The Problem With Corporate Recruiters

Lemmings.  Junior HR twerps. Gatekeepers.  Obstacles.  Just plain “in-the-way-of-the-real-work-the-grown-ups-are-doing”.

 

Now before anyone starts setting the comment section on fire, please note that I am myself a corporate recruiter.  I don’t think I fall into ANY of those categories, nor do any of my excellent co-workers.  In fact, I work internally for one of the very few companies I would ever consider going in house for.  Many of these issues don’t apply to me, but some of my internal friends suffer with them.  This isn't (and shouldn't be) and Us VS. Them relationship.  I actually met with a fantastic agency recruiter today that I hope to do business with in the future - he's sharp and I think he could deliver on the "purple squirrel" reqs.  But back to internals... like any other group, we too have our share of bad apples.

 

So what is WRONG with these internal circus clowns and why won’t they just get out of the way?  Better yet, why can’t they just operate like real recruiters?

 

Closest to the money doesn’t necessarily apply.  As an internal recruiter, there is “no money”, at least not in the TPR sense.  I can’t always focus on the quickest-to-fill/most-responsive-hiring manager/biggest-fee-requisition.  Nope, it’s the highest-profile/affecting-the bottom-line/job-order-the-CEO-himself-handed-me req.  At the end of the day my priorities might not make sense in the TPR world.

 

We can’t fire bad clients.  I work with particular client groups regardless of how I feel about their requisitions.  No matter how easy or hard they are to work with, they’re mine and I’m stuck with them, kind of like my children.  And just like my children, there are some days I adore them and some days I – well – you know.  At any rate, I’m committed to my clients and have to make the best of it, even if it means I can’t always focus on what that makes sense from a different point of view.

 

Speaking of bad clients… I hear quite often about the awesome relationship TPRs have with hiring managers.  Corporate recruiting just gets in the way, right?  Well, what you DON’T know is that the “hiring manager” you think so fondly of doesn’t have any say in the hiring process.  Oh sure, I know their title sounds an awful lot like someone who should have some authority over the people they manage but sometimes it just ain’t so.  I’m really thrilled for you that you’ve developed such a strong bond with the guy but if he was really in authority he could authorize paying fees too and I wouldn’t have to be the jerk ruining your deal.  On the flip side, maybe he can authorize paying fees, but is setting me up to be the bad guy because he doesn’t want it to hit his budget… it’s happened… more often than you might think.

 

"Training” probably meant new hire orientation and a PowerPoint on how to use Taleo.  I’ve said before that I feel staffing agencies are without question the best training grounds for internal recruiters.  If you are dealing with that junior HR person who’s never been in the trenches, then you bet you’re going to have problems.   There may not be anyone in the building that actually knows how to recruit, so who’s going to show the new guy?  If you’re nice to them maybe they’ll be open to some mentoring  - now you’ve got an advocate, not an enemy.

 

Some businesses just don’t want to work with you – right now.  It’s not personal.  We have a coordinator that handles all our staffing needs – temp, temp to hire which makes up 99.9% of our agency spend.  I had a recruiter reach out to me because he felt our coordinator was basically “in the way” and “in over her head” because we weren’t giving this agency any business.  Clearly our coordinator didn’t understand the value he could bring, and if only I could get them in the door they’d solve all our problems.  While I appreciate the sentiment, when my coordinator told him we don’t have any temp openings she actually meant we don’t have any temp openings…. And right now that’s all we use agencies for.  The unfortunately reality for this guy is when we DO need to bring in a partner we’re not going to call him.  He would have been better off making nice with her for temp stuff, which could have opened doors down the road.  Or at least approached me differently.  Throwing my cube neighbor under the bus was probably not his best strategy.  But the biggest problem of all…?

 

Some recruiters actually think they’re part of HR.  I don’t mean there’s not an ultimate reporting relationship where we funnel up into HR.  Of course we do.  Just like in some organizations, HR ultimately reports to Finance (although I’m not sure why…).  I’ve said before I love HR!  HR gets me paid!  HR approves my offer letters!  HR handles benefits and company picnics and personnel issues and all the other things that make my head hurt.  I’m really lucky that I get to just focus on recruiting.  Whenever a so-called “recruiter” starts getting involved in all that extra stuff that has nothing to do with sourcing, interviewing, scheduling, and offering then we’re going to have problems.   I vote those internals get a title change so they stop making me look bad.

Views: 2875

Tags: corporate, external, internal, recruiting

Comment by Ken Forrester on August 31, 2011 at 7:06am

They say the truth hurts, and sometimes you have to call it the way you see it-thanks Amy for connecting all the pieces of that puzzle.  Not I have a clear picture of the inner workings of corporate recruiting as it applies to agencies.  

Maybe you can address these questions:

1.  Does opportunity hire still exist? (creating a role for an interested superstar talent)

2. What is the true intent of TPR not to communicate directly with hiring managers?

3. Which is more important-value a talent brings to an organization or the cost of acquiring that valued talent?

4.  Is corporate recruiting the new headhunting?

 

Good stuff!

Comment by Frank Zupan on August 31, 2011 at 11:54am
Looking for the +1 button. I like this because you've accurately pointed out obstacles that GOOD corporate recruiters overcome every day. Thanks, good post.
Comment by Amy Ala on August 31, 2011 at 12:06pm

Thanks everyone - Bill - excellent point.  I've found I actually enjoy (and am probably better at) execution now that I'm solely focused on the recruiting part.

 

Frank - glad you liked it!  I wrote it based some conversations with TPRs who were voicing frustrations about those points. Hope it sheds a little light.

 

Ken - I will do my best.  :)

1. Sometimes... sort of working on one of those now.  Difference is I found him, as opposed to him coming to us by way of agency.  Are they more likely to create a job since he's "free"?  Maybe.  If he had a 20K fee attached I'm not sure we'd be doing what we're doing.  Not saying it's fair, just is what it is, right?

2. I personally have no problem with TPRs communicating with hiring managers, so long as everyone is being realistic.  If a hiring manager wants to advocate for a TPR and doesn't mind taking a hit on his/her budget on the fees, I'll champion that - if it makes sense.  What drives me nuts is some low level manager who doesn't even HAVE a budget trying to get his drinking buddy some business, just because they're pals.  I'm not the problem in that scenario.  :)

3. Trust me - this corporate recruiter is not cheap.  :)  It's not that companies don't want to pay for talent acquisition, it's just they pay differently... No one is paying Hyundai prices for BMW's... internal OR external.

4.  God I hope not.  :)  There will ALWAYS be a place for excellent headhunters.  Not all internals can direct source from competitors (some may call that "poaching", I call that "doing my job") and some excellent talent will only work w/ savvy TPRs for confidentiality, among other reasons.  There's room, rightfully so, for all of us at the table.

Comment by Maren Hogan on September 1, 2011 at 11:36am
Amazing article Amy. Having straddled the line between recruiting and HR for several years, many of the points you make in this article are absolutely correct and reflect the frustrations on both sides of the issue (or the req). Nice job!!
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on September 1, 2011 at 11:37am
Nice perspective Amy.  You should encourage all corporate recruiters to be as honest and up front as you obviously are.  Simple communications helps solve a myriad of problems with us outside recruiters.  I love it when my client share their frustrations with me.  It then helps me deal with my candidates and builds trust with my clients for the future.
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 1, 2011 at 12:16pm

Great Post Amy ...  With respect to not firing bad clients - I have consulted in situations where IT Directors are sitting on multiple tech requirements for months and internal corporate recruiters take no ownership in terms of clearing the dead weight ...   Perhaps as a Consultant I can sit down with a Director bring the boss he/she reports to and make some decisions:  "No John here is a survey of the market, and this is what your Competition is paying the BI Architect with an Informatica / Oracle backend.  Here is what I propose  John a) Drop the teradata backend need;  b) or allow for $15k more in base salary or c) Cancel the requirement.  Let me know your decision... " Ownerrrrrrrrrrship" missing with Corporate Recruiters.

 

We found 3 Guys in India and we want to bring them over they have the skills can you help- Sure. Give me 3 weeks.  On the phone to the Corporate  Legal Department to deal with Border,  VIsa issues  the Hiring manger is happy the role he has open for 6 months is filled and he saved  a Truck load on Contractor fees ...   

 

There is no ownership of the Corporate Recruiter role and Corporate Recruiters don't have buy in form hiring managers  and when that dynamic in a relationship does not exist TPR's with the relationship Win ... 

 

Our  Relationship with Hiring Managers or Hiring Authorities or Key Sponsors is Key to business we run.   When I pitch new clients I always ask what is the relationship between Talent Management and the Internal Client ...   My 2 cents ... 

Comment by Amy Ala on September 1, 2011 at 12:45pm

Thanks everyone - it was a tough one to write - so much emotion on both sides you're bound to p!ss somebody off.  :) 

 

@Paul - I'm not an IT recruiter so a lot of what you said just flew over my head lol.  However, I would only make one small change -  " Ownerrrrrrrrrrship" missing with (BAD) Corporate Recruiters.  I own my stuff!!  I have no problem delivering a reality check to my hiring managers and am blessed with an awesome boss who backs me up.  It's only been a few months but I'm strengthening my relationships with my hiring managers to where I can have those conversations (salaries, drop reqs, etc) and they (mostly) listen. :)  You're absolutely right no matter where the recruiter sits RELATIONSHIP is key.  I think if more corporate recruiters had their bonus / comp tied to fill ratios, time to fill and other recruiting metrics they might work harder to be a true consultant.

Comment by Amy Ala on September 1, 2011 at 12:53pm
@Bill - excellent point.  When I was external my best customers never had internal recruiters - usually just harried HR managers who didn't want to deal with recruiting and left it to the managers to find their own staff.  They just got involved when it was time for offer letters / onboarding.
Comment by Martin Perinne on September 1, 2011 at 1:21pm
 

Great post Amy and Paul, I work for a TPR, Metric-X http://www.metricx.com/services-and-solutions/talent-placement, and by having a strong relationship with the hiring managers we are able to understand exactly what is being looked for and place candidates that are more likely to succeed once they make it to that stage. Then if the candidate doesn't work out, we will know why and gain better understanding of the job and know if we need to make changes to our phone or technical interviews.

 

 By being in the trenches and having to go search, screen, interview, and present candidates, it has definitely been an eye opening experience.

 

Thanks again for the post!

Comment by Andrew Hally on September 1, 2011 at 1:46pm
Most insightful post I've read in a while. Thanks for taking the time.

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