HR vs. Recruitment: The Key Differences

HR manager and recruiter discussing talent acquisition in a meeting sitting at a desk in a modern office

When we’re talking about recruiting, we sometimes use ‘HR’ as a catch-all term for the people responsible for attracting and hiring talent. But in reality, human resources and recruitment are two distinct company functions. They have different objectives, and their activities impact the organization differently. How you view the HR and recruitment teams can impact how you hire for these positions and, on a broader level, your overall business strategy. So, let’s take a closer look at HR vs. recruitment and how they affect the people of your company. 

What is HR?

Human resources, or HR, manages a wide range of business functions pertaining to an organization’s employees. 

Primary goals of HR

The HR department aims to facilitate a positive relationship between a company and the people within it. Its overarching goal is to give employees the tools, resources, and environment they need to do their jobs effectively. HR is also responsible for employee engagement, keeping workers satisfied, and helping them advance within the organization. 

HR responsibilities 

HR’s core duties include:


The HR duty that employees probably care most about is payroll–it’s HR’s job to ensure everyone gets paid on time. HR team members design and manage compensation structures and work to optimize salaries to make the company competitive in the market. 

Benefits administration

HR administers employee benefits like health insurance. The department may conduct surveys to learn which benefits are most important to employees and shop around to secure the best plans. 

Conflict management

When there’s a conflict that two or more employees can’t sort out on their own, HR steps in to help manage the dispute. HR team members also act as a listening ear for employee grievances and assist in carrying out disciplinary action when needed. 

Employee development

HR collaborates with department heads to identify training needs and then creates and implements programs to address them. HR staffers work to create an environment of continuous learning and advancement, which contributes to workforce engagement. 

Workforce planning

HR ensures that the company’s staffing needs are met now and in the future. The department analyzes skills gaps, develops strategies to overcome them, and partakes in succession planning. 


Keeping employees on the staffing chart is an important function of the HR department. It develops programs designed to retain employees, which reduces hiring costs and helps maintain strong morale. 


When company decisions are being made, HR represents the interests of employees at the bargaining table. The department advocates for fair and equitable company policies and works to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Company culture

HR is a key player in shaping the culture of an organization. In addition to being a direct liaison between a company’s leadership team and its employees, it helps champion policies that support a welcoming, positive, and productive work environment. 


HR keeps the company on the right side of the law. It ensures the organization is operating in keeping with all pertinent labor requirements and maintains a workplace that’s healthy, safe, and free from discrimination. 


Last but not least is recruitment, which is a significant duty that falls under the HR umbrella. We’ll talk in much more detail about this responsibility in a moment.

Impacts of HR

HR plays a big role in an organization’s success and longevity through strategic workforce management. People are a company’s most important asset, and HR ensures those people are treated respectfully, compensated fairly, and engaged with their jobs, all in a way that’s aligned with organizational goals. 

What is Recruitment?

Recruitment is the process of finding, engaging, and hiring talent to meet an organization’s operational needs. While it falls under the scope of human resources, it’s just one aspect of HR. Some companies employ an entire department dedicated to recruitment, while others leverage HR staff to handle recruiting and other workforce-related responsibilities.

Primary goals of recruitment

Recruitment aims to hire the best candidates to fulfill a company’s staffing needs while managing costs and other organizational priorities. Other secondary goals of recruitment include building a strong employer brand and increasing the pool of qualified applicants from which a company can hire.

Recruitment responsibilities 

The main duties of recruitment include:


Sourcing is the process of finding qualified applicants to interview. Recruiters must develop various sourcing channels, including job boards, referrals, social media, events, and more.


Screening determines whether an applicant meets the minimum requirements to be considered for a job. Recruiters are responsible for using a combination of tools to vet potential candidates before advancing them to the interview stage.


The recruitment department works with hiring managers to schedule and interview prospective candidates. This includes scheduling, developing questions, conducting interviews, and assessing candidates.


Recruiters use their industry expertise and knowledge of the job to assist with selecting the best candidate from a pool of interviewees. They collaborate with other HR department and leadership team members to craft a compelling offer and ultimately make a hire.


Recruiters sometimes play a role in onboarding and developing materials to help new hires get acclimated in their positions. 

Impacts of recruitment

Recruitment shapes a company’s trajectory by assembling talent to enhance performance, boost output, foster innovation, and contribute to a thriving culture. Well-executed recruitment strategies control costs, reduce turnover, and support a positive employer reputation. 

Do You Need Both an HR and a Recruitment Department?

The need for HR and recruitment departments depends on an organization’s size, structure, and complexity. In smaller companies with a specialized focus, it may be completely feasible for these functions to be handled by a single team. In larger, more complex organizations, however, having dedicated, specialized teams becomes increasingly necessary. 

Benefits of combining HR and Recruiting


Combining HR and recruiting functions can help smaller organizations reduce costs and maximize resources.


When a single team is responsible for both HR and recruiting duties, it facilitates a holistic approach where all pieces of HR work together cohesively. 


In dynamic environments like startups, team members with dual capabilities can easily adapt to meet changing needs and priorities. 

Benefits of separating HR and recruiting


Separating HR and recruitment allows staffers in these departments to focus more on one specific task, which can increase their expertise and deliver better results. 


Dedicated recruitment teams are focused solely on recruiting, which can enable faster hiring.  


With recruiting tasks off their plate, HR specialists can allocate their full attention toward other employee-focused initiatives, like benefits and retention. 

Can the Same Staff Handle Recruiting and HR?

Workforce management professionals can wear multiple hats regarding HR and recruitment tasks. In fact, this is the norm in many small businesses. 

Imagine a company of under 20 employees only needs to hire a few people yearly. Since recruiting tasks only consume a limited number of hours every month, it’s feasible for a single person or small team to handle HR and recruiting duties. 

Now imagine a company of 100 employees that’s growing fast. As it needs to expand to include more niche roles, finding qualified applicants for every opening takes more time. On top of that, the number of openings increases from month to month. It’s easy to see how a team juggling both HR and recruiting duties could easily become overwhelmed. 

For this reason, organizations typically find it beneficial to separate these functions as the company grows. 

Tackling Recruitment With an Outsourced Solution 

Outsourcing is a viable and cost-effective solution when a company reaches the point where a dedicated recruiting team is necessary. A third-party recruiting partner can help firms identify and hire specialized talent, solidifying a workforce to ensure the company’s continued growth. 

The experts at 4 Corner Resources will go above and beyond to meet your staffing needs, delivering a personalized approach that’s aligned with your budget and timeline. If you’re ready to enlist a dedicated recruiting partner or simply want to learn about your options, contact us today to find out how we can help. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn