An Interview with an Ex-Agency In-House Recruiter

Anna Roe is an Internal Recruiter with TransferWise, the much celebrated money transfer platform. Anna worked for three and half years agency-side where she was a very successful tech recruiter.

Q. First things first, what is life in-house actually like?

A. It varies massively. Recruitment is still a really big part of my job but the major change is this whole other half of the job that just didn’t exist before. I found agency recruitment to be quite reactive but in-house has been much more proactive.

We just do our planning months in advance. I spend a lot of time working really closely with hiring managers in different teams to work out who they’re going to need in six months time, reviewing and streamlining their hiring process, working out the best interview methods and so on.

“Working in-house is more like being a business partner” 

Q. How’s the work/life balance?

A – I’ve found it similar to agency hours, but more flexible. I work 9 until 6, which is the same as I was working before, but if I need to leave early to catch the train home that’s never a problem and I can work from home if I need to.

I work globally so sometimes the hours are long, but if I work until late one night, I’ll come in late the next day. I definitely don’t feel chained to my desk, but I’m busier because I’m basically doing twice the amount of work – recruitment, and everything else on top.

Work bed

Q. What sort of targets are you set?

A – Targets are linked to what the business needs at that time. TransferWise’s biggest challenge is growth – so I’m targeted on getting the hires we need into the business. How we do that is really up to us, whether we source directly or go to agencies. Getting the talent in is the main thing.

Q. And what about the money?

A – I haven’t taken as much of a paycut as people think – you can still do really well in in-house recruitment. If you’re only motivated by the money however you’re probably not suited to in-house. It’s much more about how rewarding the job is.

Q. What are the main differences from agency recruitment?

A – The biggest difference is probably the autonomy – I don’t have daily KPIs, there aren’t financial targets hanging over my head. You have to manage everything yourself, there’s no-one looking over your shoulder. It’s been really fun, and it’s really different.

There’s also a big difference with how you relate to managers – it’s much more consultative than agency recruitment. Managers really do want help in sorting their process and their team out, and they really value your input. I think there’s more of a mutual respect because you’re both on the same team.

I’ve also found it much easier to source candidates directly. You get a much better response from InMails and loads of direct applications – I guess there’s less of a stigma to approaching a candidate when you’re in-house; people want to get back to you.

“There’s no one looking over your shoulder”

Nasa Work station

Q. What’s the best thing about working in-house?

A – It’s hard to choose but if I had to pick a best thing it would probably be that you can make such a big difference. You can push things forwards and shape things so processes are better. You have a much better understanding of how the whole business works and you’re involved at a deeper level.

Also, although this is probably a TransferWise thing not a general in-house thing, we’re really start-uppy, which is awesome. I’m really involved with loads of different things and we’re growing really quickly. It’s an exciting place to be.

“You can make such a big difference in-house”

Q. Why did you leave agency recruitment?

A – I always knew I wasn’t going to stay in the agency world forever. I wanted to do three or four years, learn everything I needed to and then move in-house. I miss some of the people but otherwise, I genuinely don’t miss it.

Q. What are the most important things that agency recruitment taught you?

A – Ex-agency recruiters definitely have an empathy that some people without agency experience don’t have –  I understand where agency recruiters are coming from when we’re working together.

The main benefit of coming from an agency was that I started with a holistic overview of what other people and companies are doing. I know the market really widely, from benefits companies offer to interview process. It’s given me a wider perspective that’s really helpful.

Q. What do you wish agency recruiters knew about working with in-house recruiters?

A – I wish they knew that when we don’t give feedback, it’s because we don’t have it!

Anything you can do to cut down admin time, things like sending one email with all the different attachments and candidates notes, really helps. 

Q. What would you tell other agency recruiters thinking of moving?

A – Go for it, but it’s not easy! There’s a hell of a lot you have to do which makes it no walk in the park but it’s extremely rewarding! It’s much more strategic, and you’re still fighting to get the best talent. If you’re up to the challenge it’s a great move to make.

Special thanks to Anna Roe from TransferWise.