My Words of Wisdom for Agency Recruiters

Author: Joanne Ward

It is a sad but necessary fact of life now that I no longer answer calls on my mobile phone. I realise this is not an uncommon practice with so many of us having been mis-sold PPI or have been involved in a ridiculous number of traffic accidents but these are not the reasons why I avoid answering my phone. My reason is simple – the sheer number of “expert” and “specialist” third-party Agency Recruiters wanting to “help” me.

As an internal Recruiter you know that the very second you publish a job vacancy the inevitable calls (and emails) start to flood in – everyone wants to help you with that role that you are obviously having trouble filling – despite the fact that it has been live for less than 24 hours! All too frequently these offers of assistance will also tell you that they have all the “best” candidates in their “exclusive” database.

Most internal Recruiters value the services of a good Recruitment Agency and will happily engage with them on genuinely hard to fill roles – after all there is a finite amount of time in a day and resources should be used wisely to meet commercial objectives – sometimes speed is more important that cost when hiring. But here is the thing – in my experience people generally deal with people not “companies” so it is time to throw away the sales script and templated spam emails and be yourself to stand out from the crowd.

When an internal Recruiter selects an Agency who do you think they are likely to approach? Is it the pushy “expert” with 6 months experience who bombards you with unsolicited CV’s or the person who has taken the time to personalise their approach and who seems genuinely interested in understanding your pain points and offers a strategy based on facts after a conversation not on broad assumptions based on a few advertised vacancies. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m really not against working with a Consultant with 6 months experience – if you’re working a specific vertical and you focus on a particular market segment that is a good thing just don’t be ridiculous and call yourself an “expert” until you can really demonstrate this with a proven track record of success.

Ultimately, as you Agency Recruiters know – recruitment is a numbers game and timing is everything which is why so many Agencies still use the old “Boiler Room” techniques – because they work. If the planets are aligned you can successfully pull a role to work on, however if the role is genuinely difficult to fill after a couple of weeks with no success you are likely to move on to the lower-hanging fruit so that you can meet your own targets leaving the Internal Recruiter high and dry.

In the spirit of seeking a harmonious outcome of us all working better together, here are a few observations (tips if you like) that you may want to consider when working with Internal Recruiters:

Don’t Tell Internal Recruiters How To Recruit

It is probably fair to say that the majority of Internal Recruiters are ex-Agency Recruiters so they probably already know everything you know and what you are likely to say next! They are NOT failed/burned out ex-Agency Recruiters so don’t try to act superior towards them or get into a pi**ing contest about who is the best. The challenges of the two roles are very different – remember an Internal Recruiter cannot simply move on to easier roles when the going gets tough – there is nowhere for them to hide. In today’s market every candidate is identifiable so you Agency Recruiters can no longer claim to have an advantage over us in this way.

Play The Long Game

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you can’t find a good candidate don’t just go off the radar and hide – tell us and we will respect you for your honesty (especially if you spent weeks hounding us in the first place to give you the opportunity to work on!) Don’t go direct to the Hiring Manager (unless we ask you to) – why would we want to work with someone we cannot trust and who appears to want to make us look bad? Relationships are built on trust and they take time with many ups and downs along the way – let’s get there together.

Research Our Company

It only takes a few minutes to do some basic research on the company you are cold-calling – but it can make all the difference in the world when you are reaching out. By showing that you have knowledge of our product / market / workforce / tech stack / location etc it gives the impression that you are interested in us as a whole rather than just as a transactional opportunity. Ask questions about our pain points and LISTEN to what we say. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what we think you can do to help us. You don’t have to have all of the answers – it may be that you need to go off and do more research – that is a good thing from our perspective – it is an example of going the extra mile.

Be a Human Being

Be yourself. Abandon the scripts and have real conversations with us about our roles and challenges. Understand what is important to our company and find us the candidates that share those values.


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