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The Difference Between Recruiters and Hiring Managers


Many job seekers – not just military service members transitioning to civilian careers – are confused by the different roles of corporate recruiters and hiring managers. When applying for an open position at a company, researching a point of contact, or when networking your way into an employer, you’ll see different titles and roles under the Human Resources Department umbrella.

Recruiters and hiring managers are both charged with talent (employee) sourcing for the company, and have these functions in common:

  • They understand the company culture, business and goals, and seek candidates who will support the business and fit in the organization.
  • They want to find the right candidate for the job.
  • They may both use online job applications, applicant-tracking programs, and review candidates’ social media presence in deciding which applicants to pursue.

Here is where they are often different:


  • The recruiter is typically an external consultant who works for a company that is compensated for each successful placement (part time, contract, or permanent employees). Large companies might have internal corporate recruiters, but most likely the recruiter is hired by the employer to recruit for one or many open positions.
  • They are focused on sifting through resumes, conducting first round screening and interviewing job candidates who fit the position and the company. Most recruiters also conduct reference and background checks on candidates before forwarding them on to the hiring manager.
  • The recruiter is typically focused on fact checking and evaluating fit for the job. The recruiter may ask more pointed and direct questions, seeking simple and straightforward responses.
  • Recruiters are listening for: confidence, ability, clarity, and passion for the work. They want to be sure you have the skills, experience, and desire to do the work their client is looking for, and that you will present yourself well in an interview with the employer.
  • Recruiters want to see a resume that is error-free, focused, and a reflection of the person they are speaking to on the phone.

Hiring Managers

  • The hiring manager works for the employer, has knowledge of the business goals, challenges, vision and brand, and is part of the Human Resources Department.
  • They use their inside knowledge of the company to interview, refer, and hire the best candidates for the job and the company. Culture and fit are very important to the hiring manager.
  • Hiring managers serve many different duties, in addition to hiring. The hiring manager is often involved in screening, on boarding, job performance evaluations, candidate experience, and retention strategies in the company.
  • Hiring managers interview and screen for personality, attitude, aptitude, experience and skills. They are looking at how the candidate will fit in with the team they’d be placed with, interact with the department managers, and their potential to grow their career at the company.
  • The hiring manager wants to understand: Have you done this work before? Are you capable of doing this job? What unique qualities, talents or expertise do you bring to the position? They also want to hear about your goals, vision and passion for the work, industry and company.
  • Hiring managers interview differently. Their interviews (phone and in person) tend to be more qualitative and conversational. They will be curious about your research on the company, understanding of the company’s mission, brand, and goals, and will be looking to see how well you can sell yourself into the position, not just relying on your resume.

When you get the call for an interview, remember the above information to be sure you speak clearly and in a way that is compelling, given the interviewer’s goals and responsibilities.

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Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO  volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at and on Amazon.