Episode #31 – The Differences Between Internal and External Recruiters

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health and Veterinary Industry search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about internal recruiters and external recruiters and the differences between the two. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: Stacy, you’ve been a recruiter for more than 20 years. However, you would be classified as an external recruiter, as opposed to an internal one, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right.

Sharita: Can you talk about some of the differences between internal and external recruiters?

Stacy: I sure can. An internal recruiter is a recruiter who is an actual employee of a company. More than likely, they work at the physical location of the organization every day, and they are on the payroll of that organization. As you might expect, an internal recruiter only recruits for the open positions of the company for which they work.

An external recruiter, on the other hand, is an independent recruiter who works for a recruiting agency or search firm. When I say that, I mean that they either run their own recruiting agency or recruiting firm or they work for an external third party recruiting firm. They might even have their own building or office space, although some external recruiters work out of their home. Unlike an internal recruiter, they do not work for just one organization. Instead, they strive to work for a number of different companies, building up a client base. Because of that, they can recruit for multiple companies instead of spending all of their time recruiting for only one organization.

Sharita: What are some of the other differences between internal and external recruiters?

Stacy: An internal recruiter who is an employee of an organization typically recruits for all of that organization’s open positions. It doesn’t matter what type of job it is. They could recruit for an IT position one day and then an accounting position the next day. Whatever need the company has, the internal recruiter will focus on it.

An external recruiter working at a firm might specialize on one particular area. They might only place candidates who work in a certain field. An external recruiter is more likely to be highly specialized, whereas an internal recruiter is typically a generalist to an extent.

Sharita: The VET Recruiter is a specialized niche recruiting firm, is that right?

Stacy: That’s correct. We specialize in the Animal Health, Pet Industry, and Veterinary profession. Now, it’s true that we place candidates in a variety of positions within those areas. There are some positions that fall outside our area of specialization and for which we do not recruit. However, for those positions that do fall within our specialization, we have extensive experience and have enjoyed tremendous success identifying and recruiting top candidates for our clients.

Sharita: Now let’s talk about how companies approach using internal recruiters and external recruiters. Do organizations use one or the other? Are there instances in which they use both?

Stacy: It all depends upon the organization involved. The size of the company sometimes has something to do with it. Large companies are more likely to have internal recruiters, although that is not always the case. However, large companies often utilize both internal and external recruiters. Smaller companies often turn to an external recruiter when they have an urgent need. Many organizations utilize both internal recruiters and external recruiters.

Sharita: How does that work, when an organization uses both types of recruiters?

Stacy: In a situation like that one, an organization could have one or more internal recruiters on staff. These recruiters would be responsible for filling the company’s open positions, and they would do so, especially lower-level positions that don’t require a specialized candidate. However, if these internal recruiters experience difficulty finding candidates for higher-level positions and they experience that difficulty for an extended period of time, the organization might turn to an external recruiting agency.

Sharita: Does that mean external recruiters are better able to handle higher-level searches that require a greater degree of specialization?

Stacy: In many cases yes, that would be the case.

Sharita: What are some of the reasons for that?

Stacy: I think the biggest reason is that external recruiters and recruiting agencies are able to build relationships with candidates, especially the top candidates. There are many ways that this is beneficial for organizations looking to hire.

First, external recruiters know who the top candidates are. They’re able to quickly identify them, and in many cases, they don’t have to go searching for them. That’s because they’ve more than likely spoken with these candidates before or in some cases multiple times, especially if they are in a niche area where they know the talent pool. Chances are good that internal recruiters have not spoken with these candidates at all in the past, much less multiple times. Consequently, they’re not able to identify them as quickly, and that can result in delays in the hiring process.

Second, external recruiters know a lot about the top candidates in the marketplace. That’s because, as I’ve mentioned, they’ve talked with them multiple times. They’ve talked with them about their career goals, the types of positions they’d like to seek, and the organizations for which they’d like to work. This information is extremely valuable, because once the recruiter comes across an opportunity that meets the criteria of a certain candidate, they know to reach out to that candidate and let them know about the opportunity.

Sharita: So not only do external recruiters know who the top candidates are, but they also know which candidates to reach out to about a specific position?

Stacy: That’s right. They’re able to conduct a more targeted search that results in higher-caliber candidates in a shorter amount of time.

Sharita: Now, it’s true that some organizations do not use internal recruiters or external recruiters at all, isn’t that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct.

Sharita: Would that not put them at more of a disadvantage when it comes to hiring, especially in this current market?

Stacy: Absolutely. There are some companies who use their Human Resources personnel for the purpose of hiring new employees. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. There are many capable people who work within HR roles. However, the problem involved is a time issue.

Those who work in Human Resources have a lot to worry about besides just hiring. That’s just one part of their overall job description. As a result, it can become difficult for them to devote large amounts of time to hiring. And when you’re not able to focus your energies on something, it’s more difficult to be successful doing it. At the very least, it’s more difficult to be as successful as you want to be doing it.

Sharita: And we’ve talked before about this, we’re in a candidates’ job market right now. In this kind of market, isn’t a proactive approach to hiring needed, as opposed to a reactive approach?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right. Unfortunately, if you’re a hiring manager or an internal recruiter and you have a limited amount of time, then you’re more likely to use a reactive approach to hiring. This type of approach relies heavily on tools such as online job advertisements. However, as we’ve discussed previously, using online job ads to source candidates is not an effective method for sourcing qualified candidates, especially if we’re talking about top passive candidates in the marketplace.

Sharita: So the fact that external recruiters are “in the trenches” day in and day out helps them to take the proactive approach that’s needed?

Stacy: Yes, external recruiters who are part of an independent agency have the time and energy needed to conduct a proactive search for candidates. It’s what they do all day long every day. They also have the expertise needed to convince those candidates to consider their client’s employment opportunity, and they have the ability to exert influence over those candidates. Identifying the best candidates is just the first step of the process.

I’m sure you have heard the word “headhunter” before. External recruiters tend to be “hunters”. That is why they are sometimes referred to as “headhunters”. They are “hunting” if you will, in the figurative sense, for the best candidates every day in the marketplace. Internal recruiters in my experience tend to be gathers. They gather resumes that come in as a result of online job applications.

Successfully recruiting and hiring the best candidates is the ultimate goal. External recruiters are able to take a proactive approach to the process, and that approach leads to better overall results.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks once again for sharing so much with us today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!