• Joe Wainwright

Difference between Agency and In-House Recruitment

Most people have heard the terms Agency and In-House Recruitment, but what's the difference?



My career started in a small agency working alongside one other recruiter filling roles across THE WHOLE OF THE UK which, when working in an education-based recruitment agency, can become relatively difficult as every county in the UK has schools and are always looking for staff. A few late nights in the office and cups of early morning coffees later, I decided to make the move to in-house recruitment experiencing a whole different ball game.


I worked in an in-house recruitment team looking after nurseries across the UK, but this time focusing on one region at a time. The organisation was HUGE in comparison to the agency I was working for so with that came a well-developed business structure, and additional support that I wasn’t expecting – in honesty, slightly overwhelming. Can you also believe I was allowed to leave at 5:30pm? Since then I have taken the opportunity to move back to agency work in a successful company making a noticeable difference to the industry. Over this time, I have seen some large differences in the way companies recruit/manage/organise etc. But largely some similarities in the recruitment world.


You're not getting commissions


The amount of times my manager has come up to me asking whether I wanted to win a PS4, £100 cash, holiday to Antigua is unbelievable. Managers in agency recruiters are typically passionate, loud people and rightly so, if the recruiter is bringing the money in then they are going to push you to get the most out of you. It’s funny what odd incentives are thrown at you. So far, I have been given some new work shirts, new aftershave and a voucher for a haircut – what do you think they are trying to say? Difficulty with in-house recruitment is that you aren’t always going to be offered these incentives and certainly won’t be able to bring in any commission – no extra money for you!


Filling the role


Maintaining client relationships is always important in agency recruitment or in-house recruitment. In agency, if you are best friends with the manager/HR team of a particular organisation then they either aren’t real or a unicorn – both not real, I think? Within in-house recruitment, you HAVE to be their best mate. You are filling ALL of the roles they have regardless. There is no hiding from this. So yes, it does mean you are going to have to know their favourite Friends character, and yes it does mean you need to know their favourite flavour ice cream but at the end of the day, you need to fill their vacancies and nobody is going to do this for you. Being their best friend will be the winner here!


We don’t use agencies!


How many times do you hear this is agency recruitment? Unless you are a magical Business Developer who has the gift of the gab, most companies will say they don’t use agencies. A lot of this is down to having the most difficult gate keeper (we’ll call her Sharon) who has had 12 years’ experience guarding Hades. It makes it almost impossible. The annoyance is not for the difficult gatekeeper, Sharon, but for the brilliant candidate who would fly through an interview and be an incredible asset to their company. We know that if the candidate were to apply internally for the same organisation they would probably get the job, but as they are being represented by an agency this can often go out of the window. I think there is still work to be done around the perception of an agency. We aren’t all bad…


No Business Development


Is this true? What are these words? ‘YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS’ – John McEnroe. Yes – it’s true, in-house recruitment doesn’t have the dreaded business development which means no gatekeepers, difficult potential managers or all-round nervous phone calls speaking to some of the largest organisations. There are actually people that do this for you, so you can focus more on your role as a ‘recruiter’. Can you imagine having all of your time spent recruiting for staff? You’d have time to put your feet up, have plenty of coffees and time to knit (I imagine this is what people with lots of time would do, I might be wrong, I think I’m wrong). This is incorrect though, recruitment is recruitment so it’s busy, fast-paced and ages you quicker than a time machine.


Are there similarities?


Surprisingly, yes. As I mentioned, it’s still a fast-paced environment and workload never drops. You can still expect to stay later in the office some days – it’s a given. It also depends on how much work you put into the day, there is always something that needs doing even out of office hours. Candidate Management is still key. You need to have a good relationship with candidates at all cost – it’s important because at the end of the day, you are finding them their dream role. No matter whether it’s agency recruitment or in-house recruitment, you need to be able to have quality. Quality in calls. Quality in organisation. Quality in the candidates you represent – this should never change.


Recruitment is a hard job, it is easier with these skills, and easier with hard work. With hard work comes job satisfaction and job progression but most importantly, rewards. Ultimately, I would say there is no ‘better’ type of recruitment – it’s a job that can be enjoyed by different people. But I would say that if you don’t love your job, but love recruitment then it might be best to reassess your role and give some thought into moving – you never know, the grass might well be greener?