How can agency experience set you up for in-house recruiting?

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Sharpening your skills by working for a recruitment agency seems a wise decision on the path to joining an in-house recruiting team. It is a well-worn route. It is hardly surprising given that the very efficiency of the hiring process is determined by such day-to-day recruitment fundamentals as interviewing candidates, talking to agents, and checking CVs. These are practices to be carried out whether you are employed by an agency or work within a large company’s recruitment department. A working knowledge of agency recruitment then, is certainly an asset to in-house recruitment, and in fact, many recruitment consultants choose to move in-house to better employ the skills they’ve gained from agency work. 

They find that it is often less the tenacity, competitiveness and selling inherent to a target-driven agency environment that prove transferable but rather ‘softer’ skills which were just as necessary but traditionally less recognised in fast-paced agency work: diplomacy, relationship management, candidate control, communication skills, attention to detail, and time-management. These, combined with having dealt with the pressures of agency work are all valuable skills for an in-house recruitment role.

While looking for an opening, it is thus important to adapt your CV so that it displays more than the amounts billed, targets hit or volumes of candidates that are part and parcel of agency work. Identify your recruitment area i.e. communications or marketing and be prepared to show your knowledge of marketing trends. Since in-house recruiters specialise in particular business areas they need employees they can recruit for particular functions.  Highlight your relationships with clients since this is a major and vitally important aspect of in-house recruitment, but also be sure to inform potential employers of the successes of your candidate management, your creative sourcing strategies and screening and selection methods.  Network with any in-house recruiters you have good links with through your agency work; there could well be openings in their own firms.

The recruitment department of any large company, distinctly separate from HR, is responsible for directly hiring the majority of new employees. Although you could now be working solely for a single employer, nevertheless you would liaise with different divisions to establish their specific hiring needs before finding the right person for the job. The adaptability you acquired from working with a variety of clients and ascertaining their requirements while at an agency will put you in good stead in your new work environment.

Where an in-house recruitment department does at times choose to employ the services of an outside agency, your previous experience can come into its own. By approaching an agency consultant in a manner you appreciated from clients when you were in their line of work, your company is more likely to be better served. By communicating well and responding quickly to agency requests, and, not least treating consultants with courtesy and respect since you know exactly what they are going through, your past experience directly helps protect the recruitment reputation of your own company out in the market.

Because the move from agency to in-house recruitment is a common one, it is wise to consider why you might choose to make that leap in the first place.  There are certainly similarities between both fields but there are also distinct differences. You won’t have the sales calls for one thing, but you will have equally demanding targets. After all, not every success at agency work finds the going easy once they transfer to in-house recruitment. The shift in perspective can of course prove hugely rewarding, but better to find out all you can beforehand, so your decision to change paths is a sound one.

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