TalentNet Interactive In Austin: Speaking On AI, Automation, And Machine Learning
Conversations: SXSW Doesn't Feel The Same

Conversations: Agency Versus Corporate Recruiter






Agency (Third Party)Recruiter: One of these days, you're going to have to pick up a check. Your company doesn't use us, which means that I'm paying you to drink with me.

Corporate (Internal) Recruiter: I'll be happy to pick up the check. Don't I make more than you?

A: Depends on the month. 

C: I think the benefits make up for it. We have a gym and free lunch. 

A: You need to use the gym more and the lunch line less. 

C: I hope we change our policy on using recruiters so I can give my jobs to someone I like. 

A: Says the recruiter who has never heard of a well drink. 

C: You drink Coors. It's not my fault that you're not even cool enough to drink PBR, like a genuine hipster. 

A: You're mad because I wear skinny jeans. No need to bring my beer into it. 

C: Okay. Truce. So honestly, how is it going? 

A: The market is tough, but we're busy. My biggest problem isn't finding contracts or candidates, it's finding companies that hire quickly enough. 

C: We struggle with finding candidates, but don't tend to lose them once they're in the process. 

A: You don't? 

C: No. I can't think of the last time that we didn't win an offer or had someone drop out that we wanted.

A: That's curious. 

C: Curious? Why?

A: I hadn't thought of it before, but I was talking to this guy at a conference that said if your ratio of offer to acceptance is 100%, you're a terrible recruiter. 

C: What? That's crazy. You close an offer and that makes you a bad recruiter?

A: His point was that no one turns down your offer, it's because you don't hire people who have multiple offers.

C: It sounds like he doesn't know how to treat candidates well. We spend a lot of time nurturing our relationship with candidates. It's honestly why I like being inside. I spend more time with my candidates.

A: My candidates hate that. They only want to talk to me if they didn't get the job. 

C: That can't be true. They also want to talk to you when you buy them well drinks. 

A: You laugh, but I'm shocked when a candidate talks to me after they've received the offer. 

C: I get some of that, but they're joining our team - so they know I helped bring them onboard.

A: I think he might be right. Check out the other stuff he says. He says that if your HR Executive goes to SHRM and says that they only hire the top 1% of the people who apply, they should be fired.

C: Now I know he's delusional. 

A: His point is that if you have 100 people apply for a job, and you hire 1, you're hiring 1% of your applications. Considering how easy it is to get applications, his point is that unless you reject 99 people who are qualified, you're deluding yourself.

C: That's just not even accurate. Lots of people apply for a job, and we hire them later, or for another position. 

A: What's lots?

C: What?

A: Well, you said lots.

C: Yeah. Lots. As in many. 

A: How many?

C: I don't know. Do you want me to look it up?

A: I'm just curious if anyone who has ever said that has ever actually looked at the numbers. Having sat down with HR Executives, I don't believe they have.

C: Now you're making the bold statement. 

A: It's pretty simple. If an HR Executive can't explain the value of a third party firm, they have no way to evaluate their internal team. Since I don't know any HR Execs who have ever done that, I don't trust their statistics. 

C: I don't think you could get hired with that attitude. We don't look at it as a profit motive. We're actually a team pulling together to get a job done. You guys don't look at recruiting the same way, because you sell candidates.

A: None of your answers addressed your internal metrics, and if you think all we do is sell candidates, then when you get promoted, you're going to go to a conference and tell people you only hire the top 1% of applicants. 

C: Ooh - so you think I'll be promoted?

A: Of course. But you really need to put some thought into why Third Party Firms exist.

C: They take up slack in the market, providing temporary workforces to companies, or finding hard to find candidates when the internal staff is unable to deal with  overwhelming demand. 

A: You're smart, I'll give you that. And if there were a recruiting professor, they would give you an A and you'd get that promotion. But that's not what we do.

C: I swear, if you start talking about sharing information and giving options to candidates that I can't offer, I'll laugh at you. Very few agencies and no independents actually have multiple jobs. It's why you're do stuck on saying "we find people for jobs, not jobs for people."

A: That's why we should exist, but it's also true that we no longer serve that function very well.

C: Then why do you exist?

A: Because we adapt. We test new technologies. We test new messages for companies. We train new recruiters and we train candidates as they go through their careers. As an industry, we are literally the quantity that creates quality.

C: That's not a coherent statement.

A: Third Party Recruiters test everything, and we do it faster and cheaper than anyone internally. We're not required to be right. We're required to be successful. And that means, that collectively, Third Party Recruiters are superior to Corporate Recruiters.

C: This is why I make you buy me the good drinks. 

A: There's a second part to that. 

C: What's that?

A: Third Party Recruiters individually are both more and less successful than internal recruiters, and they are both much better, and much worse.

C: Isn't that the intelligence argument they use for men and women? They're average IQ is the same, but the mean for women is a little higher, and the extremes for men have more variability? A few super genius men and a few incredibly dumb men, but women are slightly above the average. 

A: It's similar because it's about risk. A Third Party Firm fires a lot more people than an internal department. They take more chances in hiring. The fired ones make zero dollars and are bad recruiters. The good ones are million dollar billers. There is no one making a million dollars in Corporate America, and even if you add stock and compensation, agency owners sell their firms for far more than an executive will make in a lifetime.   

C: But I have a 401k, free lunch, a steady paycheck....

A: And a lot less stress. 

C: We have a lot of stress. 

A: You have work stress, but you don't have existential stress as long as your company is still solvent. Day-to-day, you don't worry about the future as much as I do. 

C: So, you admit that I'm better than you. 

A: Not at all. I admit if we put a bunch of names in two piles, one of internal recruiters and the other of agency recruiters, the odds are that the internal recruiter would be better than the agency recruiter in every draw.

C: I'm going to start telling agency recruiters that you think internal recruiters are better. 

A: You go ahead. Just realize that every agency recruiter you talk to that is still employed is by definition in the top half of their field. 

C: Present company excluded.

A: Yes, present company excluded. I can't even get a job from you, and you like me.

C: I like the idea of you out there toiling for me.