8 Key Differences Between Corporate Recruiters and Staffing Agency Recruiters

Enlisting the assistance of corporate recruiters or agency recruiters are two main ways to fill positions. The two are very different, however, both fundamentally and operationally. To understand which best serves your company’s needs, you need to understand how they differ from each other. Here are eight key differences between corporate and agency recruiters!

Corporate Recruiters vs. Agency Recruiters

1. HR vs. Sales

Differences between corporate recruiters and agency recruitersCorporate recruiters generally exist within HR departments and often come from a human resources background, rather than a recruiting background. This makes the approach to recruiting that corporate recruiters take different from the approach that staffing recruiters take. “There is no sales involved in terms of business development since they [corporate recruiters] work directly for one company or firm” says Katy Smigowski, senior technical recruiter at Fitbit. “Their job consists of posting job advertisements, head hunting candidates, phone screening candidates, getting candidates interested in their company, and setting up the interview process.”

Staffing recruiters, on the other hand, operate at least as much in a sales function as they do in a human resources function. “Agency recruiting,” says Smigowski, “is primarily a sales organization.” Accordingly, agency recruiters are typically hungrier and typically have more experience negotiating and closing deals.

2. Exclusivity vs. Competition

Staffing agency recruiters know that they have to perform exceptionally well in order to have steady work and steady pay. “Recruiting in the staffing industry requires you to compete with other recruiting companies and adds an additional layer of pressure to respond quickly to the customer” says Michelle Rusch, manager of sales and delivery at Epitec.

Corporate recruiters don’t have that pressure, because they’re regular employees of the company. Just as competition in the market benefits the consumer, competition among staffing agency recruiters benefits the employer.

3. Technical Knowledge vs. Recruiting Expertise

Corporate vs. agency recruitersStaffing agency recruiters are highly skilled at recruiting overall and must be able to fill all sorts of different positions in all sorts of different industries. Corporate recruiters, on the other hand, are specialized at filling roles within their company’s industry. “Most corporate recruiters and sourcers work within a single vertical or group” says Mark Tortorici, founder at Transform Talent Acquisition. “They usually have 5 to 10 open reqs they are working for the length of their stay at the company. Agency staffers receive multiple new reqs each day from a wide variety of clients.”

This specialization translates into corporate recruiters typically having greater technical knowledge for the relevant roles than an outside agency recruiter would have. This is more of a benefit for some positions, like hospital positions, than others, like sales, management, tech, etc.

4. Firsthand Culture vs. Secondhand Interpretation

Because corporate recruiters are company employers, they live the company culture. Staffing agency recruiters, on the other hand, only know the culture from what they can observe in limited meetings and primarily what the hiring manager tells them it is.

“Internal recruiters will be able to articulate and respond to questions about what it’s really like to work in your company in a way that external parties won’t” says Randell. “External recruiters will never know your business as well as your own staff, try as they may, because they don’t work in the organization on a day-to-day basis, experiencing all its nuances and political challenges.” Especially, if using agency recruiters, offer top candidates a campus visit and/or participation in a team lunch to give them great cultural insight.


Want the other 4 tips? Read the full article on the Happie blog!

Views: 2745

Comment by Linda Ferrante on October 20, 2016 at 2:46pm

Nice article.  Regarding the last point, internal recruiters can't always articulate the company culture to candidates because they are 'in the weeds' so to speak.  For some, this is their only point of reference so it's much more difficult to communicate effectively.  An agency recruiter, however, will not have that 'emotional connection' to the company and should be able to communicate from an honest, and objective, perspective.  

Comment by Steve Sill on October 20, 2016 at 7:58pm

Uhhh, not sure where you came up with Corp Recruiters coming with an HR background.  Most corporate recruiters I have met, came from Agency Recruitment, Sales, Engineering, Finance, Executive Admins, etc.  Have never met anyone that moved to recruitment from HR.

There is a lot of selling in Corporate Recruitment, unless you recruit for certain top tier companies.

Too many blanket statements which don't quite ring true, at least in my experience.  I hope you at least pinged all the names you dropped prior to using them in your blog.

Comment by Amy Toncray on November 14, 2016 at 3:10pm

This article seems to equate internal recruiters to HR.

I started my career on the agency side, then made the switch 18 years ago to the corporate recruiting. In those corporate recruiting roles, I have sometimes worked within the HR reporting structure and sometimes not. Though I have done and can do HR generalist type duties, I do not at all consider myself that - I am a recruiting specialist (specifically an engineering/management recruiting specialist). I feel it is important to make a distinction if you are actually going to call someone a "recruiter".

All recruiters are sales and marketing oriented (or should be). They are many times the first face of the company. My job is to understand the needs and culture of my organization, find/attract talented individuals to meet those needs, get them through the interview process, negotiate offer packages, onboard them and ultimately make sure that they get off to a successful start with the company.

We all compete - we compete for candidates with other companies - the the competition doesn't disappear because one is a corporate recruiter.I have had full responsibility for all of the positions open within my divisions - I do not pick and choose what I work on - found more "silo-ing" went on in the agency positions I worked than in my corporate roles.

I have technical knowledge and recruiting expertise because that is what companies pay recruiters for - doesn't matter if you are corporate or agency. I have to understand the business. I have to understand what my candidates and my managers do and need. I have to understand what goes into making a successful bottom line.

Really, the only bullet I can agree wholeheartedly on is the final one - and the best ways that companies can work with agencies is to be selective and make sure they have the proper information to do a job well for you.


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