What’s the real difference between Human Resources and Recruiters?  Is there any difference at all?  Ask a job seeker and they are not likely to have a great answer for that.  In some cases it is hard to distinguish between the two because recruiting is just something that an HR manager has to do when there is an opening to fill.  In other cases though, HR will outsource to an partner (like Hire EQ) so that the sourcing and screening is done for them.  Larger corporations are generally able to employ people who can complete these separate yet coordinated efforts, but smaller companies can generally save time and money by either having one department do it all or by hiring an external recruiter.

While the lines sometimes blur between these groups, the philosophies by which each operate remain pretty distinct.  Starting at the basic mission and pro/con level, here is a pretty good summary (adapted from CareerSherpa).

  Human Resources Recruiters
MISSION To enforce rules around personnel policies and procedures They find the right candidate for the job
PROS They know the organization or company
  • They serve as a go-between and you can and should be more direct in how you answer their questions
  • They will love you if you meet the qualifications of the job they are trying to fill


  • They may not know the true nature of the job.
  • They generally serve as a filter, screening candidates that don’t fit the criteria.


  • Not all recruiters are created equal
  • If they don’t need you, you probably won’t hear from them again



Next, I came across a few online forums and message boards where someone had posed a question about the differences between these groups.  No shortage of people chimed in to try and describe the contrast.  Some of the more interesting (and concise) analogies I found were:

The jaded perspective…

“Recruiters are trying to get you to take a job. HR is trying to take it away or underpay you for it.”

The sports fan’s explanation…

“Recruiters are the college coaches.  HR is the NCAA.”

The cut and dry…

“Recruiting gets you in the company. HR deals with you once you are there.”


Where does Hire EQ fit in?

Well, we are, by design, recruiters.  We focus on finding the right candidate, period.  And, because we are an external resource, we allow clients’ internal (human) resources the ability to stay focused on the day-to-day tasks while we source and screen new talent.  Sourcing and screening doesn’t make us unique, but our approach does.  While most recruiters focus on a candidate’s hard skills (years of experience, licensing, certifications) we are equally concerned with a candidate’s soft skills (character, interpersonal abilities, emotional intelligence).

Sure, some other recruiters care about soft skills, but we have based our entire hiring philosophy on them!  It’s even in our name:  HireEQ.  (EQ is short for emotional quotient or emotional intelligence.)  We strongly believe that assessing these skills up front gives us the ability to see through the good candidates straight to the great ones!  And, no doubt, our clients will back us up on that.

In the end, Recruiters and HR Departments have similar goals and they deal in the same commodity—people.  Both groups place a high value on that commodity, but for slightly different reasons.  To add in my own analogy, “Recruiters focus on finding talent.  HR is responsible for cultivating it.”


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