Recently, a candidate asked me if I feared competition from in-house recruiters. Although it was tempting to make all the standard jibes about in-house recruiters being agents who didn't make it in a proper recruitment firm like mine, I decided it was better to demonstrate to the candidate precisely how their banks despise their in-house recruiters more than we do.
Exhibit one was the software the in-house recruiters are forced to use. "Watch me log in", I said, showing him the system used by several of the very largest banks. "Note the lack of password control." Yep, in 2011 there are bank systems handling personal data that connect to the Internet with no password. You might think that that makes it easy to steal data. No it doesn't, because 30 seconds later the system crashed. Indeed, I can't run it on my laptop because my JIT debugging tools keep popping up to ask me if I'd like to fix it (I'm a headhunter who codes C++, don't ask why).
The fact is, that in many banks there is a poor relationship between HR and the IT staff. This seems to have resulted in systems that are better characterised as acts of revenge in a blood feud than as business tools.
Exhibit two was the fact that some in-house recruiters don't even have business cards. No, I don't know why; it's always felt like kicking a kitten to ask.
Exhibit three is the fact that recruiters are rarely allowed out. My very first article for this website covered my exploits at a conference.
In-houses rarely go to conferences; they don't have budget for anything beyond coffee in the nearest Starbucks. One told me of getting grief over his phone bill because when he spoke to candidates it was often on their mobiles at 40p/minute. As a result, he'd spent "hundreds of pounds" one month and was therefore trying to get them to call him rather than vice versa. That's just sad.
Exhibit four is the sad reality that recruiters are often at the bottom of even the HR food chain. Can you imagine a recruiter ever running a general HR function? I can't and I am one. Recruitment is a basically different business and culture. Because of this, in-house recruiters' career prospects aren't great. Nor, I'm told, is their pay. Their relationship with line management is rarely warm because no rational person prefers to deal with a monopoly supplier.
Note that not once here have I said in-house recruiters are bad people. They're not. I treat them with more respect than they have come to expect from their own employers, since I am an external recruiter and us external recruiters know how important it is to be nice to people in the real world.
Dominic Connor is a director of P&D Quant Recruitment and will be glad to debug your recruitment system for a modest fee.