July 12, 2023
Dualta Doherty


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The 360 recruiter has been the dominant model of the industry since the emergence of professional recruitment services in the last century. It’s been that way for a reason. It's an extremely effective way to run a desk that benefits not just the recruitment company but the clients as well. It gives the recruiter complete control over the entire process, while they act as a single point of contact for the client.

That said, the emergence of highly specialised and technical fields has seen a dramatic shift to 180 recruitment in certain locales and industries.

We take a look at the Pros & Cons of running a 360 Recruitment Operation, as well as what happens when you do choose to split the desks and run 180.

We also offer some thoughts on how with the right kind of approach, things could be done a little differently.


360 Recruitment cycle definition: 360 recruitment is a full service recruitment model. It’s end-to-end, meaning it covers the full hiring cycle or 360 degrees!

This means working across not just the candidate side; sourcing, screening, preparing, and onboarding candidates. But also the client side; doing outbound to reach more clients, onboarding clients (signing), identifying client needs, and negotiating terms.



Subject matter expertise goes a long way to building trust with clients. And that’s really what’s needed for a business to confidently hand over the recruitment process to a third party. The 360 model allows a recruiter to build that trust as they get to grips with the client’s specific requirements. Seeing the recruitment process through from start to finish allows recruiters to foster relationships that a split desk model might struggle to make.


From the business perspective, hiring a 360 recruiter means hiring an expert in their field. It means they can rely on the recruiters inside knowledge of the job market. Which in turn gives clients a massive boost of confidence from the outset. There’s also the added advantage of speed if consultants already have the ideal candidate in their database.

Less mistakes

A 360 recruiter by nature has visibility of the whole process from end to end. Over time this builds to an experienced recruiter who can spot problems early on.

Also by virtue of having less people in the chain, there’s less chance for issues related to miscommunication to creep in. This means less time wasted and arguably a more streamlined process overall.


Broad vs Deep

You’ve got to be well rounded. This can make a good 360 recruiter a real asset. At the same time, if you’re good at 3 things, are you really an expert in any of them?


Having to cover so many aspects of the recruitment process, hiring can be hindered or stopped in its tracks if a recruiter's time becomes limited. Unforeseen sick days, or even holidays at an inopportune time during can torpedo a placement.


One factor that can crop up, especially in candidate driven markets, is the speed of delivery. If a recruiter is covering a multitude of tasks and not getting enough support at certain key stages, talent might slip through the net.

A 360 recruiter must be hungry for it all

On top of having the right skills, any potential 360 hire has to have a desire to conquer each aspect of the cycle.

Business Development: Getting out there and winning new business. They have to love the chase, and on top of that securing the deal. This means not just enjoying the feeling of landing a new client but also serving that client before just chasing the next one.

Client Management: Putting internal networking skills to the test as they build recognition and grow the account. Applying more attention to detail and following client specific processes to continue to build trust.

Candidate Recruitment: Working day in and day out with people. Weighing up the needs of both client and candidate to identify top talent that will also fit well within the organisation. They need to be consultative and understand both the business they’re recruiting for as well as the candidate they’re placing, all while understanding the market they’re working in.


What is 180 Recruitment?

180 recruitment takes the traditional 360 approach to candidate generation and business development and splits it apart, focusing on one aspect. Most 180 recruiters put this focus solely on the candidate side, which has its pros and cons.



One goal, one focus. Delivering candidates becomes their key metric. The day is less divided allowing 180 recruiters to focus solely on sourcing, screening and candidate experience. There might be an added advantage to 180 in a candidate short market, where they can really focus in on and increase the number of candidates being generated.


Because the scope of work is reduced, with recruiters working on much more defined tasks, the costs can be much less.


180 can be an opportunity for new recruiters to ‘learn the trade’. With 360 the learning is much deeper, and so takes much longer. But with 180, new recruiters can learn the delivery side before working with clients.


Misaligned Incentives

There’s a risk in a situation where a 180 recruiter is performing incredibly well - do we want to move that person into a 360 role and lose that candidate generation?


With more people in the chain and workloads being split between different people or teams, miscommunication is more frequent. This can lead to some embarrassing mistakes, which ultimately diminish trust on the client side.

Knowledge Loss

By introducing gaps between people and teams, specialist knowledge, market insight, or even a proper understanding of the clients' specific needs can be lost.



Top 360 recruiters don’t wait for a client opening to begin their search. Maintaining an active talent pipeline of both passive and active candidates is key. Keep your ATS up to date and continually source the most qualified candidates for future openings. This has a compounding effect because when an opening does appear, and you have the right candidate for it, your increased speed of delivery adds tons of value at the time of hiring. Which in turns leads to more trust, better reputation & more opportunities coming your way.


Talk to any successful 360 recruiter and they’re likely using a wide mix of technology; CRM, ATS, dashboards, spreadsheets, marketing apps, websites, lead magnets. But when improperly aligned with internal processes, groundbreaking tech can quickly lead to frustration and inefficiency. The key here to gain leverage and a competitive edge is to ensure that all of your technology works together in one cohesive system. Streamlining saves you time, money and ultimately allows you to grow your business.


360 recruitment can benefit from the right dynamic of 360 consultants backed up or supported by delivery consultants. A mixed model where trainees work through a delivery role, then once they’ve built credibility can move to a 360 position. Or, if they are more suited to a 180 role, they stay and support the 360 team. This can be a great incentive to attract talent to your own team - new hires won't have to wait as long for their first placement.

Running both models simultaneously allows you to retain top talent who have different strengths across business development, sourcing, and account management.


The 360 recruiter is not dead, but the model is changing.

The emergence of new technologies and the increased specialisation of certain industries has led to the rise of the 180 recruiter. That said, the 360 model is still an effective way to run a recruitment desk. It has its advantages, namely in the area of trust & expertise. There are some drawbacks to 360, namely in the areas of focus and cost. But these can be mitigated with the right kind of approach.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to run a 360 or 180 desk depends on the specific needs of the business. But with the right mix of technology, processes and people, both models, or a mix, can be extremely successful.

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