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Internal or Agency Recruiters? Why You Might Need Both

It’s no secret that IT staffing has become “commoditized.” Technology has leveled the playing field between agency recruiters and internal recruiters, with online search tools and social job sites providing each recruiting group access to the same resume pool of job-seeking candidates. Some would say old-fashioned, more personalized recruiting techniques have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Or have they? 

Internal or Agency Recruiters? Why You Might Need Both

The ever-shrinking systems development life cycle is changing the development time frame of most projects from years to months. In part, Agile development methodologies have enabled (and forced) companies to be more nimble, change direction on the fly, and react to market forces like never before. This includes finding talent to do the work- quickly!

One eCommerce CIO with whom we work said he is challenged to find technical consultants who are more social, collaborative, and used to working in a team environment reflected in Agile development shops. “This is a far cry from 15 years ago, when you just hired a heads-down programmer who could happily sit alone in his cube hammering out code,” he said.

What does this mean as far as staffing resources? For yesterday’s recruiters, finding candidates with the requisite technical skills was often enough to find a good fit. Today, recruiters need to spend more time getting to know the soft skills of a candidate, their knowledge of the businesses they work for, and their willingness to come out of their cube to interact with teammates. We call this the classic T model – very deep in one technology and a generalist in a few other characteristics, including communications.

If an internal recruiter can land on this candidate by themselves, great. It is true that internal recruiters are more knowledgeable about the requirements and culture of their company than a third party agency. Internal recruiters, quite rightly, act in the interest of their employer and thus are motivated to find the right fit for their bosses. After all, they have to work with the hires every day. Plus, they have just eliminated agency fees and saved their company some money.

However, this type of match is kind of like finding the right life partner. It takes time and effort, something internal recruiters often don’t have the luxury of.

Think of the environment corporate recruiters are usually embedded within. Often, they work alone or within a very small group. And rarely do their responsibilities solely reside within IT. The amount of candidates they can deliver gets diluted across different hiring departments within the company.

Recruiting industry expert Greg Savage said “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?”

It is difficult to maintain a grasp on the whole market, let alone a strong passive candidate network if you only represent one company. More often than not, internal recruiters rely heavily on career search boards and job ads for their pipelines.

However, the pool of potential candidates extends far beyond the stacks of resumes received in response to job postings. Highly sought after passive candidates don’t show up in those searches. They need to be searched, cultivated, and wooed using a more personal approach.  

Agency recruiters typically spend a lot more time with candidates, because they are trying to place them in multiple opportunities. Good candidates in turn spend more time with agencies because they know their recruiters have more opportunities to offer and therefore, better odds of getting hired.

Agency recruiters represent many companies and a cross section of industries. In doing so, they learn what drives those businesses. Who do you work with? What value do you add? What do you on a daily business and why? In asking these questions of candidates over time, agency recruiters become quasi experts on the business side, as well as excellent screeners of the important soft skills required.

One QA manager who worked with MATRIX said “The hiring time has reduced; the agency does a pre-screening and knows the soft, technical skills that we are looking for so that the probability of the candidates matching to the requirements is high. Plus, we get qualified candidates that are in the market that would not otherwise apply for these positions.”

Comparing internal recruiters to agency recruiters is like comparing cars to airplanes. They are both useful depending on how much you want to spend, where you want to go, and how fast you want to get there.

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