Agency Recruiters – Pros/Cons

I like to try to keep an open mind, in everything that I do.  This goes for my personal life and my professional one.  As a corporate recruiter, I’m strong to believe that having an in-house recruiter is the best way to go.  From a company’s perspective, though, it may not be what you need/want.

Below, I outline some pros and cons to using an agency to fill your open positions.

Pros.  Agencies … 

  • … are able to provide you with a wide array of candidates due to the network they’ve built out with their candidate pool
  • … can be hired on a contingency basis, meaning they are not paid until their candidate gets hired.
  • … often specialize.  Sales, admin, tech, etc.  If you have a certain need, there is an agency out there that can help you fill it.
  • … offer a company the “try before you buy” model.  No commitments made.

Cons.  Agencies …

  • … don’t understand your company or the culture you’re trying to build.
  • … can be expensive!  Let’s look at the two types of agency fee models.  Let’s take the contingency model as an example.  Contingency fees are usually 18-25% of a salary, paid on placement.  Assuming a 20% fee, on a 80k salary, that is 16k per placement.  If you have this agency fill ten roles, that’s $160k.  I’m positive you can find an in-house recruiter for less, and who will do more.
  • … are not just hiring for you.  They are hiring for a LOT of clients.  Never think that you are their priority.
  • … don’t give you a commitment.  Unlike in-house recruiters, agencies have no emotional ties to your company.

I leave you with this question:  What are you looking to get out of your recruiter?



I have to say it.  I hate it when I find the perfect passive candidate, who says they are selectively looking, who seemingly is perfect for the role I sought them out for, who said they were mutually excited to chat… falls off the face of the planet.  I get it, though.  I really do.  You may have spoken too soon, or now your boss loves you, or what if your boss finds out you’re interviewing!  I understand completely.  But,  if you’ve changed your mind about your job search, just tell me up front and honestly.  

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

You have to treat a job search like a relationship.  You don’t know what bridges you are burning, so keep everything nice and respectful.  You wouldn’t dump your girlfriend by completely ignoring her for a few weeks, right?  

Don’t answer that.

Whatever you do, be respectful of the recruiter’s time, and it will pay off in the end.  The recruiter at Company A (that you’re not so excited about) may end up being the recruiter for Company B (your dream job) some day.   We don’t forget names.  We don’t forget faces.  

We will forgive you if you say our company isn’t a right fit for you.  But, tell us that it isn’t the right fit for you.