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The Difference Between Staffing and Recruitment

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The Difference Between Staffing and Recruitment

The Difference Between Staffing and Recruitment

When you think of human resources, many terms come to mind, such as hiring, talent acquisition, staffing, and recruitment. 

Finding and onboarding new employees is a complex but cohesive process, so these terms are indeed closely related. Still, they refer to different stages of the overall process, so it’s worth taking the time to understand their differences. 

In this article, we break down the difference between staffing and recruitment within the context of human resources management. While they are often used interchangeably, staffing and recruitment have different meanings and functions. 

Staffing encompasses the broader set of activities involved in managing employees throughout their employment lifecycle, while recruitment is a subset of staffing that specifically deals with the process of attracting and selecting candidates for open positions. The table below gives a quick comparison overview of the key differences.

DefinitionThe process of filling roles on an ongoing basis, often for temporary or flexible roles.The process of finding, screening, and selecting candidates for specific permanent roles.
TimeframeOften focuses on immediate needs and temporary or contractual roles.Typically takes a longer view, considering the company’s future needs.
ScopeMay include a broad range of roles, including temporary, contractual, and sometimes permanent positions.Usually focuses on permanent roles and may be more specialized.
StrategyAims to fill positions quickly to meet immediate business needs.Takes a strategic approach to attract the right candidates for long-term success.
Skills FocusOften hires for specific, immediate skill needs.Looks at a mix of skills, experience, and potential for growth.
Relationship with CandidatesOften maintains a pool of potential hires for various roles.Works to build long-term relationships with candidates, even if they are not immediately hired.

What is Staffing? 

Staffing refers to the overall process of acquiring, deploying, and managing employees within an organization. A thoughtful staffing approach utilizes both short-term and long-term strategies to achieve the best comprehensive results.

Staffing is an umbrella term that encompasses workforce planning, job analysis, employee selection, performance management, training and development, and employee retention. 

In short, staffing is the process of utilizing human resources to meet your organization’s goals. Recruiting is an important aspect of this process, but it’s definitely not the only one. 

After recruiting, the next aspect of staffing is selection, a crucial step where the best candidates are chosen from the recruitment pool and offered job positions. Next, they will be placed in their new roles. In staffing, onboarding refers to the orientation process where newly recruited employees are introduced to the company and their job responsibilities.

Training involves providing the new employee with job responsibilities and guidance from their reporting manager, while development allows employees to acquire new skills and responsibilities, allowing employers to better assess their capabilities.

Another important aspect of staffing is remuneration. Remuneration, or salary, is typically determined by an employee’s current role and job responsibilities. 

Once an employee has been at an organization for a while, they may be offered a promotion, including recognition through increased remuneration, job title, or both. Employees might also be transferred, which involves moving employees to different departments within the organization as needed. 

No matter what stage of the employee life cycle an employee is in, appraisal will always be an essential element of staffing. Appraisal involves regular performance reviews to evaluate the employee’s work and provide feedback for improvement if necessary.

What Is Recruiting? 

Now that we’ve covered the larger staffing process, it’s time to zero in on recruiting. Though recruiting is a single stage of the staffing process, it is closely related to other essential functions like workforce planning, training, and performance management.

Primarily though, recruiting involves identifying and attracting potential candidates for specific job positions within an organization. The process aims to build a pool of qualified applicants who meet the job requirements and have the potential to contribute to the organization’s success. 

To accomplish this, recruiters will assist an organization in sourcing candidates, screening resumes, conducting interviews, and selecting the most suitable candidates. 

What Is The Difference Between Staffing and Recruiting?

While staffing and recruiting share a focus on locating talent and vetting candidates for particular roles, staffing looks at the bigger picture. Because the terms are interrelated, there are not many clear-cut differences between the two processes. 

Rather, the objective of this article is to clarify the scope of the terms. 

Think of staffing as an umbrella term that covers all elements of providing your organization with the talent it needs to thrive, while recruiting is a treasure hunt of searching through job boards, hosting recruiting events, connecting with high-quality candidates, and initiating their relationships with the organization. 


As we have seen, staffing and recruitment are interrelated terms, but they should not be used interchangeably

Staffing is the large-scale process of keeping your organization staffed with talented employees while recruiting more specifically describes locating and contacting candidates. Still, high-quality staffing depends on high-quality recruiting, so investing in either process will undoubtedly help the other. 

Staffing and Recruitment FAQs

What is the main goal of staffing?

The main goal of staffing is to ensure that an organization has the right number of employees with the necessary skills and qualifications to accomplish its objectives effectively. Therefore, staffing includes monitoring employee performance and morale through all stages of the employee lifecycle and providing support wherever needed. 

What is the primary objective of recruitment?

The primary objective of recruitment is to attract and select qualified candidates to fill specific job openings within an organization. The aim is to identify individuals who possess the required skills, experience, and qualifications to perform the job successfully.

What is the difference between internal and external recruitment?

Internal recruitment involves filling job vacancies from within the organization. It means considering current employees for new positions, promotions, or transfers. External recruitment, on the other hand, involves sourcing candidates from outside the organization to fill job openings. This can be done through various means, such as online job boards, career fairs, and recruitment agencies.

How does staffing contribute to organizational success?

Effective staffing ensures that an organization has the right people in the right positions, directly impacting its success. Proper staffing increases productivity, improves employee morale, reduces turnover, and enhances overall performance. It helps align employees’ skills and abilities with the organization’s strategic goals, ultimately driving its success.

Is recruitment an ongoing process?

Yes, recruitment is often an ongoing process. Even when there are no immediate job openings, organizations may continue to engage in activities like building talent pipelines, networking, and maintaining relationships with potential candidates. This allows them to be prepared and have a pool of qualified candidates when job vacancies arise.

What are some effective sourcing strategies?

Effective sourcing strategies include leveraging online job boards, professional networking platforms (such as LinkedIn), social media, employee referrals, talent search agencies, attending job fairs, and utilizing internal databases. Combining these strategies helps cast a wide net and reach more potential candidates.

How can recruiters optimize the recruitment process?

Recruiters can optimize the recruitment process by streamlining job descriptions, enhancing candidate screening and evaluation techniques, implementing applicant tracking systems (ATS) for efficient candidate management, maintaining regular communication with candidates, and continuously improving the candidate experience.

What are the key skills required for successful sourcing and recruiting?

Critical skills for successful sourcing and recruiting include strong communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to effectively evaluate candidate qualifications, proficiency in using sourcing tools and platforms, an understanding of industry trends and talent markets, and the capability to build and maintain relationships with candidates and stakeholders.

What is the role of technology in sourcing and recruiting?

Technology plays a significant role in modern sourcing and recruiting processes. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) help manage candidate data, job boards and social media platforms facilitate sourcing efforts, video interviewing tools streamline candidate evaluations, and analytics tools provide insights for optimizing recruitment strategies.

How can employers enhance their candidate-sourcing efforts?

Employers can enhance their candidate sourcing efforts by ensuring their employer brand is strong and appealing, utilizing targeted job advertisements, actively engaging with passive candidates through networking and professional platforms, participating in industry events and conferences, and fostering relationships with educational institutions and professional organizations.

How can recruiters ensure diversity and inclusion in the sourcing and recruiting process?

Recruiters can ensure diversity and inclusion by implementing unbiased candidate screening processes, promoting diverse job advertisements, utilizing various sourcing channels, establishing partnerships with organizations focusing on underrepresented groups, and providing unconscious bias training to recruiters and hiring managers.

How can sourcing and recruiting be measured and evaluated?

Sourcing and recruiting can be measured and evaluated through metrics such as time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, quality of hire, candidate satisfaction, diversity metrics, and the effectiveness of sourcing channels. Regular analysis of these metrics helps identify areas for improvement and gauge the success of sourcing and recruiting strategies.