Often we use the terms selection and recruitment interchangeably, many times I’ve been asked part way through a select process how the recruitment is going – and I’m guessing you’re been asked the same thing, potentially thinking nothing of it. However the two terms relate to related but different activities. Understanding the difference can greatly enhance your analysis ability when your processes are not working properly.
Recruitment is the process of gaining a pool of suitable applicants (suitable being define by the position description), in response to your advertising or promotion of the vacancy. While selection is the process of identifying from the applicant pool who is the most suitable applicant for the role.
I’ve mentioned the pool of applicants a couple of times and knowing what this pool should look like going into the recruitment phase can help you sort out any issues early on. Lets say say I’m advertising for a HR Consultant in a medium sized city, everything else being equal I would probably expect around 30 candidates (you number will differ depending on your location, rate of unemployment, salary level and a number of other factors), now in this example if I only received five applicants I would begin to question my recruitment methodology. And at this point it’s not a question of the quality of candidates, but the applicant pool was much smaller than I had estimated. I would look to understand if I had advertised in the right place, I might ask colleagues where they usually advertise (if I hadn’t already before advertising), I would check that the salary is correct for the role and the market, I would re-read the position description to ensure it communicates the role correctly. At this stage I can still make some corrections, I can extend the advertising period, or place the advertisement in another newspaper or website.
Once you have you pool of applicants, then you can move onto the selection phase. From here on in you have a closed group of applicants, one of whom may be the one you’re looking for. Selection is a large topic which we don’t fully cover in this posting.