The rise of the in house headhunter

There is a real shortage of available talent in the PR sector. PR agencies struggle to recruit, this is partly because most agencies are broadly similar types of organisations and therefore, to persuade potential candidates to move from one to another can be difficult - especially because as a new employee you are pretty vulnerable, so it is often not worth the candidates' risk. In addition I think that for many PR agencies, the PR recruitment process is too centered on a process of risk management. They want candidates to have done 80% of the job spec before in a very similar market.  This means that PR agencies are fishing for talent in a very small pool of labour. As a result of this dearth of available talent PR agencies have been forced to use head hunters in recent years. This has pushed up recruitment costs significantly. As a response to this trend the larger agencies have en masse recruited talent managers. In essence these people are in house head-hunters. This is an interesting and understandable trend. But does it work?

From the conversations I've had with agency people the jury is out.

One agency head I spoke to reckoned that as the in house recruiter earns a scaled commission through the first year of the candidates placement,  they are motivated to find people who are better suited to the agency. In addition as they know the agency better, they can have a better record of successful placements.

On the other side of the coin, the successful recruitment consultant relies on being at the centre of the recruitment triangle.

In essence that means you'll have a portfolio of jobs and a portfolio of candidates. You are the connector. The candidate may not get the job that they thought they applied for but that doesn't really matter; the recruitment consultant finds them another suitable job. This process means that the recruiter becomes a hub, they end up knowing lots of candidates.

The issue is that if you're an in house recruiter you only recruit for one firm. This makes it very difficult to retain an up to date network of relevant candidates across the appropriate sectors because you are unlikely to have the range of jobs to enable you to attract those candidates.

The issue is exacerbated if you don't work for a destination employer, worse still if your an in house head hunter at a firm who don't have a great reputation, I imagine it can be a pretty tough gig.


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