I'm curious how you started in recruiting and how you ended up in a corporate recruiting role.

I'd like to hear specifically from rogue agency recruiters who left the dark side to enter the "glamorous" world of corporate recruiting.

What made you decide to make the change?
How did you mentally reconcile the difference you earned financially? (Most corporate recruiting gigs pay base and no commission.)

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Ahhh I've been looking at this post all day, but couldn't commit the time to respond. So now I'm at home I'll give it a go.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away... no sorry that was Luke Skywalker not me. :)

As a grad, I wanted to get into HR (silly me). It took me a while to get my first role, receiving more rejection letters than I would care to mention (remember actual letters on letter headed paper!?). I eventually responded to a line add in the paper (remember those?) for an HR Coordinator. *FAIL*, well I got the gig, however it was a little misleading, as my role eventually became a Resourcer/general SH#~ kicker for the office.

After initial disappointment, I decided to play the cards i was dealt and make a go of this career. I worked my way through to a Senior Consultant looking after some national accounts. Fun for a bit, but really repetitive, and less than rewarding margins. With a little change of scenery (and a redundancy after a poor job change choice) I decided to set up for myself in 2002, the height of the tech wreck, I put up my own shingle and started my own business.

This was OK, actually liberating, and I worked half as hard, and made twice as much as I had in the agency. The only problem was that I couldn't look my wife in the eye and say I'd make $x amount every month. As we'd started thinking of starting a family we needed this assurance.

I took the time to decide what I really wanted to do, what i enjoyed Recruitment part of the Recruiters job, I disliked the hard core sales, I was OK at it, but I always had a feeling of dislike (not personally) but for what I did, from candidates and from clients. Even with the money, there was no job satisfaction there. I decided internal, in house was the way to go.

I targetted a couple of companies which really fitted me, and began my push to get hired. My timing was good. My current company was just about to hire someone in my now role. Obviously, from my initial call, well the rest is history. I am still here almost 7 years on.

Glamourous world of corporate recruiting? hmmmmm, it took a while to shake that "agency" tag, which I wore with pride until I figured out it wasn't a term of endearment.

The constant education, and immediate value ad I was able to provide, which was visible as I was the first person who looked at hiring as the only focus of my job. I was able to hire enough people so that we grew by 40% in headcount in my first year. Unfortunately I did the math of what I would have charged as a TPR, and told my CEO how much he would have paid externally for that. Funnily enough, whilst he grinned, he didn't offer to make up the difference.

That said, i have been lucky, and have been looked after, we have evolved the Recruiting function, to seperate from HR and I now have my own seat at the National Management team. It was a good choice for me.
The decision was incredibly easy for me for a few reasons, Michelle.

Pay: First and foremost I absolutely loathed the fact that I could not predict my paychecks from month to month. It made thing like making car and rent payments way too stressful, and considering the high-stress job I had, it was adding up to be too much. In addition to variable pay, the method of pay by my previous employer was unpredictable as well. They had a habit of withholding commission checks for an extra month if they hadn't received enough payment from the customer yet, so there were times when the money I earned (and needed) was deferred an extra 30 days. With this combination the 'limitless earnings potential' of TPR recruiting wasn't even close to worth it.

Experience: The firm I worked for was very segmented. Recruiters did nothing other than recruit. Salespeople did nothing but sell. On the whole, recruiters were supposed to have nothing to do with the customer. This lead to information regularly slipping through the cracks or being lost in translation. Despite promises of growth additional responsibility, and the ability to get out from behind the desk, it never really came to fruition. For this reason the corporate world was very appealing. I now run the full process from sourcing to orientation, and I continue to have responsibilities once the candidate is hired. I have been able to get involved in diversity, retention, and talent management initiatives, and considering how much I love learning, I'm very happy to be broadening my horizons.

Growth: There was literally no career ladder or path in the agency I was at. The only 'growth' I could aspire to was making more placements, thus boosting my income. There was no development plan there, and nobody seemed to mind except those of us who feared stagnation. Now that I'm on the corporate side I have the freedom to move upward into any one of several groups within my own company.

Team: There was little to no sense of 'team' in the agency I was employed by. There was a very distinct line drawn between sales and recruiting making it difficult to feel as though we were working together. Despite having the same end goal of a placement, there was an element of things being cut-throat even inside our own four walls. Now I have a much better sense of ownership over what I do, who I do it for, and get a much better sense of cooperation from those in my organization. I can actually partner with management to fill a position and notice much less bickering amongst my peers and management.

Benefits: The benefits were not exactly comprehensive, let alone affordable with my previous employer. My current monthly contribution to health insurance is only 10% of what it previously was, plus I now enjoy a better 401K match, additional retirement contributions, tuition reimbursement, and more paid time off (not that I take much of it).

Work/life balance: The hours are actually somewhat similar, and I may even work longer days now, but the balance is better from a couple of perspectives. Although I tend to contact candidates in the evenings, I am able to set my schedule further in advance. Previously if a new assignment came in my evening plans were likely going to be disrupted or forgotten altogether. The biggest difference, though, comes in the form of my ability to actually take time off of work. While working on a highly variable income it was difficult to justify taking time off work. Every day I was not in the office making calls was a day that I was foregoing income. Now that my pay is consistent I do not have the same level of guilt and worry when taking a day or two off.
Hi Michelle,

Lol, I am one of those "rogue agency recruiters" who left the dark side to go in house for a couple of years (is that what you mean by corporate?).

I was on an excellent basic, probably a good £10k above average(plus small bonuses of £500-£2000 per head), so that helped reconcile the financial side. I also found it much, much easier to arrange interviews when I was working on site/in house. It was also very satisfying to feel and see what difference I was making to the whole recruitment process for that one firm.

But that all started going t***s up last June when the credit crunch really started crunching and the company I had been with (lol they were a financial recruiters...ooops) started laying off people right left and centre. They were firing rather than hiring, this of course made my job there kinda redundant...boooooooooo.

So I am back on "the dark side" now and am contracting myself out to the highest bidders, working in partnership with some excellent recruitment to recruitment agencies...and I do have some awesome recruitment opportunities to fill now, both in the UK and abroad, including two US specs to fill as well, woo hoo! One of the jobs is seeking an American Renewables recruiter to come to London for a month's training and then to start up a division in New York City, £80-£100k basic (British Sterling) + commission + relocation package! Should you or anyone in your professional network know of anyone who is an experienced recruiter with strong billings in the Renewable Energy/Carbon Trading recruitment market, please have them drop me a line at rsterling_usa@yahoo.co.uk I would be very interested in hearing from them and having an informal chat.

Have a great day and a lovely week.

Kind Regards,

Richard (R2R Headhunter, London)
Great question Michelle!

Funny, I was just ranting on trying to get myself un-stuck from the corp mentality while keeping my corp job!

My story started long ago, in a place with fairies and monsters, poisoned apples and dwarves.....

Actually, I was out at a bar with a couple of friends and a couple friends of friends and we were all discussing jobs. At the time I was in a boring sales job and not liking it at all. One of the guys there (that turned out to me a lifelong friend and mentor) asked me if I had ever thought about recruiting. "What the Hell is that?" was my response. He was a recruiter for Deloitte Consulting and explained to me what his job entailed. I was amazed that there was a place that I could "sell" something that people could really enjoy and rush to "buy".
From there, he and I traded emails and drinks for the next couple months until he sent me the name of a friend that had a need for a green recruiter. The company was a bastardized version of a Retained Search and had no internet access, just a phone book and a phone.
I did that for a year, learned the ropes, learned how to source for people using the phone only and finally realized that I was making a lot of money for someone else. I left there to join a contingent firm and spent the next year slapping myself for not doing it sooner.
The whole time I kept my relationship with my buddy at Deloitte and attended all the events I could where I would meet Partners and Sr Managers at Deloitte. I had made my mind up that that is where I wanted to work. After quite some time, Deloitte approached me and offered me a position, to which I quickly accepted.

I have been doing corp work since then. My biggest deciding factor was believing in the company I worked for and being part of the team vs an outside vendor. As a corp recruiter I came to realize how annoying I seemed when I was on the other side, but also what it takes to do both.

On the financial aspect, yeah you can make a lot of money with the freelance route, but when it comes to providing stable income and benefits to a growing family, you can guess which one wins in my book. The other aspect is that in times like these, when the economy is down, as a corp recruiter you have a better chance of weathering the storm. I got sick of being the one always looking for a client and decided to focus my time on looking for the next hire.

Not sure if this helps, but let me know if I can do anything to help.

I think I sort of have the best of both worlds - I am a corporate recruiter, but on contract - nice hourly rate, I can keep my job as long as I do a GREAT job, and I'm not starving between placements.

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