This week’s Whiteboard scribbles are brought to you from the feverish pen of Sean Walters…
Something strange is happening. Regular Whiteboard readers may remember my blog bemoaning the number of burnt-out agency recruiters migrating to the perceived warmer climates of internal recruitment. Well it seems that the tide is ever so slightly turning.
We’re not talking a full blown take-photos-of-you-food-via-instagram-type trend, but there certainly seems to be an increase in recruiters walking away from the plum internal roles to hit the phones hard out back in agency land.
Just off the top of my head, I need two hands to count the number of recruiters who have returned to their agency roots, with the likes of internal recruitment poster boy Richard Long making the move from Shine Lawyers to Madison just last month.
So what’s the story? Is it a sign of the long awaited return of the “good ol’ days” for agencies, or are the corporates just getting it wrong? For Richard it seems that it was the pull from agency rather than the push from internal;
“The opportunity to be able to bring my experience in talent acquisition and broader talent management, along with my strong interest in business and put them both to use inside a really successful and entrepreneurial business…was very appealing”
However, it would seem Richard is in the minority. Another ex-Internal Recruiter (who we shall call Recruiter X) feels that for all the claims made during the interview process, the reality of an internal role was quite different:
“I found in-house too constrictive, prior to starting the role sounded very strategic and commercial but fell short of my expectations when I actually started.”
Another ex-Internal, this time from the banking industry, was drawn back to the dark side by:
“The opportunity to actually recruit, not just process! And to never have to be laboured with Taleo, Snaphire, SAP or Peoplesoft again.”
It seems to be a recurring theme across both current and ex-internal recruiters that too much of their time is spent processing, with very little opportunity to do what we’re actually good at. We all know superb recruiters who are to administration what Amy Winehouse was to sobriety. I’d be nervous handing these recruiters a colleague’s birthday card to sign, and yet HR are entrusting them with writing employment contracts.
The same recruiter scoffs at the idea that the increasing sophistication of Internal teams spells the end for agencies:
“Define sophisticated. Let’s be honest, most internal functions are step up first and foremost as a cost saving measure. There will always be a place for agencies, we are an independent third party that both candidates and clients rely on. Interestingly when internal recruiters and managers are looking for a new role they quite often come to agencies.”
So what does Recruiter X think of the notion that us agency types no longer have relevance to the big corporates?
“That’s certainly the message many internal consultants are pushing, but the reality is as an internal recruiter you typically don’t have the time or inclination to really cover the entire market. Particularly when you have a powerful brand behind you, there is an expectation that the talent will come to you. Which isn’t the reality.”
Similarly, another defector who has worked internally both overseas and in Wellington before returning to agency….
“I got fed up with my colleagues constantly bagging agency recruiters. Most of the team started in agency, and it seems that the ones who failed were the most negative. As a function we kept forgetting that both we and our suppliers had a common goal”
So maybe it’s time to roll out the old “grass isn’t greener” cliché? If you’ve have a tough week at your agency desk, but managed to sneak out a placement, headhunted a candidate, and, heaven forbid, supped a couple of cheeky beers at lunchtime, then you may be having more fun than the Internal Recruiter who just deleted your unread email.