A short while ago I answered this very enquiry on Quora:
Being a Recruiter:
Someone who functions specifically on recruiting dedicates their focus to the process of hiring. This includes creating and posting job descriptions on a variety of media (print, social media, job boards, professional associations, etc), collecting and screening candidates who apply for posted positions (either manually or using software to do so), corresponding with and managing relationships with the candidates throughout the process, making a job offer to selected candidates and delivering the message to candidates that were not successful.
Recruiters are incredibly skilled at managing multiple priorities, needs and relationships in time sensitive environments. The keys to success as a recruiter are to have a thorough understanding of the business to be able to gauge both the needs and expectations of hiring managers, the fit of the individual with the organizational culture and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the applicants alongside the role they are applying for. Interpersonal skills and spidey senses are a must. Interviewing is a little like dating. You have to learn as much as you can about an individual in a very short period of time to make a recommendation on whether or not you want to enter into an employment relationship with them. Given we spend most of our lives at work, recruiters are key to the success and prosperity of an organization in the role they play to select qualified, emotionally intelligent, growth minded, resilient professionals to not only do a job, but grow and fit into a team and a corporate culture. They will often team up with a technical specialist to asses a candidates skills on a variety of fronts before making a recommendation to a hiring manager on who to extend an offer to. This process is carried out in tandem with as many roles as are posted at any one time. Once a candidate is hired (or not), the recruiters interaction with the candidate either ceases or is taken over by the HR Specialist and their hiring manager/team.
Being an HR Advisor/Generalist/Specialist:
An HR professional can and may have recruiting as one of the responsibilities of their job function. However, what sets them apart from recruiters is that they also have a number of other functions and tasks that they are responsible for that serve the needs of the staff and the business. (My personal opinion is that recruiting is an essential component to a business and should have dedicated specialists that can fulfill this function as opposed to it being ‘one-of-many’ things on the plate of an HR Specialist)
The tasks and areas of responsibility that someone in HR would have that a recruiter would typically not include;
- on boarding and orientation of newly hired employees
- providing support and coaching to leaders and employees in areas of professional development, learning and training, performance management, communication, change management, and business strategy and process
- advising on rights and responsibilities of the organization and its employees in situations where being legally compliant is essential (process development, termination, performance or disability management)
- administering payroll, group benefits, annual compliance, employee engagement, health and safety programs, and the like
- all of the behind the scenes work to formulate and execute a compensation strategy that is competitive, suited to your geography, market, industry, and pays your people fairly
- maintaining and creating documentation around employee records of any life-cycle changes such as hiring or exiting the organization, promotions, payroll records, compensation changes, benefits applications/forms/changes, performance reviews/feedback, disciplinary notice, change of address/name/position/employment status
- creating and updating relevant communication of policies, procedures, guidelines, best practices and compliance
- organization and execution of staff and company events
- organization and facilitation of learning, knowledge, and communication sessions
- provide day-to-day advice to employees and leadership on anything and everything related to their employment (group benefits, payroll, policies, etc)
- terminations and the logistics they entail
There are many, many, more things to add to the general dumping ground of HR and listed above are just a few. The beauty of working in HR is that no two organizations do it quite the same and if you are lucky enough to join a team or an organization that allows you to leverage your individual strengths, you can build a solid and fulfilling career.