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Should Candidates work with an Internal or External Recruiter?

Here it is simply put: When you are an external recruiter, you can choose what companies to work with and what jobs to work on.

When you are an internal recruiter there is no saying “No”, you work on everything as required.  In addition, you may have other job responsibilities outside of recruiting such as, Vendor Management, Performance Management, Training Management, Maintaining Employee Files, Resolving Conflict, Employment Law, Onboarding Processes, Succession Planning, Employment Processing, Union & Labor issues, Scheduling and Continuing Education & Training of all the above.

Internal recruiting quantity and quality suffer due to the overabundance of duties. External recruiters can focus on talking and forming relationships with existing and new candidates/companies.

Occasionally, there can be conflict between internal and external recruiters. There are two issues that seem to resurface; one is a control issue and the other is financially motivated. When internal recruiters engage external recruiters, they can sometimes view this as a failure of their efforts to date. When this occurs, internal recruiters can show some reluctance in relinquishing control of the process to engage external recruiters.

If you sense a feeling of resentment may exist with a client, it’s necessary to address these issues by engaging in a diplomatic strategy. Here are a few suggestions to deflate any current or potential future resentment. Keep in mind that the following strategies can be used with all hiring authorities and are not exclusive to HR/internal recruiters.

  • Recognize the efforts made by the Internal Recruiter.
  • Acknowledge your work as an External Recruiter who can focus on this position and as one who has access to candidates who may not be active in a search.
  • External recruiters are not always every company’s first choice and some just plain suck.
  • Discuss the costs of a ‘bad hire’ and/or the cost of position vacancy, i.e., consultant fees, overloading other employees, and morale issues.
  • Get to the business of collaboration. Determine what avenues have been utilized, the expected fill date, how interviews will be scheduled, and who the decision-maker is.  Having these issues settled up-front will facilitate the process.

Trying to compare internal to external recruiting is like trying to compare a red to a white wine. The two are truly unique from one another yet serve similar roles. Well-run organizations and HR departments are savvy about when to use external recruiters whether retainer, contingency, or otherwise. As external recruiters, we need to be equally as savvy in identifying such organizations. All mutually beneficial relationships in the professional and personal world share a common theme: mutual respect and genuine concern for each other’s business successes. Ask the tough questions, be prepared to walk away, and keep qualifying because your best client is yet to come.

There are distinct advantages for both internal and external recruiters with an exclusive candidate arrangement.

  • Internal recruiters are privy advisors on such matters as internal company organizational charts, planning, and onboarding issues. An internal recruiter may share confidential company information on succession planning or an upcoming merger. Their role allows them privileges to information that may be of value in making a good career decision for candidates and augments their ability to recruit top talent. Clearly, outside recruiters do not have access to internal and confidential company information. The best HR representatives can “take over” processing recruits by creating good rapport and a strong connection. They can use their advantages and may offer a business card and all of their contact information. When a candidate is told by HR to “call me directly” or other directives that indicate they are clearly the one, the external recruiter can be viewed as no longer needed by either party.
  • External recruiters also have exclusive advantages. The primary advantage being they work with a number of companies, not just one. This is a very big advantage candidates gain from external recruiters. If an opportunity with a company does not come to fruition that doesn’t mean the candidate is out of consideration for other employment opportunities. External recruiters spend a considerable amount of time working on a candidate’s behalf. Ironically, the client companies are liable for compensating the recruiters, not the candidate.

It is essential to recognize and respect the differences, similarities, and value of both Internal and External Recruiters.  The shared goal, to put the best candidate in the position, is the priority.  Long-term relationships with companies, Internal Recruiters, and candidates are fostered by mutual respect and shared success.

Written by: Mark Rowbottom, President of Recruiters of Wisconsin

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