HR Recruitment and Job Search Success

Arnold Mascarenhas
6 min readMar 17, 2021


Diversity Hands Searching Job Search Opportunity Concept
  • Do you feel lost with how to begin with your job search effort?
  • Have you been searching for a while and had no luck with online job ads and other typical routes?
  • Are people telling you to update your resume and ensure it is ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) compliant so that the software can ‘read’ your resume well?
  • Are consultants feeding into your fears and uncertainties to sell you resume packages and help you prepare for the job search process?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, continue reading to learn about how recruiting works in the real world and how it impacts your job search.

So how do recruitment processes affect my job search?

Most people are fairly clueless about how businesses really work. They do not know how various functions operate and how businesses engage with their customers, vendors, partners, and employees.

This is fine for the most part because not all of us need to or even want to know what happens behind the curtains of a business. But this lack of knowledge leads us to take ineffective actions that have little to no result, and one of those things includes how we look for jobs.

A person's hands typing on a laptop with the laptop screen saying 'job search'. There's a cup of coffee in the background.
A lack of understanding about how recruitment as a function works has led many people astray

We end up wasting time, energy, money in chasing limited opportunities, and in some cases, opportunities that do not even exist.

It is crucial to learn how recruitment functions work, so that we do not end up being one of the people replying “Interested” on LinkedIn to a random job post.

Think of it like this: not knowing the rules of the game well enough is like going to play Checkers at a Chess tournament. The board looks the same, but the rules of the game are completely different. You probably won’t win.

Chess and checkers on the same board
How can one expect to win at Chess when one is playing Checkers on the same board?

A little about recruitment processes

If you believe that the HR (Human Resources) department doesn’t do much besides organizing annual day parties, getting cakes for birthdays, and arranging the intra-company sports festival, you’ve got blinders on!

Out of the many critical functions HR serves within an organization, recruitment is one of the most important ones that goes on behind the scenes.

Employees are the foundation of any strong team, so recruitment as a practice is a very critical business process.

HR recruitment in medium-to-large businesses is a reasonably well-oiled activity. It must be carried out effectively to keep the organization running smoothly and without any resource-related interruptions. (Can you imagine a project that was expected to kickoff in the 3rd quarter of the year, but HR didn’t line up enough candidates and there were no people ready to start working?!)

Stages of the recruitment process

The HR recruitment process consists of the below stages:

  1. Identify the hiring needs (skills needed and talent gaps, department-wise headcount),
  2. Recruitment planning (selection process, timeline, budget, and job requirements including qualifications, skills definitions, work experience etc.),
  3. Advertising, outreach, and sourcing (Online & offline paths to acquire prospective candidates),
  4. Candidate evaluation (screening, interviews, filtering),
  5. Candidate selection (negotiation and offers),
  6. Pre-joining preparation (logistics, training prep, relocation if needed), and
  7. On-boarding (welcome, initiation, and set new hires up for success)
Flowchart showing the stages of recruitment
The different recruitment stages and which one is key for those looking for a job

Recruitment sourcing is key to your job search success

Most candidates look for jobs by searching on public job boards, careers websites, or job aggregator sites. But here is a secret you need to know:

Over 80% of the available jobs are filled and we never see them advertised on these sites.

Image of an iceberg to indicate that the jobs that the public gets to know of is just 20% or the tip of the iceberg
It is only the leftover residual jobs that get posted on public sites and portals; the bulk of the positions get filled in different ways

So if only 20% of the jobs get posted, while 100s and 1000s of us fight on job portals to get a shred of attention with ATS resumes and screening software, where do the other 80% go?

Wouldn’t it be better for us to be looking there instead?

The short answer is: yes. The most optimal place to be looking would be to target to first 80% of the jobs.

How does one do that? Well, first you need to understand where those 80% are going?

The recruitment job search pyramid

The difference between where employers are searching for the right fit candidates versus where prospective employees are looking for positions is very stark.

Although the pyramid is not a standard framework, it is a simplified version of what happens across most companies.

Job search pyramid to show the direction in which employers hire and the direction in which people look for jobs explained in the content below
Employers hire in the opposite direction from which people look for jobs (Explained below in detail)

1. Internal candidates first

Companies look for candidates internally first. Promotions, moves from other departments, (maybe Ravi wanted a transfer to another city to be close to his home town), and all of that. Companies rightly, look after their existing people first.

2. Friends of our friends are our friends too

Next, most reasonably sized companies (startups too, nowadays) have strong referral programs. (So if you work here, and we like you, chances are your friends might be good cultural fits too. Plus you have a reputation to maintain here. You wouldn’t really send us your lazy, clown friend from college if you didn’t think they would work out here, would you?)

3. The network effect

Then there is a strong reliance on the network effect. (When we like our companies, we talk about our companies to our friends. They ask for opportunities and we look out for our friends.) Our network includes our university alumni and ex-colleagues from work. Keeping in touch with this network in an authentic and meaningful way can be a great investment of time.

4. The country club effect

The ‘country club effect’ is a result of networking within professional associations, committees, or clubs. One can join such clubs or associations for professional development or for networking purposes. This is where people who have similar skills locate each other easily. There’s a wealth of information regarding job openings and requirements within such groups. (So we have an opening for a middle-management position, and there’s someone from the Project Management Association who is looking and would be a great fit!) Referral programs are also made use of in such instances, making it a win-win for both parties.

5. Official recruiters, headhunters, and talent banks

Finally, HR approach recruiters and headhunters. These are professional entities who maintain databases with tons of people, their skills, poaching potential, and other information. They are basically a directory of sorts that companies connect with on a paid basis (sometimes per head or sometimes retainer), to find necessary talent.

6. Online ads and public job posting boards

On-line jobs concept with magnifying glass and laptop screen
Job boards are typically where the leftover jobs are advertised; the positions that couldn’t be filled

Eventually, when they can’t find what they’re looking for in the best places, then come the job boards. These are typically the last pick of the jobs left and available. The leftovers so to speak. And this is where majority of the people are fighting and chasing online.

If you’ve seen people posting Interested on LinkedIn, where on this pyramid do you think they lie?


Now, in order to stay at the lower end of the pyramid in the diagram above, you need to start making connections. Do this over time and not right before you need a job.

Blocks of wood with line drawings of human figures stacked in a pyramid. A magnifying glass hovers over one which is red and clear, while the rest are black and blurry. This indicates success in job search
Reach out, build relationships, and showcase yourself and your personal brand

When you do this over time, you will begin to form deep, meaningful relationships that put you on someone’s radar to help you get one step closer to that dream job.

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Arnold Mascarenhas

Lokyatha is an education focused initiative to enable young adults to live better, more fruitful lives by delivering real world life skills.