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“But you’ve never used Snaphire??!!” – Internal Recruitment comes of age.

By November 21, 20133 Comments

Your usual Whiteboard scribbler has been a bit busy with matters relating to the round-ball game of soccer football this week so today’s musings are brought to you from the pen of Sean Walters


I’m in a good mood and feeling optimistic about the market. Maybe it’s due to this run of fantastic weather. Maybe it’s the opening of a new bar opposite my office. Or maybe (and your usual blogger would be pleased to hear this), it’s the fact that this year has seen us re-brand, gain traction in new and exciting markets, and prove the concept of our latest offering; virtualRPO.

Being altruistic about our industry, I also feel that we’ve built some bridges over the past twelve months. Those who attended RHUB for its second trip to these shores in October, may agree that this year there actually seemed to be a consensus between agency and internal recruiters. I left the conference feeling like we might actually be on the same side? It was like kicking a football around on no-man’s-land, Christmas Day circa 1944. We’re not sharing cans of bully beef yet, but there seems to be a ceasefire

football (3)


This year, I’ve also felt a change in hiring behaviours from Internal Recruitment Managers. When I was a fresh-faced new employee of Rice Consulting in the winter of 2011, those candidates who applied for Internal Recruitment roles directly from agency had little chance of success. My colleagues at the time were bored of my standard telephone response;

“So why are you interested in leaving agency recruitment?

….uh-huh….uh-huh…so there are too many KPIs?

…Yes, yes, I understand…business development sure is tough

…look, sorry to cut you short. I’m sure you’re a great recruiter. Unfortunately, my clients only want to be introduced to experienced internal recruiters…

Yes. It’s totally unfair. I agree. My fee is more likely to hinder your chances. Good luck with your search. I mean it”

Fast-forward to the second half of 2013. 80% of my perm placements into Internal Recruitment roles YTD have been candidates sourced directly from agency. Now, I’m either getting more convincing (unlikely), or Internal Recruitment Managers are finally realising that the skills and disciplines created and honed in a cut’n’thrust, target-focused agency environment are also essential to the modern Internal Recruiter. The once familiar mantra of “must be a Snaphire/Taleo super-user”, has been replaced with “Sean, can you find me someone who can actually recruit and isn’t scared of picking up the phone?” I’ve never had so much fun.

I can think of at least three banks who in the last few months have made senior hires directly from agency. One of whom, after scouring (and they really did) the internal recruitment landscape, could not find a recruiter with the direct search capability required for the role. The solution? An agency search consultant who previously plied their trade doing anything humanly possible to avoid the PSA-wielding internal recruitment foe of old.

As Internal teams evolve, it seems that agency recruiters may be getting some of the recognition we deserve. In the current market, with mortgages to pay, we have no choice but to work hard, work smart, win client affections, and directly source the top talent that our competing clients can’t reach. Personally, I sometimes even struggle to fit in a boozy lunch on a Friday. It’s seriously getting to that stage.

As more recruiters swap between the disciplines, and also swap back, it can only herald a more collaborative relationship. As an agency recruiter, it’s nice to talk to an Internal Recruiter who has done the hard yards. An agency recruiter who has previously worked in-house also understands the stresses, the politics, and the frustrations of their opposite number. It’s a win/win, and can only serve to raise the quality of recruitment across the board.

A Freudian slip this week highlighted that although both reality and perceptions are changing for the better,  Internal Recruiters may still be perceived as the the paper-shuffling HR admin bods of old.   When an (ex-agency) Internal Recruiter I know asked her account manager if she could attend last night’s Seek S.A.R.A awards as she was unavailable for the “corporate” Christmas drinks, she received this unfortunately worded response;

“Would love to invite you along however this for Recruiters. (sic)”

Thankfully, the account manager does a fantastic job (I know, we use him) so I’m sure the omission of the word “agency” before “Recruiters” was purely a glitch with his email server.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Jayne Rice says:

    Great guest blog (again) Mr Walters. As an internal recruiter who originated from the Agency world it’s a breath of fresh air for me to be working within an internal recruitment team that actually feels more like an Agency. Maybe as you say the tide is turning and Internal Recruitment is no longer being seen as the soft option where you can hide from BD and KPI’s. We’re all looking forward to an awesome Senior Agency Recruiter joining our team in the next few weeks, we’re definitely on our way to being the TA Team whose goal is to #leadnotfollow when it comes to Internal Recruitment.

  • Susie rogers says:

    Lovr it!

  • Adrian Coysh says:

    Speaking of typo’s, the photo and Christmas truce actually date back to 1914. It is good that attitude’s and practices have also moved ahead over time, largely as a result of a better mix of skills by blending internal and agency recruiters. However, I still see some stupid hiring practices happening internally, completely defying commercial sense. I was earlier speaking to a Finance Manager, recently made redundant by a division of a business, who informed me that he was on contract through an agency in another division of the same business.
    Wouldn’t you think that the Internal Recruiters would at least keep tabs of people recently made redundant, and offer them work prior to going to an agency?? Maybe it was a line manager who went directly to an agency and not through the Recruiting team? Either way, not good.