Is Agency Recruiting Going the Way of the Dodo?

September 11, 2012

Before any agency recruiter pounces on me for this blog, let me start by saying this: The two years that I spent in agency recruiting prepared me well for a career. I have the utmost respect for those talented recruiters who find success in an agency, as it is a thankless job at times. Recruiting is the most difficult sale there is, because you are dealing with a product that has a mind of its own (humans, of course).

That said, I often wonder how the recruiting agency model will survive with companies cutting costs and with technology trends being what they are. Agency recruiting may be safe for now, but how much longer will that be the case?


Technology is Taking Over

Why spend 20% of your new hire’s salary on an agency fee when you can hire multiple people for the same amount of money using things like TalentBin, a service that allows a company to search the entire web for candidates and not just one site? Or simply pay for one license of LinkedIn Recruiter, which can be used as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and a search engine for all users of LinkedIn. All it takes is a few keystrokes to zero in on qualified candidates and applicants.

Hire an Internal Recruiter and Don’t Look Back

If you make multiple hires a year, consider hiring an internal recruiter. An internal recruiter will be able to assess the talent pool and find you qualified candidates who fit your company culture, as well. Instead of working with an agency to explain what you need, an internal recruiter can work with the hiring manager directly and often help speed up the hiring process. Another perk is that the cost of hiring one internal recruiter would be the equivalent of using an agency just a few times per year — do the math.


This is one advantage agency recruiting alternatives can provide that you simply cannot deny. At the end of the day, an agency recruiter is in sales and will work closest to the dollar. That means if another company has a job that needs to be filled and the recruiter’s fee will be higher your role is going to be put on the back burner. This is not the case if you are running your own hiring process, or if your internal recruiter is — in those cases the priority is always your company.

Competition Schmopetition

Often there is quite a bit of drama that goes into using agencies to hire a candidate, and that can detract from your bottom line of hiring in a timely and relatively pain-free process. I have seen several “spats” develop between agencies over who submitted a candidate first. Who has time to deal with these outside issues that arise?

There are certain instances when it probably makes sense to use an agency — i.e. if you need a temporary employee, or if you need someone at the executive level — but for the most part I think it will become increasingly difficult for the average mid-market agency recruiter to prove their value.

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.