Agency Recruiters will always beat Internal Recruiters. Always.

Agency Recruiters will always beat Internal Recruiters. Always.

Even great internal recruiters can never do as good a job for candidates as great agency recruiters do.

Never. Ever.

And that’s simply because internal recruiters are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to supporting candidates in their job search.

Let’s examine the ways;

  • Internal recruiters, by definition, cannot operate as a ‘third-party broker’. It’s their job to entice the best talent to their employer. How can they possibly provide a candidate with balanced and unbiased advice? They can’t. Anything they say about the role under consideration is driven by self-interest.
  • Internal recruiters have a one-dimensional, or at best, severely restricted view of the overall market. Sure, they know their company better than most, but what insight do they have of market trends, comparable opportunities, salaries and benefits, and other vital market intelligence, that only recruiters dealing with multiple employers will know?
  • Internal recruiters, quite rightly, act in the interest of their employer, while a great agency recruiter will act in the interest of the candidate.
  • Not only that, there is a role that agency recruiters play for candidates that seldom gets acknowledged. They act as an advocate for a great candidate who may never even get to interview stage, based solely on their resume. That’s right. A great agency recruiter will use the trust and credibility they have with clients to convince them to see a good candidate who does not shine on paper. That is a service and an advantage that internal recruiters can never offer.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the way most internal recruiters act. They are doing their job, and for the most part they do it well, and with extreme integrity. This is not about beating up on Internal Recruiters. I am stating the obvious really. Internal recruiters are hamstrung in terms of the role they can play in advising, coaching, and mentoring candidates in the job search.

Many agency recruiters do none of those things of course, we know that. There are hoards of agency people, driven totally by self-interest or without the skills to provide real value to the candidate. But the good ones, of which there are many more than the critics acknowledge, will bring their hard-earned market knowledge, and broad employer insights to bear, in order to assist a candidate make the right decision at a vulnerable time.

And that, as some advertising guy said elsewhere… is priceless!


Views: 3890

Comment by James Griffin on November 12, 2013 at 9:39am

 I hardly agree with a single point of this if I am honest but cant go through all of it. Was the article written for the purposes of controversy?

You said -  Anything they say about the role under consideration is tainted with self-interest?? 
Agency recruiters are driven by self interest, just different types. Commission, KPIs, more work from the client and  keeping their chair are four off the top of my head. 

Comment by Matt Charney on November 12, 2013 at 9:47am

I disagree with the entire premise of this post, but think that this is framed as a competition is probably indicative of a lot of the fundamental problems with the recruiting profession. Agency recruiters can't survive without corporate TA, and, in most cases, the opposite is true. If we can't stick together and respect both sides of the desk, we both lose - as do our candidates and clients.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on November 12, 2013 at 12:15pm

great agency recruiters act in the best interest of whoever's writing the check. Nice crap-stirring post though I'll give you that.

Comment by Tim Warson on November 12, 2013 at 12:26pm

I see where James and Matt are coming from--with super hip or very strong firms, corporate recruiters are more likely to be ex-agency recruiters, or simply great recruiters overall, therefore still concerned with their candidates' interests and where they see themselves, and if their company is a fit.

However, from a candidate perspective, Greg is absolutely right. An agency recruiter has the freedom to say, this company doesn't offer great W/L balance, this company won't be able to hit your salary, and this company is going to be the right fit for you. Agency recruiters don't need to worry about the internal politics of pushing a candidate; after all, that's their role--present great folks that your client would otherwise not have seen.

The issue, as James said, is that many agency recruiters are pushed to work on behalf of their client, as James mentioned. We are held to performance metrics, so many agency recruiters skip over the relationship-building that is so vital to our competitive advantage (and you NEED to if you are working with a national, churn and burn agency)--but in the independent, or boutique agency space--I truly agree with Greg.

Matt, I see where you're coming from--but competition is exactly why agencies flourish, and why corporate recruiters (hopefully) find value in them. Agency recruiters want to win, and generally need to in order to get paid. That said, I think Greg handled it pretty well in his penultimate paragraph--this is not beating up on internal recruiters, but it is stating the competitive advantage of a good agent. I have enjoyed nearly all of my HR partners, and found that when companies budget for agencies, and hold their internal staff to placement metrics, we have great synergy. If they look bad when using an agency...yikes.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on November 12, 2013 at 12:36pm

I would like to start creating a list of these superstar agency recruiters who agree with this. I have some AMAZING candidates I've developed relationships with that for whatever reason are not a fit for my company right now. I'd love to be able to introduce them to recruiters who can truly advocate on their behalf and get them hooked up.

Anyone? I'll just be over here holding my breath.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on November 12, 2013 at 1:42pm

Good, bad, or in between- neither kind is going away anytime soon.



Comment by Dan Kelly on November 12, 2013 at 1:49pm

This is an interesting take. I would imagine most corporate recruiters once worked for an agency or eventually went back. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. I work as a Talent Acquisition specialist for a Marketing Cloud provider, Vocus. When I have a req I need assistance on, I partner with the agencies that will reflect our corporate brand just as much as I would. Your article is devaluing our partnership and making it seem like they just throw candidates on my lap because they want to help the candidates out. I completely disagree and feel that agency recruiters and corporate recruiters both serve a need, and work together through screening and interviewing to reach the same goal.

Right now Vocus doesn't need any agency help but we do have some opportunities available for job seekers. Check us out at & follow me at Recruiter_DK!

Comment by Recruiting Animal on November 12, 2013 at 3:19pm

Let's say Greg sends in 3 candidates. He likes A. The employer prefers B. They both think C is a good runner-up. If Greg tells the client he thinks A is the better fit is he being loyal to B and C? Is he actively promoting them? No.

Comment by Derdiver on November 12, 2013 at 3:24pm

Oh, Greg.  There is a lot of white brush painting going on here for both sides IMO. In my last review as an internal recruiter I was told my only fault was that I cared to much. I CARED TO MUCH.  Yeah. I told them that if I did not care then I would not be doing my job.  I work hard for both parties to succeed. I know most agency recruiters want to get paid and have seen them throw candidates under the bus to keep a client happy.  Some wont even represent or fight for a candidate if it is not an "easy" fill for them.  Greg, LOVE your writing and your work. Seriously been a long time fan.  I just think you went to broad with this one.

Comment by Jackie Hydock on November 12, 2013 at 4:27pm

This is a funny discussion!!  So here's an opinion from both a former staffing agency recruiter turned corporate recruiter... I got tired of shmoozing for job orders and feeling like a used car sales girl when I convinced and pushed my client to hire some mediocre candidate just so I could close a deal.  Intelligent and passionate internal recruiters do follow market trends and comparable opportunities because they will ACTUALLY screen their candidates and learn from them!   The typical agency recruiters sadly focus on submitting people over from their large database or Monster or Careerbuilder accounts... and it kills me when I talk to candidate who has no idea the agency sent them. The agency recruiter's agenda is closing business, don't insult internal recruiters and job seekers in trying to draw up agency business by letting job seekers think agencies have candidates best interests in mind. Total BS! Lol. Note to Jobseekers:  Internal recruiters will give it to you straight.  You're either a fit or not a fit for the company. Don't let some weasel agency recruiter represent you! :) 


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