Agency Recruiters vs. HR
The tension between agency recruiters and HR professionals has seemingly been growing since the dawn of hiring (so, forever). I never understood the issue; don’t these two roles complement and support one another? They do, clearly. Yet agency recruiters try to bypass HR at all costs, and HR professionals – among whom I can include myself – often feel that recruiters are trying to steal our jobs.
I get it; as HR professionals we don’t like to imagine that some outsider can swoop in and do our jobs better. But here’s the thing – recruiting is far from the entirety of what we do. So why not consult with experts to help improve this one small part of our role, and in the process potentially help improve our company exponentially?
As an HR professional who spent the past six months working at a recruiting firm, I’ve been exposed to both sides of the equation. Here’s what I’ve observed:
1. HR has enough on its plate
Unless your team has a well-funded recruiting department you likely don’t have time to find the that ‘unicorn person’ for every open role. Recruiters, on the other hand, have nothing but time to search out even the most niche of skillsets or experience combinations.
There’s no shame in not having time – as an HR professional you shouldn’t have time to reach out to all these people. Not because you aren’t amazing at what you do, but because recruiting simply isn’t your full-time job.
2. Talented professionals are playing hard to get
More often than not, the best people aren’t looking for a job right now; they are already working for one of your competitors. Reaching these professionals can require 10+ touch points, countless voicemails and emails, and a deep understanding of the current market.
Recruiters have the bandwidth to reach out to passive professionals 10-20 times before receiving a single response. Do you have that kind of time? I definitely don’t.
And if you’re only contacting actively looking candidates, you’re missing out on a huge portion of the population.
3. A jack of all trades is a master of none
As someone who is finishing up her degree in HR, I know for a fact that what we learn is extremely broad. That means that we, as HR professionals, may not always be the best judge of the highly technical skills required by some hiring managers.
In HR we have to hire for so many different roles that it’s physically impossible for us to have a detailed understanding of granular differences in skillsets, experience levels, software, etc. That’s why it makes sense to partner with recruiters who specialize in the specific area for which you’re hiring. They know, probably better than anyone, which questions to ask and which skills are most necessary.
That being said, HR professionals have a wealth of institutional knowledge and expertise that is invaluable to the hiring process. We are the bridge connecting candidates to the company, and a recruiter should act to facilitate and strengthen that connection, not undermine it.
4. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. And not that many people know you.
Unless your company has a massive name-brand presence, it’s likely most of your target candidates don’t even know you exist. It’s impossible for job seekers to know all of their options given the number of companies currently hiring.
Recruiters can be an ally dedicated to promoting your jobs to qualified candidates. Assuming you have a good relationship with your recruiter, they’ll guide people toward your openings and support them throughout the process to cut down time-to-fill rates and increase the quality of your new hires.
We need to end the fear and tension. Recruiters shouldn’t feel stifled by working with HR, and HR professionals shouldn’t avoid working with agency recruiters. The business relationship can add value to both sides. Without any hesitation, I highly encourage my fellow HR people to partner with specialized agency recruiters whenever reasonable, especially given the state of the jobs market. I also advise my recruiter friends to befriend HR – we have a ton of knowledge and expertise to offer.
Go forth and hire!