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Crossing Over to the Other Side - From Agency to Corporate


Hiring Technical Recruiter or Sourcer with agency background experience has always been a trend. Why is this? What are the skills that agency recruiters and sourcers have that make them appealing to leaders of corporate staffing teams? Also, if you do work on the agency side but want to break into corporate, what do you have to do? Do you possess the skills that will make you marketable to a staffing team on the corporate side? Of course, just because you work at an agency doesn't guarantee that you are instantly AWESOME. You still have to be good at your job. Here are some of the transferable skills that are needed in order to cross over to the other side. And why corporate staffing managers should pay attention.

Skills to Pay the Bills

If you have a good agency recruiter or sourcer who is on your doorstep applying for a job, then here are some the skills that will be of benefit to you:

  • Time management – I you’re thinking: Well yeah, duh!!! Of course recruiters have to be good at time management. But agency staffers have to source, recruit, and submit candidates for new jobs opened THAT DAY. Sometimes within a couple of HOURS!
  • Competitive – Of course everyone in staffing is competitive. Companies are all vying for the same top talent and there is only so much to go around. But in the agency world, you are normally competing with 30 or so staffing agencies on the SAME JOB. You can bet agency staffers are competitive and FAST. Their ability to identify, qualify, and submit candidates quickly is their livelihood.
  • All around technical knowledge – Most corporate recruiters and sourcers work within a single vertical or group. They usually have 5 to 10 open reqs they are working for the length of their stay at the company. Agency staffers receive multiple new reqs each day from a wide variety of clients. This means over the course of a few days, a recruiter could work on an IC Design Engineer, a Software Validation Engineer for a biotech company, then move on to a Techno-Functional Oracle ERP implementation consultant, tackle a DevOps engineers with cloud platform experience, before finally wrapping up with a Finance Manager who has EFT / ACH systems experience.
  • Ability to work without hiring manager req intake meetings– Because many agencies are RPO, VMS, or contingency-based, they often times have no contact with the hiring manager. They do not typically get clarification, job insights, or what’s written between the lines of the req. Because of that, agency recruiters and sourcers must use their experience, instincts, and research skills in order to figure out the correct angle when working a req.

For Staffing Managers

Staffing Managers, Directors, and other leaders should pay attention to these agency types. Some of the traits I listed above can carry over quite well to your corporate staffing team. Here is what you can expect:

  • Time and speed – Agency recruiters are used to a fast paced environment and that can help give your group a shot of much-needed energy. Keep them engaged and keep challenging them to find different ways and angles when working their reqs. Turn that potential into energy.
  • Major phone skills – Agency recruiters and sourcers spend all their time on the phone. This is what they do all day, sometimes making 100 calls a day. For corporate staffing managers who are afraid that their people are not on the phone enough, this will help get the team to not be afraid to cold call and hit the phones.
  • Persistence with hiring managers – In the agency world, recruiters and sourcers can count themselves very lucky if they get a chance to listen to hiring manager feedback or req intake meetings. They do not take this lightly and use every single shred of information that is given. If given a chance to work on a corporate team that has hiring manager access, they will use it. They will constantly try different types of candidates, different sources of candidates, and they will push the hiring manager to consider alternative profiles. I’m sure some people think this is a negative, but professionals who are good at their jobs can only increase the organization by pushing each other beyond their comfort limits.

Even if you’re a staffing manager and you can’t find any “good” agency recruiters, you can still implement the good parts of that "agency instinct" into your corporate staffing team. Treat reqs like they are time-bombs. Research the job reqs and candidates that were previously hired. Dissect search strings and candidate screening questions. Push along the hiring process, from req takes to manager feedback, to interview feedback. Realize that every candidate is not readily available on the internet. And most importantly, get on the phone! All day!!! If you feel like the team dynamic and energy is low, then try a shot of agency caffeine! You might be glad that you did!

Mark Tortorici
Founder & Training Expert
Transform Talent Acquisition

Views: 148

Tags: Recruiting

Comment by Derdiver on May 27, 2014 at 12:51pm

Having worked on both sides of the recruiting spectrum I have always found this to be an interesting topic. I was recently asked at a conference if I knew of anyone on the agency side looking to make a move to the corp side. I smiled and said no, they were all making good money. I then said I did know of a corp recruiter looking and was told that she really wanted a agency type. She had come from an agency and that is what she wanted. When I asked her why not bring on someone without agency exp and train them. She looked at me like I was insane...Got to love it. #truestory

Comment by Mark Tortorici on May 27, 2014 at 1:24pm

Very good points on both sides.  I personally think that you can train anyone without experience and turn them into a super tech sourcer or recruiter.  As long as they have the drive, I can make it happen.  It's funny since I've also worked both sides of the spectrum, I got to see the pros and cons from each side.  Agency staffing managers sometimes say that corporate staffers are "too specialized" and corporate staffing managers say that agency people are too "cut throat".  Of course these are generalizations that managers make.  I think there are good benefits to hire from both sides.  

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