In-house recruitment Vs agency recruitment

I’ve previously worked with some leading brands where I was in charge of running in-house teams, but since moving to the dark side there is one question I get asked at every networking event I go to: “Why won’t the in-house recruitment team answer the phone when I know I have candidates to fill their vacancies, especially as in-house recruitment is easy compared to meeting challenging agency sales targets?”

Well, in-house recruitment is anything but easy. The expectations placed on in-house recruiters are enormous. Not only do they have to meet their own targets, but also diplomatically manage relationships with line managers who want their vacancies filled immediately and believe that there is a magic bank of suitable candidates just waiting for those hard to fill roles.

However managing relationships with line managers is only one part of the role, as an in-house recruiter, you always work closely with the rest of the HR team. You are never in isolation on any aspect of the HR cycle including training, succession planning and branding. This can be rewarding and challenging and will give you more of all-round HR experience, but in turn it means you then have less time to spend on face-to-face recruitment.

My experience of in-house recruitment was mainly within a retail environment which involved lengthy sign off processes for materials, employee branding, website design, application tracking systems, training materials, career events, writing of the business’s recruitment strategy and much more – the list is endless!

Within a retail environment you also have overall accountability for providing the best practice recruitment across the whole of the retail estate. Within one business, for me, this was over 1000 stores! I was also totally accountable for fulfilling the recruitment needs of all of the head office departments, including the buying and merchandising team, IT, HR and marketing, as well as all area and field management recruitment. All of which was managed by a recruitment team of four and, hand on heart, every day was challenging.

Having said this, I loved the variety of in-house recruitment, and one thing I can say is that it was never boring! You are constantly challenged and budgets are tight, which means that you have to be innovative in your approach to recruitment and always at the cutting edge. I also loved the statistics side of the role, one of the key measurables for any in-house recruiter is the ability to drive down your cost per hire and time to hire, which to me is one of the true measures of a successful in-house team.

The one aspect that I particularly loved, was sharing recruitment best practice through recruitment road shows, and when I went out to stores and trained managers and saw those true light bulb moments, I know that I created legacies for businesses that are still around today.

One of my passions within recruitment is creating the right candidate experience. At some point all of us will go through an interview or selection process and it frustrated me that so many managers could not see the value of creating the right interview environment. I have tackled this culture on three occasions, as I believe it is up to the in-house team to drive recruitment values and to ensure that managers create the right candidate environment. Recruiters need to feel confident enough to ask the right questions so that they can give constructive candidate feedback at the end of the interview. Not too much to ask is it?

So, now that I’ve moved to the dark side I apologise to my fellow recruiters out there who were pressured into making cold calls to in-house recruiters, so that they could hit their sales targets. Trust me when I say that there is nothing more unwelcome than a cold call to an in-house recruiter. In every business I’ve been in, I have worked with the same recruiters, as I have trusted them and built a relationship with them over time.

So, bear in mind all of the above, take the time to win hearts and minds and think about adopting a different approach when you next contact an in-house recruitment team.

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