December 13, 2022

Figuring out which is for you: Corporate vs Agency


Episode Highlights

Sourced Candidates vs. Inbound Applicants


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Vincent Babcock, Recruiter for Hirewell’s HR Practice, sits down with OnDemand Recruiter Camille Knapik Balch to discuss the differences and similarities between agency and corporate recruiters. They discuss how the relationship with a hiring manager can be different, how recruiters prepare candidates for interviews, and how compensation can vary.

Episode Transcript

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Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Talent Insights. Vincent is here joining me today. We’re gonna discuss the differences between an agency recruiter and a corporate recruiter. So he’ll be sharing his experience as an agency recruiter, and I’ll be sharing my past experience as a corporate recruiter.

Thanks for joining me today, Vincent. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and explain your role here at Hirewell.

Well, yeah, thanks Camille. Happy to join. So, yeah, my name is Vincent. I’m on the HR recruiting team. Little bit biased, but definitely the best team. Shout out HR team. So I’ve been here for about eight months.

I’ve been recruiting for, coming up on three years in January. So, seen a lot of different markets. I actually started recruiting during covid. So I’ve seen the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows. It’s been an interesting time. But, so we’re recruiting mainly for human resource positions, talent acquisition, admin positions, executive assistants, kind of all over the board. A lot of our clients are in Chicago, but have remote as well. Yeah, that’s a quick intro of just our team and what we’re doing and yeah.

Awesome. Well thank you for sharing. My name is Camille, for those of you who haven’t watched our videos before.

And I’m a recruiter on the on-demand practice here. So I work internally with our clients, hiring for a number of different operations and industries that we work with. Similar to a corporate internal recruiter, but I’ll just reference my past corporate experience so I don’t confuse anyone.

So let’s chat a little bit about how a hiring manager relationship is different for a corporate recruiter versus an agency recruiter. If you wouldn’t mind sharing your experience, Vincent.

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so I’ll start with, I think it really just depends on the client. There’s two sides. So it could be a new client, so a new job or a previous relationship. Maybe you placed that person, maybe you had them interview in the past. So you already have that kind of relationship built or maybe if someone else has cross sold a job and you already placed some people with them so you know the client well.

So if it’s a new client, I’ll start with that. Biggest thing for agency recruiters I think, is you want to build a relationship. You don’t want it to appear as if we’re competing against their internal team. We want to be a team, right? We want to help them fill this role. Sometimes internal TA teams can get-

they have a lot on their plate, right? They’re filling tons of roles at a time and sometimes there’s some more niche roles, HR, TA specific that they don’t have as much time to focus on. So maybe they would turn to us as an agency who are-

have a lot of years specifically recruiting, just for those types of roles. We know the market. We have those relationships. We have those pipelines built, so it’s just a different type of recruiting. I think the biggest thing for us is really just to build those relationships and to. Come off as if it’s a competition against their team. We always want to make it feel like a partnership.

So I think that’s the key to start and really to be successful as an agency recruiter. Right? That’s where you start there. But then difference is, I think it’s similar in the aspect of we start off each search with intake call, learn more about the role, the team. Things they wouldn’t necessarily find from a job description, interview process, all those kind of things.

Which I feel like for a corporate recruiter would be similar. Communication again, I think it comes back to the relationship. If you know that person well, they might say, “Hey, you can text me, you can call me anytime.” Or other clients are like, “Hey, you got to go through HR, you got to go through our external recruiter.”

Sometimes communication can be lagged. But again, I think it all comes down to, that relationship you already have or are trying to build. And another thing with that too, communication. I think, agency, we’re always in a hurry. We’re trying to get things done quick. And usually when someone, a company, comes to us like they need that hire yesterday, right?

So we are usually in a time crunch. We kind of want to set expectations up front with them. Hey, we’re here to help you, we’re here to partner with you. But we need you to get back to us quick. These candidates go quick. So I think setting expectations up front is huge. For us. It also shows if a client’s serious or not, right?

So I think, not to get too in depth, but we try to do more of retained searches versus contingent. Which I won’t dive into that, but just shows if a client really is ready to make a hire. And not that we’re spending wheels and wasting our time or theirs. Really setting expectations up front for communication.

And then updates, we usually have weekly updates with them, sometimes more often if they want. Normally those are just to like, “Hey, how did the interviews go this week?” Or, “Hey, maybe this search has been tough.” Like, “Hey, can we adjust this or that, any challenges that we might have or any feedback that we can give on how the search is going” and things like that.

That’s how those usually go. And then accessibility to their internal system. So like ATS, if you’re a recruiter watching this, you know what an ATS is. Applicant tracking system. But it varies. Our bigger clients, sometimes they give us recruiter access to their ATS. So we don’t have full access. But sometimes we’re just sending candidates via email. And so that can be hard sometimes to keep track of.

So that’s why I think it’s important to stay in close touch with the client and on updates so you can let the candidate know as well. For good candidate experience. Feel free to jump.

Yeah, that was perfect. I really liked a few things that you said.

Mostly that an agency team, like we are an extension of your internal team. We’re there to help you if your team is overwhelmed. We’re not there to take over or compete with your internal team. So I think that’s something that is definitely a misconception. Is that we’re not there to compete with the internal team or take over their jobs.

We’re just there to help. Maybe because it’s like a certain specialty, like you said. Or maybe if they’re overwhelmed with some roles. Or maybe have a lot of recs going on. So I think that’s something that many people might not understand if they’re in that space. Also just a little bit about like setting those expectations up front.

Just because they won’t know, maybe you need feedback quicker or communication better with those weekly touch points. So if you’re not communicating that at the beginning then, that maybe not works. So I think that’s great that you guys are doing that. It seems like the HR team is really set well from the beginning, so that’s awesome.

I’ll share a little bit about my corporate experience in recruiting as far as other hiring manager relationship goes. I think it is a little different than the agency, just because we do work internally with those systems. So one thing, is we always have the status of the candidates. Because we have full access to the ATS system.

So that’s great. As well as just having like teams or Jabber, Skype, whatever type of message system they might use. You can just reach out to the hiring manager through there. So you might be able to get quicker feedback when you’re working internally with them. As well as just like the culture working internally with the hiring manager.

Maybe you’ve worked together for a long time. Maybe you have a lot of the same coworkers. Or like the same culture, if you know what I mean. There’s just like a different part of that when they’re part of the same company. So I think that can be a difficult thing. Being external recruiter sometimes is just being on the outside and just kind of learning everything.

It’s a little easier to pick up on certain things and communication when you work internally at the company as well. But I think it’s fairly similar. And it just really depends case by case basis, but those are just a few of the things that I can think of. Like communication, getting feedback quicker, just like accessibility to the candidates and the status and just being there for the full process. So if a candidate reaches out to you,

you might be able to answer right away looking in your internal system. Rather than having to reach out to the lead recruiter and the client. Just asking them like where they are in the process and such. So kind of a lot of differences. A lot of similarities. But really just depends on the client and the company since so many companies do things differently.

How differently would you describe that agency recruiters and corporate recruiters prep their candidates differently? I feel like this has been a hot topic on LinkedIn for a few years now. What’s the perk? Why are agency recruiters prepping their candidates more? Are corporate recruiters doing it the same? What are the differences do you think?

Definitely been controversial at times. I think the biggest difference, and I have never done internal. But I’ve talked to internal people about this. And I think the biggest difference is for agency recruiters, compared to internal, like the candidates that we’re presenting to these clients. Say it’s a new client, right?

And we have a person interview. We don’t prep them, we just say, “Hey, here’s your interview. Be on here at 11. Good luck.” And they get on and the client calls and says like, “Hey, they bombed the interview. Like they were in a sweatshirt, they had hat on, they didn’t know the job.” And so that’s our first interview, right?

So, you know, that candidate’s representing our agency. So Hirewell for instance. So for us, we don’t want to lose that client. Obviously we want to make the placement, we want to make the commission cause we work off commission as well. But we want to build a good brand for our company. And so they call us again when they need a hire, even if we don’t fill this role.

So I think number one is probably that. Agency reputation and building that trust. Because if you bomb the first interview, they might be like, “Hey, we need to find a different agency.” And so I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I can think of. And then obviously I touched on the commission part, right?

So that’s always a plus. Who doesn’t like a little bit of extra money? But yeah. And I think as far as prep goes, like getting into a little bit of detail, so. That’s why we have those intake calls. Like anything that we can share with our candidates about the interviewer, what to expect, the process. Like, “Hey, how many interviews is it gonna be?”

Just so they have a good idea of the process. And then sometimes, sharing some inside secrets. But if we have candidates that interview first, then we have some going the next week or so, we always debrief. And it’s like, “Hey, maybe they ask this question. We don’t necessarily come out and say that.” But, “Hey, maybe you should brush up on this experience or maybe think about a time when this happened, right?” We’re just trying to share some insights to make sure that they’re as prepared as they can be, right? Yeah, I think those are probably some of the biggest things for us and always try to prep. I would always recommend, if you’re a recruiter at all, definitely prep.

Even if it’s a couple minutes, it’s better than nothing. Just that the candidate knows that you’re rooting for them. Give them as much information as they can. But yeah, I’d love to hear your take on.

It is so interesting because when I was in corporate, I had never heard about a candidate prep call until I came to Hirewell.

Like I had no idea that was even a thing. Because when I was in corporate, anything that I learned from my manager or anyone working above me and beside me, they would just tell me “Send this email. It has some questions to review, some things to go over, like a little bit history about the company, about the team.” Like that kind of thing.

But it was more of just an email. Like it wasn’t a phone call to prep with the candidate, to go through any questions that they had. Anything like that. So it was just a very, very different vibe. And I had never heard of a candidate prep call. I think I actually had heard about it when I was interviewing before Hirewell. I think that’s when I had heard. It was something very foreign to me in the corporate world. So I thought that was very interesting. And I think for my experience, Internally, I think it depended on the company that I was working at. Depending on the candidate prep. But for the most part it was really prepping them, in the phone screen, I would say. To get to that hiring manager interview.

So like after we would schedule and everything, I would let them know about the team. About what they’re looking to do within the next year or so. Then just some questions like remember to bring this data with you to explain your past experience, all of that good stuff.

But as far as like you had mentioned about like past candidates when they would let you know what they were asked in the interview, that was not really something I was ever taught in talent acquisition. And I came into talent acquisition like right after college. So I really learned everything from my coworkers and my managers.

It’s just so surprising how different it has been, externally and internally of some things that I wish I had known when I first started out.

It’s definitely a touchy subject. You touched a good point I should have mentioned, I definitely think a phone call is always the way to go, if you can.

Maybe their time crunch, but always try to set up the interview so there’s enough time to at least have a five minute conversation. Also an email like to add. “Hey, here’s our LinkedIn profile. Here’s some tips.” Definitely have a quick conversation just to make sure the candidate doesn’t have any extra questions or anything at all that you can answer up front. To really give them time to ask other questions that I can’t answer.


Right. But we don’t want the candidate asking things that we already know. And the client’s like, “Hey, why did they ask this? They should have already known that.” I think that’s always key to make sure that you’re having those conversations, even if it’s a couple minutes brief before the interview.

Definitely, and I think it’s important just to like partner with your recruiter, whether it’s an agency recruiter or an internal corporate recruiter.

Make sure they can answer any questions that you have. So you can save more like team and job focused growth opportunity questions for the hiring manager in the team. So I think It’s really important. There’s certainly been questions that I’ve wanted to ask a hiring manager, but maybe like I was a little nervous or wasn’t sure how it would come across, like growth opportunity questions.

Sometimes you don’t know how hiring managers will take those. So I’ve always asked the recruiters for advice. So definitely partner with your recruiter and just kind of lay it all out on the table. Any questions that you might have or any touch points, I’m sure they would always be happy to jump on the phone with you before an interview or after an interview to debrief.


I know this is a hot topic as well and I had this happen a lot at my last client. So I think it’s really interesting. Have you ever had hiring managers prefer or get a little more excited about in thinking these candidates are a little bit more, I would want to say like attractive, than candidates who are inbound.

So sourced candidates versus inbound applicants. Have you ever had a hiring manager favor the sourced candidates more than the inbound? And the only reason I’ve seen this is because for some reason the hiring managers think that if a candidate is sourced, that they weren’t looking at all. And that our company or like our team, this opportunity is so attractive to them.

Like we were able to catch their eye and they want to leave their current opportunity when they weren’t even looking to come work for us. So like it’s just a interesting phenomenon, but I’ve seen it a lot.

Yeah. And I think you hit nail on the head. I think that’s the biggest thing. Like everyone wants to be “My team’s the best. This job’s the best.” Obviously. Right? And I’m sure that could be the case for some. But I definitely think it’s a mindset. If someone applies to a job compared to someone who is just working and then a recruiter pings them and like, “Oh, that sounds like a good opportunity.” To me, I don’t think it really matters.

I think if it’s a qualified candidate, they can do the job. The client will not know like,

Hey, this candidate applied to our job posting, right? We’re just gonna send the candidate either way. But I think for internal, that could definitely probably be the case.

Plus if they’re applying to yours, they’re probably more active in interviewing at other places. And maybe a harder candidate to necessarily, to get. Right? Cause they could have other offers if they’re applying.


I have heard that. I don’t agree with it necessarily. But yeah, interesting topic. I definitely think that can be a bias for sure.

Yeah, I definitely think that people should treat inbound and sourced candidates the same. There just is something about hiring managers and teams that are very interested in whether they were sourced or if they applied themselves.

But just because they did one or the other doesn’t mean their situation is any different. Or that they should have a certain bias towards them.

And I just wanted to wrap up our conversation, just talking a little bit about the difference between a corporate recruiter and an agency recruiter, just compensation wise.

So just a little bit about corporate recruiter. Normally you get just like your regular salary or hourly rate. And then a bonus if your company does that. Or some type of raise at the end of the year. But I know an agency recruiter, like we do at Hirewell, because we’re all agency here is a salary and commission as well.

So that’s a really big difference in the recruiting world. If you’re looking to get into recruiting. Or if you’re currently in recruiting and just didn’t know that maybe you’re in a different setting. So that’s something cool about agency recruiting is you do get that commission as well. A little bit of like a sales role. So I think that’s really cool too.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely very sales. You’re definitely metrics driven. Not that internal is not, but yeah. And recruiting recruiters, it’s definitely-

it’s fun. It’s interesting to see the different salaries and the levels. Just the difference in both. It’s really cool. And they’re just totally different. They’re the same job, but they can be different. And the salaries kind of show that. Commission based is just-

I want to say it makes you work a little bit harder, but like you said, it’s a sales job. You want to grind, you want to make that money. And then internal, it’s more of like, “Hey, I want to build this team out. I want to really grow this company.” And then you get the bonus attached. Depending on the level for internal, there can be equity, there can be other things, right?

That’s usually like director and above. But yeah, it’s definitely an interesting topic. I don’t think a lot of people understand the difference. I’ve also heard of some agencies that are a hundred percent commissioned. I’d maybe stay away from those. Yeah. That can be a little sketchy.

I mean, if you need to get into recruiting, maybe consider it. Also find an agency that pays really good commission percentages. Right? And Hirewell does a great job of doing that. So I would always recommend doing your research on both. I think me and Camille will be happy to chat with you if you had any questions about that. I know the market pretty well. We both know kind of what the recruiting market looks like.

Yeah, definitely. And I think I really didn’t know much about agency recruiting before I started at Hirewell. So I think it’s a great opportunity that there really are two different sides of recruiting and I could totally see a lot of people doing corporate or agency for part of their career and then switching over to the other. So really just kind of depends on your personality and what would be a good fit. But I do really like this side of recruiting. I think it’s really fun to have clients and just to make the commission. It just makes things a lot more interesting and to be able to do cross sells and make money in other ways rather than just having a set salary for the whole year. It’s been a lot of fun. So I really like this part of it and I think it really just depends on your personality and what you’re looking for. But I think it’s really great. There’s kind of an opportunity for everybody. There’s so many different sides of recruiting.

Absolutely. And we’re both in a good spot. Hirewell is definitely great agency. So I know I’ve heard of other people, jump out of agency quick because they landed a bad one. Which there are a lot of those out there. But no Hirewell’s great. Agency’s super fast paced. Always recommend if you want to get into recruiting like it’s a good start. It’s a little bit easier to get into because they do have a lot higher volume times and hire more people at-

kind of in the beginning. Because they have so many clients and things. But it’s definitely good if you’re starting your recruiting career. Normally starts out in an agency and then people eventually transition to internal.

But sometimes, like you said, their personality, they love the commission part, they love variety. So they stay in it, forever. So. Just depends on the person.

Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you for joining me today. This is awesome. Hopefully it helps anyone maybe going into recruiting or maybe wants to try out agency or corporate if you’re in one or the other.

So feel free to reach out to myself or Vincent if you have any questions or if you’re looking for a job. We’d be happy to help and see what we can do. So have a great day everybody. Thanks.

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