The Real Reasons Why Corporate Recruiters Hate You

Agency and corporate recruiters have always had this love/hate relationship. It’s a sibling rivalry of sorts – in some cases each thinks the other doesn’t know what they’re doing. After 10+ years on the agency side, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for those that do it well. I also have a newfound respect for my corporate brothers and sisters as I enter my 7th month on the dark side. I still maintain that recruiters shouldn't be allowed to go internal until they've cut their teeth as a third party. It's essential training and as @MattCharney said on Twitter yesterday, you learn to "hustle".


After 60 reqs filled in just over 6 months and mixed results with agency recruiters, I must admit I look back on some of my past behavior as a TPR and cringe just a little (ok, a lot). I know none of my beloved RBC friends make these mistakes but perhaps you can forward on to the real culprits…?


Reason #1 – you are too cocky. Hey I love a little swagger, I really do. What drives me nuts though is when your agency arrogance displays itself by looking down on the poor corporate recruiters who “can’t” do what you do because of some perceived lack of skill or ability. That’s not why I gave you the job order… I gave you the job order because my time is better spent working on the other 40 reqs I have open instead of devoting half of my working hours to ONE. It’s not that difficult a concept. We both perform a valuable service to our clients, and the best on both sides will always have a seat at the table. Don't mistake my decision to go in house for weakness.


Reason #2 – you view me as an obstacle between you and the “real" hiring manager. I know you want to talk to the hiring manager, and I want you to. I gave you this job order because I have other things to do. Unfortunately if the hiring manager doesn’t want to talk to you (and sometimes they just don’t) then you and I are going to have to play nice. It is in my best interest for you to fill this job. I will talk to you every day if you want, and be completely transparent. Why on earth would I not give you every last scrap of detail I can to make this a win for both of us?


Reason #3 – you over promise and under deliver. What more can really be said about this? Don’t make promises you can’t keep – period. Or, if you say you’ll have candidates in a week, but don’t – just let me know! I’ve been recruiting long enough to know things don’t always go according to plan. Just be straight with me like I am with you.


Reason #4 – you get the job order, then disappear. I know I am not your only client. I doubt I’m even your best or favorite client. My company has a very strong internal recruiting team, so you may do one or two placements a year with us. I get it - that probably doesn't put us at the top of your priority list. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, why take the job order? If I am not the kind of client you want, then just politely decline… I can handle it.


Reason #5 – you push back against my feedback. If a candidate you’ve submitted is rejected (before or after the interview), I will tell you why. If we have a strong relationship, you can count on me to be brutally honest. I’m not talking about reasonable discussion – I’m happy to listen to your side and would expect you to defend your candidate. When you start demanding to speak to the hiring manager about “why” he/she was rejected, and ignoring me because you don't like what I have to say, then we’re going to have issues (see Reason #2).


Reason #6 – you treat me like the competition. I realize not all corporate recruiters operate this way, but if I give you a job order I am no longer actively recruiting for it. You are. That doesn’t mean we won’t still have the role posted, and we may still receive active candidates applying, but I am not sourcing. Personally, I view you as an external extension of my team. Why compete with my own resources?


Reason #7 – you don’t know me. You’re too busy selling me on your awesomeness to even bother getting to know me or my company. I especially love the split desk agencies. If I somehow end up talking to the recruiter finding the candidates, I find out the Business Development dude told him very little about my company, and what he did learn was wrong. So when I have to set you straight, don’t tell me “that’s changed”. Nothing’s changed, you just didn’t know anything about us in the first place. Hint – don’t assume, ask questions.


Now let me have it. Someone out there is DYING to come back with a list of why agency recruiters hate the corporate side. I can’t wait to see it, because I know you won’t be talking about me. :)

Views: 9684

Comment by Suzanne Levison on January 13, 2012 at 11:31am

Rarely do I collaborate with corporate recruiters, but when I do, it's been a positive experience. The last corporate recruiter with whom I presented candidates had also been an agency recruiter for a number of years. Agency experience, in my opinion, adds an entire dimension of understanding to the relationship. Sort of a "Let's just get the job done" feel.

Comment by John Bennewith on January 13, 2012 at 11:31am

Amy all was going well until #6 and maybe you are unique but every time I deal with internal recruiters they also run parallel searches and we then have a clash of wills. 

So unless it is absolutely essential I choose not to work with clients who have internal recruiters as it is just a headache i dont need with all the other work out there with SME clients who value our services so much more.  

Comment by Jennifer Francisco on January 13, 2012 at 11:40am

Personally, I just find it sad that there is even talk/discussion of animosity with the two groups. It's gone on forever and will keep perpetuating, I just think it's silly myself.

There are good and bad recruiters on both sides. Simple fact. Sure, our jobs are quite different in some ways, but there are also strengths on both sides.

I've worked as a corporate recruiter for many years now. I also support a split desk with an agency on the side. IMO I don't feel agency recruiting prior to moving into corporate would have made me a better recruiter. What has helped me has been my proactive take on things. And my ability to integrate what I've read, researched, etc. I like the hunt for the best candidate, I'm not averse to cold calling/emailing. I have a sales mentality, without the car salesman persona.

Just my take on it, thanks!

Comment by Ian Harvey on January 13, 2012 at 11:41am

Amy - good post.  I am interested in making the switch to an in-house role, but I keep being told that, despite 20 years of various recruitment experience, because  I have never worked in-house I can't be put forward for an in-house role.  Something of a Catch-22!  In your experience, how different is the role, and is it anything that a reasonably intelligent being couldn't quickly get used to?  

Comment by Steve Jenkins on January 13, 2012 at 11:50am


As a TPR lucky enough to be entering his 25th year of recruiting, I loved your analysis!  Several people commented (paraphrasing) that the best relationships usually seem to be between successful ex TPR's-now-corporate and veteran TPR's.  Both know the lay of the land.  Kudos to you for pointing out that the best Corp side recruiters understand their time is valuable enough to hand off strategic opening to TPR's. 

I relish the relationships I have with so many Corp side recruiters throughout the nation; mutual respect abounds.

Comment by Stuart Musson on January 13, 2012 at 12:11pm

AWESOME post....I have been on the Agency, Owner of an Agency (Recruiting Recruiters or REC2REC), Corporate Recruiter and now back in the Agency world and thorugh all this what you have posted is EXACTLY what I have seen in all of my different roles....Great points and topic Amy.

@Sandra - I love the graphic and if you don't miond would like to use it in our training material.


Stuart Musson
Career Transition Specialist @ TalentLab Inc.

Comment by Eric R. Derby on January 13, 2012 at 12:15pm

Excellent article!

In my 15 years of recruiting, as a headhunter and staffing consultant, I have worked with some great internal recruiters (and HR generalists and HR Managers), and some that were very difficult.  I like the people like Amy that give me straight answers.  So for the people NOT like Amy here are my suggestions:

1) Tell me what you like and what you do not like.  Be straight with me, I can handle it.  If you are wishy-washy then I can not improve, and be a better person to help you, and get you what you need.

2) I am here to make to make your life easier.  I can do this because I am a specialist.  I am not here to waste your time, my objective is to use as little of your time as possible.  If you answer my calls or emails, I can get more work done more quickly, which will make you look good.

3) Be willing to trust me.  I know that I have to earn it.  But after a while look at my record.  When I provided you candidates, and told you which was the best for your company, was I right?  Did I fill your positions with great people?  I am happy for you to track me.  Let me prove myself.  Then in a few months, when I say "you have to interview this person..." you will know that I really do have a great candidate.  No, I will not over-use that phrase if I am any good.

4) If you let me have direct contact with your hiring managers I will respect their time as well.  I will always CC you on emails and candidates, or send you an email report if you were not involved in a phone call.  I will treat you as a team-mate not an obstacle.

5) Once the contact is signed I am not going to try to inflate candidate salaries to improve my fee.  If I want you as a long term client, I know I need to find the middle ground on salary.  I want you to be happy, and I want the candidate to be happy.   I want to make more placements with you. The simple financial truth is that I can make a lot more money making multiple placements than I can by inching up salaries.

6) I have a technical background. I can talk the right language to the candidates and the hiring managers.  I really do understand both sides.  If do not understand it I would be happy to explain some of the technology to you, and I am sure that your hiring managers would be happy to do so as well. If you do not have the time to do this, then trust that I know the technical details, or listen to your hiring manager to see if I am getting it right.

7) If I cannot help you with a particular job I will let you know, or if candidates are tough to find. I may have allies that can help you.

8) I will send you reports and candidate summaries.  I will let you know how things are going, including if I am having problems.

9) If I am not doing a good job then let me know.  If I am not doing all the things listed above you have a right to be unhappy about it.  Let's talk about what the problems are.  If I am not treating you and your company with respect, then you can terminate my contract.  Sometimes this is the best for both of us and it much better than ignoring me for months until I finally give up.


Staffing Consultant

Comment by Boris Stefanovic on January 13, 2012 at 12:34pm

From my perspective the reasons for strained relationships with Corporate Recruiters is that they usually seem to assume all 7 above-stated points about me from the get-go. And no matter how effectively I dispel those prejudices the end result is that Corporate Recruiters get shuffled around and I have to start all over again. In principle that's not in itself a big problem because I naturally behave ethically, openly, and respectfully with all clients - it's not a facade I have to keep up, but while that new Corporate Recruiter contact "gets comfortable with me" they get paid either way every two weeks.

In that same time I'm trying to earn a living at what feels like the whim of a Corporate Recruiter. Human Resources Professionals, Hiring Managers, and Corporate Recruiters all hold power positions in their respective relationships with TPRs but all wield that power differently.

In your excellent post you enumerate the perceived failings of the Agency Recruiters you encounter but, perhaps unwittingly, justify their behavior in the broader market almost point-by-point. Rather than decrying TPRs' behaviors you are declaring them unnecessary because you're not like other Corporate Recruiters

With that in mind you're the client that I dream about but almost never encounter. And it's precisely because I never get to work with people like you, but believe I could be a person like you, that I often daydream about a  transition out of Agency.

Comment by Shelly Catalina on January 13, 2012 at 1:21pm

Amy, WELL SAID.  I have been recruiting for 10 years and certainly cut my teeth in TPR in the beginning.  As a tenured corporate recruiter, I could not agree with you more.  There are some great TP recruiters out there who truly partner and GET it, but those who want to compete with me, you will lose in the end.  TPRs need my business more than I need theirs - I can find another vendor to help me, so think about your arrogance before you blow smoke in my face.  I rarely need agency help having the skill to fill my own; but when I need that extension due to volume of workload or deep niche area, I prefer working with a solid TPR partner.  Don't underestimate corporate recruiters, there are a few of us who play at a higher level and can walk the talk.

Comment by Bill Schultz on January 13, 2012 at 2:33pm

Hi Amy- If they were all like you, it might be easier.  And I think it's a credit to your company to have built a proactive team.  But, that is not my experience.  I don't deal with Internal recruiters too often but when I do I find them to be a knee jerk reaction to a hiring spurt.  Hired on a consulting basis, with little knowledge of the company.  Unable to even qualify and certainly unable to evangelize.  Terrible at keeping recruiters in the loop (they can't even find the loop).  


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