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: 9940

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 10:59am

@John - precisely my point w/ reason #1! I've heard from plenty of agency recruiters (especially those strictly biz dev) who've had a couple of good billing years and think they're smarter/better/faster than me because they assume I couldn't cut it in their world. Always good for a chuckle. :) 

Comment by bill josephson on January 18, 2012 at 11:03am

John---I don't think it's so much ego containment as it is optimizing their chance of making money on successful recruitment ventures.

What I hear Amy saying is invaluable.  She works with a couple of TPR's who have a couple of opportunities a year to work with her on difficult if not impossible assigments she can't fill. 

I have no doubt she'd be great to personally partner with.  I believe she's 100% accurate in portraying what's generally going on in the recruiting world......few quality assignments to work on making it less likely a recruiter will achieve that $250K.  I'd talk to any corporate person I could assist to the degree I had a shot at that volume of billings.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 11:27am

@Bill - pretty much. :) They are tough roles - that's why we outsource them. They are often unusual roles too, at least for us. I fill a lot of finance and procurement roles, so I have a strong network to tap, candidate pipeline etc. But throw in a random highly specialized web designer - something we don't fill regularly, that's where TPRs are very valuable. They (ideally) specialize in that kind of candidate and can tap their candidate pipeline that I don't have because I don't live in that world. Make sense?

Comment by Barry Frydman on January 18, 2012 at 11:35am

Amy do you have any unusual roles we can all help you with?

Comment by bill josephson on January 18, 2012 at 11:39am

John----I think most of them are out of business, and certainly not billing 250K. 

People like me are trying to work with, or find, a couple of clients where there's a potential of earning 250K.  And presently most companies are like Amy's where that possibility is generally becoming more scarce, IMO.

Now is this a temporary based on a tough jobs environment, or permanent due to structural market change phenomena?  That's the question when, if answered, puts the entire corporate/TPR relationship into better perspective, IMO

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 11:41am

Whoa after all this someone still wants to work with me?? :)

That Web Designer role I mentioned is a tough one... we have a firm on it but seriously if anyone has a strong Seattle area network of ecommerce web designers (UI/UX and a bunch of other terminology I don't understand) I would gladly connect you to my technical recruiter and you guys can discuss!

Comment by bill josephson on January 18, 2012 at 11:48am

Amy, makes sense. 

In other companies requiring more I/T or Engineering talent there'd be a dedicated contract recruiter also handling that function making it even less likely your company would reach out to a TPR potentially exempting any recruiter from doing business there. 

Comes down to what the role of a TPR is evolving to.  Necessary role in the market place, or obsolete?  And if, going forward, a TPR will be able to earn a living as a TPR generating enough business to sustain themself?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 11:56am

lol John it is great until they figure out I wasn't kidding about how tough this is then they hate me :)

Absolutely correct on the web designers... they are an elusive beast - either extremely expensive or self employed.  We are in a suburb of Seattle (about 20 miles south) so we suffer from zip code discrimination as well. :) It's only a 30 minute commute but our area isn't "hip". Shocking how many candidates aren't interested in part for that reason!

@Bill, I like to think TPRs will always be necessary... we haven't even touched on the confidential searches. If I'm calling you it's no doubt a role for my company and probably one that's advertised. Not saying it's impossible to fill a confidential role but it's much harder from where I sit.

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 18, 2012 at 3:11pm

As Amy said, " We are also very close with our hiring managers. I attend more meetings with them than HR!".

So you have a direct pipeline to and face-time with the hiring managers, and that surely has a positive impact on your ability to do your job; recruit placeable candidates for that manager's needs. And yet most corporate recruiters deny TPRs the same access, but still expect them to produce placeable candidates. That is one of my biggest problems (yes, there are others!) with most corporate recruiters. I'm expected to do the job based on watered-down, third party information and poor feedback. That's why I mostly pass on many such situations. If I know of a suitable candidate I'll see if I can interest them in interviewing, but I'm reluctant to embark on a full-scale search. If it's the usual rare-bird-search that corporate recruiters tend to dole out, and there's no hiring authority access, then I won't waste my time and I'll let the corporate recruiter know that if the job goes unfilled and they want me to give it a try, then get me the access. I rarely hear back, and consider that a blessing.

On the subject of working with corporate recruiters, I take the position that if they are handling the company's hiring needs to the satisfaction of management, then this is not a prime client opportunity for me. I need to focus my business development efforts on companies that have a dysfunctional hiring process, and that the hiring managers know it, and are willing to engage my services directly. They must sign a contract with me, and that contract must be signed off by their superior. This practice eliminates most of the very large organizations from being my clients. But there are plenty of mid-sized, and even some departments in a few large corporations that are willing to do things my way to get the employees they need. I'm in the business of making placements, and need to ply my craft where that is most likely to happen.

Hope that didn't come across as arrogant. Just trying to explain my business model.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 4:41pm

Hi Doug - I actually do agree with you! if I'm not able to get you direct access to the hiring manager it usually comes from the hiring manager wanting it that way... for better or worse. Then again, we are (hopefully) as clued in to what the role needs as the manager and can give all the information necessary - sometimes in a better view because we look at the big picture (where the role fits within the company as a whole) as opposed to just the one problem the HM is trying to solve.

I think you hit it with what really makes a prime client opportunity. It's probably a smaller company with limited recruiting resources - unless it's a special case like I mentioned before or a giant company where you can do large volume contracting.


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