Why Corporate Recruiting Departments (Sometimes) Struggle

Most corporate recruiting departments struggle to fully support the recruiting needs of their organizations. This is not to say that there aren’t strong recruiting functions or recruiters on the corporate side, but corporate recruiting does struggle with an image issue that is at least somewhat deserved. A couple weeks ago I published an article that stirred up conversation between corporate and third party recruiters, so I thought I’d follow up with a more detailed understanding of the corporate recruiter’s role. This perspective should be beneficial for some agency recruiters to understand why their corporate recruiting counterparts sometimes struggle to fill openings, and also suggests what corporate recruiting leaders should be fixing. 

  • Requisition load — Most corporate recruiters cover between 20-40 openings, with some supporting up to 100 positions. As a result, recruiters don’t have the opportunity to spend the quality time recruiting that they would like. A recruiter can’t effectively and proactively support 40 openings.
  • Incentive structure — Incentive pay on the corporate side does not reflect the impact that a top-notch recruiter can have on an organization. As a result it becomes nearly impossible to attract top agency recruiters to the corporate side. With financial incentives (bonuses) not closely tied to results (hiring top-notch candidates more efficiently) companies will always struggle with recruiter motivation. Said another way, good recruiters are worth every penny they earn. Corporate recruiters are typically eligible for annual or quarterly bonuses, so the timing of the reward is not closely aligned to result. Several corporate recruiting departments have implemented scorecards to create differentiated compensation for their top performers; however, they need to move more closely to a pay-per-hire model in order to get the results they want. Unfortunately much of this tracking is activity-focused and not results-focused. If corporate recruiting departments could implement a similar compensation structure as agencies (lower base salary, higher bonus structure), they would definitely reap the benefit. And in the end, organizations would hire more top talent at a lower cost per hire.
  • Recruiter skill set — Corporate recruiting leaders have got to get to a point where they aren’t seen as just another HR function. Good recruiters, typically, are not the best “HR people” because they like the hunt and financial rewards that go with finding the best people. Typically this is not the mentality of a good HR generalist who is typically very process-focused. Once dedicated recruiters are compensated appropriately, developing/growing recruiters becomes a much easier task. They will see that the top paid recruiters are also the ones who are best at cold calling, networking, closing the candidate, salary negotiation, etc. and will seek development opportunities out for themselves. Most training dollars are wasted on recruiters who simply don’t have the time or motivation to change their recruiting approach.
  • Poor recruiting process — Too many corporate recruiting departments are still built around post and pray. I don’t think it will come as a surprise that a lot of corporate recruiters post their positions and simply phone screen those who apply. Given the requisition loads it’s understandable why many corporate recruiters take this approach. Clearly this approach does not garner top talent, but it also provides the greatest opportunity for third party recruiters to add value. And the area that recruiting leaders must address immediately.
  • Distractions — Corporate recruiters are tasked with a lot more than just recruiting. They may be pulled into overflow HR “stuff” (employee relations, open enrollment, compensation studies, etc.) that takes time away from their core responsibility. As long as corporate recruiters are tied to the HR function, they will be pulled in as HR pinch hitters. Additionally, corporate recruiting departments have a lot of reporting that they must commit time to, including corporate/departmental reports, OFCCP, EEO audits, and in many cases internal audit. These reports are time killers. Recruiting functions work best when they are supported by a dedicated administrative assistant to handle the details (offer letter creation, interview scheduling, paperwork, input in HRIS, etc) so recruiters can focus their time on actually recruiting.

In closing, don’t interpret any of this article to say corporate recruiters don’t work hard. Most of the ones I know do truly work hard, but they don’t have the recruiting skill set, motivation, and focus (see points above) to truly be successful to the degree their organizations need them to be.

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In full accountability, a good part of these challenges are created by the recruiting function (or at least recruiting leadership) itself. We’ve not been able to provide enough on the value proposition side to say “leave us alone” when it comes to HR distractions. We’ve also not been able to create appropriate compensation structures to attract and retain the best recruiters in the market. I’m not completely sold that recruiting should be rolled into HR at all.

Matt Lowney is the CEO of Practice Recruiters and The Recruiting Call Center. He was previously the EVP of talent & operations at The Buntin Group, Tennessee’s largest advertising agency. Prior, he was director of recruiting for HealthSpring and recruiting manager at DaVita. Connect with him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattlowney


50 Comments on “Why Corporate Recruiting Departments (Sometimes) Struggle

  1. I think most companies could eradicate much of what you talk about here by moving their recruitment function from HR and into Sales & Marketing.

  2. I typically don’t comment on corporate v. agency recruiting battles, and here’s why:

    It is not employees or vendors who has the need for talent, spends the money and makes the rules in solving their talent acquisition challenges. It is the employer!

    And these are the two employer decisions that have led to the subject of this post:

    Train or Recruit?
    You invest time and money training employees that will wash-out before they are trained or recruited away after they are trained. Why not let the competitors hire & train the talent and simply recruit that talent away after he is trained. It’s is more cost effective and has created the demand for recruiting.

    Pay someone or Do it yourself?

    Now that recruitment has become the strategy for success; the question is should we do it in-house or outsource to agencies?
    But the corporate strategy is to focus more resources on only the 20% core functions that drive 80% revenue to the business. And outsource the 80% functions that drive only 20% revenue. Recruiting is a time/labor intensive process. The only reason you would do it in-house is if it can be done better and more cost efficiently that outsourcing to agencies.

    That cost factor has created the need for specialized recruitment agencies.

    Over the last decade, two events have occurred and have gradually shifted that demand. Those two events are technology and the great recession. With technology, employers and agencies now has access to the same recruiting tools. And the recession has forced employers to do more with less to increase revenue and reduce cost. As a result, the perceived gap between the cost of doing recruiting in-house and outsourcing to agencies has become narrowed.

    Current economic conditions have reduced the demand for traditional agencies, however the demand for recruiting the best talent needed to effectively compete in this new environment has increased.

    The one (corporate or agency) who frames the best picture of recruitment in the future (not the past), will win the battle.

  3. Requisition load: a better gauge is requisition variation. A recruiter could handle 40 reqs if they are all for customer service reps

    Comp: I think tying incentives only to # of hires or % of salary (like a search firm) is a mistake. Quality hires are what we should incent, and frankly search firms get paid a lot of money and almost never are held to a quality standard. Why? Because it often takes year to determine the differential impact of a new employee.

    Recruiting is not part of HR debate: I am so sick of this debate. The best “HR” people are just as valuable (perhaps more valuable) than the best Recruiters. I spent 11 years in recruiting roles and am now an executive. Do you want your executive team to think less of the recruiting/HR team? That’s easy, start infighting. Recruiting is just one part of a holistic talent acquisition and development process. We must get over this issue. Our fight is against our competitors not our own employees. We should create a penalty for every time an employee says “them” and is referring to another set of employees. There is no “them” in a company, only “we”.

    Recruiting process: your argument is that most corporate Recruiters don’t really recruit. I disagree with that sweeping statement. However, I do think process, specifically change management, is a growth area for most Recruiters I have met (including myself). Recruiters must introduce change into their companies because of the pace of innovation. Also, adding software is easier than changing behavior (i.e. process). The result is things get done faster, but not necessarily better.

    Distractions: What you call distractions I would call being a productive part of a corporate team. By the way, HR Generalists do a lot of quiet recruiting stuff (e.g. Encouraging employee referrals). Are they being distracted or being part of a collaborative team focused on strengthening the company? Would anyone really tell their CEO, “Sorry about that OFCCP audit, but I am too busy with my real recuiting work to be bothered with that HR stuff. I hope that legal HR stuff works out for you.” If people don’t want to do anything except raw recruiting, I suggest they work for search firms.

    Take care.

  4. Hello,

    I have read the article and I would like to put my comment, as myself I am quite dedicated Internal Recruiter and ex-agency consultant (qith quite good performance track). I have couple of thoughts after reading but since quite busy – will share just one:) True – I decided to take opportunity to work inside the company, taking 50% cut in my salary. But motivation doesn’t come only from money! People have also something called sense of purpose in what they do. I am driven by recognition, constant learning process, and following specific goals at my work. Career development in corporate environment usually follow the dedication to what you do, ethics and intelligence (which doesn’t always happen in agency – the more you earn for company – the more you are worth) I have a need to feel I am succesfull and the only way to achieve this is to bring on board the best candidates! I am very good hunter and so was I in agency. But I am also a good psychologist and this is my biggest strenght which I couldn’t develop in sales environment in agency.

  5. In regards to the Incentive structure, I have been a corporate recruiter for a number of years. In my last role, I implemented a bonus structure based on headcount and retention of staff and reduced the base salary for the recruiters. The bonus was close to what a 3rd party recruiter would be paid and was paid at 3 stages. When the deadline for filling the role was sucessfully met, when the candidate had been employed for one month and lastly when the candidate had been with the company for a period of three months and sucessfully passed their probationary period. The effect was not significantly positive. In my experience, a competitive base salary and career progression without pressures of working to bonus is what corporate recruiters want, otherwise we would all be 3rd party recruiters.

  6. Thanks, Matt. You and the commenters have discussed many of the issues confronting many agency and corporate recruiters. My points:
    As I often say, internal/contract recruiters should be paid at least $50/hr for what they do, because almost all recruiting components that aren’t worth $50+/hr, can be eliminated, automated, or outsourced for $11/hr or less. I’ve recently spoken with a service that will do internet sourcing and use their own Monster, CB, and DICE subscriptions to provide resumes for up to 15 positions/week (up to 3/day) for $250 or less. Why pay someone $65,000+/yr or an agency 20% to do this?

    As far as agencies are concerned, I have recently spoken with someone who has come up with a very elegant plan to provide effective service to his clients and a good income to his organization. (No, it’s NOT me!) He is a very specialized recruiter, with a thorough and deep nationwide understanding of his industry, the clients, and the candidates. His plan is to limit the number of his clients to a very small number in any given market, charge them a low monthly retainer, and a low per/hire fee. He is considering outsourcing his non-high value add recruiting functions to concentrate on doing what makes the most money.

    @Neal: you thoughtfully brought up a key issue- What do you want your recruiters to do? (I answered that above.)

    @Aldona: As the old saying goes- “It’s not that money makes everything good, it’s that no money makes everything bad.” I work as a contract recruiter, and am often approached for opportunities for regular fulltime benefitted work. I would love this, but not when they offer a 50% cut in salary or about what I made in 1995 (less inflation). 30% cut: YES, 50%+ cut: NO! “A sense of purpose in what they do. I am driven by recognition, constant learning process” is all well and good, but they don’t pay the mortgage.

    @Andrew: perhaps the organization asking the recruiters themselves what might work as an incentive- what might be a good incentive for one recruiter, might not be a good incentive for another. (Of course, if an organization has a dysfunctional hiring process that the recruiters can’t overcome, then perhaps no incentives would work.)



  7. Once again I have to comment. I was on the staffing side and now on the corporate side at a Fortune organization. I am of a younger recruiting generation and I am a black belt in sourcing. I use social networks, google x-raying, linkedin, job boards and one of my last stops is candidates who apply. My req load ranges from 20-60 req’s at one time mostly at an executive level and not ONE of my req’s has gone third party because I am a sourcer and fill my jobs. This article is once again a bias against corporate recruiting. Not all of us are metrics driven or commission driven – I am driven by the hunt and the placement. This old school way of thinking when it come to corporate recruiters has to go away. It’s ridiculous. We all come from the same places and most of the time corporate recruiters were from staffing! Don’t lump the old school “post and pray” recruiting of the 80’s/90’s in with the new school way of thinking and CRM focus.

  8. Hi Dina,

    You sound like a very effective inhouse sourcer. I hope you’re doing a lot of the high-level, deep sourcing that pros like Maureen, Irina, Glenn, and Shally do and are paid the $50+/hr that such work is entitled to by basis of expertise.



  9. You briefly touch on the biggest obstacles good corporate recruiters face is that things depend on how HR and recruiting is structured. Having 100 positions is not recruiting (at one Fortune 20 firm I maxed out at 122). But having a good HR system that has a good workforce plan will make the ROI on corporate recruiters worth it. Having a sensible plan of recruiters doing what they do best will allow them to save on potential agency fees and getting the best candidates and better hires that will stay longer than no-so-good candidates that leave after 2 years. Many companies say they have a good workforce plan but do not.

  10. @Keith. I did and the general consensus was a good base salary, stability and career progression. In my current role I am not responsible for hiring within the recruitment team nor for the bonus/salary structure however having tried the low salary high bonus structure and seeing no direct benefits from it, if the responsibility falls with me again in future I will be sticking to the high base. I want to point out that the team I am in just now are all on high base salaries with quarterly bonus and own around 40 requisitions at any one time, we never rely on posting and sometimes don’t even bother to post an ad at all due to the roles we recruit for being so niche at times. Direct sourcing is the only way to fill the majority of our reqs. Exactly what a corporate recruiter is paid for. I fail to even see how, “post and pray” could work for anything other than low level positions. If I win the lottery I may try it just to see how long I would last in my current position. My guess would be about two months 🙂 I’m very happy with my earnings and even happier when I fill a requisition with the right candidate.

  11. @Bob: ISTM that “sensible plan” and recruiting are like two old friends who meet at rare intervals.

    @Andrew: “good base salary, stability and career progression” I’ve heard of those. Didn’t they exist sometime in the 20th Century, like affordable higher education and reasonably fair public elections?

    But seriously, it seems like your company is doing just the right thing to maximize high-touch, high-value add recruiting tasks. I hope you have the direct sourcing done by high-level folks like Dina.



  12. Just wanted to comment on the idea that having lower base pay with higher commission would help. The issue with that is you would be hard pressed to attact experienced agency recruiters because they would most likely have to take a pay-cut intially. Depending on the industry and location it could take alot time to build up commission. Also, what happens when the company isn’t hiring? When you work with an agency you can get business anywhere but when you are internal you are limited…

  13. Agency – v – Corporate – Solution – find the middle ground as both corporate & agency have their advantages and together they can be a powerful combination.

    As a former agency recruiter who became disgruntled during the recession/GFC /Downturn (whatever you want to call it), not only with my role as a recruiter but with the changes/developments within my industry I took it upon myself to leave agency world and look for a more fulfilling career path. This manifested itself in the form of my current position as a (internal) Regional Talent Manager. This newly created position was to consisted of three areas of responsibility Recruitment, Talent Management & HR Generalist, there after it was up to me to create the agenda of this position, present it back to the business and execute.

    Recruitment – the proposal was to use my skills set, knowledge and experience and work almost as an outsourced recruitment partner. I am now more of a recruiter/search & selection/head hunter now than I have ever been “on the outside” with none of the hoops to jump though, tick boxes, meetings about meetings about meetings and so on. Essentially I took all the nonsense, time wasting elements etc. of my old role away and kept the best bits to ensure I did not lose my edge, drive and hunger. This approach has led to double ROI than projected and 100% decrease in agency spends however it has not compromised meeting me in meeting my internal commitments that don’t exist in agency.
    It was mentioned/implied above that corporate recruiters get pulled away from recruitment activities to tackle HR commitments hence not fully committed to the recruitment in hand. I put it to you that agency recruiters are pulled away from recruitment of their various clients vacancies to further business develop (cold calling, lunches, networking events etc.). One is not more valid than the other. Talent Management & HR responsibilities have filled the void left by Business Development and my commitment to my recruiting does not suffer!

    As for the salary debate – you are your product and should be paid according for your services provided. If you’re smart you can create a package that may not look and feel the same and an agency package, yet come year end is essential the same, if not more.

    Instead of widening and debating the gap between Internal V Agency we should be marrying both for a mutually beneficial ROI for all!

  14. @Matt – Your piece is outdated and misses the mark. Most Corp recruiters were once agency recruiters and many of us can still run circles around the folks at agencies. I for one, get much more satisfaction out of working the Corp side. The move from agency to Corp also happens with PR, Marketing, and other professions, and BTW – in the other professions going Corp is the goal for most. Corp recruiters have to be better than agency recruiters because we cover much more and have many more responsibilities than just interviewing 10 people per week and filling 5 jobs per month.

  15. Marcelo, presumably you’re talking for yourself rather than the entire corporate recruitment industry, right?

  16. Matt – Thanks for penning yet another thought-provoking article here!

    One item you did not list which may be worth considering: I am convinced that companies simply do not take the time to evaluate the “opportunity cost” associated with a position that is not filled. What is the measurable cost to the company (per week)if this position is not filled? That $$$ value needs to be evaluated as part of a decision as to whether or not to use a recruiting partner to fill the position.

    Here’s another cost component that I do not think is measured: I’ll call it the “internal labor cost” associated with reviewing resumes, participating in the entire interview process, etc. How much does it cost your organization to tie up resources in the process? This is an especially telling figure in the “post and pray” approach to recruiting. (I love that tag BTW).

    @Marcelo: Your comment “many of us can still run circles around the folks at agencies” is acutely interesting to me. I’ve recruited on the “agency” side for over 10 years now. I am on a quest to understand why some (not all) corporate recruiters view recruiting firms as the enemy. Your comment is revealing. The fact however is that we aren’t trying to run circles around you, we just want to help. For some reason, you view us as the competition. I simply don’t understand that.

  17. @Marcelo THANK YOU! EXACTLY! I work harder in corporate than I ever did in staffing – my goal is to fill the job quick and by using expert sourcing strategies so my jobs never go to agency – to avoid unnecessary fees. I also agree that in corporate your workload is larger and more diverse. In staffing I had maybe 5-10 jobs I worked at one time (if that)… in corporate i have seen as many as 50. I don’t think its fair to say that customer service will be lacking with a high workload either – if you are good then you know how to balance your time and make it happen. Lumping all of us into comments such as the authors is unfair and uneducated.

  18. @Chuck It’s a competition. I came from the agency and I remember wanting the “win” just as bad – the chance to work a job and to gain a fee to add to my commission, meet a metric and help my company. Its the same thing from corporate. We want to fill the job so we can save our company money – from the fee associated with third parties (especially retained search fees). Its all a competition and we both want to win. I understand the feeling of “wanting to help” but we all know its more than that. You want the win just as bad as we do.

  19. A couple thoughts. I have worked on both sides and am currently in corporate.
    * Very few corp recruiters are subject matter experts. How many in-house IT recruiters have any experience in IT? Very few.
    * Corporate recruiters are always overwhelmed because they are poor at prioritizing the recruiting function. In 3rd party, you know what req’s are hot and you can fill today. (because that is $$ in your pocket) In house tends to treat all positions the same.
    * Most in-house recruiters are brought up through HR. Most good 3rd party recruiters come from sales/marketing.
    * HR management stifles the recruiting process. Recruiters are overloaded with policies and useless conference calls about (fill in general hr discussion here) to try and make them part of the HR team.
    * In-house recruiters for the most part HATE the phone. 3rd party recruiters usually have 3 they are always on. Think I’m wrong? When is the last time you called an in-house recruiter and they picked up the phone instead of sending you to VM.
    * Money is a non-subject. With the downturn in the market, the commissions to be earned in a lot of metropolitian areas (like mine) dwindled to where you can earn almost as much going in house, especially when you factor in hours worked.
    * The biggest is most managers hate HR, go ask them. 3rd party is seen as a help to them, HR is seen as a road block.

    Just my two cents.
    Have a good day.

  20. @ Mitch – yes, I’m talking about myself, 12+ years of experience on both sides, and I’m not putting down agency recruiters either, as I’ve also been there. But it is true that the agency recruiter lives a much simpler existence compared to what a Corp recruiter has to deal with.

  21. Chuck – I don’t view 3rd party as my competition, they are a partner in filling positions. I was only talking about skills as a recruiter, and again, talking mainly about myself but also taking into account those I’ve worked with on both sides.

  22. @Dina: My definition of “win” is that the hiring manager selects the most qualified, best candidate for the position – regardless of whether that came from internal or external recruiting. All I want is the chance to be part of that process. It seems like internal HR wants to keep us out of that process due to the cost and fear if we “win” as you put it.

  23. ISTM that the sense of competition comes when you have internal and external recruiters working on the same position. There SHOULD be virtually no competition, because 3PRs should work on what others CAN’T effectively do. As I may have mentioned above/elsewhere, 3PRs should be used to fill positions that can’t effectively be filled internally/contracted/outsourced, and for which a company should be willing to pay 30-35% fees.


  24. A key component of this question is the degree of familiarity of the actual position responsibilities that the recruiter is looking for. Typically the recruiter has never done the job the search they are looking for entails, so in their search they miss the salient factors that a candidate may bring to the position. The recruiter is merely attempting to develop a word match to proceed to the next step of a phone screen hoping they can elicit the information they truly need to have about that candidate’s true skill set, performance and ability to translate this into goal attainment.

  25. @Bruce,

    A good recruiter needs to have a decent understanding of the important factors of the job they are recruiting. You can’t expect them to have done the job themselves though. I always hate it when an engineers give me the kick-back of “I don’t know how you can expect to qualify me if you aren’t an engineer yourself”. My response to that is: “Sir, if I was an engineer I’d be doing engineering work, not recruiting.”

  26. @ Than: This sounds good. Without revealing any secrets, how much of your process involves, high-touch, consultative work?



  27. As an agency recruiter turned corporate recruiting manager, I couldn’t disagree more with this article. My department is run like an agency when it comes to sourcing candidates, and I would argue that we are far more effective at selling the candidate on the company and positions than external recruiters because we have more detailed knowledge of the organization and culture, the goals for the future and the potential for that position. On many occassions we have opened up searches to external recruiters, providing them with detailed information on the organization, hiring manager preferences, target companies, and ideal candidate profiles, but they remain unsuccessful at filling the position. Now I don’t have a lot of faith in external recruiters, even though I once was one of them battling to get in front of clients like my current company.

  28. @Jessica: I’d say you’re the exception rather than the rule, so good job. I do have a question. You say when you used external recruiters they were unsuccessful. Were they retained or contingent? If contingent, remember you get what you pay for by and large.

  29. @ Carol: Well said.

    @Jessica: If an external firm couldn’t fill a position at 30-35%, that must have been one tough position! If your company wasn’t willing to pay that amount, they shouldn’t have been using an external firm- you’d probably had better results in using an $11/hr virtual phone/internet sourcer, or if that wasn’t in their league, paying the world-class pros $40+/name.



  30. The fact that most of the comments come from inhouse recruiters is in itself very revealing.
    In house recruiters hate the phone which is why they cannot cut it in the fiercely competitive environment of the agency world.
    they enjoy their monopolistic positions of power and their relatively high basics. If they cannot find the staff their managers want they can simply tell the managers that the skills do not exist.
    how many high fliers will take drops in salary during their career “progression”? none is the answer, so guys apply the same rules to yourselves as you would to some of the people you hire.

  31. An interesting article. However, I think the analysis and therefore the conclusion are predicated on the assumption that there is only one right way to recruit, and that is simply not the case.

    There are direct, vendor and hybrid recruiting models managed internally and through RPO. Each model requires a different skillset from those managing talent into the organisation depending on what part of the recruitment supplychain they are managing.

    Agency recruiters tend to be very strong on sourcing and selling, however, stakeholder management, consulting and selection on culture and behaviours are skills which tend to be stronger inhouse.

    Agency recruiters tend to be paid more because of the risks associated with the role….you eat what you kill. Client attraction is not part of the requirement for in-house and so their is not that sales/risk premium attached to the remuneration for the role.

    In any case in progressive recruiting organisations, you find that the sourcing/research driven nature of the recruiting is as good as the best in the external world, with the added benefit of the prospect for longer term career development.

    In my opinion, multi-channel, passive and active candidate attraction combined with the core in-house skills drive the best outputs. However, I can buy the passive/research piece much easier than I can find excellent consulting, stakeholder management, selection skills and cultural acuity.

  32. I have been in recruiting for 40 yr. I see lot’s of corp recruiters go that way from agency because they don’t have/like to do business development side and are willing to work for less to not have to do it. As to why Jessica couldn’t find an agency to fill the job, it may be cost. Some firms will take a job order and agree to a low ball fee knowing they probably will not fill it but “just in case”. Therefore no focus on the position. Agency recruiters(contingency) have to carefully evaluate each position and how much time they can devote to it. Companies put out assignments even when they have a candidate in process that MAY work or the internal one that surfaces after you invest 3 weeks of your time for free. The decision to work a position or not depends largely on the communication and cooperation of my client.

  33. Nail on head Matt, particularly in a high volume, hospital healthcare HR environment of which I reside. I hope your message reaches the right ears and helps validate what us corporate recruiters struggle with every day.

  34. @rob – what you have articulated is further on from my own thoughts. I believe a culmination of skills gained in agency, RPO and corporate recruitment applied in a “progressive recruitment organisation” is the recipe for success moving forward. We should be working to consolidate our skills not pit them against one another. Let’s face it, our industry does not have the best name in the professional market and we do ourselves no favours by attempting to continually dividing and conquer from within. All forms of recruitment solutions have their advantages, one size never fitted all!

  35. Prior to recruitment agents (never the best ones) being hired by companies, the recruitment departments were staffed by HR. Ok there is no reason nowadays why active job seekers should not be swept up directly. However many of the second rate ex agency recruiters that are hired bring with them the sloppy standards that were the norm in the day to day activities of your typical agency:
    1 The horrendouus abuse of using cliches when communicating with candidates
    2. The propensity to never answer calls or give feedback to either candidates or agencies
    3. The perpetual lies that are probably now doled out to internal hiring managers as well as candidates.
    I would suggest that instead of hiring career recruitment people from agencies they should instead hire professionals from say teaching and HR and train them to recruit. That way they will get people who are genuinely suited to conducting in house recruitment activities rather than failed agency staff.

  36. @Arthur

    I think you are too broad, and negative, in your characterisations of in-house recruiters that come from ex-agency.

    The best agency recruiter is not necessarily the best in-house recruiter. The nature of the job dictates the skills, capabilities and behaviours of the recruiters.

    You also ignore the fact that there are tiers of vendor from no win no fee generalists to retained executive search and the nature of the capabilities and the relevance to roles in in-house teams is also very different.

    As for standards, strong organisations have SLA’s, MI and satisfaction mechanisims that would quickly identify the negative behaviours outlined above.

  37. @ Rob: well put.
    IMHO:unless they are trainees,companies (either corporations or agencies) shouldn’t hire recruiters to perform activities which would be paid less than $50/hr or $100k/yr. Those which are worth less than that should be no-sourced (eliminated), through-sourced (automated), or out-sourced (sent-away) for much less than this. Therefore, there should be far fewer people involved in recruiting then there are now, and most of them should make more than they are now…


  38. We had a good one last week. We are working on a search for a large bank. Because the woman in HR will not speak to us neither returning phone calls or emails we end up dealing directly with the business. Fair enough I say we just get on with the job. We then get a meeting with one of the other senior hiring managers in the bank and she is on the phone and all over us like cheap suit full of indignance that we are not involving her.
    So Rob I dont buy your argument at all. the key to running a recruitment business and dealing with large corporates is as much about how you politically play HR/Internal Recruitment.

  39. @Arthur – I’m laughing and loving your work! Any recruiter worth their salt will appreciate your moves and imagine, as I am some, HR “cardigan” with her nose out of joint being all self-righteous and indignant lol. The HR “cardigan” obviously has not learnt how to build relations with or manage her internal stakeholders! Go for it, I hope you nail the deal 🙂

  40. @Arthur

    Clearly, if HR won’t engage you, you must do what you do to try get an opportunity.

    The reality from the HR side is that it makes no sense for them to deal with everybody, nor does it make sense for the agents – like asking 6 people to dig a hole and only the one with the best hole gets paid, it is also unmanageable. However, they must have the credibility to push back on non-preferred suppliers and a process that delivers talent.

    I would suggest that it makes more sense to engage with less customers via HR on a higher volume/partnership basis than to have an antagonistic relationship from the outset across many customers. I never work on non-retained assignments for that reason.

    There is an old joke which is to risque to outline in full here but the punchline is something like – a $%^&G deals with everyone but a £$%^& deals with everyone but me 🙂 Good luck on your deal!!

  41. Rob it is HR’s job to fill roles with the standard of talent that is required by the hiring manager. It is not HR’s job to build an empire of direct recruiters and PSLs. If it means that HR has to engage with a trillion recruitment agencies then so be it.
    We had a good one today. One of my account managers calls and speaks to the direct recruiter. Direct Recruiter says not interested PSL blah blah. Our reply is that we have spoken to a number of your hiring managers who say that they cannot get the skills they are looking for. internal recruiter says what makes you think that you can find people that our current methods cannot. THAT is how internal recruiters should be communicating with recruitment agencies. Unfortunately that question blew us out of the water.

  42. In that case, ‘Arthur’, what you need to do is develop a business model that would enable your team to acquire the skills so they could have answered that question.

    The right person would have known how to handle that particular client concern.

  43. @Arthur That is such an easy question to answer… Agency recruiter have (or should have) much better networks and relationships with candidates in their field. As an agency recruiter I’m contantly on meetings or meals with potential contractors regardless on if they are avialible or not. This way I am able to get people in the door as soon as possible.

    As people have mentioned before me, internal recruiters often get distracted with many other HRish duties that they cannot focus on finding candidates.

  44. Agreed with Mitch. No offense but if your salespeople (or g*d forbid you) can’t answer such a basic question you may want to reassess your business.

  45. This string is starting to get a bit ridiculous. I am sorry but I have worked both, a national agency recruiter and now a corporate recruiter. And I use a TON of different ways to find candidates. I also interview them all day long, have “meals” with them, and have just as many relationships now than I had as an agency recruiter. I also balance “HR responsibilities” probably just as much as you balance “meals” and walking your candidates into interviews or on-boarding. The fact that each side thinks they are better than the other is sad. We are all in the same field. Unfortunately the major issue is spend. Has anyone else noticed this economy is awful? Companies do not want to spend extra when they have an in-house team to fill jobs. We do use outside agencies when absolutely necessary. So maybe, as an agency, you should stop blaming internal recruiters for doing their jobs. The jobs that they were hired to do.

  46. Mitch, That is the point I was trying to make in a self effacing manner. I am sorry but “having a meal” with a “someone” hardly constitutes clear proof of having access to candidates that the client does not already have access to. A lot of spivvy agencies come out with this “boastful” “name dropping” contacts b*llocks.
    I lost one of my staff (a former teacher I hasten to add)to work for one of my clients. She has been very successful in finding the Engineers that her new boss requires. They don’t need agencies any more, and though I am thoroughly pissed off with the client I have to however admit that we agencies need to dig deeper if we are to survive. Having said that I still hold that most agent/converts are idiots.

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