GUEST COMMENT: Officious in-house recruiters are making this market a nightmare

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There comes a time in the recruitment cycle, when your average in-house recruiter working in an investment bank, starts to swell with self-importance.

This man, or woman – for many are female – is often an individual who has previously tried swimming in the deeper and wilder waters of the external recruitment market and decided it’s not for them. The depth was too much, the waves were too big or too difficult to control. They swallowed a bit of water and they didn’t like it. And so they went in-house, often with an RPO and have enjoyed splashing about in the shallow-end of the financial services recruitment world in a nice corporate bikini ever since.

Recently, however, times have changed. The recruitment waters have darkened. Nowadays, the deep end is deeper than ever, the water is full of bodily fluids and those people in the corporate bikinis are the most niftily dressed. This is their chance to start strutting their stuff and lauding it over all the bigger, bolder recruiters who are coughing up chlorine.

Ok, so maybe the pool metaphor is a little overdone, but it would not be an understatement to say that in-house ‘recruiters’ have become the bane of my life and I suspect many of my colleagues in recruitment firms would agree.

The problem is twofold. In the first place, many of these people are inept. They themselves couldn’t make it as recruiters and they therefore carry chips on their shoulders for all those who could. In the second place, they are working within a system which encourages them to compete against their suppliers in a manner that’s detrimental for the business they’re supposed to be working for.

How? Well, if you’re an in-house recruiter working for an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing firm), your raison d’etre is reducing the cost of recruitment for the company employing your services. And how can you do this? By conducting more of its recruitment yourself.

Therefore, when a company such as mine produces an exemplary candidate, who is desired by the business and will almost certainly be hired, the RPO recruiter will sense a threat: they may need to pay a fee and that fee will damage them in their quest to cut costs.

They respond to this in the only way they know: bureaucracy. RPO recruiters like rules. They like to insist external recruiters play by their rules and if any are broken, however insignificantly, they will stand in your way like a hippopotamus in body armour.

Their most common complaint is a problem in the ‘process.’  Maybe we didn’t speak to HR before we spoke to the business (maybe the business specifically requested that this was the case). Maybe we didn’t loop HR into each and every email we sent. Maybe we didn’t ask HR before we got out of bed.

Either way, any infraction is an excuse for obstructionism. They won’t pay our fee. They won’t put our candidate forward to the business. They’ll just sit on our candidate for a while whilst they try desperately to find a candidate of their own, so that they can cut us out of the loop.

For the most part, internal recruiters are a huge and bureaucratic waste of space. They may be ok when it comes to filling commoditised positions. But even in a buyer’s market they’re not much help at hiring senior individuals who want to remain anonymous for a long as possible. These resentful bureaucrats are losing banks business. And the whole banking recruitment system is set up so that it involves a massive conflict of interest.   It’s time someone was told.

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