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For those in agency recruitment, who’ve spent many years working with multiple clients, the decision to move in-house can be one that draws intrigue, wonder, and criticism.
If you’ve decided to look at internal recruitment, here are some things to consider before hopping blindly over to the other side of the fence. With the help of Anna Roe from TransferWise and Mark Weisbaum, formerly agency and Internal Recruiter at Slalom.
1. In the House
Firstly, it’s worth considering what it is you’ve fallen out of love with in your agency role. Working with one client, who pays your salary, whose door you can knock on if you need clarification on a role seems like a dream. If, however you’ve fallen out of love with recruitment as an industry or vocation, then moving in-house isn’t going to fix this. If anything, there can be more pressure to deliver when working in-house.
Your ability to sell the client will directly impact on your success. If your company is a major organisation with a good ‘name’ in the sector they’re in… great. Company sold. Deals done. If your company is a startup, you’d better make sure you can sell over the phone and in press. A startup with no employer branding, no marketing function and small web presence means your effort per hire will be much greater than a large established business.
2. Take Home
It’s imperative to not only work out how much money you’ll be taking home, but how much this differs to now. And more specifically, what changes this will make to your everyday life. Some companies employing in-house recruiters will offer an attractive base salary. If they offer commission or a bonus scheme, it’s likely this won’t touch what your scheme was. The potential to earn very good money is ever present in agency recruitment. Your take home in-house may be smaller, but it’s likely to be more reliable.
If there’s regimented career progression available, then you can see the next few years and how you’ll progress within the company. As more companies alter the way they recruit, and smaller boutique startups realise the value of an internal isolated recruitment function, it may be that you’re actually the first person in your department.
Apart from the obvious implications, this has for your day job (marketing, sales, researching, interviewing, technical assessments, project planning, campaign building etc) it’s likely that your employer might not know what your career progression will look like.
Everyone knows about the perceived rivalry between agency and in-house recruiters. Whilst in-house recruiters have a certain budget to spend on outsourcing to agencies, they are always trying to reduce this spend. They’re therefore seen as a barrier for agency recruiters to the final decision maker.
Anna Roe: “I found agency recruitment to be quite reactive but in-house has been much more proactive. We do our planning months in advance. I spend a lot of time working really closely with hiring managers in different teams to work out who they’re going to need in six months time, reviewing and streamlining their hiring process and working out the best interview methods.”
Just as agency recruitment varies between business; there’s no one-size fits all job description, and there are some overarching similarities.
In-house recruitment is usually a combination of traditional agency recruitment activity (sourcing, candidate management, scheduling interviews), combined with more involvement in administration, operational and employee development responsibly.
In-house recruiters are involved at a much earlier stage in the hiring process – helping to plan, budget for, and facilitate hiring within a time-scheduled hiring plan. They’ll work closely with managers to help shape pipelines and processes, trying to spend as little on agency hiring as possible. Typically, smaller companies will offer a role with more variety and wider responsibility than larger companies.
Anna Roe: “In-house can much more consultative than agency recruitment. Managers really do want help in sorting their process and their team out, and they really value your input. I think there’s more of a mutual respect because you’re both on the same team.”
6. Priorities and targets
In-house, the priorities can be different to agency and will depend on the business and how they are looking to grow. Important metrics for any in-house recruiter are cost-per-hire and quality-of-hire – looking at retention rates, how quickly candidates are promoted, how well they perform in the role. You are exposed to the aftermath of hiring much more – and are therefore acutely aware of the cost of a bad hire.
Coming into in-house from an agency background can have a number of advantages. Agency recruiters bring with them a real focus on activity levels, an ability to go out and source as many great candidates as possible, which can be invaluable to growth-driven in-house teams. Having an extensive network can also be a big bonus as it not only means relationships with potential candidates, but gives a bigger-picture understanding of the market – what competitors are doing, how quickly candidates are becoming unavailable, and so on.
Rapport building is one of the most important skills an in-house recruiter can have. While you might no longer be managing clients from different businesses, you’ll be managing expectations across the business. Unlike agency-side, there’s no walking away when you work in-house – either from a difficult manager or a difficult brief, so having the relationship building skills to make it work is crucial.
8. How Do I Get In?
Good in-house roles are highly competitive and getting your profile in front of the right in-house employers can be a challenge. Often the Catch-22 is that employers want recruiters with in-house experience already. Luckily, the trend towards in-house employers looking to hire agency recruiters is on the up because of their urgency, vast network, and process-driven skillset. As Mark Weisbaum puts it: “It’s not about one being better than the other, agency recruitment is perfect for some people, but in-house is perfect for others, and at different stages of your career.” Creating a CV that’s geared towards in-house work is essential – your agency CV (if you have one) probably won’t cut it. If you don’t have one, it’s time to take on board that advice you’ve been dishing out to candidates for years.
This means that you should be highlighting the skills on your CV that are in demand. Delivery is the focus. Any projects you can stress the strategy you took with a client will help in the cross-over.
As with any career decision, moving in-house isn’t something you should jump into without considering all of the elements. With careful planning, however, it can be the change of scenery some recruiters need to inject excitement back into their careers. The amazing thing about recruitment is, despite the uniformity of the job, there are an ever-increasing number of choices for the environment you can work in. For the biggest choice of agency and in-house roles in the world, check out Hunted.
About the Author: Tom Wish spent over 6 years working in recruitment within a variety of specialisms and agencies. He’s been writing since University and his current role is to provide quality industry content by writing, creating and engaging with the Recruitment Industry at Hunted.