GUIDE 2024

What is Full Cycle Recruiting?

What is full-cycle recruiting? This article will cover full-cycle recruiting and its constituent stages, the benefits of the approach, and associated drawbacks.

Full cycle recruiting, full life cycle recruiting, or end-to-end recruiting is a six-stage hiring process. It is a holistic recruitment process comprised of the following six stages: preparing, sourcing, screening, selecting, hiring, and onboarding.

A full-cycle recruiter, usually an HR generalist, handles all six process stages. For this reason, full-cycle recruiting is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. Companies can also outsource hiring to recruitment agencies that manage full-cycle recruiting on the companies behalf.

The opposite of full-cycle recruiting is a fragmented approach, where specialist recruiters or teams handle each stage of the hiring process.

The full-cycle approach to hiring offers several benefits, such as accountability and improved candidate experience. However, it is not suitable for every organization.

The Full Cycle Recruiting Process

Let’s take a look at each stage of the entire recruiting process in detail.

1. Preparing

The first stage of the process is preparation: once a hiring manager decides to create a position or fill a vacancy, they will sit with a recruiter to review the job details. Based on the hiring manager’s requirements, the recruiter will create a job description detailing the position, compensation, benefits, and requirements such as education, experience, and skills.

Once the job description is ready, the recruiter will create a job post or ask a professional copywriter to create it.

During this process stage, the recruiter and hiring manager can discuss internal candidates who can fill the role. They can also discuss the interview process and whether it will include skill-based testing or psychometric testing.

2. Sourcing

The next stage is sourcing, which involves publicizing the position and developing a database of suitable candidates.

Employers can use a number of channels to source potential candidates.

In-House Recruiting

Employers can select suitable candidates from the pool of current employees.

Social Recruiting

Social media offers access to vast talent pools. Specialized social media groups with hundreds or thousands of members offer instant access to candidates with specialized knowledge and skillsets. Unlike other forms of Internet-based sourcing, social media offers a cost-effective method of reaching potential candidates, increasing referrals, and displaying organizational culture.

Web Sourcing

Recruiters can post jobs on job boards such as Monster and Indeed. Recruiters can directly approach suitable candidates through professional career sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

Employee Referrals

Recruiters can also ask current employees to reach out to suitable candidates in their professional and personal networks. A major benefit of employee referrals is that employees know the company culture and have a good idea of the kind of candidate that would make a great hire.

3. Screening

The third stage of the full-cycle recruitment process is screening, during which the recruiters and hiring managers carefully sift through the applications to shortlist the best potential candidates.

Cover Letter and Resume Screening

This is the most common screening technique, and recruiters can easily use it to select candidates who match job requirements. Manual screening is an inexpensive option for screening a limited number of applications. For many applications, recruiters can use Application Tracking System (ATS) software or AI-based tools to reduce the time required.

Phone Screening

Candidates whose cover letters and resumes pass the first screening stage can go through phone screening. A live conversation with the candidate helps recruiters align expectations and navigate potential dealbreakers, such as compensation and joining dates. A phone screen also allows candidates to ask questions and receive clarification.

Employers who use a standard set of questions can use chatbots instead of phone screening to save time.

Pre-Employment Testing

Resumes can contain inaccurate information, and interviews can be extremely subjective.

Objective and standardized testing, on the other hand, allows employers to verify candidates’ abilities and general intelligence and demonstrate their skill level in relevant areas. According to Psychology Today, around 80% of Fortune 500 companies use pre-hire testing. Types of pre-employment tests include

  • Skills tests, which allow employers to gauge candidates’ hard and soft skills. Examples of soft skill pre-hire tests include situational judgment tests and emotional intelligence tests. Examples of hard skill pre-hire tests include job knowledge tests, computer skills assessments, and work sample tests.
  • Personality tests, which allow employers to determine culture fit. Examples include MBTI and DiSC inventory.
  • Cognitive aptitude tests, which measure candidates’ mental capacity. An example is the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT). It measures a candidate’s cognitive aptitude, problem-solving abilities, skill-learning capabilities, and critical thinking skills.

4. Selecting

After completion of the screening stage, recruiters, in coordination with hiring managers, arrange interviews for shortlisted candidates.


To select the best candidate from a large pool of potential candidates, recruiters must carefully plan and schedule the interviews.

Types of Interviews

Recruiters and hiring managers can employ two different kinds of interview structures:

  • Unstructured Interviews: Interviewers ask open-ended questions that don’t follow a pre-determined structure. A major benefit of this approach is that the interviewer has flexibility and can adapt questions to answers given by interviewees. A major disadvantage of this approach is the lack of consistency, where different interviewers ask different questions leading to inconsistencies in candidate evaluation. Another disadvantage is the potential for bias: interviewers can ask questions affected by their biases.
  • Structured Interviews: Interviewers present a predetermined set of questions to all candidates in the same order and format. This approach ensures a fair evaluation of all candidates and minimizes the risk of bias. At the same time, a structured approach to interviewing makes objective candidate assessment easier. Disadvantages of the approach include a lack of flexibility and opening the door to artificial answers, as the candidates are aware of the question structure and format.

In addition to using a particular interview structure, hiring managers and recruiters can opt for either individual or panel interviews.

5. Hiring

Once the hiring team has all the information they need, they can proceed to the fifth stage of the recruiting process, which is hiring. This stage involves two distinct steps, which are decision-making and job offer negotiation.

Before making a final decision, the hiring team can do a reference check and a background check on the final candidates.

Reference checks help to bring objectivity into the hiring process by helping to verify candidates’ skills and accomplishments in previous roles.

Background checks help to confirm the veracity of information provided by candidates. They allow employers to investigate candidates’ criminal records, employment histories, and other relevant information.


Even though the recruiter plays a major role in full-cycle recruiting, ultimately, it’s the job of the hiring manager to make the final decision.

The hiring manager must carefully evaluate potential candidates and come to a final decision. The hiring manager can consult with the recruiter and other stakeholders, but the responsibility for the decision and its consequences lies with the hiring manager.

Job Offer Negotiation

After the hiring manager makes the decision to hire a particular candidate, the recruiter can proceed with sending a job offer to the selected candidate.

The job offer will include proposed compensation and benefits details, job duties and responsibilities, the supervisor’s name and position, terms of employment, and a tentative starting date.

It’s quite possible that the candidate will want to negotiate aspects of the job offers, such as compensation, benefits, and joining date. Therefore its ideal to delegate the negotiation to a seasoned professional who can make sure the negotiation goes smoothly and who can ensure a win-win agreement for both parties.

6. Onboarding

After a candidate accepts the job offer and signs the contract, it’s time to move on to onboarding, the sixth and final stage of the recruitment process.

Onboarding helps new hires feel welcome during the initial stages of employment. It also helps them learn about the company culture and values and acquire the skills, knowledge, and behaviors they need to succeed.

The onboarding process is a series of events that begins when a candidate accepts an offer, goes through orientation and training, and can take up to a year to complete.

Onboarding gives organizations a chance to make a great first impression. A checklist can help organizations ensure new hires go through each and every one of the high-priority onboarding activities.

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Benefits of Full Cycle Recruiting

Full cycle recruiting offers the following benefits for organizations.

1. Accountability

A full-cycle recruiter is responsible for the entire process. Therefore, ownership of the process is clear, and so is accountability.

This is different from the case where different staff members are responsible for each step of the hiring process: in such cases, those seeking answers must follow up with many people to get answers. Furthermore, with divided responsibilities, it is often the case that people try to avoid taking responsibility for mistakes and failures, which leads to massive operational inefficiencies.

2. Consolidation

Full cycle recruiting helps to consolidate the following:

  • Vision: Having a single person or agency in charge of the process helps to consolidate the recruiting vision and ensures hiring objectives match organizational objectives.
  • Data: With one person or agency in charge of the process, all data related to past and current hiring campaigns is consolidated. A major benefit of data consolidation is fast access to relevant data. Furthermore, recruiters can easily source candidates from previous campaigns who were unsuitable for open roles in the past but are suitable for current open roles.

3. Improved Candidate Experience

As candidates deal with a single person from start to finish, they develop a relationship with that person, which helps them during the hiring process. Any time candidates have a question or query, they know the person they have to talk to, and they can do it without hesitation. This is different from the case where a candidate gets passed from desk to desk every time they have a problem.

A relationship with the candidates also helps recruiters conduct smooth negotiations and reduce time-to-hire.

Challenges of Full Cycle Recruiting

Despite its advantages, full-cycle recruiting does have a few challenges associated with it.

Not Suitable for Every Organization

A single full-cycle recruiter can only handle a certain number of candidates simultaneously. This means that when the workload associated with managing a certain number of concurrent candidates exceeds their capacity, a full-cycle recruiter will not be able to manage them all.

Therefore, full-cycle recruiting is only suitable for smaller organizations that have limited human resource requirements or for highly specialized roles that draw a limited pool of candidates.

Requires A Varied Skillset

Each stage of the full cycle recruiting process requires a certain skill set. It can be challenging for a single individual to master all skills required for full-cycle recruiting.

The size of the challenge increases further when the same individual must master all tools and tech related to HR and recruitment.


Full cycle recruiting is a holistic process that covers everything from preparing for the hire to employee onboarding.

It offers several advantages, such as accountability and improved efficiency.

However, it is not ideal for every organization.

Implementing best practices can help organizations derive maximum benefits from the full-cycle recruitment process and hire and retain top candidates that will help them succeed.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about full-cycle recruiting.

How long does full-cycle recruiting take?

Depending on the complexity of job requirements and the number of candidates, the recruitment cycle can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

What are the benefits of outsourcing full-cycle recruiting?

Outsourcing recruitment of a full cycle recruiting agency can save time and resources for businesses. Recruiting agencies have access to larger talent pools and can quickly find qualified candidates.

How can businesses improve their full-cycle recruiting process?

Businesses can improve the entire recruitment process by regularly reviewing and updating job descriptions, improving candidate experience, and providing training for recruiters and hiring managers.


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