Lemmings.  Junior HR twerps. Gatekeepers.  Obstacles.  Just plain “in-the-way-of-the-real-work-the-grown-ups-are-doing”.


Now before anyone starts setting the comment section on fire, please note that I am myself a corporate recruiter.  I don’t think I fall into ANY of those categories, nor do any of my excellent co-workers.  In fact, I work internally for one of the very few companies I would ever consider going in house for.  Many of these issues don’t apply to me, but some of my internal friends suffer with them.  This isn't (and shouldn't be) and Us VS. Them relationship.  I actually met with a fantastic agency recruiter today that I hope to do business with in the future - he's sharp and I think he could deliver on the "purple squirrel" reqs.  But back to internals... like any other group, we too have our share of bad apples.


So what is WRONG with these internal circus clowns and why won’t they just get out of the way?  Better yet, why can’t they just operate like real recruiters?


Closest to the money doesn’t necessarily apply.  As an internal recruiter, there is “no money”, at least not in the TPR sense.  I can’t always focus on the quickest-to-fill/most-responsive-hiring manager/biggest-fee-requisition.  Nope, it’s the highest-profile/affecting-the bottom-line/job-order-the-CEO-himself-handed-me req.  At the end of the day my priorities might not make sense in the TPR world.


We can’t fire bad clients.  I work with particular client groups regardless of how I feel about their requisitions.  No matter how easy or hard they are to work with, they’re mine and I’m stuck with them, kind of like my children.  And just like my children, there are some days I adore them and some days I – well – you know.  At any rate, I’m committed to my clients and have to make the best of it, even if it means I can’t always focus on what that makes sense from a different point of view.


Speaking of bad clients… I hear quite often about the awesome relationship TPRs have with hiring managers.  Corporate recruiting just gets in the way, right?  Well, what you DON’T know is that the “hiring manager” you think so fondly of doesn’t have any say in the hiring process.  Oh sure, I know their title sounds an awful lot like someone who should have some authority over the people they manage but sometimes it just ain’t so.  I’m really thrilled for you that you’ve developed such a strong bond with the guy but if he was really in authority he could authorize paying fees too and I wouldn’t have to be the jerk ruining your deal.  On the flip side, maybe he can authorize paying fees, but is setting me up to be the bad guy because he doesn’t want it to hit his budget… it’s happened… more often than you might think.


"Training” probably meant new hire orientation and a PowerPoint on how to use Taleo.  I’ve said before that I feel staffing agencies are without question the best training grounds for internal recruiters.  If you are dealing with that junior HR person who’s never been in the trenches, then you bet you’re going to have problems.   There may not be anyone in the building that actually knows how to recruit, so who’s going to show the new guy?  If you’re nice to them maybe they’ll be open to some mentoring  - now you’ve got an advocate, not an enemy.


Some businesses just don’t want to work with you – right now.  It’s not personal.  We have a coordinator that handles all our staffing needs – temp, temp to hire which makes up 99.9% of our agency spend.  I had a recruiter reach out to me because he felt our coordinator was basically “in the way” and “in over her head” because we weren’t giving this agency any business.  Clearly our coordinator didn’t understand the value he could bring, and if only I could get them in the door they’d solve all our problems.  While I appreciate the sentiment, when my coordinator told him we don’t have any temp openings she actually meant we don’t have any temp openings…. And right now that’s all we use agencies for.  The unfortunately reality for this guy is when we DO need to bring in a partner we’re not going to call him.  He would have been better off making nice with her for temp stuff, which could have opened doors down the road.  Or at least approached me differently.  Throwing my cube neighbor under the bus was probably not his best strategy.  But the biggest problem of all…?


Some recruiters actually think they’re part of HR.  I don’t mean there’s not an ultimate reporting relationship where we funnel up into HR.  Of course we do.  Just like in some organizations, HR ultimately reports to Finance (although I’m not sure why…).  I’ve said before I love HR!  HR gets me paid!  HR approves my offer letters!  HR handles benefits and company picnics and personnel issues and all the other things that make my head hurt.  I’m really lucky that I get to just focus on recruiting.  Whenever a so-called “recruiter” starts getting involved in all that extra stuff that has nothing to do with sourcing, interviewing, scheduling, and offering then we’re going to have problems.   I vote those internals get a title change so they stop making me look bad.

Views: 3091

Comment by Keith Gorman on September 1, 2011 at 3:38pm

It's always nice to see someone condemn a group they are a part of but exclude themselves from the condemnation. Kind of like "my best friend is..." (Fill in the blank with whatever your bias is) and then proceed to bury said group.

The reality of is there are like any profession, people who are good at what they do and people who aren't. I worked in contingency staffing at 100% commission for just under eight years. Eventually, I moved in house.  I've been largely running recruiting functions since, as well as running all of HR in one instance and training and development in another.

Agency use drops precipitously wherever I go. Why? Because I run in house recruiting operations, complete with research and cold calling. I’m not paying recruiters to move paper. “Whatever is closest to money” there’s not a person who’s worked for me that doesn’t know that expression. I use agencies strategically when I have a particularly difficult search. So when a firm gets irritated with me because I won’t look at any of their analysts candidates – the fact is I don’t need to pay a fee for those candidates. We generate a more than sufficient pipeline.

I’ve no doubt been branded by more than one of these firms as one of your circus clowns. The fact is, as an in house function I am not in a transaction business. Contingency firms generally are, and their staff is measured accordingly – number of placements, how much was billed with their client companies and total placement fees on their candidates. I’m excluding retained firms, since this is a different relationship.

My staff is measured on performance of the new hires over the year, tenure of the hires – number of hires is low in my measurement list. I expect a recruiter to be able to articulate the goals of the department they support, speak intimately about the position and the deliverables for that position. In the end we live with any hire that’s not a fit, if there’s attrition, we participated in it. Closing a job in 30 or 60 days means nothing to me if that job turns over a year later.

My experience from both sides of the business is that outside agencies often don’t understand the issues of the client company. Hey, they just need someone with x,y,z technology, this candidate has it, so hire them. I had a vendor lecture me on why I needed to listen to them and hire their candidate. My questions to them were – have you ever been to this office? Have you met the CEO who the job reports to? Have you met any of the peers of this position? My response to their “no” answer was they were no position to tell me it was the right person for the job. Companies are micro societies with a variety of cultures and not every person is a fit for every company, and certainly not every company is a fit for every person.

There are bad tendencies with both external recruiting functions and internal. I had little appreciation for my internal counterpart until I moved to this side. Many a time I felt they weren’t being honest or responsive. Now being inside, I can see more clearly the issues. It’s not uncommon for a requisition to be vetted out, approved, and halfway into the search an event occurs altering or elimina

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 1, 2011 at 3:51pm

@Andrew - thanks!

@Keith - appreciate your commentary - but I'm confused - did you feel I was condemning the group (corporate recruiters), of which I'm part of?  I've undoubtedly been labeled a circus clown at some point as well.  :)

Comment by Tom Dimmick on September 1, 2011 at 5:05pm
I particularly agree with the compensation issue Amy raises regarding hiring metrics.  People should be paid incentives for results.  Results should be measurable and measured.  Praise should be public.  Unfortunately, while HR KNOWS all these things, they seldom PRACTICE these things.  Good post Amy.
Comment by Tom Dimmick on September 1, 2011 at 5:16pm

@Keith - The relationship with the client is the key to the success or failure of my firm. In my recruiting world, I never disagree with my clients as to why they should or should not hire someone. You said it correctly . . you must live with the new hire, I do not. 

This does raise a point about my earlier comment to Amy.  I think that good outside recruiters need to be held accountable for their placements.  That can come in a variety of ways.  Unfortunately, I can also tell you that when I tried a fairly unique fee structure based on the years of longevity of the candidate, the CFO indicated it would be too "difficult to account for".  Go figure.

Comment by jeffreytmoore on September 1, 2011 at 9:11pm
Great post!  I want a +1 button too! :)
Comment by David Pritchard on September 5, 2011 at 9:37am

Great Article and comments. Every observation and remark above is about REALationships, which in our profession is also about service and providing value to the process of talent search and attraction to everyone involved. 


  • REALationship w/ HR & Finance
  • REALationship w/ hiring managers
  • REALationship w/ vendors and wannabes
  • REALationship w/ Candidates

REALationship w/ REAL people.


"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."
Rabindranath Tagore




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