True or False: Corp Recruiters Fear Agency Recruiters

True or False?  It’s a common belief, in most Talent and HR circles, that most corporate recruiters fear agency recruiters.  Go ahead and argue if you would like, but it seems a little silly.

The reality is, true recruiting professionals don’t fear amateurs.

It’s like a really great professional Photographer.  They charge money because they offer something someone is willing to pay for.  Professional photographers don’t fear the mom at the soccer game with her $2,000 dollar camera and $5,000 dollar lens.  Who cares that you have the equipment if you don’t know how to use it!?  Pros don’t fear amateurs.

So, if you are a really good corporate recruiter who knows how to really recruit, agency recruiters don’t scare you, because you know your stuff!  That’s the problem, though, right?  The reason so many people feel the title of this post is true is because we all know so many corporate recruiters, who really don’t know how to recruit.  They aren’t pros, they’re amateurs.  Amateurs fear professionals when it comes to meeting head to head in competition.

The best professionals love it when a talented amateur tries to play at their level.  These types of individuals help to push both parties to do the best work they can.  Or, at least, they should!  A great agency recruiter should push an average corporate recruiter to want to get better.  An amateur agency recruiter will starve, that’s why you only see amateurs in the agency ranks for a very short period of time.  If they aren’t good, they don’t eat! That is why on average, agency recruiters tend to have more recruiting skills than corporate recruiters.  Agency folks aren’t full salary. How they have compensated forces them to have better skills, on average.

So, how do corporate recruiters ensure they become professionals?  Well, I love Malcolm Gladwell, so I’ll steal a little of his 10,000-hour concept.  You must make yourself a true recruiting professional!  You need to invest time and development in yourself, in the recruiting industry, to become a pro.   That means as a corporate recruiter, you focus on recruiting, not becoming an HR Pros. What?!  Most corporate recruiters are corporate recruiters because that’s their path to get into a straight HR position.  Their endgame is not recruiting, it’s HR.  That’s a problem because they are not fully vested in the recruiting game.  This is an amateur move.

Your reality is, those who get promoted are usually professional at something.  Become a great recruiting pro and the powers-that-be will take notice, and you’ll find yourself in positions you never thought possible.  True professionals don’t worry about promotions, they worry about becoming a better pro at their craft.

The next time you start feeling yourself pushed by an agency recruiter, don’t curse them for what they do, embrace them for what they push you to become — a better recruiter.

6 thoughts on “True or False: Corp Recruiters Fear Agency Recruiters

  1. Nail on the head, Tim. I started as an IT recruiter with a national firm – did very well in that realm for 4 years before my best client – one that I cultivated from start, recruited me into their HR function to start up their in-house staffing function. Great proving ground and launch pad for an HR career….and I have great rapport with agency recruiters because they know I’ve been in their trenches before. If corp recruiters fear an agency recruiter, they probably scare easily on several fronts. Successful or not, people who have recruited know that it’s not for easy-bleeders!

  2. Some of us peon corporate recruiters actually care about candidates because we have to work with them on a continual basis at some level. You’re absolutely right Tim, we’re not real recruiters, we’re HR pros who give a crap about making our business successful. We have skin in the game. I ain’t scared…

    • Ken –

      I hear you! I think this is why most corp TA depts fail, though. You shouldn’t be HR Pros. You should be Talent Pros. Most candidates will tell you that corp recruiters treat them way worse then they’ve ever been treated by an agency recruiter.


  3. I’ve been a Corporate Recruiter a little over 2.5 years. I am competitive in the fact that I will try to find people before my Agency counterparts. I feel it makes me better. I’m not intimidated by them at all. I try to learn from them. I have seen Agency recruiters not like competition. They want to be the only one to get the req or they won’t work it. We all can learn from each other, compete, get better, and have a beer with each other at the end of the day. It’s all about the candidate at the end of the day.

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