What is full desk recruiting? This blog compares the differences between the 360 & 180 roles available in recruitment.

In this blog, we look into what is full desk recruiting in comparison to split-desk recruiting whilst highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Recruitment, a multifaceted process, involves identifying, attracting, and evaluating candidates for job opportunities. In Full Desk Recruiting, this process extends beyond candidate-focused activities to encompass both client interactions and business development.

Full desk recruiting, also known as 360 recruiting or 360 recruitment is when recruitment professionals seamlessly blend the two sides of a recruitment role. In other words, it is when a recruiter focuses on both the client aspect and the candidates simultaneously. Unlike traditional split-desk recruiting where you either focus on candidates or clients, full-desk recruiters will focus on all aspects and are versatile individuals who not only source and assess candidates but also cultivate client relationships.

In an era where talent is a coveted commodity, full-desk recruiting has emerged as a strategic advantage. The ability to navigate both candidate and client landscapes positions recruiters as valuable partners, crucial for success in the fiercely competitive job market.

What is Full Desk Recruiting – A Deeper Dive

Full Desk Recruiting involves a comprehensive approach where professionals manage end-to-end recruitment processes while actively engaging in client acquisition and relationship building. It’s a holistic strategy that requires a diverse skill set.

Beyond sourcing and assessing candidates, Full Desk Recruiters actively pursue clients, negotiate contracts, and build lasting partnerships. This dual role demands a nuanced understanding of both recruitment and sales strategies. A Full Desk Recruiter wears many hats — talent sourcing, candidate assessment, client relationship building, and sales strategist. From crafting compelling job descriptions to conducting thorough interviews, Full Desk Recruiters navigate the intricacies of talent acquisition.

On the sales front, Full Desk Recruiters actively seek new business opportunities, negotiate contracts, and foster strong client relationships. Achieving a balance between recruitment and sales responsibilities is crucial for success. Finding an equilibrium between sourcing top talent and securing client partnerships is an art. By focusing on both sides, you could argue that your time is spread thin and you aren’t completing one to your best ability but on the other hand, working full-desk should help you understand the market more intricately giving you more confidence when selling your services to clients and then better understanding the clients when sourcing talent.

Most recruitment agencies will favour split desk recruitment and will have a dedicated candidate sourcing team, whereas freelance recruiters will work on a full-desk recruiting basis which naturally bolsters their expertise.

Pros and Cons of Full Desk Recruiting (360)


  • Trust: Establishing trust with clients is paramount, and subject matter expertise plays a pivotal role in this process. The full-desk model enables recruiters to build trust by intimately understanding the client’s specific requirements. Seeing the recruitment process through from start to finish fosters relationships that might be challenging for a split desk model to establish.
  • Expertise: Engaging a Full Desk Recruiter means bringing on board an industry expert. Clients can rely on the recruiter’s in-depth knowledge of the job market, instilling confidence from the outset. The advantage of speed also comes into play when recruiters already have the ideal candidate in their database.
  • Reduced Mistakes: A Full Desk Recruiter, with visibility of the entire process, evolves into an experienced professional capable of identifying issues early on. The streamlined process, with fewer individuals in the chain, minimises the chances of miscommunication-related problems, leading to more efficient operations.


  • Broad vs Deep: The requirement to be well-rounded is a distinctive feature of full-desk recruiters. While this versatility is an asset, there is a consideration — being good at multiple things may raise questions about being an expert in any one of them.
  • Time: The comprehensive responsibilities of a full-desk recruiter can pose challenges if their time becomes limited. Unexpected sick days or untimely holidays can disrupt or halt the hiring process, affecting timely placements.
  • Speed: In candidate-driven markets, the speed of delivery is crucial. The multifaceted responsibilities of a full-desk recruiter, without adequate support at key stages, may result in talent slipping through the cracks, impacting the overall speed and efficiency of the recruitment process.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Split Desk Recruiting (180)


  • Focus: The singular goal and focus of split-desk recruiters is delivering candidates, making it their primary metric. This concentrated approach allows these recruiters to dedicate their entire day to sourcing, screening, and enhancing the overall candidate experience. In a candidate-short market, this focus can result in a substantial increase in the number of generated candidates.
  • Cost: Due to the narrowed scope of work, as recruiters concentrate on more defined tasks, the costs associated with split-desk recruiting can be significantly lower compared to broader approaches.
  • Training: Split-desk recruiting provides an ideal environment for new recruiters to acquire foundational knowledge. Unlike the deeper and more extended learning curve of full-desk recruitment, the split-desk approach enables new recruits to gain experience in the delivery side before engaging with clients.


  • Misaligned Incentives: A potential downside arises when a high-performing split-desk recruiter is considered for a full-desk role. Is it desirable to transition such a successful candidate generator into a role where they might lose their focus on candidate generation?
  • Miscommunication: With more individuals involved in the process and responsibilities distributed among different teams, miscommunication becomes more prevalent. This heightened risk can lead to embarrassing mistakes, ultimately eroding trust on the client side.
  • Knowledge Loss: The introduction of gaps between individuals and teams in the split-desk model poses a risk of losing specialised knowledge, market insights, or a comprehensive understanding of the specific needs of clients. This potential knowledge loss can negatively affect the recruitment process’s overall effectiveness.


When answering the question “What is full desk recruiting?”, it is evident that full-desk recruiting demands recruiters to seamlessly blend client and candidate facets to embody a unique versatility in the competitive job market. This holistic approach is more than a job — it’s a strategic advantage. In a world where talent is a coveted commodity, the full desk model positions recruiters as pivotal partners, adept at navigating both the candidate and client landscapes. The ability to manage end-to-end processes, from sourcing to building lasting client relationships, requires a diverse skill set and a nuanced understanding of both recruitment and sales strategies.

As we weigh the pros and cons, it’s essential to recognise that the full desk approach isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Success in this dual role requires a delicate balancing act. It’s about understanding that while time may seem spread thin, the intricate market knowledge gained can enhance confidence in both selling services to clients and understanding client needs when sourcing talent.

In comparison, the traditional split-desk recruiting, often termed 180 recruitment, provides a focused alternative. It narrows the scope of work, potentially reducing costs and offering a structured training ground for new recruits. Yet, misaligned incentives and miscommunication challenges must be addressed.

In conclusion, full desk recruiting is a dynamic journey, demanding adaptability, resilience, and a commitment to continuous improvement. As full-desk recruiters navigate multiple responsibilities simultaneously, effective time management strategies become paramount. The challenges are real, but so are the opportunities for those who embrace the full desk model with a nuanced understanding of its complexities.