Hello From The Other Side - Agency Vs Internal Recruitment

In August 2013 I decided to pursue an opportunity with a boutique recruiting agency here in Vancouver. The role offered was dynamic, fast paced, and gave me an opportunity to meet and connect a ton of great people with a ton of amazing career opportunities. The agency recruiter role consisted of elements of business development, sales, and talent acquisition. It was a perfect first step into my career as a recruiter. A couple of years later I started to become curious about how things worked on the “other side” so in September 2015 I sought out an opportunity to join Hootsuite’s Talent Acquisition team. 3 months later, and settling into my role at Hootsuite, I wanted to share some of my experiences going from an agency recruiter to an internal recruiter. Here’s what I have discovered…

  1. A recruitment agency is primarily used for recruiting either temporary or permanent talent for companies who don’t have the manpower, time, or expertise to recruit for themselves. There are certain competencies within recruitment that remain consistent whether you are in an agency or in-house. These include: supporting different business groups, each with their own demands, timelines, deadlines, and objectives, while balancing expectations between hiring managers/clients, and candidates. Both types of recruiters need to be strong in the areas of project, time, calendar, and relationship management as well as the ability to connect and evaluate talent for their hiring managers. A key difference is that a recruiter at an agency required these skills, in addition to the added pressure of building your client list, closing sales, all while staying one step ahead of the competition.
  2. For agency recruiters, your KPI’s are based off sales, volume, and number of calls. It is a highly structured fast-paced environment where I had to support a number of different clients within different companies and industries. The first half of my day was focused on sales — gathering new leads, cold calling, developing and maintaining relationships with both new and existing clients. I loved the exposure I was getting to different positions, industries, businesses, and the learning opportunities this provided. I was able to gain visibility into, and recruit for many well-known private and public businesses within Vancouver in the hospitality, tech, fashion, finance, real estate, and construction industries.
  3. In agency life there is also the component of added time constraints; whether it’s your client needing a temp position filled within the hour, or the pressure to deliver the highest quality candidates for a permanent placement before the competition. In one case, I lost to a competitor who had presented the same candidate I had, but just two hours prior to me. In addition to tight time constraints, a common trend in more traditional agencies is the philosophy that the higher the volume of outbound and inbound calls made, the more business you are generating, and the more candidates you are placing. Your KPI’s are based off of number of calls made in a day and number of billable hours.

When I made the decision to switch to recruiting in house, it was because I wanted to experience different KPI’s that weren’t incented by volume, but more in terms of culture fit and quality of hire. I wanted to have the opportunity to invest in one company and its people at a deeper level, and partner closely with my own organization’s business groups. While agency recruiting is about hiring the best people in the short timeframe provided for multiple clients, in house recruiting provides me with an opportunity to build teams within my own organization for the long-term. I was excited to watch these teams and colleagues develop over time and see their growth well after their employment agreement was signed.

At Hootsuite my priorities and KPIs have shifted and are focused around candidate assessment, candidate and hiring manager experience, quality of hire, building great functioning teams, staying within budget, employer branding, and hiring based on culture fit. I wanted to work in an environment where people, culture, and growth was a huge part of the organization and was directly correlated to the recruitment process. Instead of hiring people for multiple cultures (like at the agency) I wanted to hire for one company, one brand, so I could be personally invested. Even before I joined the organization I realized that Hootsuite had a culture I could immerse myself in and that made me passionate about contributing to the growth and success of the company and its teams. This is why employer branding is such a huge focus for us as in house recruiters at Hootsuite. To be able to communicate our culture, and the type of employer we are to our candidates is a big way we attract talent. I have the opportunity to now put my BA in Communication Studies to use as marketing Hootsuite’s employer brand is a big part of my job.

Collecting data, paying attention to metrics, surveys and internal reporting is another tool I have learned to utilize in order to strategize, create efficiencies, visibility, and to streamline and improve recruitment processes as part of in house Talent Acquisition at Hootsuite. I use these tools to also ensure each candidate I am in touch with has the best experience from the moment they apply on our careers page. Since the transition to in house, my success is no longer measured with the volume of daily calls I make, and my conversations with candidates are less transactional, less about gathering the facts as fast as possible, and more about establishing and building meaningful relationships with candidates. Over the past three months, I have learned a lot about complex organizational design, the importance of employer branding and content marketing, how to be strategic, data analytics and what it truly means to partner with the business in a strategic HR capacity. It has been a learning curve shifting from a focus of sales, volume, and business development, to becoming more focused on brand, social, and HR partnership. I feel fortunate to be recruiting for a company whose culture and product I have a true genuine passion for — this is important for a recruiter. “I now have a chance to really immerse myself in Hootsuite’s culture and to invest time into building our teams.”

I am lucky to be working for an organization where people spend time investing in my success. I have my hiring managers to thank for the time they have spent 1:1 with me white boarding and giving me the breakdown and insight into their teams. I have my manager, to thank for the time he has spent investing in my growth and professional development and ensuring I feel supported at all times. I have my entire team to thank, for each individually opening up their calendars to me whenever I feel I need support or advice in any area. These people have truly made the transition in house as smooth as possible and will be the reason I choose to stay. Perhaps one day down the road I’ll go back to agency, but for now I am loving the opportunities I have to learn and grow here as an in house recruiter at Hootsuite.

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Taline Arslanyan — Recruiter at Hootsuite Media Inc. Part-time adventurer and thrill seeker and full-time connector and investigator of people and their passions. Find her in the mountains, on the bike, or online @talinearslanyan.