The Internal Recruitment Circle of Life: Hiring During COVID-19

Internal recruitment teams: The last 10 years have seen a steady move towards candidate sourcing – i.e. actively seeking out quality candidates rather than advertising and responding to those that apply to the job ad. As a result, internal recruitment teams have had to become much more sophisticated. Because the skills required to “seduce” a candidate…

The Internal Recruitment Circle of Life: Hiring During COVID-19

Internal recruitment teams: The last 10 years have seen a steady move towards candidate sourcing – i.e. actively seeking out quality candidates rather than advertising and responding to those that apply to the job ad. As a result, internal recruitment teams have had to become much more sophisticated. Because the skills required to “seduce” a candidate are very different from those needed to process large numbers of responses, it will be necessary to adjust your approach to respond to higher volumes of applications.

When I think of Internal recruitment teams, I am reminded of the song “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. This could be an indication that COVID-19 has gotten to me and I am going crackers, but to me, internal recruitment teams are amongst the most volatile roles in the professional landscape and are truly are circular in their existence. 

Let me explain. Companies are always grappling with the balance between having their line managers recruit, outsourcing recruitment to an agency or bringing the function in house and having their own internal recruitment teams. This constant adjustment is both necessary and understandable but it means the role of the internal recruiter is constantly under review, and now as a result of COVID-19, the role itself will change.

The Evolution of the Internal Recruiter

The internal recruitment teams are often unfairly characterised as the “natural enemy” of line managers and agencies. The accusation made against internal recruiters is that they realise the tenuous nature of the role and are constantly trying to “take control” of the recruitment function, but generally they do not have the bandwidth or expertise to cover all the recruitment needs of a company. 

Let’s face it – if an experienced line manager knows someone and wants to recruit them, then the last thing they want to do is be tied up in a recruitment process driven by the internal team, they just want to get on with things. For roles that are senior or confidential, farming the work to an internal recruitment team is often not the right thing to do; it usually is more appropriate to handle that with a specialist agency.

On the other hand, internal teams work very well when there are high volumes of recruitment required, generally at mid-level and lower. Under these circumstances, it is often more cost-effective to bring the work in house. 

Over the last ten years, internal recruiters have needed to become more and more sophisticated. Sourcing candidates has required them to have networks and the skills to approach and entice people from those networks. This has led to individuals in the internal teams who are well connected and can use their professional contacts to source and attract talent. The best internal recruitment managers and teams have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and how to leverage them, so they work hand-in-hand with line managers and agencies rather than trying to impose a recruitment “command and control” structure. 

Interestingly, over my 25 years in recruitment I have seen many agency recruiters go to internal teams, and while there are always exceptions, my observations are that the majority who go from agency to internal do so because they don’t want to work under the pressure of agency and see internal recruitment as an “easier gig.” I don’t necessarily agree with that – I believe the challenges are just different, and the requirements have become more sophisticated. Nevertheless, it is rare for an agency to lose its “best” people to internal recruitment. 

Internal Recruitment in the Post-COVID-19 World

Due to COVID-19, the issue is that few companies are planning on high volume recruitment, and are therefore questioning the need for internal recruiters. And with more candidates in the market, there is less requirement to source or “find” candidates. This means that the key functions of internal recruiters have either ceased to exist or changed and despite wages subsidies, we have seen many internal recruiters either stood down or made redundant.

There will, however, be a place for internal recruiters in the post-COVID-19 world. Unemployment will be much higher and there will be many more candidates (we are already multiple examples of this). Internal recruiters will not need to approach and entice – they will need to be able to process large volumes quickly. 

The internal recruiter who was a great networker and relationship builder will now only exist in a fraction of the roles of they did pre-COVID-19, and they will be replaced by the more transactional, processing recruiter who works quickly in a high volume environment. This is exactly like what we saw in the ’90s, only this time, with technology facilitating huge increases in applications, the volumes are going to be much higher. The good news for companies is that the “processing recruiter” is generally more junior than the well-networked “sourcing recruiter,” therefore reducing the cost of internal recruiting (again, exactly what we saw in the ’90s).

So yes, there is a bit of The Lion King happening here. For now, internal recruitment is at a standstill in many organisations, but when it returns, we will see the internal recruiter of the 90’s return with it, completing that great “circle of internal recruitment life.”  

For more advice and support with recruiting high-quality talent in this challenging market, get in touch with us today.

 

Pete Davis is Managing Director of Frontline Recruitment Group (FRG). FRG is a specialist recruitment company with offices across Australia and New Zealand – they have been operating since the early 1990s and have worked in high unemployment environments with job hunters in many different industries. This blog series is about sharing some of the lessons from the past and integrating them with the technology and business practices of today. We hope you enjoy these articles and welcome your opinions.