What are the recruitment life cycle stages?

The recruitment life cycle stages refer to the five steps used by recruiters to guide their recruitment process from end to end, in order to maximise all resources available for the purposes of improving candidate experience and enabling the hiring manager and recruiters to hire the most talented individual.

The five stages of recruitment:

  • Clarify your personal needs and requirements
  • Map out your hiring strategy, and put it to the test
  • Select and screen your candidates
  • Acquire the top talent
  • Onboarding your new hire (with retention in mind!)

How can you use them to guide your recruitment process? Here’s a breakdown:

Clarifying your personal needs and requirements

The first step is identifying the vacancy within your organisation – it may be a pre-existing role which someone is now moving on from, or it may be a completely new role. Either way, before considering any of the other parts of the recruitment life cycle, you need to map out exactly what you need and want from the individual who would fill this role. Who would the ideal applicant be to become your next new employee?

A non-exhaustive list of what you may want to consider in this stage of your recruitment includes:

  • Qualifications – Is it a requirement that they be educated to degree level? Would you like them to have any role specific qualifications?
  • Experience – How many years? Does it need to be sector specific?
  • Desired skills – Some skills are easy to list, like knowledge of certain platforms, for example. But soft skills are just as important. Do they need to be personable and calm under pressure? Do they need to efficient and highly organised?

The job description for your vacancy will inevitably vary depending on the responsibilities of the role, but now is the time to consider what skills you desire but are willing to be flexible on, and which parts of your job description are non-negotiable.

It also crucial at this point in your end-to-end recruitment process to have the all-important internal conversation around salary. Salary transparency and fairness has become a major topic when it comes to an applicant judging the ethics and values of a company looking to recruit. Now is the time to do your research around what you can offer to keep you competitive as a recruiter.

Mapping out your hiring strategy

Strategy is crucial for effective end-to-end recruitment. Once you’ve got your job description and everything that you need an applicant to offer, it’s now time to consider what your organisation can offer the potential candidates.

If you don’t already have an Employee Value Proposition (also known as an EVP), now may be the time to consider creating one. The workplace culture and benefits which you can offer your new hire could be make or break for ensuring you recruit the most talented, ideal candidate you can.

It’s easy to get caught up in your own selection process while going through your recruitment life cycle, but it’s important not to forget that potential candidates will be comparing you to other organisations, just as you are comparing them to other applicants. You must also prove your value to them.

Employer branding is also crucial for how you position yourself in your recruitment strategy. Employer branding should be considered everywhere an applicant may wonder, from the job boards you advertise the role on, to your social media, website, and email marketing efforts.

You should also consider if job boards are the best place to advertise your vacancies or if other channels may reap more success. This can be depending on the role, industry, and experience level, as well as what your overall vision is for your recruiting process. For example, younger people may be more likely to job seek via social media, or perhaps you feel you already have a very strong existing talent pipeline, so would rather target news of the vacancy via email marketing to these contacts.

Select and screen candidates

Your selection process and method should be considered and decided in advance of carrying out the interview stage of your end-to-end recruitment process. From your preference for video or in-person interviews to whether you want the structure of an interview scoresheet, how you choose to execute your election process can prove to produce varying results.

When deciding on the specifics of your selection process, like you. interview setting and questions, it’s important to consider candidate experience. A way you may want to collect concrete data on how each applicant feels about your selection process is through a candidate experience survey. A key part of your hiring strategy should be to be able to evaluate your performance at each stage of the recruitment life cycle, so you are able to improve your recruitment process.

A key part of candidate experience is ensuring your selection process is inclusive. Tools are available which can help in this, such as through CV anonymisation, allowing candidates to progress based on their skills rather than any personal information which may incite bias in a recruiter or hiring manager.

Snapping up the best of the bunch

Making a job offer to your ideal candidate is not always simple. If you have recognised talent in them, and they are actively job seeking, chances are they could have another job offer in their inbox. This is where your hiring strategy becomes the most important.

Displaying yourself as a competitive employer when it comes to talent acquisition is vital. Even though certain details may have come up in the job description you publicised, and your interview process with your potential new employee, it will be when you make the job offer than your strategy you devised earlier in the recruitment process will need to serve you well.

You might be interested to see what five things you should include in a job offer email.


With full cycle recruiting, many forget the last, yet arguably most crucial stage of the recruitment process, which completes your full cycle recruiting. A great onboarding experience can improve retention by 82%. Therefore, in the interest of retaining your new employee, a positive onboarding experience cannot be excluded from your recruitment process and strategy.

What exactly a great onboarding strategy looks like can be a really subjective, so you may want to look into what you should include in your onboarding pack for inspiration before you begin your recruiting process. Some may argue it’s getting your new hire fully acquainted with the culture, hiring manager, team, and workplace. Others who recruit with a culture of -hitting the ground running’ may focus getting the new employee up to speed and productive as soon as possible.

About the author

Hannah Elliott