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In-house versus agency recruitment


In-house versus agency recruitment

Having worked in HR and recruitment for over twenty years, recruiting at every level across all functions, I have come across hundreds of recruitment consultants in my time. Every HR and internal recruiter I have worked with thought they could do a better job than an agency, if only they had the time. In short, recruitment agencies are definitely considered a ‘necessary evil’ and an expensive one at that.

In fact some of the preconceptions I’ve witnessed include the view that agencies do not care about the candidate being a great fit but care only about making their own commission. There is also the view that consultancies are full of smooth talking sales people who cannot be trusted to understand the complexities of the role and company culture.

As a result of these prejudices it is rarely the case that an in-house recruiter would move agency-side but more and more common for agency consultants to move in-house. However, only six months ago I found myself breaking this mould moving from a career in HR and internal recruitment to heading up the delivery team for specialist marketing recruitment agency, EMR.

I must admit when they first contacted me about the role I thought they had made a mistake and had called the wrong person! Out of curiosity I came along to meet the MD and was pleasantly surprised to find that our values were very similar. We are both passionate about the candidate and customer experience. I felt instantly at home. Although my new MD told me “Recruitment is Recruitment” I found that agency recruiters have some preconceptions and prejudices of their own about the role of the in-house recruiter.

In fact from the other side of the fence I have witnessed preconceptions that HR and internal recruiters do not understand the complexities of individual roles and that it’s much better if HR can be bypassed altogether. Many recruiters within agencies also have the view that often the HR and internal recruitment teams can slow the hiring process down and are not quick to make a decision.

Having seen things from both sides now I have a new respect for agency recruitment consultants. From my experience at EMR I can see that they do care about sourcing great candidates and it is not all about the commission at the end of the day. Also many of the recruitment consultants are ex-industry professionals and have specialist knowledge of their own area whether it is professional services or PR. 

I also now realise how much time and effort goes into finding candidates, meeting them and putting them forward to companies whose need is ‘urgent’ only to be frustrated by HR not coming back with any feedback. I have also been surprised at how many times a candidates CV has to be re-sent because HR can’t remember which CV’s have been received and reviewed. I have learnt how hard agencies can work sourcing and interviewing candidates often not to receive any feedback at all.

This has never been my experience of HR so I have to admit I’ve been rather surprised by this and the disappointing thing is always letting down good candidates who have invested time in the recruitment process only to hear nothing. 

Agency recruiters can add real value to businesses because they are speaking to candidates every day, they know what is happening in the market, what the trends are, why candidates leave roles and what attracts them to a role. This is valuable information to HR and hiring managers.

However, recruitment agencies need to stop trying to by-pass HR and need to engage in partnering with them. The HR function has often been involved in the strategic vision of the company before the individual hiring managers and should not be disrespected or avoided.

The candidate experience and the client experience can be enhanced by in–house and agency recruiters working together in partnership.

So let’s get rid of the pre-conceptions and prejudices on both sides. We are all ultimately working towards the same goal, to find great candidates who become excellent employees, adding value to the business.

AnneMarie Elliot
Delivery Manager at EMR

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