August 2, 2022

Stop Hiring & Firing Internal Recruiters


Episode Highlights

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A month ago Jeff Smith and James Hornick ranted how “Layoff Posting Is Fear Porn” i.e. stop getting everyone worked up and fearful.

But here they are, talking layoffs. What gives?

Once again, internal recruiters are disproportionately targeted for cuts.

Over-hiring. And over-hiring the very people who do the over-hiring. You didn’t gain anything. But you sure did disrupt a lot of lives.

It isn’t intentional…but sometimes it kind of is. Why on Earth are business leaders still hiring FTE recruiters for known short term hiring spikes?

Jeff and James break down the idiocy in episode 48 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Stop Hiring & Firing Internal Recruiters

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on

This week’s topic, episode 48, we’re getting up there, man. I know.” Stop hiring and firing internal recruiters”. So I got a bone to pick. We just did an episode two shows ago about layoff posting being fear porn. Here we are again, talking about layoffs though. Yep. Internal recruiters once again in the crosshairs. Now, let’s just- little trip down memory lane. 2020 blood bath.

Totally get it. We thought the world was kind of melting down. Everyone was getting let go, frankly every competency was let go. Wasn’t surprised that recruiters were pretty much out of work. 2021 massive bounce. Salaries for recruiters up 30, 35%. It was like clear to anyone who was paying attention it was probably like an overreaction.

But you know, here we are 2022, it’s dejavu all over again. While I think like layoffs overall, the discussion around it have been overdone. The TA sector, recruiters are twice as likely to have been cut than someone in tech or some other section, just based upon the data we’re seeing off sites like layoffs.FYI and whatnot.

Yeah. I mean, there are counterparts, so it’s definitely top of mind, but this downturn specifically it was the exclamation point for me. When we were planning this, I was like, we’re doing this. As quickly as recruiters got fat, they got laid off. It happened again. A disproportionate amount of these layoffs were recruiters and companies continue to insist on spikes.

I don’t know if it’s the companies or if it’s specific TA leadership or HR leadership or that hierarchy, which we’ve talked about at length. Like they insist on everything being FTE and we’re going to get into why that’s insane in a second. But I have like the open ended question, why? Why haven’t you gone?

I’m not even gonna say fully, although we’ve pulled off fully on cheaper terms and more efficient. Why not partially outsource? Like, is there still like a ton of cache with keeping agency spend down, but like having a- why is that the metric for success? Right. Exactly. Like we’re running two programs right now, fully outsourced.

I’m not saying that you have to go fully outsourced. But it’s at a fraction of the cost with X amount of times of efficiency. Like the damage of this cycle, it’s done recruiters in. I’m having the conversations right now with corporate recruiters. They’re fucking done, man. They’re done. Yeah. They’re getting wise to the show. Four years ago

if you would’ve told me that I would have my pick of the litter of corporate recruiters to come over to the agency side, what would you have told me? No one does that, right? Like it’s always in our mindset- you start an agency, then you go internal. No one goes back, but it’s happening constantly. At least for us. I did it.

I did it seven years ago and my wife told me I was insane. Mm-hmm. I probably was. Like in some ways, I guess I should, we should be thanking the market for treating other recruiters as disposable, but it also explains still why when you go and pay those fees, the best recruiters sit on our side, because they know that they can make their own path so to speak.

Yeah. Now again, we’re talking specifically about full-time employees for temporary demand. I think that’s kind of a key thing. Yes. Another kind of key part of this is just keeping in mind, internal recruiting, like you look at like entire organization not just talking recruiting but HR, marketing, sales, all these other areas.

Internal recruiting is the only area where headcount stability is a bad thing.. Right. So you give me a really successful company. Everyone loves their job. Everyone makes money. Everyone gets the bonus, you’re running a profit and marketing and sales and tech and whatever area, except for recruiting.

If you don’t have seats to fill, you literally don’t have anything really to do. And I think it’s just kind of understanding what the difference is there. Now the normy take, you know, someone might say something stupid like “Wasn’t that the cost of picking a career as a recruiter?” Right. I promise you Hirewell has less turnover than you.

We have 120 people on staff. I can count the number of recruiters who have left us this year on one hand. We tried. We couldn’t get to the fifth, honestly. Yeah. My question is, do some leaders not understand hiring spikes are temporary? Or they really think it’s going to go on forever? It’s a scary question because you’d have to think that somewhere, some way that there are people that say yes to that answer. Like, no, it’s not temporary, you know?

They’re real. Fluctuations are going to be real in hiring and they have to be accounted for. I personally it’s literally impossible to always be hiring. Yeah. Literally. It’s why professional services exist. It’s why we have the big four. Right? I mean, maybe it’s on us. Maybe external recruiting just needs to rebrand and put a bunch of nice PowerPoints together and data visualization tools to show you a candidate profile instead of a resume.

Look, the bottom line is you spend the same amount of money or less to worry about anything in the right setup. So I personally think it’s like, it’s just maybe a lot about control. Some companies or again, sometimes these leaders, like they can’t stomach letting go of the control and just kind of like letting the professionals run the show.

Maybe they’ve had a bad experience down the road. They didn’t properly vet a partner and they got taken for a run on a contingent blood bath and got bled out. I get it. It’s happened. But it’s also like saying you go to an awful dentist and you just keep going to him or her and your teeth rot out.

Does that make every dentist bad? I don’t think so. And it’s just not 10 years ago. Like there’s a ton of great firms, us included, who are out there doing interesting stuff that are also fiscally responsible with your money. So gets into the cost effectiveness, right? We have people that can step in, hit the ground running, execute, and work ourselves out of the job.

Like you said, it’s part of our pitch. That’s point. Is that- yeah. Kicker. Then we’re incentivized to come back next time there’s a spike because we scratch each other’s backs. So you’re bringing us back not only because we did a good job and we already know your pitch. We have domain knowledge. We’re already set up to handle your environment.

So that FTE that you just rift, definitely not doing that. So shameless plug- hit us up. Another angle I want to attack this from is efficiency or the lack thereof. So let this sink in, recruiters fucking hate busy work. Don’t we all? Doesn’t everybody hate it, right? Because there’s going to be some people that say, “Well recruiters do more than recruiting.

They do all these other process elements and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” True. I’ll get back to that. But if you’re a TA team, your people out there are in meetings all day. They’re running integration projects. You’re not hiring the best recruiters to begin with. Not saying that work

isn’t important. Not saying someone doesn’t need to do it. But if we’re talking like people who get off on a relationship building and head hunting, and this is what they do, this is their core. These are the people who are going to land to your team, they’re not spending 30 hours a week like messing around with like process and greenhouse configurations.

So those are different people, right? That aside, like I get the desire to like- the thought process behind building internal knowledge bases. But you’re doing the opposite when you’re just hiring and firing a year later, you know? Yes. Just the amount of time it takes to train people on processes, to build internal relationships, to understand how that stuff works, to understand the hiring manager’s preferences and whatnot, and poof it’s all gone.

You’re taking two steps back. It’s not more efficient. It’s painfully inefficient versus having a long term partner that can handle those spikes when you need them. Like we’ve done with literally hundreds of other organizations since I’ve been here. It just goes right out the window when you take this mindset of everything has to be full-time employees

and we’ll just cut them whenever we have the hiring tapers off. I’ve been in that seat. The conversation literally is if we don’t have recruiting going on, the recruiters can do other things. Mm-hmm. Like why not just hire a fucking project manager? Why are you hiring a recruiter? Yeah. Okay. So number three, right down to it,

the basic humanity of it all. Like this whole thing fucking sucks. Three F bombs. Tell me how you really feel. Yeah. If you hire people as an FTE knowing that you’re not going to need them long term, you are an asshole. Any position, but yes. Yeah. People’s lives like no one accepts a full-time role under the assumption that they’re going to be out looking for work again in a year. Like this is real. We all walk into stuff knowing that there’s not guarantees, but we enter into this stuff in good faith and that we don’t have to do this all over again. So what’s killing me is most of the places that are cutting in short order, especially recruiters, are the same high flying tech orgs that have been prancing around the last year, promising the world that like their culture and their progressiveness and their- spare me. It’s nauseating.

Like either you’re an asshole, which fine. Or worse, you’re delusional and have absolutely zero business running any of these organizations. Again, our counterparts are getting wise to it. I’ve got a whole team of OnDemand recruiters who do this exact type of work who are like, “Yeah. This stinks. I’m out.”

And now they’re working at Hirewell. Yeah. Some takeaways real quick. You got really worked up this week Jeff. This one really hit home for you. So takeaway, there’s really two takeaways. And my advice is real simple. We’re not saying not to hire internal recruiters. I’m saying build your core team. The team that’s going to do all the process work and the team that’s going to basically, whatever your known hiring needs for are going to be on a tapered, regular level.

Find effective partners for the spikes. You know the spikes are coming. Don’t hire full-time employees for the spikes. Find a good partner that knows what the hell they’re doing that can learn your culture and come in when you’re needed, work themselves out of a job and come back the next time they need to. It’s what smart companies do in literally every other area of professional services.

Right. Yep. The cross-functional aspect of things, I dumped on it but I also think like you can turn to other things, but don’t make it be an integration. Make it customer success oriented. Mm-hmm. Make it relationship based, like really veered towards those areas of strength that a recruiter

actually like performs it. You mean when your business gets crushed, if something like that happens, it’s really unexpected. Yeah. Hang on to your customers like grim death. Like use the relationship managers to your effect. And honestly the caveat here is you don’t want recruiters who don’t want to recruit.

Like nothing is less efficient that a bunch of recruiters running around trying to do non recruiter work. Yeah. We are a short on clock. That’s a wrap this week. Thanks for tuning into the Minute Talent Rant once again, part of the Talent Insights Series. Always available for replay on as well as YouTube, Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon’s podcast.

Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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