Playing Nice in the Sandbox – Agency vs. Corporate Recruiters

Angela Pitts

I read a great blog this week written by Simon Meth.  He wrote a letter to the hiring manager, basically what every third party recruiter is thinking, but doesn’t want to tell the client or the hiring manager they are working with.  I have worked both as a third party recruiter and a corporate recruiter and understand the struggle that goes on between the two parties.  The third party recruiter sees the corporate recruiter (referred from here out as HR) as an obstacle that needs to be overcome.  They have been taught that you don’t need to speak to HR, but go straight to the source (hiring manager) if you want to make the placement.  During my time working the corporate side I spent a lot of time heading off recruiters that wanted to skip me and go directly to the hiring manger.  This not only made me mad, but wasted my time and left a bad impression of the recruiter and the group they worked for.  Because of words like compliance, OFCCP, and protocol, it was my job to make sure each candidate was properly documented and routed correctly.  I can tell you that I often gave job orders to the recruiters that would work with me instead of around me.  I also recommended those recruiters to others who were looking to hire great talent.

Simon Meth brought up some good points in his blog.  From the perspective of the corporate (HR) side I would like to respond to a couple of his points.

Respond within 24-48 hours. I agree with him.  If you have contacted a recruiter and are working with them you should give them the respect of letting them know if the candidate is being considered or not.  Most companies use ATS that can send a response that also logs a message in the candidates record (no duplication of work!)  However, if a candidate is sent unsolicited I don’t think they HAVE to respond in a short period, but it is always nice to respond in a timely manner. I’m a believer that nice is always better; you never know when you might need to work with that recruiter to help YOU find a new job.

If you have an internal person in mind, tell me. This can be a tough one.  Although many companies may have someone internal they would like to have apply for the job, they still need to go through the process.  This is especially true if you have an Affirmative Action plan.  AND.. even though an internal person is being looked at, it doesn’t mean they are the best person for the job.  Understand HR will give you as much information as they can, but this might not be something they can share at the time.

Think carefully when you make up the interview team. I worked for a company that put a lot of thought not only in the interview process, but who was going to be part of the interview team.  I know from experience on both sides it is helpful to let the recruiter and the candidate know who they are interviewing with and what their positions are.  Everyone likes to be prepared.

Never talk to a candidate about compensation. I disagree with this one!  I like to break rules, and my favorite is this one.  On my first call with a candidate I would tell them the salary range.  If they did not think it was enough, we didn’t move forward.  I don’t think it’s appropriate to waste the time of the recruiter, candidate or interview team if the money doesn’t match.  I know some companies have more flexibility in their pay, but I’m guessing most don’t.  Bottom line, the dollars have to match.  I have watched too many people leave a position after a few months because they took a lower wage in the hopes of getting a raise.

He went on to make several other points as well.  Fact of the matter, these two sides have been battling it out for as long as there have been recruiters.  My suggestion, work together!  I worked with an amazing recruiter out of Seattle that was professional, presented only candidates that met all the requirements and never tried to circumvent me.  Because of this he was my favorite!  I looked at his candidates first, I called him back quickly anytime he called and gave him feedback on all his candidates.  I felt like we were a team, not competitors. I wish that I could say this about all the recruiters I worked with.

Which recruiter are you?  Do you work with the HR department or try to work with the hiring manger?  Have you found it better to partner with HR or not?  Feel free to share your stories.

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