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Hiring Manager vs Recruiter: What’s the Difference?

hiring manager talking to candidate on left side of image, recruiter talking on the phone on the right side

When you’re applying for jobs, you might encounter hiring managers and recruiters who may seem to be doing the same thing — trying to hire for a specific position. So, what’s the difference between a hiring manager vs recruiter? Knowing what each position does can help you approach conversations with them prepared and efficiently. We’ll cover:

Hiring Manager vs Recruiter: What They Do

Both hiring managers and recruiters aim to fill open positions at their companies. However, hiring managers are looking to fill open roles within their teams. These are usually people they’ll be managing after the person gets hired. On the other hand, recruiters are always looking to fill open roles — as it’s the main part of their job description.

What Does a Hiring Manager Do?

A hiring manager is someone hiring for positions on their team. Yet hiring managers typically don’t necessarily spend much of their time hiring; hiring is just one part of their job responsibilities. Instead, they have a title that describes what they do, like a consultant, marketing manager, or sales executive. They only become a “hiring manager” when they have an open role they’re hiring for.

Hiring managers lead the hiring process, usually with the help of the rest of their team and the company’s human resources department. Some of their responsibilities may include:

  • Writing the job description
  • Setting up interviews with qualified applicants
  • Collecting feedback from the team about what they think of an applicant
  • Offering the role to an applicant

Although you might speak to multiple team members, the hiring manager has the final say on who gets hired. 

>>MORE: What Is a Hiring Manager (and How to Talk to One)?

What Does a Recruiter Do? 

A recruiter’s main job is connecting qualified candidates with a company’s open roles. This means they’re trying to find people with the right skills and experience to match what a company is looking for. 

Some recruiters sit within a company’s human resources department and hire only for roles within that company. Other recruiters may work for a recruiting agency and help multiple companies. Companies without internal recruiters will hire agency recruiters to help them find candidates. 

Some of a recruiter’s responsibilities may include:

  • Finding qualified candidates on LinkedIn and inviting them to apply for a role
  • Reviewing submitted resumes to see if they fit the job requirements
  • Conducting an introductory interview with an applicant
  • Providing information about a company’s salary and benefits

>>MORE: What Is a Recruiter (and How to Talk to One)?

How to Talk to a Recruiter vs Hiring Manager

Whether you’re talking to a recruiter or hiring manager, you want to make the right impression to help you land the role. But you don’t need to speak to them in the exact same way — in fact, it’s likely your interviews with each of them will look very different.

How to Talk to a Recruiter

You might have a short phone interview with a recruiter first to see if your skills and experience align with what the company’s looking for.

>>MORE: How to Reach Out and Find Recruiters on LinkedIn

“They’ll want to understand what you’ve done, how your skillset matches the requirements of the role, why you’re looking for a new job, your motivation to apply for this specific role, what you know about the company, your notice period, and salary expectations,” Margaret Buj, senior talent partner at MixMax and recruiter with over 17 years experience, says.

When talking to a recruiter, it’s really about seeing if you’re a match for the company — and that doesn’t just include your experience. It’s also whether you match more logistical things like their working preferences (remote, hybrid, in-person) and salary range.

Be honest about your experience and what you’re looking for. It’s better to know upfront whether the role is right for you rather than wasting your and the company’s time down the road. This means you can (and should!) ask the tough questions about salary, working preferences, and company culture. 

A recruiter might not know all the role’s technical aspects, the specifics of the team structure, or how the role is managed. These are good questions to ask the hiring manager.

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How to Talk to a Hiring Manager

When talking to a hiring manager, you want to sell yourself on why you’re right for the role — after all, this person makes the final decision on whether you’re hired or not.

Compared to the conversation with the recruiter, a hiring manager will likely ask you more in-depth questions about your skills and experience. For example, they may ask you to describe your problem-solving process, how you work with others, or a time you failed and what you learned from it. (You can use the STAR method to demonstrate your impact and crush these interview questions.)

>>MORE: Ace the interview by learning how to answer common interview questions.

This is also the time to assess whether you think this person would be the right manager for you. In a conversation with a hiring manager, you can ask questions about their communication style, the team, and how they measure success.

Hiring Manager vs Recruiter: The Bottom Line

While hiring managers and recruiters look to fill open roles, this responsibility and tasks are weighted differently between their positions. 

For hiring managers, hiring is just one part of their job — they have a slew of unrelated responsibilities that describe their actual job function, like software engineer or accountant. However, they’re the person you’ll report to and they make the final hiring decision.

On the other hand, sourcing new applicants is the main part of a recruiter’s job. They’re there to ensure you have the basic skills and experience to do the job, and if you do, they’ll pass you off to the hiring manager to interview you and make the final call. 

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