External Recruitment: How It Works and Best Practices

job candidate working on laptop while waiting for job interview symbolising external recruitment

In this article, we’ll explain what external recruitment involves, how it compares to hiring internally, and the benefits it can bring to your company.

What is external recruitment?

External recruitment is the process of filling job vacancies with candidates from outside the company. Unlike internal recruitment, where existing employees are considered for new roles, external recruitment looks beyond the company to attract qualified candidates. This method includes various strategies like posting on job boards, working with recruitment agencies, and participating in job fairs.

Internal vs External recruitment

Choosing between external and internal recruitment methods depends on your company's needs. Internal recruitment involves promoting or reassigning current employees. It’s often quicker and cheaper, and the internal candidates already understand the company culture.

However, external recruitment allows you to tap into a wider pool of talent and bring in new ideas and specialized skills that might not be present within your existing employees.

What are the benefits of external recruitment?

External recruitment can significantly boost your company’s capabilities and culture. Here are six key benefits:

  • Fresh perspectives: Bringing in external candidates can inject new ideas and approaches into your team. For example, someone from a different industry might offer insights that challenge the status quo and drive innovation.

  • Specialized skills: Sometimes, the specialized skills you need to grow are not available within your current employees. External recruitment allows you to target individuals who possess these specific abilities, filling gaps in your team’s expertise.

  • Increased diversity: Hiring externally helps diversify your workforce. This diversity can enhance creativity and decision-making within your team by bringing together varied experiences and viewpoints.

  • Strengthening company culture: New hires can also add to your company culture, bringing in qualities and experiences that enrich the existing environment. This can help evolve the culture in a way that supports the company’s growth and adapacity to change.

  • Addressing high turnover: If certain roles see high turnover, bringing in people from outside with fresh enthusiasm and potentially more suitable skill sets can stabilize these positions.

  • Scalability: When your company needs to grow quickly, external recruitment can be the fastest way to scale up your team to meet increased demand. This is particularly true for startups and businesses undergoing rapid expansion.

What are the different external recruitment methods?

External recruitment offers a variety of ways to find new talent. Each method has its own strengths and can be suited to different hiring needs. Here are six common external recruitment methods used to fill job vacancies:

1. Online job boards:

One of the most widely used methods for external hiring is posting on online job boards. These platforms allow employers to reach a large number of job seekers with the click of a button. When you post job openings, you can specify the job description, required qualifications, and other details.

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Paid job boards often offer additional features, such as promoting your job posting to more prominent spots to increase visibility. This method is effective for reaching a broad audience of potential candidates.

2. Recruitment agencies:

Many companies turn to recruitment agencies to streamline their hiring process. These agencies specialize in matching external candidates with job vacancies. They handle the initial stages of the recruitment process, from screening resumes to conducting preliminary interviews, which can save time and ensure that only the most qualified candidates are forwarded to you.

Recruitment agencies often have up-to-date knowledge of the job market and can make informed hiring decisions on your behalf.

3. Social media recruiting:

This method involves using social media platforms to attract and engage with potential candidates. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Instagram can be used to post job openings and build your employer brand.

Social media allows for more interactive and personal engagement with job seekers, enabling companies to showcase their culture and values. It's also a great way to reach passive candidates who might not be actively looking for a job but are open to new opportunities.

4. Employee referrals:

This involves asking your current employees to recommend suitable candidates for open positions. Employee referrals can lead to quicker hires and generally result in higher retention rates.

Employees often refer people who they believe will fit well with the company culture, which can help ensure a good match. Incentives are sometimes offered to employees to encourage them to participate in the referral program.

5. Job fairs and networking events:

Participating in job fairs and professional networking events can be an effective way to meet potential candidates in person. These events provide a platform for employers to showcase their company and interact directly with job seekers.

They are particularly useful for meeting a large number of potential candidates in a short period and can be beneficial for industries where personal connections and networking are key.

6. Campus recruitment:

Targeting recent graduates or soon-to-be graduates from colleges and universities can help companies tap into young talent with fresh perspectives.

This method involves visiting campuses, holding presentations, and conducting on-site interviews. Campus recruitment is an excellent way for companies to fill entry-level positions and establish a pipeline of young talent.

By utilizing these external recruitment methods, companies can enhance their chances of finding the right external hires, ensuring that their recruitment process is dynamic and adapted to the changing job market.

How external recruitment works?

External recruitment is a systematic process designed to find and hire the best candidates from outside the company. This section outlines each step of this process in detail, providing practical insights into how each phase contributes to successful hiring. Here is a step-by-step process of external recruitment:

Step 1. Identifying the need for new hires

The first step in the recruitment process is recognizing the need to fill a job vacancy. This often arises from business growth, technological changes, or employee departures.

For instance, a company may realize it needs a new IT specialist after deciding to upgrade its computer systems. Best practices include conducting a workforce planning analysis and consultations with department heads to accurately assess staffing needs.

Step 2. Preparing job descriptions and specifications

Once a need is identified, a detailed job description and person specifications must be prepared. These documents should clearly outline the responsibilities, required qualifications, skills, and experience.

For example, if a company is looking to hire a marketing manager, the job description should detail expected tasks such as leading campaigns and managing a team, and specify required skills like digital marketing expertise and leadership ability.

Step 3. Choosing the right recruitment channels

Selecting appropriate channels to advertise the job opening is crucial. This might include online job boards, social media, professional networking sites, or external recruitment agencies.

Each channel reaches different types of job seekers, so it’s important to choose those that align best with the role. For technical positions, niche job boards that cater to tech professionals might be more effective than general ones.

Step 4. Managing application and screening processes

After posting the job, the next step is managing applications and screening potential candidates. This involves reviewing resumes, cover letters, and other materials to shortlist candidates for interviews.

A best practice here is to use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to automate some of these tasks, ensuring a more efficient and unbiased selection process.

Step 5. Conducting interviews and assessments

The selected candidates go through a series of job interviews and assessments to gauge their suitability for the role. This might include behavioral interviews, technical tests, and personality assessments.

For example, a software company might require coding tests for developer roles alongside traditional interviews to assess both technical skills and cultural fit.

Step 6. Making the hiring decision

After interviews and assessments, the hiring team reviews all information and feedback to make a decision. This step involves comparing candidates against job requirements and team needs, and possibly discussing potential hires in decision-making meetings.

It’s important to ensure that the decision is based on merit and aligns with company policies and employment laws.

Step 7. Onboarding and integrating new employees

Once a candidate accepts the offer, the focus shifts to onboarding. This final step involves introducing the new hire to the company culture, processes, and their specific role.

Effective onboarding is crucial for retention and includes tasks like training, setting up workstations, and assigning mentors. For example, a well-structured onboarding program for a sales position might include product training sessions and shadowing experienced salespeople.

Tools and technologies used in external recruitment

Effective external recruiting often relies on specific tools and technologies to streamline the process and enhance outcomes.

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): These are software solutions that automate the receipt, sorting, and tracking of applications. They help manage large volumes of applications efficiently and ensure no candidate is overlooked.

  • Social media platforms: Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook can be powerful tools for reaching out to potential candidates, advertising job openings, and building an employer brand.

  • Job boards: Online job boards remain crucial for posting job vacancies. They range from general boards like Indeed to niche boards specific to certain industries or roles. While some are free, others require job board fees for premium features like highlighted postings or extended reach.

  • Professional networking sites: Platforms like LinkedIn are particularly useful for sourcing candidates for more senior or specialized positions. They allow recruiters to search for candidates based on specific skills and experience and to reach out directly.

Using these tools and technologies efficiently can help companies optimize their external recruitment efforts, ensuring they attract the most qualified candidates for their open positions.

Best practices in external recruitment


External recruitment strategies are crucial for attracting top talent. Implementing these best practices efficiently can greatly enhance the quality of hires and the effectiveness of the entire hiring process. Here’s how to implement some key strategies:

1. Leveraging data-driven recruitment

To implement data-driven recruitment effectively:

  • Analyze past recruitment data: Collect and analyze data from previous recruitment cycles to identify successful sourcing channels, characteristics of successful hires, and common bottlenecks in the process. This analysis can help tailor future job postings and recruitment strategies.

  • Use predictive analytics: Implement tools that use predictive analytics to forecast hiring needs based on company growth patterns, employee turnover rates, and market conditions. This proactive approach ensures readiness to fill job vacancies efficiently.

  • Monitor recruitment metrics: Regularly track metrics such as time to hire, cost per hire, and applicant sources. Use this data to continuously refine and optimize recruitment efforts.

2. Optimizing job descriptions

To optimize job descriptions effectively:

  • Incorporate SEO best practices: Use relevant keywords in job descriptions that potential candidates are likely to use when searching for job postings. This improves the visibility of your ads on job boards and search engines.

  • Highlight essential qualifications and skills: Clearly define essential qualifications and skills to attract suitable external candidates. This clarity helps in filtering out unqualified applicants early in the interview process.

  • Include company values and culture: Describe your company’s culture and values to attract candidates who align with them. This not only enhances the job description but also aids in attracting candidates who are a better cultural fit.

3. Enhancing candidate experience

To enhance candidate experience effectively:

  • Simplify the application process: Ensure the application process is straightforward and user-friendly. Limit the number of steps required to complete an application and optimize for mobile devices.

  • Maintain communication: Keep candidates informed throughout the recruitment process. Automated emails to acknowledge receipt of applications and provide updates on the interview process can make candidates feel valued and respected.

  • Provide constructive feedback: Offer constructive feedback after interviews, regardless of the outcome. This practice can improve the candidate's experience and perception of your company.

4. Using competency-based interviewing

To use competency-based interviewing effectively:

  • Develop a competency framework: Identify key competencies required for different roles within the company. Use these competencies as a basis for developing interview questions that assess relevant skills and behaviors.

  • Train interviewers: Ensure that interviewers are trained in competency-based interview techniques. They should know how to ask situational questions and evaluate responses effectively.

  • Use standardized assessment tools: Implement standardized tools to assess competencies during interviews, such as scoring rubrics or structured interview guides. This helps maintain consistency and fairness in evaluating all candidates.

5. Expanding talent pools

To expand talent pools effectively:

  • Target non-traditional sources: Look beyond traditional recruitment channels. Engage with professional groups, alumni networks, and online communities that cater to diverse backgrounds and specialties.

  • Partner with educational institutions: Establish partnerships with colleges, universities, and vocational schools. These partnerships can provide access to upcoming graduates and facilitate internship programs.

  • Encourage employee referrals: Boost your employee referral program by offering incentives. Employees can be excellent ambassadors for your company and can help reach a wider network of potential candidates.

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External recruitment is a powerful strategy for bringing fresh talent and new perspectives into your organization.

By leveraging data-driven recruitment, optimizing job descriptions, enhancing candidate experiences, using competency-based interviewing, and expanding talent pools, companies can improve their hiring processes and secure the best possible candidates.

Implementing these best practices will not only streamline your recruitment efforts but also help build a more dynamic, skilled, and diverse workforce, essential for driving long-term success in today's competitive business environment.

Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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