HR and internal recruiters, YOU need to lift your game too

There has been a great deal of criticism of Agency recruiters lately, quite a bit of it from me.

But a recent theme is emerging where Corporate HR managers and internal recruiters have launched some scathing attacks on the process followed by recruiters.Truthfully, many of these criticisms are valid. As an industry we are guilty of shortcuts, shoddy service and overselling. It’s not true of all recruiters, but it does happen… a lot.

But, as with most contentious issues in life, there are two sides to this debate. And in the case of the relationship between third-party recruiters and internal HR, it is time for a little clarity on how the HR side of this uneasy relationship can improve, for the greater good.

These observations are my own, based on decades of dealing with HR through countless economic cycles. But to make sure I was taking the pulse of the current Zeitgeist on this, I asked for input from 40 recruiters I know across the globe. And they were very keen to have their say, and much of what they said cannot be reproduced here! But I have summarised their perspective in the 8 points below.

HR and internal recruiters, bring it in tight, I have a secret to share. Recruiters want to make you happy. We really do. We know that some of our number are a pain in the butt for you. But please don’t tar us all with the same brush. In fact some of your number are as bad as the worst of ours. Seriously.

So we promise to lift our game. But we need you to make some changes too.

  1. Please don’t be so defensive when dealing with recruiters. We are not the enemy. We are not even bad people. We know you were once an Agency recruiter yourself, (and we will take your word for it that you were “really, really good” at it), or maybe you have an honours degree in HR, but please don’t lord your ‘power’ over recruiters, who should be your partners and not your ‘vendors’, as you so often call us. Arrogance is not an attractive trait, and it’s not a great foundation for a working relationship.
  2. Please understand that we are not competing with you. We are offering to support your talent acquisition endeavors. Yes, we get that your job includes cutting the cost of outside recruitment, but we are pretty sure your CEO did not mean doing that at the expense of missing out on the best talent. Help us to help you.
  3. Please appreciate the need for urgency in talent acquisition. Requesting candidates, and then not responding to a short-list for six weeks is not in the interests of your employer. And when you do finally ask to see those candidates, please don’t be shocked, even angry, with us, that they are not available any more. Good candidates have options, and they will exercise those options, to your detriment. Please work with us to secure the very best talent available. For you.
  4. Please don’t see yourself as the gatekeeper between the recruiter and your hiring managers. We understand you are managing the process. You are in charge. We respect that. But please, accept you will seldom have the depth of understanding of the role that your line managers will. So let us speak to that manager, to refine and calibrate the search criteria. You lose none of your control by doing this. But you increase the chance of your organisation making a great hire. Keeping us from talking to line mangers is counterproductive. Your company does not need you to be a gatekeeper. They need you to be a conduit.
  5. Please invest time in us. This might mean you need to work with far fewer recruiters than you currently do. And that’s a good thing. For everyone. Don’t make us compete on speed. Make us compete on quality and access to talent. We can only do quality work if you take the time to fully brief us on your hiring needs. In detail. And preferably face to face. In recruiting, as in life, you get what you give.
  6. Please don’t delegate your most junior internal recruiters to brief us on your senior roles. We are not snobby. We will deal with anyone you require us to. But please make sure the person we work with has enough knowledge to communicate all the job requirements, and enough clout to ensure line managers respond quickly.
  7. Please, oh please, communicate with us. Return our calls and emails, not just out of common courtesy, but also because we are representing your employer brand to the talent market. Keep us hanging, you keep the talent hanging. They don’t like it, and they wont like your brand as a result. Be upfront with us about the status of each role. If it’s likely to be filled internally, tell us. If it’s about to be put on hold for a month, tell us. When you interview our candidates, make the time to provide detailed feedback – so we can service out talent, but also so we can refine the search.
  8. Please, take our advice. We understand you have been burned by less scrupulous operators, but please don’t lump us all together. Actually, it’s your responsibility to find a good recruiter and build a strong relationship with them. Sure, set your expectations of us very high, but apply those same expectations to yourself. You want us to listen and understand. You need to do the same. Listen to what we have to say on salaries, on urgency, on market trends and on which candidate to interview. If we get it wrong, warn us, and if we get it wrong too often, fire us. But remember if you treat your recruiter like a transactional drone, chances are, that’s what you will end up with.

The truth is that many of the very best business relationships I have had in my recruiting career have been with smart, demanding, Corporate HR professionals. I love dealing with those people. But they are rare, like good recruiters, I suppose.

It works best when the communications is open and the expectations are clear. But always built on a platform of mutual respect and understanding.

So, recruiters reading this, lets go and fix our processes. Listen to the voice of HR clients, unhappy with what we do. Let’s get our house in order.

But please HR and internal recruiters heed my call. Invest in your relationship with a great recruiter, or a small set of quality, specialised recruiters.

The rewards will astound you.

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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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46 Responses to HR and internal recruiters, YOU need to lift your game too

  1. MTS May 25, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Greg Savage read my mind and touched my busines heart…

  2. Glenn May 25, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I love this! Great blog Greg.

  3. Jeremy Wilson May 25, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Greg – utterly agree with your viewpoints and comments here. Its interesting though, I had a call from a “recruiter” (I use the term loosely) who rang me this morning – The moment I answered he launched into a tirade about his “perfect” candidate. After listening for about 45 seconds I stopped him and asked if he realised that I was the GM of a Recruitment business, and not the actual company. Once he had recovered from this revelation he then went on to suggest we fee share as us recruiters have “got to stick together” against “all the pirates out there such as…..”(cue disparaging and personal remarks about some of our competitors). Safe to say I sent him politely on his way. If I received several calls per week from characters of this ilk I would surely start to develop a bit of a chip. So I can see where internal recruiters are cominfg from but at the same time agree they need to realise that a couple of keys relationships with professional industry specific recruiters can in fact enhance the role they do and have a very positive effect on their reputation with their line managers. Thanks for addressing this Greg. Wisewords.

    • Aaron ortiz August 24, 2016 at 12:17 am #

      Hi I work as a receptionist. I find all you agency recruiters annoying . Please leave alone internal recruiters to their job and stop annoying receptionist like myself, line managers and hr recruiters they are managing process internally and have process to follow and really agency recruiters are salespeople desperate to make a sale I’m so its harsh but really your compared to use car salesman.

  4. Alexis Siermans May 25, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Thank you Greg for having the courage to communicate what many of us have been thinking – both recruiters and HR practitioners – for a long time now. Congratulations on continually providing reference material for recruiters who are striving for service delivery excellence and in such a personable way crafting words to communicate our passion.
    Great article ( as usual!)

  5. GB May 25, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    ‘It works best when the communication is open and the expectations are clear. But always built on a platform of mutual respect and understanding.’

    Amen to that.

    Thanks Greg.

  6. Yuriy Shevchenko May 25, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    The thought of asking HR for “permission” to speak to a line manager sends a cold shiver down my spine. In fact the thought of asking anyone permission to do anything is terrible!

    Let’s face it. You will always make more quality placements with a new customer by cold calling line managers with quality candidates than you ever will by contacting HR to “introduce yourself”.

    Any recruiter who’s been at this for more than a few years knows this intuitively, as do HR people ….. which is why they don’t want you to do it.

    Send the CVs through HR if you have to but keep those relationships with decision makers as robust as you can.

  7. RT May 25, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Once again – excellent articel greg

  8. Stuart Harvey May 25, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Yet another great article Greg.

    Often relationships between recruiter and HR are lukewarm at best, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little cooperation, a little bit of respect (earned and not expected) and some collaboration everybody involved wins – company, HR, recruiter and most importantly the candidate.
    If we all lift our game everybody is a winner.

  9. Aaron Dodd May 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Great article Greg…it resonates strongly with this blog post from me last year; http://www.changingmindset.com.au/2010/08/18/the-recruitment-partnership-you-get-back-what-you-put-in/

  10. Piper May 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Excellent blog content Greg:-) Your points in this blog are important.
    Although feel further clarity of the scope of work the Internal Recruiter is charged with and responsible for upholding is needed.
    In my experience, Internal Recruiters are more than a “conduit” – they are considered subject experts / trusted advisors too – they need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of not just the recruitment process/methodologies and practices and how to facilitate this process, they have to be industry knowledgeable too, right down to understanding the nature and depth of each role that is involved in the business and the individuals needed through to the contribution that each role and individual employed has (it is not limited to this either). The expectation of the Hiring Managers of that of the Internal Recruiter is they are subject experts in their business and to this end the IR works collaboratively with HM gain a sound understanding of his needs, sets about developing a thorough position and person specification followed through with a quality and appropriate short list of candidates to be interviewed and beyond. If the hiring manager wanted to deal with agencies directly that would negate the need for the Internal Recruiters function to a larger extent. I don’t negate the value of having a HM involved with Agency debrief process – it would. HM’s are busy people and ideally seek to deal with one person who is responsible for ensuring they understand their staffing needs, that they ensure a quality hire is sought and placed and the costs involved are appropriately controlled, hence why the internal recruitment model was created. Having worked both agency and internal recruitment environments – I understand this more clearly.
    It also occurs to me regarding your comment about Internal Recruiters being the “Gatekeepers” – this can’t be exclusivley at the hands of the Internal Recruiter…. consider the candidate who has applied for a role through an Agency. There are times when the Candidate feels frustrated with the relationship due to lack of communication and the recruiter’s inability to provide a proper brief of the role and overview of the company as a result expresses a preference to speak with the agency client / Hiring Manager directly – however is advised this is not possible as there a is a process and protocol to be adhered too – as a result, candidate may see the agency recruiter as “a gatekeeper” too.

    Whether an internal recruiter or an agency recruiter we are considered the subject experts – the trusted advisors – our main responsibility is to obtain and provide a thorough understanding / knowledge of the role and it’s expected contribution to the overall business, to know how to expertly extrapolate necessary information that would help us to attract the right applicant in alignment to the business needs, to manage the expectations of the flow of communication and process of all parties concerned upfront with integrity, transparency, industry knowledge, know how and respect.

    It occurs to me too as I write this, that employers of both internal and external recruiters have an equally important part to play in this too – if you want your people to “lift their game” ensure the team have the WHEREWITHAL to be prodigious communicators, subject experts, trusted advisors, collaborators and facilitators. As you indicated quite rightly Greg “Help us to help you” – Help consultants/recruiters to help you (Employers) too 🙂

  11. Piers Rowan May 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    @Yuriy Shevchenko

    “..The thought of asking HR for “permission” to speak to a line manager sends a cold shiver down my spine. In fact the thought of asking anyone permission to do anything is terrible!..”

    It can come down to how you platform the question.

    “….Thanks for the brief Mr[s] HR Manager

    To deliver the best quality candidates we are going to need a first hand perspective on the role from the line manager but I would really like you to chair that meeting from a strategic HR point of view….”

    If they decline to facilitate the meeting they are declining quality. By asking for them to take a seat at the table you are saying ” ….we only touch your line managers with your approval..” – trust is a big part of any relationship and next time someone goes behind the HR manager’s back you might just end up with the role.

    Also: Remember if someone is declining your quality process then they are asking you to give up something [because they are asking you to introduce risk into your dealings]. Don’t give up anything without getting something in return – for example a period of exclusivity.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    As usual Greg you blog posts are always worth a read. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  12. Anthea Wager May 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Greg, thank you so much! There has been much discussion lately surrounding the bad eggs in recruitment agencies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job and always find feedback about how I can do it better really valuable. However, hearing endless vitriol directed at us as a group (yes even when sitting in interview) can be really discouraging for those of us who actually care about delivering a quality service to our clients and candidates. We know that as an industry we have a reputation of not listening/being snake-oil salesmen/etc etc. I totally get that and its a huge motivator to prove my service is better, both for my personal reputation and for the industry’s. I also know of a good number of recruiters who approach their work with passion, personality and pride and they aren’t all just in niche agencies either. Its time someone changed the track and I’m really glad to see someone address the uphill battle we often face with internal recruiters/HR who view us as ‘frenemies’, with more emphasis on the ‘enemies’ than the ‘friend’ part. I’d like to see the discussion take a step further into the positive sphere. Lets be honest, the ‘uneasy relationship’ and recruitment industries’ poor reputation isn’t going to improve if discussion only centers on what we’re all doing wrong. I think there is just as much to be learned by both sides of the fence from positive reports/commendations/discussions of how Agencies and Internal/HR teams have partnered well with both parties satisfied, if not thrilled, with how the partnership works. We have a clear idea of what NOT to do, now lets focus on examples of what TO do! I’d love to see a blog “naming and shaming” examples of exceptional recruiters who go over and above…Pretty please?

  13. Yuriy Shevchenko May 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    @Piers Rowan,

    Thanks for responding. I mentioned in my post that “getting in” with a new customer is so much more likely if you contact the hiring manager directly with a quality, qualified candidate.

    The rules change once the customer becomes a regular one, or, you get your knuckles rapped by HR and are told “no one comes to the Father except through me”.

    I would be very interested in reading a post by Greg or anyone else which details how to handle the specific objection from HR “don’t contact our line managers directly”.

    I usually don’t bother with vacancies where line manager contact is “forbidden” but if there’s a proven way I can capitalise on opportunities I may be missing out on then I want to hear about it.

  14. Duncan Elliott May 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Interesting stuff Greg. I wonder whether many ‘internal recruiters’ (or personnel officers as we used to call them) are tacitly taking ‘revenge’ on the industry that wronged them, because for whatever reason they failed at it.

  15. Nick Edwards May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Great post Greg, as you know I am someone who has worked both agency and, now currently, internal recruitment and put great stock in the relationships we have with the select group of recruiters we use, they are a fantastic asset to the business and a great addition to the resourcing I do myself

    When I joined I went through the list of agencies we had and whittled it down to 6 agencies, 2 for each area of the business. These were the recruiters that had provided the best quality of service, who understand our business and had kept the relationship going even when we were not recruiting.

    We understand that if we want the best talent we need to work in partnership with those recruiters and this not only means giving them everything they need to be able to do their job properly, but to have open and honest dialogue and be open to taking the advice of the recruiter.

    In fact the relationships I have with recruiters are great fun, mutually beneficial and great at boosting the profile of our brand, whilst finding us the best talent in the industry.

    Oh and Duncan, I am not taking revenge on an industry that wronged me because I failed, I took this internal role to have the opportunity to work for one of the world’s leading digital marketing agencies, and if anything has made me a better recruiter 🙂

  16. David Palmer May 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Well Greg I’m not sure I agree at all.
    1. For “defensive” I would say “suspicious”-they know how agencies operate.
    2. “Competing” – the only reason I-H would need to go to an Agency is if they have failed to find a candidate. That’s not going to look good at their review. They’re competing!
    3. Gatekeeper or Conduit? I don’t think you’ve considered this from the Hiring Managers position. Does she want a gatekeeper or conduit? It’s the latter in the majority of cases.

    Unless you have something more to offer than you have offered for the last 15 years, you are not going to turn the In-House model. It may be that companies revert to Agencies in the future but for now In-House is policy and companies are going to invest in it and stick with it.

  17. Mitch Sullivan May 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Great sentiment, but is still doesn’t address the mindset and abilities of the majority of recruitment agencies – just the 20% minority. A mindset by the way, that is perfectly illustrated by the above comment by Duncan Elliott.

    In my experience, what companies really need to address is how they assess which external recruitment partners to work with and how they might integrate them into whatever recruitment/attraction plan they’re working to. Only once they have learned how to do this will they be able to do things like “take their advice”. Ordinarily, taking the advice of most contingency recruiters is an act of madness.

    The bottom line is that if an agency are really good at what they do, they would be able to sell the client on exclusivity with part of the fee(s) paid upfront.

    The best recruiters fill jobs. The rest just work the system to increase their chances of getting lucky.

  18. Katie McNab May 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Hi Greg – Thanks for referencing my “Dear John” blog. I agree with some (not all) of your points. There are certainly faults on both sides of the fence.

    I just wanted to point out that my blog wasn’t intended to be a rant about the horror of working with agencies. I actually rather like agencies. I work with some fantastic ones, and will do everything in my power to help them succeed. My (ongoing) problem is the ones I DON’T work with, specifically the wildly unprofessional approach to business development that in-house recruiters and hiring managers are subjected to every day.

    • Greg Savage May 26, 2011 at 9:01 am #

      Thanks Katie
      Your blog was the inspiration for my own blog, that is true. However I must say that both your articles on this subject were very considered, fair and written in a humorous tone, that I for one, took no offense to at all. In fact I think they were very constructive, and I hope my response is seen to be the same. I certainly did not intend to intimate that your own personal relationship with recruiters is anything but excellent!

      I might just edit the blog to clarify that

      Thanks and regards

      Greg

  19. Nathan Reese May 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Wow, this has got to be one of the best blog posts I’ve read, I am sick to death of the negligence from both parties as well as the tall poppy syndrome that agency recruiters seem to experience once they jump the fence.

    I think this blog should be sent to every CEO and GM in Australia to ensure their in house team is being run at maximum value. You can literally ask 4 or 5 questions to establish if you’re talking to a cowboy or a recruiter with a general interest in your business. If they have a general interest and can add value, why be rude?

    Of course the agency side needs to do everything they can to instil trust back in to our in house counterparts, it seems to be a lot of bad agencies that are affecting the industry as a whole. The sooner we can regulate it the better.

    As with an agency it’s not hard to establish whether you’re talking with an in house recruiter that actually knows the internal functionality and what their job entails, as opposed to acting as a gatekeeper with a little arrogance.

    You should treat people in life how you would like to be treated, As Stuart mentioned respect is earned not deserved.

  20. Mark McVey May 26, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Hi Greg,

    Great post.

    Although I have worked in recruitment for several years, with a wide range of clients and helped hundreds of people secure a better job I am still puzzled over the widespread antagonistic attitude towards the recruitment industry and those who work in it. My aim is to provide a service for companies who are seeking the right candidate to add value to their business, along with helping an individual find a better job – which has a massive positive impact on people’s lives. What could possibly be wrong or offensive about that.

    So why is recruitment so often treated as a begrudged purchase, (when you have clearly done a good job in finding the right person in order for a fee to be charged), consultants “subjected to” rudeness and basic untruths. I transferred into Recruitment from the industry I now recruit for and can still remember a call made in April 2006 to a very large company. The head of recruitment explained that the PSL was being renewed in September 2009. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I made that eagerly awaited call to discover that this was not the case. When faced with barriers like that should we just give up then?

    I was not offended by the “Dear John” letter, it was funny and clearly a form of catharsis when faced with a huge volume of pointless voice messages obscuring the important ones. (And no, I have no plans to recruit for Pepsico, so this is not a pitch Katie!).

    However, lets face it communication is a two way street and it might be worth internal recruiters looking at some way of filtering agency/consultant business development so that they actually have a chance once in a while to demonstrate their service and potential suitability. Why not organise a type of assessment centre for prospective recruitment partners and actually test them on their skills, experience and values? It might actually be fun and would probably separate the wheat from the chaff in an innovative method. As long as no singing is involved I would relish such an opportunity as most recruitment sales pitches seem to come from directors not deliverers.

    If internal recruiters think business development is irritating perhaps they should consider that doing it is a lot harder and potentially frustrating than receiving it. Consultants in large agencies are constantly under pressure to make a large volume of calls, secure client visits and win business, otherwise they don’t have a job. They are just doing their job and believe it or not they don’t enjoy the regular rejection, rudeness and patronising responses they are often “subjected to”

    No one can condone some of the “wildly unprofessional approaches” that internal recruiters are subjected to, which I am guessing are possibly tantamount to stalking. But consultants have to start a relationship somehow, somewhere or they will not earn any money or have a job and some of us do not pick up a safe salary. I would not ask for advice on how to do business development from someone who doesn’t have to do it. That’s a bit like a premiership footballer asking a referee for coaching on how to be a better player.

    Point 1 above is probably the most important in identifying the flaws and stumbling blocks in the relationship between internal recruiters and consultants, but consultants are to scared to admit this as then internal recruiters won’t work with them and the internal recruiters know this.

    If a recruiter is faced with a brickwall and no potential hope of working with a company what have they got to lose by going direct to line management or going through the motions so they can at least register another BD call for their stats? Why not therefore devise a parallel interview/assessment process for respective agencies and consultants, get them to jump through hoops and prove their worth. The ones who fail will probably never bother you again.

  21. Nick Edwards May 26, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    @ David Palmer

    With regards to point 2: we use agencies alongside our resourcing as we know that to get the best candidates we need to use our own resourcing methods (Search and Selection, LinkedIn, Networking, referrals etc) and utilise recruitment consultants

    I haven’t failed if I use an agency, I’m using my knowledge and experience of recruitment as well as the relationships I have with my recruiters to be able to best resource the top talent for our business

  22. Ioana Ardelean May 26, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    Everything you have written is so true, in exactly the order you have presented these issues. I am going to use some of the points you have made and clearly explained with my HR clients, to build a better relationship sooner. I have an example of a situation where it took me years, not even months, to turn an HR client relationship from defensive into collaborative. Now the relationship is finally working.

  23. Jacqueline May 26, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Yesterday I sat in a regional economic brainstorming workshop which is providing the foundation for a region to set their strategy for the next 10-15 years; one of the comments struck me deeply on a personal level simply because of its applicability to the recruitment industry. And it was this, it doesn’t matter our brand or our intentions (for attracting investment), what we really need to ensure is that whatever we decide makes us attractive permeates through at every level of the community….
    I have come in and out of the industry, one of many who forged their career in the days of Morgan & Banks, and have worked in metro and regional, for boutiques and the globals. In the past few months the behaviour of others within the industry is what really astounds me.
    I can deal with arrogant HR Partners, I can deal with the ones that block the pathway and won’t play a full hand, because I know that so long as there is contact we can work on building a relationship which is a result of delivering results, building trust and truly collaboarting to bring the right talent and the right solutions to the table.
    What I can’t deal with is the widespread self indulgent behaviour of people within our own industry whom see fit to get a job at all costs. In the last 3 days alone, candidates from two exclusive shortlists have been approached by other agencies with opening lines such as…there is no such thing as exclusive mate, the job doesn’t really exist, come with me and I’ll look after you, and the list simply goes on and on. So much of this reeks of ego and arrogance, a lack of willingness to build relationships and a preference to just play a great game of roulette.
    If you cannot operate with integrity, with the right intentions, and in a way which adds value to a relationship, then you do not deserve success, the lack of which you currently and conveniently blame on ‘the HR / Internal Recruiter’ brigade.
    And until as an industry we get this, then none of us will be better off – except of course those of us who ‘get it’!

  24. Alison May 26, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Agreed on most points Greg, but I have to point out one thing. Not all internal recruiters are trying to act as a gatekeeper to the hiring managers.

    As an internal recruiter I have a strong knowledge of the roles and have been here longer than many of the managers I recruit for. By an agency recruiter going via me, they can ensure they will be responded to in a timely mannner, get regular communication and the correct information. By going direct to the manager they will often be kept waiting for weeks at a time – our managers, quite frankly, have better things to do. They see recruitment and dealing with agencies as our job.

    Another point is that the agency can end up wasting their time. They call the manager, reverse market the candidate and get an appointment booked. They put all that hard work in and finally internal recruitment coins to what has happened. And realise that we have been speaking with that candiate as a direct applicant, long before you even met them. And we can’t accept their application from you or pay you a fee. If you had have called us and at least ran the name past internal recruitment, you would have avoided wasting your time. And I do know that you always ask the candidate if they have applied with us, and yes I am sure they said no – but we all know that we can’t always take that at face value!!

    Agency recruiters often damage their relationships with us, by ignoring this simple request. We will be working with them closely, breif them fully, respond to them promptly – and book interviews for their candidates. And then they decide to contact the hiring managers anyway and pester them constantly to the point where they call us, asking us to tell them to bugger off.

  25. Mark May 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    A small set of quality, specialised recruiters certainly does work. On another note, Katie McNab’s “Dear John” blog sounds desperately close to the NAB BreakUp letter / campaign taking on the other Banks!

  26. Robin May 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    @Yuriy Shevchenko

    Do you work for Computure Futures or Monarch by any chance?

  27. David Palmer May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    @Nick
    It’s not personal “failure” but the failure (as in lack of success) to find the best candidate. Presumeably that’s the point you go out to Agencies? I hope you don’t source directly and use Agencies at the same time for the same roles!

  28. Jody Urquhart May 27, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Definitely two sides to a story. Great post a lot to consider. I will pass this on

  29. Me May 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Candidate —> | RECRUITER | —> | HR | —> | HIRING MGR | —> Job

    Throw in about a dozen other people who have to put their two cents into the process and toss in a lousy ATS just for kicks, and you will understand who is deserving of the most frustration —> THE CANDIDATE. There should not be this many barriers and control freaks between a candidate and a job.

  30. Nick Edwards May 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    @David

    We have got agencies on board at the same time as I am resourcing candidates for one particular team as the area is in major skills shortage across the UK and we are looking to hire 8 people with the same skills. The 2 agencies we are working with have been briefed to compliment me, not work in competition and this works really well.

  31. Charles Young May 30, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Here here!

  32. Benjamin Teh May 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    And to add to an already interesting array of perspectives. Many a times, the in-house recruiter has his/her hands full with just managing the hiring manager. One responsibility an in-house recruiter has is to also protect the general public from the hiring manager (at least the ones that go rogue). Instead of washing dirty linen in public because a HM cancels an interview, or changes his mind at the last minute, or a myriad of other excuses, we have take the heat and it comes across to the agency folks that we internal guys don’t know what we are babbling about (And many times, we babble because of how ridiculous the situation has become).

  33. Laura Vezer June 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Great article, as always Greg!

  34. Jennifer Bailey June 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Thank you Greg, it needed to be said, I have this discussion daily with clients…

  35. Daniel Goss June 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    Yes I totally agree with your post! I also agree with the post from “Me”. As a candidate myself, trying to get work for the last 6 months has been very frustrating – I am the one getting caught in the middle of the conflict between HR and Recruiters! A little more cooperation would be welcome – and most importantly some communication please from either side !

  36. Ed Cook July 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Well said Mitch:

    “Great sentiment, but is still doesn’t address the mindset and abilities of the majority of recruitment agencies – just the 20% minority. A mindset by the way, that is perfectly illustrated by the above comment by Duncan Elliott.”

    Just because an internal recruiter left an agency environment doesn’t mean they failed. The constant focus on KPI’s and sociopathic Managers prevalent within agencies was the main reason I left. With regards to how recruiters are viewed by most people who have dealt with them. Unfortunately the inept majority will always influence the perception of the competant minority.

  37. Emily B July 21, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Great post Greg! It seems that you have stirred the pot a bit and the verdict is divided. One thing I will say (as an ex-recruiter in general – but a recruiter who left agency for in-house at one time) is that capable and conscientious agency recruiters many times are NOT the norm. The same can be said in any profession, though.

    1.The defensiveness (or rudeness) might be frustration around the many agency recruiters who can give the rest a bad name. If you get 10 calls a week and 9 are painfully bad, then you can get short with people.

    2. I know you are not competing with me, there is no competition. If you are quality, service and relationship focused, it won’t feel like a competition, ever.

    3. An agency recruiter who feels the need to educate me on urgency doesn’t get it. If you think the 6 week wait times are because I am not looking at resumes, wrong. I look and forward to my hiring managers immediately. And then I wait. And by default you wait. This is a problem that doesn’t go away when you leave agency for in-house, it likely get worse. Strong relationships and communication will solve this problem between the agency and the in-house contact. Not a lecture on urgency.

    4. I am paid to keep gates. When I feel there is value for both parties in opening that gate, I will. I want the role filled and I’ll always manage the process to that end. To say that a corporate recruiter lacks the knowledge to fully brief a partner on a search? I think a senior level in-house profession is, at times, better equipped to do this than any line managers would be.

    5. Invest time in you? I invest time in relationships with smart, responsive and capable partners. Be that and I will. If you’re not, I won’t.

    6. Delegated to the new kid? If we have a strong relationship – you won’t get the junior recruiter, you’ll get me. Focus on that.

    7. No response? There is no excuse for not communicating and updating your trusted partners on status and issues. If they aren’t getting this, I’d question the strength of your relationship.

    8. Finally and with due respect, listen to you? Ok, but you listen to me, too. While I know that agency recruiters have a general pulse on the market, talent and salaries, corporate recruiters have to worry about things like parity and salary ranges. Benefits and stock and retirement contributions. They have to make sure their junior designers don’t make more than the Sr ADs they work for. And that is important too.

    Bottom line, we all have our perspectives and challenges. If the industry keeps high standards of service and quality, strong relationships and open communication – things might go a lot more smoothly. Many agencies tolerate and foster a culture of delivering much less. And that hurts everyone.

  38. venkat September 10, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Definitely two sides to a story

  39. Tamara Duffy April 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Love it! And yes. To work, it really has to be a two way street….

  40. Bill Maynard April 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Fantastic post Greg! I’ve worked both sides of the fence so like to think I have an appreciation for internal recruitment administrators and the bureaucracy they have to deal with, it’s not an easy job. Once they stop tarring all recruiters with the same brush and once we stop tarring all internal administrators with the same brush then common appreciation should result in much stronger relationships.

  41. Michael June 21, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    I know this article is pretty old but it has been a great comfort to read it. I’ve been recruiting in a specialist area for six years in agency. Recently a PSA client released a role that they had advertised multiple times after my call to offer support. Being aware of the PSA agreement procedure, I stuck to process and called the internal recruiter, not the line manager.

    From the outset the internal recruiter has communicated with me in a derogatory and heavy handed fashion. She told me that she had already released the role to five other recruiters who have failed to fill the role and that if I want to work on it I can, if I don’t feel it is wasting my time. Part of me felt like bowing out at that point and perhaps I should have followed my instinct, but in the current market an open role is an open role and worth some attention, particularly as it is a temporary contract and she herself described the situation as “desperate”. The approach of this individual was to belittle and humiliate me from the start and make it clear that there is no time to brief me fully on the role. She will not meet in person and is completely obstructive and dismissive of any attempt to build rapport or credibility. Having developed a thick skin and being confident to present a strong shortlist in this specialist area I didn’t let this bother me at the time, as more often than not it goes with the territory, and I have come to accept the fact that some internal recruiters (in particular RPO ones) will treat me like this rather than as a partner.

    However, when I presented my shortlist of senior and highly accomplished candidates, the task was made virtually impossible by a line of aggressive and assumptive questioning that was insulting to the candidates and totally lacking in any constructive element. Clearly this recruiter had made up her mind from the start, that her goal was to discredit my credibility and show that I am just another opportunist and lazy recruiter. Without knowing anything about me she derogatively laughed and complained that more than one of the CVs lacked the exact same job title as the role. Apparently for her “recruitment 101” is matching key words, otherwise she can’t even approach the line manager.

    I now have to go back to these individuals who are experts in their field and let them know that a major brand deems their expertise null and void.

    It now appears that in my effort to answer her objections and explain the relevance of my candidates, this individual has asked that I no longer work on the role. And the line manager remains with an unfilled role.

    Now I can totally understand that she has had bad experiences with external recruiters, however if you talk to your service providers like they are idiots and totally ignore there specialist skills, actively insulting them, then I really wonder if the interests of the organisation are trully what is on the line here, rather than perhaps a personal ego.

    I find this is particularly more the case with some RPO where an organisation has outsourced its talent management to a single agency. This is a great immediate cost saving for an organisation and can definitely be a positive in terms of focusing recruitment. However, if you are struggling and failing to fill specialist roles and insulting your specialist recruiter and candidates, what is the true cost to your business?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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