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Recently I interviewed Harriet Tommany-Hall. Harriet has been as extremely successful Recruitment Consultant over a number of years. I recently noticed on her LinkedIn profile that she’d had a short stint in Internal Recruitment before returning to her current employer in Agency.

I often get experienced Agency Recruiters asking if I’ve got opportunities available in Internal. I thought it would be interesting to share Harriet’s experience and why she decided to return to Agency. These are the reasons why she hated Internal Recruitment.

1) No Subject Matter Expertise

Harriet found that she was working on multiple roles at any one time and she felt like she was constantly on the “hamster wheel”. This meant that she couldn’t give the time to the role that she thought it deserved and that the quality of the service she was offering her Candidates was compromised.

In Agency, Harriet thrived on finding the “needle in the haystack” for her clients. In Internal she was being pulled in all directions and it was difficult to stick to processes because it was so busy.

2) Not Close To Decision Makers

There were so many layers of hierarchy and chains of command in a large company that it was difficult to get close to the decision makers. Conversely in agency, Harriet felt that she could deal directly with decision makers and line managers because recruitment was a high priority.

3) Couldn’t Offer Impartial Advice

One of the biggest things Harriet missed was that she could not offer impartial and unbiased advice to her Candidates on what was best for their career. Being a true “Consultant” in every sense of the word was something that Harriet truly missed.

In Internal she became a “brand ambassador”. Whilst initially thinking this would be a good thing, Harriet quickly found that Candidates wouldn’t engage as readily if they felt that she was pushing her employer’s brand rather than considering their best option.

4) No Autonomy Or Flexibility

One of the things Harriet cherished about Agency was that she could pick and choose what she wanted to work on and with whom rather that what was dished out.

In Agency, Harriet could pick and choose which clients and roles she wanted to work on.

5) No Decent Commissions

Harriet made the interesting observation that “You might think that you are not money motivated, but as soon as the regular commissions stop, you’ll think differently”.

Harriet said that working for a base salary only was difficult after becoming used to commissions paying for holidays and other personal luxuries.


Harriet advised that anyone thinking of making the move to Internal should think long and hard about it and speak to people who have made the move about the pros and cons.

She said she was looking at Internal “through rose coloured glasses” and that it wasn’t until she’d made the change that she began to appreciate what she had left behind.

Sometimes we don’t realise how good we’ve got it in Agency Recruitment. I’d be interested in your thoughts and experiences.



  1. Elle on February 18, 2016 at 2:31 am

    I would have to suggest that a lot of the experiences this recruiter had was down to her personal experience and skill set. If you can’t access the right decision makers, that’s your responsibility to make those strong relationships. This is one of the most important skill sets to have in internal recruitment. If you feel you can’t give impartial advice, you’re not doing what is the core of internal which is to support and often to play devil advocate. If you are not a Subject Matter Expert, this will come over time and experience, it’s absolutely achievable. One of the most interesting points is around being a “Brand Ambassador” I find my company knowledge and very obvious passion to be one of the key parts to why candidates engage with me, especially while sourcing passive talent.

    Internal recruitment duties are very diverse, often involve HR, OD, projects and working as a credible COE. Like anything, you need to identify the right role, company, earn your stripes first and then the opportunities are endless.

  2. Paul Hamilton on February 18, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Hi Elle,
    Thanks for your thoughts and feedback. I think you are right in that Internal recruitment duties are very diverse and this won’t suit some Consultants making the switch. I also think a lot of agency recruiters also like the idea of running their own business under their employers brand. Thanks again for your comments

  3. Richard on February 18, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Great article Paul

    • Paul Hamilton on February 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks Richard, Glad you enjoyed it!!

  4. Dave on February 18, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Wow! I can’t relate to this experience in anyway. I’d love to see how different this would read working in another organisation.

    Moving from agency to and an internal HR function was the best career decision I’ve ever made. I would encourage any agency recruiter who enjoys what they do and is looking for a fulfilling career without month to month, quarter to quarter targets and transactions to learn some great skills in an agency environment for 2-3 years, then do what you can to move internal. It’s certainly not the easy route, if that’s the impression you’ve got the wrong idea. It’s more strategic and you’ve got a lot more to lose working on the inside but there’s a whole new article you could write on this.

    The work is significantly more meaningful, challenging and you are given the opportunity to genuinely partner with senior leaders in the delivery of their people strategy. You don’t specialise in recruiting one particular skillset… You specialist in recruitment and finding the people who contribute to the overall success/failure of the organisation.

    Yes, no commissions but bonuses are still paid and the earning potential is largely the same depending on the industry and the career opportunities and infinitely more within an internal HR function.

    Interesting read. I would agree this was clearly a poor experience for this individual…. Sounds very unusual. Hope she gives it another go.

    • Dmitri Goloub on February 18, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Dave –

      “The work is significantly more meaningful, challenging and you are given
      the opportunity to genuinely partner with senior leaders”

      I guess the above depends on what your personal ambitions are and what defines professional fulfillment for you. Good Agency Recruiters are complex social sales machines and thrive on building partnerships with a wide range of senior leaders from a variety of businesses. A good Agency Recruiter is able to offer their candidates great career advice because they know a range of organisations, cultures and management styles.

      I don’t know enough about Internal Recruitment recruitment, I admit, but it’s hard to imagine in comparison that it present enough of a sales challenge, apart from maintaining internal relationships, navigating internal politics and adhering to bureaucracy. In a way, it sounds like you have to play the cards you’ve been dealt. Boxed in. And that’s a bleak proposition.

  5. Paul Hamilton on February 18, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Dave, I think a lot of Senior Recruitment Consultants would take offence to you saying internal recruitment is “significantly more meaningful”. I believe a lot of companies turn to Agency Recruiters because their internal teams are not able to deliver quality talent.

    • Dave on February 19, 2016 at 5:53 am

      Hi Paul, Perhaps, however that wasn’t my intention. Having worked both sides of the fence the comment is however valid. I agree completely – Internal teams sometimes turn to agency recruiters for assistance. My self/team included. Often (not always) this is when the strategic (and in my experience, fulfilling/meaningful) elements of the role get in the way of the transactional and it makes commercial sense to do so. Not having a dig or trying to offend, just opening up the conversation. I value the assistance of the experienced agency recruiters I partner with regularly. The persistence of some agency recruiters in business development mode sadly gives the industry a rough run.

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