Recruiting Vs. Staffing: What’s the Difference?


Question_0Whenever I tell people I work for a recruiting firm, it’s followed by all kinds of curiosities. People always ask me things like “can you help find me a job?” or “I know someone who is looking for a job, can you help them?” and everything in between. Then I find myself explaining exactly what my company does.

I was thinking about this the other day and started to wonder why it is that so many people assume things about what I do just from saying the word recruiting. And that presented a whole other question – what, if any, is the distinction between staffing and recruiting?

So, like any researcher, I looked to the internet to see what other people were saying. I found a few different articles and a pretty interesting thread on LinkedIn from a few years ago. It seems that most people feel that, while there are common goals, staffing and recruiting are different things. And, I have to say after working in the field for nearly six years, I completely agree.

In terms of working with companies, both staffing and recruiting are used to hire candidates for a particular role. However, staffing is commonly used to fill short term roles or to hire people for specific projects. And, because of this, filling these roles tends to be a rather swift process.

On the other hand, recruiting tends to take on the task of finding a more permanent role. That means it might take longer to fill searches simply because it’s necessary to be more strategic and detailed to find a person who has the proper qualifications but is also a fit culturally.

In terms of working with individuals/potential candidates, staffing agencies/firms will generally work with those who are seeking jobs. On the other hand, recruiting firms deal with those who are seeking jobs as well as those that are not. This is commonly referred to as active candidates and passive candidates.

So then the question is: does it really matter? While it’s clear that both serve a great purpose, one isn’t really any better than the other. But, I think it’s important to distinguish the two because, along with what purpose each serves, that is really the only way to know which one will best suit your needs.