Recruitment Methods (Best HR Techniques)


Knowing the right recruitment methods to use when hiring new staff can offer competitive advantage when searching and finding the best candidates for your business.

We explore some practical advice for employers on the benefits and pitfalls of various different recruitment techniques, and how these can add value to your wider recruitment strategy.


What are the different types of recruitment methods?

The recruitment landscape continues to change significantly in response to market shifts and the evolving demands and expectations of employers and workers.

While many traditional recruitment methods continue to offer some relevance and use, the proliferation of digital channels and the prevalence of online networking mean there is a much wider range of recruitment techniques and tools available. Faced with the reality of budget and time constraints, the challenge today for employers is often knowing where to focus efforts when recruiting.

Below we identify the key recruitment methods commonly used by employers and recruitment personnel, although this list is neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive, where a combination of these techniques can be tailored to fit the role:

  • Internal recruiting: this is where an employer runs a job ad internally, for example, via the staff company intranet or message board, to source candidates to fill a role from within the existing workforce. This is in contrast to external recruitment where the employer attracts entirely new employees to work for the business.
  • External advertising: this is where a job role is opened up to the wider public, where there are multiple options available here, including use of traditional print methods, advertising on recruitment websites or the company’s own corporate website, as well as professional networking sites or other social media platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • Talent searching: this is where popular online recruitment websites hold databases of thousands of CVs, where an employer or internal recruiter can search this information using key search terms to identify potential candidates for a particular role within their company or organisation.
  • Approaching passive candidates: this is where an employer or internal recruiter headhunts talented individuals across professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn. These individuals will not have expressed an interest in job hunting, but with the right incentives or perks they may be persuaded to take on a new role with a different employer.
  • Recruitment agencies: this is where the task of advertising a job role and identifying suitable candidates for interview is outsourced to an experienced external recruiter, often with existing connections to suitable candidates actively seeking work, typically in a specific industry sector.


Recruitment methods: pros and cons

There are various different pros and cons to each type of recruitment method. There is no right or wrong approach, as much will depend on the size of your company and organisation, your industry sector and the nature of the job role and the resources at your disposal when searching for candidates. Not every job has the same requirements, and each business has different needs. Factors such as time and expense will also weigh heavily in what recruitment methods are appropriate to adopt in the circumstances.

Below we briefly analyse the positives and negatives of recruiting internally, versus some of the different types of external recruitment methods available.


Recruiting internally

Recruiting internally is generally one of the cheaper and more straightforward hiring options available to employers. It can be more cost-effective than advertising externally and outsourcing the task to a professional recruitment agency. The recruitment and onboarding process as a whole is usually considerably shorter if you ‘hire’ an existing employee, since there will be no requirement to undertake a new onboarding process.

Hiring internally is also an extremely valuable recruitment strategy because it guarantees that you are filling vacant positions with people who already understand your business, its’ culture and what is expected of them.

By having a policy of regular internal recruitment, you can actively reward existing employees who have the skillset to match your requirements. This can show that you are committed to their career growth and progression, leading to higher staff retention rates and greater employee engagement.

Additionally, the use of internal recruitment can facilitate succession planning for your business in the long-term, where you will be looking for future leaders with a loyal track record and inside knowledge of how you operate.

That said, by restricting your selection pool to existing members of staff, you could significantly limit your options, and may not necessarily be able to find the right candidate for the job from your current workforce. It is therefore important to remain open to the benefits of external recruitment methods.


Recruiting externally

External recruitment can significantly increase your chances of finding the right candidate for a job, although it can be an extremely costly and time-consuming process where candidates have to be sourced, interviewed, assessed and verified before being able to make a hiring decision. That said, there are various options available to employers when considering recruiting externally.

Employers should also be aware if there is a legal requirement to advertise a vacancy, such as under the Resident Labour Market Test, before you can offer the role to a foreign national.



Print or press advertising is the most traditional of all external recruitment techniques, although a well-placed advert, for example, in a national or local newspaper, can still be a useful way of reaching a suitable pool of candidates.

When you advertise within specialist trade journals or industry publications, that are increasingly likely to have an online presence besides a printed edition, you can reach out to a well-defined sector of jobseekers with specific skills or experience to meet your job role requirements.

That said, press advertising should only ever really be used in combination with other recruitment methods, otherwise risk limiting your pool of candidates solely to the readers or subscribers of particular publications.

Advertising on a wide range of recruitment websites or online job boards promises a potentially wider reach than press advertising, where jobseekers can easily use a search engine to find specific types of jobs on the most popular sites. With online advertising you can even reach a global audience, where the resident talent may be limited, increasing your access to a wider pool of suitable candidates to further the growth and success of your business.

Online advertising is also one of the most cost-effective and quickest external recruitment methods, where it generally only takes a few minutes to set up an online advert. By posting your job specification online you can find talented candidates faster and you can manage multiple applications more effectively.

The biggest downside of this approach is that with multiple applications often comes a multitude of unacceptable candidates, where you may have to sift through all those individuals who do not have the requisite skills or experience.

One possible way of minimising the problem of too many unsuitable applications is by using an online advert on your company website under a dedicated vacancies section. This could be used either by way of alternative to other online advertising, especially where you have a strong employer brand so are likely to attract candidates directly to your site, or in conjunction with other methods.

Although online ads on corporate websites can often be less visible than those on major recruitment sites or online job boards, this can help to attract candidates who are specifically interested in working for your company or organisation.


Online talent searching

For those of you who have sufficient time or the internal resources to proactively undertake your own dedicated search for suitable candidates, the popularity of online recruitment has increased the use of talent search as an alternative to advertising a job role online.

The process of sifting through vast databases and thousands of CV’s can be time-consuming. However, with patience and perseverance, talent searches can often yield the right results for your business, allowing you to identify candidates that are the right fit for your business and the job role in question.


Online headhunting

The use of professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, can help you refine your online talent search more time-efficiently, allowing you to headhunt potential candidates, even where they are not actively seeking a new job role. In this way, you can also build up contacts with qualified professionals in your industry that may be interested in switching employers at some point in the future.


Outsourcing to a professional

If time is of the essence and cost no issue for your business, the better alternative to online advertising or online searches is to delegate this task to an external recruitment agency. Many professional recruitment agencies are sector-specific and can offer specialised talent search services using their own existing database of suitably qualified and experienced jobseekers.

A good recruiter can access a large network of potential candidates, directing the most suitable people to apply for the role. Typically, these candidates will also be pre-screened and pre-referenced. Of course, the cost of using a reputable agency can be high, but recruitment can be extremely hard work and very time-consuming, so handing the task over to trained professionals can take much of the pressure off, freeing up your time to focus on more pressing matters.


How do these methods fit into wider recruitment strategies?

The recruitment process does not start and end with the placement of a job ad. This is just one step in the overall hiring cycle, where drawing up the job specification and deciding on what selection methods to use also play a vital role.


Drawing up the job specification

Prior to even advertising a vacancy you will need to consider the job specification, together with salary and any added incentives. To attract the right candidates, it is not always just about the wages, where the addition of perks, such as flexibility of working arrangements or other employee benefits for a prospective candidate, can be crucial in attracting top talent.

You should also be careful about the way in which a job advert is worded, where the way in which you phrase things can easily deter candidates who may feel they are unsuitable yet have the perfect credentials for a certain role.

By developing targeted job descriptions that speak to the type of person you are looking for, you can create the right candidate pool to choose from. In cases where you fail to adequately target the audience for your advert, you could easily attract unsuitable applicants or even get too few applications.


Deciding on your selection process

Once the job description has been drawn up, you will not only need to decide on the most suitable recruitment techniques to advertise a role, but also determine the type of selection methods you will use once applications have been received.

In many cases employers will use a structured interview process as one of their main selection methods, where CV’s are gathered and screened to create a shortlist of people to invite for interview. However, interviewing face-to-face can be very time-consuming, so you need to ensure that you shortlist carefully so as not to waste valuable time on unsuitable candidates.

The use of pre-screening techniques through, for example, telephone or video interviewing, can save you a great deal of time here. In this way you can conduct a first round of interviews to help you create a final shortlist.


Gaining competitive advantage through your hiring process

As an employer, you may already have well-established recruitment and selection methods. However, you should always be willing to explore alternative hiring strategies, in some cases reforming your existing recruitment process to open up the available talent pool that you attract to your business.

There are various ways in which you can develop more innovative recruitment and selection methods, especially in the context of the digital revolution. By being active on professional networking and social media platforms, this will allow you to meet potential candidates through shared connections and shared discussion topics, and because it is easier for jobseekers to contact you directly.

It also has the added benefit of allowing you to build relationships with potential candidates for future roles. In this way you can expand your employer brand, boost your reputation and showcase your business to potential candidates.


Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris’ specialist HR consultants are experienced in advising employers on all aspects of workforce management, engagement and performance enhancement. This includes strategies and measures to improve productivity and morale while safeguarding employee wellbeing through the use of occupation health and other specialisms. For more information about how we can help your organisation, speak to us.


Recruitment methods FAQs

What are employee selection methods?

Employee selection methods typically refer to the way in which an employer will decide on which candidates to shortlist and hire for a job role. These can range from structured interviews to formal assessment days.

What are the six steps of the selection process?

There are six main steps involved in the selection process. These include placing a job advert, screening applications, interviewing candidates, verifications and references, final selection and making a job offer.

What is the selection process?

Selection is the process by which employers evaluate and hire the most suitable candidate for a specific job role. However, selection can often refer to a six-stage process for identifying and hiring applicants to fill a vacancy, from placing a job advert to making a job offer.

Last updated: 2 April 2023


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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