A Perfect Partnership: How Internal and External Recruiters Can Work Together

The 2008 recession upended the national economy, but some of its far-­reaching effects were lesser-­known. Because of the belt-tightening that turbulent period necessitated, it also caused a rift between internal and external recruiters. Once companies began hiring again, there was fierce competition for recruiting work, and it made for a less­-than-­collegiate environment. Many organizations chose to invest in their internal recruiting teams, which put external recruiters in tough positions. They struggled to find leads and generate placements, and internal teams were under more pressure to perform. But the tide began to turn, and now recruiters on both sides of the aisle benefit when we work together. The economy has picked up, and the improved job market means more opportunities all­around. Internal and external recruiters share the goal of serving our clients, so it makes sense for us to collaborate.

We’re Not So Different, You And I

When a larger company that has an internal recruiting department opens a new requisition, often times the internal recruiters get the first crack at the job. However, they often look to external recruiters to fill in the gaps or speed up the process. Let’s say a company decides to hire 20 new engineers and one or two accounting positions. The internal team will focus on where the volume is (engineering), and they may call BVOH to focus on the specialty roles in accounting. The ultimate goal is to keep hiring managers happy by sending them stellar candidates. When recruiters align our goals, we work smarter and faster. The hiring manager primarily cares about filling positions with the best people, and internal and external recruiters can share the credit for making that happen. As with external recruiters, there are a handful of internal recruiters who give the rest a bad name. They try to act as gatekeepers to hiring managers, making communication and collaboration difficult. But the vast majority of recruiters want to execute a search well, and they want to work with the right team to do it. At BVOH Finance & Accounting Search, we’ve found that the most successful internal-­external partnerships include the following attributes:

Honesty and Transparency

Internal teams should give their counterparts the full run­down on the positions they’re trying to fill, as well as clear parameters for their role in the process. Recruiters within a company are often stretched quite thin as they try to fill multiple positions, so the more information they give the external team, the more efficient the process will be. When internal recruiters are new to the job, they may not have a wide network to draw from when seeking candidates for different positions. There’s a steep learning curve, and external recruiters respect those challenges. We want to help internal teams look good to their bosses. But we need full transparency and support to make that happen. It’s a help me-­help you situation.

Constructive Feedback

In the dark days of 2009, external recruiters often experienced the brunt of internal teams’ stress in the form of aggressive communication. The partnership works far better when everyone engages in a friendly, genuine, and helpful manner.


Some internal recruiters still view external recruiters as the competition and are unwilling to cede any control to an outside team. At BVOH, we encourage these recruiters to realize we share the same goal: meet or exceed the hiring manager’s expectations. Our partnership can help them do their jobs better – if they’re willing to work together. Recruiters saw firsthand the stress and animosity of the post­-recession era. Internal recruiters worried about losing their jobs, making them all the more protective of their processes. External teams faced a constant pressure of generating enough searches to stay in business. Without referrals and new clients, agencies often struggled to get through that time. But things have changed. In the Bay Area especially, where there’s a high demand for skilled candidates and not enough people to fill the jobs, we’re in an all hands on deck scenario. Internal and external teams complement one another. In-­house recruiters have access to leads and inside job information, while outside recruiters often have more extensive networks and a longer history with their hiring managers. Rather than view external recruiters as competition, internal recruiters should view us as extensions of themselves that they can plug into specialized areas. While they’re managing internal requirements and other key aspects of the hiring process, we can we can find and vet qualified candidates. This collaborative process means positions are filled faster, and everyone wins. The days of scarcity and isolation are over. It’s 2015, and it’s time for recruiters to work together.

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