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!


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Comment by Linda Ferrante on November 20, 2013 at 9:08am

The interesting thing here is we are trying to compare apples to oranges and say which one is better.  Agency recruiters and internal recruiters are different, and have different goals, while the initial process is the same.  To clarify, agency recruiters are working to fill their clients positions.  Often, they will have more than one opening, with more than one client.  When they have a good candidate, they can, in fact, shop them around.  Different people work better at different organizations.  Now you have the 'selling' part of the recruiting positions.  Internal recruiters are working to fill their positions.  ONE COMPANY.  There's not much shopping/selling/consulting that can be done if a candidate isn't the right fit for the company. 

As a matter of point, I often work with internal recruiters for some of my clients.  There is a true partnership with them, so I don't see all the fuss.  Recruiters jobs are to fill openings.  We are NOT here to take care of the candidates, as much as we'd like to say we are.  There are organizations who do, but recruiters, in general, do not.  Please don't confuse that with recruiters not caring about the candidates.  We do, probably more than we should.  It's in our nature to make sure people are happy and if not, what we can do to help.  The bottom line is that regardless if you are an agency recruiter OR an internal recruiter, our paycheck comes from clients' fees. When candidates start paying our salaries, we can start working for them.  

Comment by Valentino Martinez on November 20, 2013 at 11:43am

Greg--you're a genius.

Only you can be so right and so wrong -- at the same time.

Crazy like a fox is another way of putting it.  BTW, in recruiting never, ever say "always" makes you sound like the Captain of the Titanic.

Comment by Greg Savage on November 20, 2013 at 11:43am

I always take your advice Valentino.....

Comment by Valentino Martinez on November 20, 2013 at 11:51am

Ahhh...crazy like fox strikes again....

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on November 20, 2013 at 12:55pm

All the great agency recruiters I've ever known have been driven by the needs of their clients, not candidates.

Clients are where the money is.

Statistics don't back up the claim that great recruiters serve the best interests of candidates either.  Typically a recruiter will generate anywhere between 20 and 200 candidates every month (depending on how they work and what niche) and will place 2 or 3 of them.

That doesn't look like a candidate-centric approach to me.

Greg, this is possibly the worst blog you've ever written.  Please tell me you'd been out in the sun drinking beer all day when you wrote it?

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on November 20, 2013 at 1:45pm

Since we rarely  get APF (applicant pays fee) positions anymore, and aren't in the helping professions like social work or counseling, we're NOT candidat4-centric. Convceivably if I were a contingency/retained recruiter in a particular niche, it would make lots of sense for me to develop extensive, deep relationships with them, but that's not the case. Consequently I say:

“Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,

Though they’re disapprovin’,

Keep them doggies movin’ Rawhide!

Don’t try to understand ‘em,

Just rope and throw and grab ‘em,

Soon we’ll be living high and wide.”


Comment by PAUL FOREL on March 2, 2014 at 5:18am

Greg, Hello...

I can agree with some of what you say here and debate other points; overall though, I believe you are too eager to broad brush this topic to be deemed to be a neutral observer and put forth a realistic assessment of this topic as you post it here.

More interestingly,,,

As I reviewed the posts here (often the more educational part of reading a post here at Recruiting Blogs) I could see that of course, there are a chorus of those who agree and disagree with you.

But when I read the following -an extract of two posts by the same contributor- it becomes more than evident that there may never be an honest consistency to our business as it is described by its practitioners.


“…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. ..”

“…I know I don't want my name associated with a bad hire…”

These two assertions from the same 'recruiter'.

The timeless refrain of "Physician, Heal Thyself" comes to mind.

And people wonder why I don't do splits.

I usually tell people that it is not that I don't trust other 'recruiters' but is because my momma long ago told me never to take candy, candidates or job orders from a stranger.

Bearing in mind the two quotes, above, that 'barrier to entry [to our business]' someone here at Recruiting Blogs mentioned elsewhere comes to mind...


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