done professionally. Professionalism means creating objective criteria, involving the right colleagues, and making transparent decisions.
  • Contract signing & onboarding. The best-case scenario is that the candidate accepts the position, and HR can start preparing for their arrival.

What Distinguishes a Good Recruiting Process?

It is data-driven, automated, and follows defined criteria, for example: The first interview is about the position, the second about the corporate culture, the third, etc. Standardized procedures (such as behavioristic questions) are used so that evaluations are not based on intuition but rather on objectified criteria.

Evaluations are uniformly documented and compared. A study by Bitkom Research and Personio shows that large companies with digital HR processes and structured interviews are more successful than those who work in an analog, unstructured way.

Young recruiter interviews a promising applicant

Companies with digital processes generate more applicants, more job interviews, and fill more positions.

Internal Recruiting Initiatives

Sometimes a solution is closer than you think. When it comes to recruitment, this is quite literally true. Because a position can also be filled by an existing employee.

Advertising Positions Internally

With an internal job advertisement, you can focus on your colleagues within the company. This has advantages for both sides: In the best-case scenario, you do not have to spend a long time looking for the right candidate, and you already know your ‘new’ employee. From the employee’s point of view, new career prospects open up. This may involve a new professional focus, a promotion, more responsibility, or a higher salary. However, there is one disadvantage: You will have find someone to take over the employee’s old position.

There are different ways to communicate internal job ads, e.g. over your intranet or on an analog bulletin board. It is not uncommon for employees to apply to an external advertisement.

The design of the job advertisement also differs from company to company. In most cases, it is more spartan than an external job ad, but it will contain all the basic information, e.g. the requirements profile incl. the scope and responsibilities of the position.

HR Development

Your Content Team is made up of three people. Now you are looking for someone to manage them. Why not give someone from the team a chance? In HR development, you train your employees according to the needs of the company and thus qualify them for additional tasks or higher level positions.


A new location, a new department, or new tasks: Transferring employees can be a way of managing your staffing needs. But be careful: What may seem to be an appropriate course of action from the employer’s point of view can be very stressful for some employees. Involve your employee in the transfer decision and do not make decisions over their head. Otherwise, you risk creating demotivated and consequently unproductive employees.

Find Candidates Quicker – With Less Effort

Illustration Recruiting Job Posting

Publish job ads on over 350 job portals with one click and monitor the channels’ performance – all in one tool: Personio.

External Recruiting Initiatives

External recruiting is designed to address people outside your organization. To do so, you can take an active or a passive approach.

The Passive Approach

Unsolicited Applications

Candidates apply for a fictitious position that has not been advertised. All you have to do is process the applications. There is no need for the recruitment stage of the process.

Talent Pool

The talent pool is your in-house database of existing and potential candidates, you can draw suitable applicants from as needed.

Employer Branding

Employer branding straddles the divide between active and passive approaches. It should make you as a company more attractive to applicants (passive). However, to accomplish this, you need to strengthen the employer brand (active).

The Active Approach

Job Advertisements

The advertisement for your vacancy: Job ads are the classic way to reach potential applicants – online or offline.

Social Media Recruiting

Social media recruiting has two aspects: First, companies can post ads for open positions on social networks. Second, social networks are a great way to actively contact potential candidates (active sourcing).

Recruiting Events

These include career fairs, internal recruiting events, and campus marketing.

Recruiting Tools – An Overview

Career Website

The career page is the basis of corporate recruiting and serves as the public face of your company. According to the study ‘Recruitment Trends,’ almost 40% of all jobs are filled through the career website (for medium-sized companies, it is around a quarter).

So, it is all the more important to have all the necessary information about the company, the job, and the application process available on the site. Make sure it is clear and easy to follow so that potential applicants can quickly find what they are looking for.

Job Portals

There are numerous job portals out there, e.g. Stepstone, Honeypot, or LinkedIn. Which platform you choose for your recruitment depends on the target group. Using a combination of platforms is usually the best option. Although generalist job portals have a wider reach, they do not necessarily connect you to your target audience. Specialized job portals are more expensive but can address your target group more specifically and are more likely to lead to a placement.

Social Media

More and more companies are using social networks to find new employees. And among candidates, they are also becoming increasingly popular for job hunting. According to the recruitment study carried out by monster, around a third of the candidates questioned said that social networks are suitable for job hunting.

In addition, social media also has the advantage of attracting the attention of potential candidates who are not actively looking for work – whether it is through advertisements or a personal approach from a recruiter, headhunter, specialist, or a contact.

Mobile Recruiting

In a mobile recruitment study carried out by monster, 90% of companies questioned said that mobile recruiting that is, recruiting via smartphones, tablets etc., is becoming increasingly important. The candidates agree: More than half say that mobile recruiting plays an important role. Almost two-thirds of respondents would break off their job search if they encountered display problems on their mobile devices. So, a mobile-optimized career page really is mandatory for companies.

Career Fairs and Campus Marketing

If you want to recruit young talent straight out of university, evening events at your company or career fairs are a good strategy. In any case, you should show this sought-after new generation of talent what you have to offer as an employer and why exactly they should start their careers with you.

Employees Recruit Employees

When employees suggest open positions to their contacts or acquaintances, this has two advantages: It is less expensive for you, and it ties potential candidates more closely to the company right from the start.

Interview with a female applicant

Good employees tend to recommend people who do a good job themselves.

Which Recruiting Channels Are Suitable for You?

Job advertisements or headhunters? Search online or in print media? Invest more in employer branding or active sourcing? Nowadays, recruiting options are manifold. The important thing is to do the math: How much are you paying for your recruiting initiatives and what is the unfilled position costing you (cost of vacancy)?

The recruitment agency Perspectivas presents a calculation from a study by Harvard University. It assumes the following: Depending on the position, each employee contributes to company turnover by a factor of one to three. Each company specifies the factor for the respective job.

Case Study for a Developer

In the example, we will assume that a developer earns €61,500 per year. In this example, they are attributed a factor of three by a software company. It takes approx. 159 days to recruit a developer. The number of working days is set at 249 (2019 in Bavaria).


(Annual salary: Ø working days per year) x factor x Ø recruiting time = CoV

(€61,500 : 249 WD) x factor 3 x 159 working days = €117,813

If the position remains unfilled for five months, it costs the company €117,813. That’s €741 per working day and around €23,563 per month. That’s the figure that your recruiting costs should not exceed, otherwise they stop making economic sense.

The prices for a job advertisement vary, depending on the platform and the package, from around €700 to €1,700 per month. If you publish an ad on three portals for €1,000 each and run it for five months, your costs will add up to €15,000. This means you could still invest another €102,813 in job advertisements or other recruiting initiatives.

Inversely: If you spend €117,813 on job advertisements right away and find a new developer during the first month, this works out the same as if you had not invested anything into recruiting and had left the position vacant for five months.

Software not only saves you time in creating and publishing job advertisements, but also supports you with helpful analyses

Feature Preview - Applicant Sourcing - Start

Which channels attracted the most applications? Which channels ultimately led to the most placements? Ultimately, what was the total cost to you?


The same principle applies to all other recruiting activities. If you hire a recruitment agency or a headhunter, you will pay approximately one-third of the position’s expected yearly salary to the agency on a prorated basis. For an annual salary of €70,000, this would be €21,000. So, in the same month, you could spend €2,563 on job ads.

How Is the Role of Recruiters Changing?

The competitive labor market also calls for a rethink on the part of recruiters, because you need to (re)fill positions even more quickly. Recruiters should keep the following aspects in mind:

Get Up Close and Personal

Recruiters should – quite literally – be more visible. That means more personal and individual communication with candidates because candidate expectations have changed. Communication has to take place on an equal footing rather than coming down from on high, as was the case for so long.

Build a Network

Making things more personal also means building up a broad network and staying in touch with your contacts – and potential candidates. Social media is perfect for this. If recruiters are able to establish an (emotional) connection with their followers, this will be a great help during the recruiting process.

Make Your Data Work Harder

Even the best recruiting processes require data. In addition to evaluating which components, phrases (for example using A/B testing), and job advertisement channels are most successful, aspects such as time-to-hire and the website visitor-to-applicants rate should be analyzed regularly.

Sensitive Selection

The trend is moving away from quantity toward quality. It is not the number of applicants that matters, but how good a fit they are for the job and the company, and how long they stay. It should not make any difference to recruiters if developers make spelling mistakes in their applications. What matter are their abilities. Marketing managers, on the other hand, should be able to sell themselves effectively and should not submit a run-of-the-mill application. So, it is even more important for recruiters to understand their target group.

Deutsche Bahn is a good example. Since it stopped asking for cover letters, the number of applications for apprenticeships and student trainee positions has risen by 10%.

Focus on Cultural Fit

What matters in terms of corporate success is a shared understanding of topics such as how to deal with clients, work ethic, and feedback (just to name a few). So, if you make sure before the hiring that applicant and company are a good cultural fit, it will pay dividends in terms of employee loyalty and company success.

Make the Right Decision Faster With Personio

Do not waste any more time on reminders and trying to schedule meetings. In Personio, you can manage and control jobs and applicants with a single tool.

  • Rather than having multiple Excel spreadsheets that are vulnerable to error, all the information is gathered together using just one solution.
  • Applicant communication, as well as applicant/application screening and evaluation, can be dealt with more quickly because all the information is centrally stored and managed.
  • The software makes it easier for you to analyse and evaluate your recruiting initiatives.