Agency Recruiters: How to Sell to In-House Recruiters

Agency Recruiters: How to Sell to  In-House Recruiters
Agency Recruiters: How to Sell to InHouse Recruiters

If we’re connected on LinkedIn you’ll have probably seen some of my posts/rants about some the calls I get from agency recruiters. On average I’d say I probably get around ten calls per day, so let’s say fifty per week.

Of those fifty cold calls, I’d say maybe two of them last longer than a couple of minutes and that’s because they’re good calls from recruiters who don’t have the same pitch as the other 96% that have called that week. Recruiters who I will stay in touch with.

So for that 96%, from an in-house recruiter here are some tips if you want more success in engaging with in-house recruiters.

Realise Why We Exist

Think about it, why do companies invest building internal recruitment teams? Why do we drag ourselves out of bed each morning and come to work? To recruit for our employers. Yes we work on a lot of internal projects but in large we’re here to recruit.

Really think about this before you pick up the phone to call an internal recruiter, you’re not calling HR or a hiring manager where recruitment isn’t their core job so you have to approach it differently, you’re calling somebody who does the same job you do and largely uses all the same methods as you. This leads me nicely into the rest of these tips…

Approaching Hiring Managers

This is a big no-no and will seriously p*$$ off internal recruiters. Go back and read the first tip again. If a company has an inhouse team you should stay well away from hiring managers unless you already have a working relationship with them.

We want to work with suppliers that we can trust, blatant attempts to circumvent us and go straight to hiring managers might get you a quick fee sometimes from that spec CV you sent but you certainly won’t get any more work from us, we can’t trust you to work with us when you’re already working against us.

We’re former Agency Recruiters

Well most of us are, so whilst we understand the pain that ‘Power Hour’ brings we also understand the tricks of the trade. That candidate who asked you to approach us on his behalf or that spec profile you sent over? Stop it, we did that 10 years ago, we can smell bulls**t a mile off. We want to work with people who we can trust.

You’re not a Specialist .NET/JAVA/Digital/UX/BI/BigData/Architect/Security Recruiter

Within 10 seconds of you calling, we’ve found you on LinkedIn and seen you’ve only been recruiting in that space for a few months, you are not a specialist. Your manager decided on the vertical you’ll recruit in so that you don’t tread on the toes of your colleagues and maybe one day become a specialist. That does not make you specialist right now. Even if you know your vertical inside out and are a specialist, don’t say you’re a specialist because you sound like the other 96% who aren’t.

Don’t sell your Company, Sell You

Three thousand employees, in twenty offices, in twelve different countries isn’t impressing anyone. If I’m going to potentially be working with you then I want to know about your track record in my space, I don’t care if you work for a large international agency or out of your spare bedroom.

Stop selling solutions when you don’t know the problem

You may be the best Java recruiter in the world, but if I don’t have a problem recruiting Java developers so why would I use you or anybody else to find Java developers? I wouldn’t, but you don’t know that because before you even called you’ve already decided on the solution you’re going to sell.

Stop selling solutions, be inquisitive, have a conversation, understand the pain so that you are in a position to know whether you can help or not.

Always Be Closing

You’ve probably seen Wolf of Wall Street too many times or been trained by some Jordan Belfort fanboy.

What are you closing for? A job spec, a meeting, signed T&Cs, to sit on a shiny PSL? Stop selling, stop closing and start building relationships and adding value. Have you just read an article that may be of interest to somebody you spoke to a few months ago? Send it to them. Have you heard that one of our competitors is doing a big recruitment drive? Let us know.

When we do need help on a role, who are we going to turn to? The guy who keeps spec sending CVs to hiring managers along with their T&Cs or the recruiter who’s working on building a relationship with us, demonstrating they know their vertical and adding value?

It’s fine to stay in touch

Don’t call to “touch base”, for a “catch up” or to “see how we’re getting on”. Do give us a call to discuss something you’ve read or heard that may be of interest, believe it or not we’re generally really busy so only call if you have a good reason.


Put away your script and list of pre-defined questions. Listen to what we have to say and let’s have a conversation. Don’t keep talking at us, talk to us.

Be Yourself

Remember when you were a kid, the landline would ring and your mum would answer the phone and put on her posh ‘phone voice’ and you’d sit and laugh at her? Most of you do this when you’re cold calling. Stop it, it’s fake and it’s not you. Be yourself, talk to us the same way you’d talk to your mates down the pub. Remember my earlier point, we’re buying into you so be the real you.

Remember it’s probably not your fault  

Chances are that if you’re in the 96% I’m talking about, you’ve not been in the game too long and you’ve been trained by somebody who has been in recruitment for quite some time. They’re training you the same way they were trained….fifteen or twenty years ago when internal recruitment teams didn’t really exist and they sold their wares to HR or line managers.

They’re teaching you what worked twenty years ago, that won’t wash with internal recruiters today.

If you want to stand out and join that 4%, focus on building relationships, become an expert in your market and add value where you can. If your employer won’t let you work this way because you have call targets to hit then you have two choices, stay in that 96% or find an employer that will allow you to work this way…there are plenty of them out there. 

Internal recruiters do need to work with agency recruiters from time to time, there are some great ones out there and they're the ones that we work with. They work with us, not against us and they deliver...they are in that 4%.


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