The Different Types of Recruitment You Need to Know About

Joanna Zambas
Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Different types of recruitment concept

When you have identified the need for a new role in your organization, your next step is to identify the best recruitment method to help you find the right person to fill that role.

There are a variety of recruitment methods that you can use to source your candidates externally, but don’t forget the pool of talent that may already exist internally within your organization. You may feasibly be able to provide opportunities for development and career progression for valued employees, building loyalty and increasing employee engagement.

In this article, we will examine the different types of internal and external recruitment and help you decide which is the best choice for your company and the role you’re recruiting for.

Internal recruitment methods

Internal recruitment is a strategy that organizations use when they intend to fill a vacant role from within its existing workforce. There are benefits to using this approach, including:

  • It’s cost- and time-effective
  • You know internal candidates and they know your organization
  • It enhances employee engagement and improves retention

Now let’s look at some popular internal recruitment methods.

Succession planning

Succession planning, which is part of workforce planning and talent management, focuses on identifying and growing talent within the organization to be ready to fill usually more senior or business-critical roles as they arise. Elevating candidates from the homegrown talent pool has the advantage that all previous knowledge about the company, its ways of working and developed professional relationships are retained and taken forward into the new role.

There are, however, some disadvantages. Growing talent from within the company can lead to groupthink and may lose the benefit of bringing in fresh ideas and experience. It can also be seen to be unfair to staff who aren’t identified as successors, which is why succession planning needs to follow best practice.

Best practices such as developing and using competency frameworks will help to identify and select candidates as successors. Having clear development plans and providing development opportunities for all employees will ensure inclusion and equality.


Akin to, but less systematic than, succession planning, promoting an employee to fill a vacant role can appear to be a natural progression for someone who has worked hard and proved themselves within your organization. It shows your workforce that you value their contributions, reward achievement and that there are routes for them to develop their careers within the company.

Best practices for promoting employees can include being open about promotion opportunities and the criteria for being considered for one. Internally advertising and alerting all employees of the role gives everyone the opportunity to apply for the promotion.


When a vacancy arises, there may be ideal candidates already working in the company. Transfer is the process in which an employee moves from one role to another, which might be at the same level as their current role or, through their own choice, of a lower grade. Transfers can happen when an employee transfers to another role, department, branch or location within their organization.

Employers do have the right to refuse to transfer an employee due to business needs, but they may risk losing that employee altogether. Some companies use transfers as part of its succession planning to enable employees to gain experience throughout an organization. It is best practice to avoid using transfers as a disciplinary solution wherever possible — you may be only moving a problem, not solving it.

Redundant employees

Companies making redundancies have a duty to offer suitable internal vacancies for any potentially redundant employees to apply for. Redundancies can cause an organization to lose hardworking, committed employees just because the role they have been doing is no longer required.

Best practices include ensuring all potential redundant employees receive details of any or all internal vacancies. Don’t automatically assume someone wouldn’t want to take a more junior role for less money.

Offering permanent roles to freelance or contract workers

Recruiting freelance or contract workers who have already proven themselves in your organization can be a very effective way of filling a vacancy. They already fit into your company’s culture and understand your ways of working.

You do need to be aware that there may be fees to be paid to their agents for transfer to your payroll, though. It’s considered best practice to be open with the agents about the recruitment, as failure to do this may result in legal action for breach of contract.

When recruiting for a vacant role internally, you should always include details of your internal recruitment processes in your organization’s recruitment policy and procedures. The process must be transparent, fair and known to all employees.

It’s often the case that not all the workforce requirements of an organization can be met through internal recruitment. The internal talent pool may not be interested in the role or may not have the requisite skills or experience. Even if a vacancy has been filled internally, that may leave a gap in the vacated role, and hiring externally may need to be done.

External recruitment methods

External recruitment strategies are used by employers for a variety of reasons. Many do not have the appropriate or available internal resources to fill the vacant role, so they open the opportunity to the external job market. There are benefits to using this approach, including:

  • It opens the company up to a larger pool of applicants
  • It can bring in fresh ideas, perspectives and enthusiasm
  • The range of methods can help to source hard-to-find skills in a competitive job market
  • You can keep valued and essential employees in their current roles

Let’s look at some popular external recruitment methods.

Direct advertising

This can involve advertising your vacancies on:

  • Your own company’s website
  • One or more online job boards
  • Press, radio or TV

This method will involve creating advertising copy for your job. This will be the first impression that candidates will get of your company, so it’s important to spend time and effort crafting this and tailoring it to the medium you’re using, whether that be via online recruitment or the more traditional mediums.

Employer branding has become an essential part of external recruitment. Indeed, a strong employer brand can reduce the cost per hire by as much as 50%, and has an effect on recruitment and retention.

Best practices include having a clear structure for your advertisement and including details of salary and location. This will avoid timewasting for the candidate and for yourself. Make sure that your advertisements do not discriminate, even inadvertently.

Social media

According to research from Glassdoor, 79% of people use social media to look for a job. This figure is even higher for more junior roles. Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are amongst the most popular with jobseekers. The reach of social media channels can open your search to a wide talent pool.

Best practices for recruiting via social media include using a variety of sites to enhance exposure. Creating a specific new careers page for your company can give you an opportunity to showcase your organization to potential recruits.

Recruitment agencies and headhunters

Using a recruitment agency to source and shortlist prospective candidates for a role is a form of outsourcing used by many organizations. It is particularly appealing to employers who either do not have the internal knowhow or time to be involved in this first stage of recruitment.

Specialist headhunters usually have access to a large, sometimes global, pool of senior-level candidates. They can target high-caliber professionals with the experience you require for your role.

Although these may appear to be expensive options, in most cases you only pay for a successful hire, saving your internal resources valuable time for other projects.

It is considered best practice to brief your agency with in-depth knowledge about your organization, the department where the vacancy sits, the vacant role details and person specification.


This is a more informal recruitment advertising method that can be effective, both in terms of time and money. You have an opportunity to meet potential candidates in a professional social setting and talk “off the record” about the opening with your organization. But for best practice purposes, the process needs to become formalized as soon as prospective candidates show an interest in the vacancy you have to offer.

Job fairs

These events have the potential to attract large numbers of active jobseekers and give you the chance to showcase your organization. It is best practice to have a formal process for accepting résumés — if you use application forms, make sure that you have a stock to hand for interested candidates.

On-spec applications

Often, active jobseekers will send their résumés “on-spec” to an organization that they would be interested in working for. This can be a very effective recruitment method and removes the time and cost constraints of advertising the vacancy.

To ensure best practice, always formally acknowledge any expressions of interest. Even if you don’t have an opening now, you may be able to keep their details for future vacancies.

Internal vs external recruitment: Which is better?

The one-word answer to this question is both or neither. That is to say that both have their advantages and disadvantages depending upon your organization and the role that you’re recruiting for, including:

  • It can be cheaper and quicker to recruit internally, but you may have to consider “backfilling” the role left open by the new appointment, and that may involve externally recruiting.
  • You may be keeping knowledge and skills within your organization, but you may also be restricting the potential to gain new ideas and perspectives by not recruiting externally.
  • You can “buy-in” much-needed or highly sought-after skills and qualifications recruiting externally; however, you can motivate and foster loyalty of your current workforce by developing, upskilling and educating your internal talent.

Ultimately, it all boils down to your particular needs and goals.

Final thoughts

When selecting the recruitment method for your next talent search, weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of all options as part of your preparation and planning. Some organizations will find that some recruitment methods work better than others for them. You may decide to use a variety of methods to widen the talent pool or to compare your internal talent pool to the external job seeker market.

They key to successful recruiting is to do your homework and remember to evaluate the results after making a hire.

Got a question or want to share you’re a tip? Let us know in the comments section below.