Crossing Over to Corporate Recruiting? Not for Me

Mar 28, 2006

In a recent discussion on ERE, one commentator felt that great third-party recruiters would become corporate recruiters if they could make the same level of money as a third-party recruiter. I suspect, however, that most corporate recruiters do their jobs well for reasons other than money, and it is the same for many third-party recruiters. I’ve been in sales since the early 1980s, and yes, the money attracted me to it.

During the early 1990s, however, I found my way into headhunting and surely what must be the most difficult sales job going. I no longer do it just for the money and I cannot imagine being in any other profession. The money for me has become a by-product of doing a good job. The quality of the job I do must come first. My golden rule is this: “You’re only ever as good as your last assignment.” If money is your main motivation, you will eventually fail, because this recruitment game takes a lot more than financial greed to drive you to be good at it. It needs passion, commitment, patience, tenacity, and above all professionalism.

Money cannot buy these things. It comes from within. This business, more than any other I have been involved in, has its good times and bad times, its up and downs. These ups and downs are more likely to put an independent recruiter out of business than any other reason. They not only test your own strength of character, but they also have a major effect on cash flow. With bills to pay, it’s not always easy. That uncertainty is a good reason perhaps to consider working as a corporate recruiter, along with job security, a package that includes benefits, and a chance to work for an established employer. So what is it about being a third-party recruiter that makes me get up early in the morning to talk to people in Europe and sit up late into the evening working and talking with colleagues from the United States? Here’s why I do it.


I’m passionate about doing a great job, and the biggest kick for me is when a new client gets a candidate who turns out to be a great success, and the client uses me again. It’s also just as satisfying to put the candidate in a position that takes their career forward by matching their expectations with the best company and opportunity for them. One word of warning: If you’re not passionate about this job, whether as a third-party or corporate recruiter, it’s not for you. Without passion you will not succeed; with it, you cannot fail.


I’m talking about working with different clients on different opportunities in different countries at different levels with different benefit schemes and so on. No two days are the same. Today, as I write this, I have visited one client in person and spoke to four others on the phone. I have pitched a number of candidates about four different companies in three different countries.

Flexibility and Knowledge

I work in the telecommunications industry, and represent several global companies in this field. Over the last 10 years, I have probably recruited for most of the leading players in this sector. As a third-party recruiter, I get access to the inner minds of many companies, meaning that when I talk to a candidate, I can talk knowledgeably about the whole industry in an unbiased and independent way. I can give the candidates different options in different companies. Only by being independent can I truly gain this inside information of all the companies, be in the position to offer the candidate the best option for them, and advise my clients of what else is going on in the industry. If I dislike working for any one client, I can easily find another. If I disagree with how any of my clients operate, I can find another the next day.


Finally, I return to my sales profession. Being a third-party recruiter is a 100% sales job. We carry sales targets and we produce revenue for our company, against which we are paid commission. We are sales professionals by way of the recruiting industry. Corporate recruiting is a recruiting profession that might use sales techniques, but I have met many corporate recruiters on ERE who do not have a sales background, don’t consider themselves to be in a sales profession, and have no wish to be in sales. They are professional recruiters. Our purpose might be the same, but the journey is very different. The two professions are different. Rather than compete, one should serve as a valuable tool to the other. To do that, we must first understand the differences rather than trying to find any similarities. With any sales profession, you expect a value-added service, and the good third-party recruiters can offer this. I know I do and that’s why I do it.

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