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Recruitment Ops vs. People Ops: What's the Difference?

The differences between recruitment and people operations broken down in 5 minutes or less. 

If you work in HR, you've likely heard the buzz around Recruitment Operations (RecOps) and People Operations (PeopleOps) - and for good reason. These buzzwords play an essential role in any organization and go hand-in-hand when hiring and retaining your talent.

To ensure that you're equipped to attract, hire, and retain the best of the best, let's dive into the differences between the two terms and why you should invest in both to yield greater results for your organization.

Recruitment Operations (RecOps) Defined 

There is no standard definition for RecOps, since it can change depending on the organization's size and short-term needs. However, a pretty universal goal of RecOps is to deliver a top-class talent acquisition strategy by creating an optimized and seamless hiring process.

RecOps consists of the tools and processes that support an optimized and seamless hiring process.

Typical activities might will include:

  • Creating efficient work processes around sourcing quality candidates.
  • Conducting screenings and documenting output.
  • Creating job descriptions.
  • Coordinating interviews across teams.
  • Working with hiring managers to understand the needs and conducting interviews.

The RecOps team will use tools and technologies like ATS, job boards, and social media to ensure streamlined processes.

In addition to tools and processes, RecOps also dabbles with implementing metrics and making talent-related decisions based on these data-driven insights. Having data under its belt is critical because if the function is supposed to create an optimized and seamless hiring process, they need actual findings to back its efficiency recommendations.

Your RecOps team could track dozens of metrics (like the ones below) which give insights into whether they maximize the company's value by hiring quicker, reducing costs, and using resources effectively.

  • Time-to-fill.
  • Cost-per-hire.
  • Applicant conversion rates.
  • Candidate satisfaction.

The best part is that these metrics aren't just for measuring efficiency alone. Thee metrics are also critical indicators of candidate experience, which is pertinent to succeeding in a market with knowingly fierce competition and talent shortages. Insights show that by 2030 there could be a global talent shortage of 85.2 million people, so investing in a strong RecOps team (or training your current team on RecOps skills) is a non-negotiable.

People Operations (PeopleOps) Defined

People Ops views the company so that the employees are seen as the true customers within the business. Author and COO of Whereby, Jessica Zwaan, defines People Ops as the product your team buys into during recruitment and then continues to subscribe to until they hand in their resignation.


As described by Jessica Zwaan, People Ops is the product your team buys into during recruitment and then continues to subscribe to until they hand in their resignation.


So while RecOps is supposed to make the recruitment process smooth for potential employees, PeopleOps is supposed to empower those committed employees and facilitate their day-to-day work. A PeopleOps function will typically develop policies and procedures that promote employee growth, culture, satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

Key data for the PeopeOps team will include those metrics that can indicate the overall employee success and satisfaction in the organization. The following metrics are typically good indicators for this:

  • Employee engagement
  • Turnover
  • Productivity
  • Learning and development efficiency

Teams can measure these metrics by looking into categories such as profitability, customer satisfaction, peer reviews/ feedback, and through focus groups and surveys. For example, you may look into profitability and overall client satisfaction scores to measure productivity. Then in turn, you may use productivity metrics to indicate the efficiency of your L&D initiatives.

At the end of the day, without a strong PeopleOps function, you may struggle to retain and develop your talent, which can lead to high turnover rates and decreased productivity. All of which can hamper the success of your business.

Key Differences 


RecOps is supposed to make the recruitment process smooth for potential employees; PeopleOps is supposed to empower those committed employees and facilitate their day-to-day work.


To sum up the differences above, the most essential takeaways would be that the functions differ in terms of 3 main areas;

  1. Scope: RecOps focuses on attracting and hiring top talent through an efficient, high-quality recruitment pipeline. On the other hand, PeopleOps takes a holistic approach to employee management, which enhances the entire employee lifecycle.
  2. Goal: RecOps has the goal of optimizing the talent acquisition process, whereas PeopleOps has the goal of creating an environment that promotes employee growth, satisfaction, and retention.
  3. Metrics: RecOps emphasizes efficiency in the hiring processes and uses KPIs to identify and address inefficiencies. PeopleOps uses metrics for insight into employee success and satisfaction in the organization.

Finally, let's tie them together! Although they have different goals, they both share an overarching goal: to enhance your business performance through better people management.

You need a strong RecOps team to hire top talent when needed, ensuring that you are operating effectively. Then once the talent is hired, PeopleOps will come in with the focus of developing and retaining both these new employees as well as your current employees. Which will, of course, also contribute to the successful achievement of business goals.

It can also work in the sense that if your current employees are happy at work (from a job well done on the PeopleOps side), it contributes to a strong employer brand which can then play a role in attracting top talent. The reverse is also true. RecOps can provide PeopleOps with relevant information needed to effectively onboard new hires as they hold all the detail relating to the job, the candidates' interview notes etc.

The point here is that both functions act in synergy if you know their differences and how they complement one another.

We hope this provides you with a better perspective on how you view both RecOps and PeopleOps. And how investment in both will lead to a harmonious environment and contribute to the long-term success of your company.

Author profile Sally Tarr

Holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology and is currently a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Amby. Writes on culture, employee experience and talent strategies.