You’re deep in your job search, sending out resumes, emailing employers, and participating in screening interviews. But who exactly are you talking to? Are you emailing a recruiter or the hiring manager? And why does it matter?

You’ve heard the different titles for hiring professionals before, but they’re all the same thing, right?

Not exactly. While hiring professionals all work to fill open positions, their roles are all different and have very different impacts on your job search.

Here’s what you need to know about the different hiring professionals and their role in the hiring process:

Third party recruiters

Third party or external recruiters are hired by employers to find the best candidates for an open position. Employers work with external recruiters when they have a lot of open positions, or if a position is very specific or hard to fill.

There are two types of external recruiters — retained and contingent. Retained recruiters have a contract relationship with the employer. Contingent recruiters are only paid if they find the candidate who is hired.

External recruiters serve as a go-between for you and the employer, and working with them can be beneficial. Third party recruiters can be powerful allies in the job search process. They may advocate for you if you’re a good fit for the job, especially contingent recruiters. They get paid if you get hired. In addition, if the job doesn’t work out, they might have other opportunities to offer you.

However, third party recruiters may be working with several candidates for the same job to increase their chances of earning a commission. In addition, an employer may be working with several external recruiters who are all competing to have their candidate selected.

In-house recruiters

Internal or corporate recruiters serve a similar role as external recruiters, but are salaried employees of the organization.

In-house recruiters are more familiar with the culture and needs of an organization, but they’re less likely to advocate for you. Their loyalty is to the employer. Internal recruiters are paid whether you get the job or not. Their job is to find the best candidate for their employer, not to help job seekers.

Corporate recruiters have little influence on interviews or hiring decisions, but they are the first to find and sort through candidates. When dealing with an in-house recruiter, you must make a good first impression and act professionally to move on to the next stage of the hiring process.

Talent acquisition managers

Talent acquisition and recruiting are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. While recruiting is primarily concerned with sourcing candidates for a specific job, talent acquisition is the ongoing process of building a pipeline of talent.

Talent acquisition managers are responsible for a range of strategies to build relationships with professionals. This may include employment branding, internal referral programs, and retention programs. Managers create the strategy for hiring, develop a recruitment process, and oversee its execution. They also analyze the process and attempt to improve it.

Recruitment is reactive, but talent acquisition is continual. Therefore, managers are more focused on building relationships with talent professionals even when they are not hiring. Forging relationships with these professionals can lead to future opportunities.

Hiring managers

Unlike recruiters, hiring managers are involved in every stage of the hiring process. Hiring managers work for the employer and are familiar with the company, its culture, and the responsibilities of the open position.

A hiring manager is the specific person who is responsible for hiring a particular role, but that’s not their title or main responsibility. For example, the Director of Sales may be the hiring manager for a sales rep role. So, if possible, familiarize yourself with the actual title and role of the hiring manager you are communicating with. This may better prepare you for the way they approach the hiring process.

Hiring managers are often the ones crafting the job requirements and job post, screening and interviewing candidates, and drafting and extending the job offer. They work with recruiters to find qualified candidates. But they are more interested in building a team and finding professionals who will contribute to the organization’s goals — not just filling a spot.

Hiring managers are important to making hiring decisions, but other leadership and team members are usually involved as well.

Through most of the hiring process, the hiring manager serves as your main point of contact and is critical to the final hiring decision. So aim to form a good relationships and impress them.

Each professional involved in the hiring process is important, and understanding their roles can help you land the job you want.

Which hiring professionals have you worked with? Let us know in the comments below!