Why You Shouldn’t Go Internal

It really gets on my wick when people who’ve worked agency for six months want to make the leap and go Internal.

Often, they’ve not given recruitment a chance. They either think they’ve completed it, or for some reason Internal represents an easier challenge.

They want to get on the candidate side.

They think it’s a case of placing ads on a job board and having their pick of the candidates.

People who’ve had a bad experience with one business think recruitment’s exactly the same everywhere else. So they’re ready to try something new.

Here’s a newsflash for you… not every business is the same.

Every donkey has its stable, so they say.

There’s so much more out there.





And new breeds of onsite solution.

Different types of recruitment requiring very different types of skills and behaviours.

For some recruiters, I know it’s the way certain businesses do BD that they don’t like.

I know Recruiters who prefer the candidate side and ask themselves “What can I do that still involves speaking to candidates and making placements, but doesn’t involve power hours, cold calling, relying on a well known brand and asking for jobs to work?”

So… Internal Recruitment.

Zero BD.

Less KPI focused.

A steady stream of jobs,

The base salary’s higher.

And it’s easier too.

‘Fraid not.

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Stakeholder management

I worked in a talent acquisition team of two people.

Between us, we had to manage over twenty stakeholders, across seven different timezones, in nine countries around the world, all thinking their need’s the greatest in the business.

My job was to appease this expectation, without telling them it wasn’t

Managing stakeholders is tricky when they’re demanding. You’re dragged from pillar to post.

You have to be bold enough to show your workings. Even if the volume isn’t where they think it should be.

But being comfortable explaining why it is, where it is, having an understanding of each location, what the market’s like.

That’s the challenge. And it’s not an easy one.


Internal recruitment’s a lot like retained work. As a resource, you’re already paid for. So whilst the activity’s nice, it’s about ROI.

There’s a massive difference between investing in a function and paying for a service.

The latter’s how contingent recruitment works: you’re engaged as a recruiter, you make a placement, they pay you.


It might take two weeks, it might take two months, but once the hire’s made, you get paid.

With Internal, the cash is already fronted.

Think about your salary as advance payment to fill roles. That’s a different kind of pressure to looking at a zero next to your name on sales board.

There’s an expectation for immediate results.

And the biggest challenge becomes constantly justifying your reason for being there. Especially with ten times the amount of jobs on. And the inability to ghost a client whose work is trickier to solve.

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Making the switch from Agency to Internal comes with people thinking you’re a ‘failed recruiter’. You’ll hear this around the office when past employees are discussed. Their LinkedIn profile does the rounds.

Ooh look. Ben’s turned into another Failed Recruiter, could’ve seen that coming.

Anyone happy to take the leap has to be at peace with this, going in.

But if you think Internal Recruiters are Failed Recruiters, you don’t understand the job.

Internal Recruiters are glorified Resourcers.

Which sounds like an insult, but I mean it as a compliment.

Internal recruitment’s all about candidate generation and public relations.

You may be consulting on strategy. And you may find this contains a large portion of job satisfaction. Your voice is now heard. You’re managing the exterior opinion on your brand. It’s not third party. You can’t pull the wool over collective candidates’ eyes and present them with another option if your client drags their feet.

You are the client.

There are no other options.

Getting to this stage might be five years of agency experience away. It might be more.


A good 360 recruiter will out-earn a good Internal Recruiter. Fact.

Base salary’s usually higher Internal. Which helps if you’re looking to secure things like a mortgage. Or if money’s keeping you up at night, a higher base is a sensible choice for your mental health and general stress levels.

But with a bit of graft, you can make far fewer placements, and still be earning more in a 360 role.

Taking into consideration people who’ve done recruitment for ten minutes and people who’ve done it for ten years, average annual billings is about £100K in the UK.

Obviously there’s many an important factor in this. But in candidate short/client rich markets, like AI and Big Data, if you spend your time networking, win enough business, and do ten placements at £10-15K, you’re more than a solid biller by the year’s end.

Now think about billing 300K, 400K, 500K, and you’ll see how your earning potential’s infinitely higher on the agency side.

That said, this isn’t a universal truth.

You might look at Internal as a Retained Solution, where you’re a Contract Problem Solver, hopping from nightmare to hellfire.

You’ll be rewarded for this. Day rates are very much a thing in Internal Recruitment, and it’s not all Permanent lower paid jobs. If for example you’re earning £500 pd, you’re going to be taking home far and above what the average Agency Recruiter is.

To put this into perspective, those running agencies will set their watch on a mainstay of recruiters taking home less money, and will still be delighted to brand you a Failed Recruiter. Someone with more responsibility, earning more, with hugely inflated autonomy over their career.

Do you earn less Internal?

It depends.

On you. The company. The Agency. The role. The day rate, salary, bonus scheme. Commission scheme of the Agency. And 99 more factors.

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Zero BD’s a myth

If you think you’re giving up BD, you aren’t. You’re just swapping all your clients for one.

You’re developing a business in very real terms.

That means one business ethos. One culture to recruit for. By extension, one – or certainly a narrower – culture fit. And potentially a smaller talent pool.

You’re not technically doing BD, but you’ve still got to work with those key points of contact. And you can’t hide if you don’t like them.

When a new hiring manager comes on board, you’ve got to build a relationship and gain their trust. Otherwise there’s nothing stopping them putting your roles out to an external resource.

Because recruitment companies won’t stop pitching for your business. 

Your competitors are still going to be sending candidates. You’ve got to constantly show why you were worth hiring in the first place – and why you’re worth keeping now.

Whether you go internal or not, you’re always going to be competing against other recruiters. 

Making the switch

If you work at any recruitment business in the land, and you’re not pulling your weight, you’re in the firing line. Literally.

So that pressure never goes away, whether you work Internal or Agency.

If you’re going to do it, make sure you’ve got more than one frame of reference in terms of the type of business you’ve worked for.

We’ve covered the benefits of doing your training at a big firm before. But that environment’s not right for everyone. So how long should you be in agency recruitment before going Internal?

Good timing’s key.

Although there’s no set limit. You could walk straight in if you wanted. And people have and been a huge success.

But far higher results come if you play the long game.

You won’t get a contract paying £500pd straight off the bat. And rightfully so.

Your results are laid bare in both avenues.

Take your time working for a couple of agencies to experience diverse cultures, markets, and workloads.

Build out your recruitment experience so when you do make the leap, you’re the full package.

You’ll find yourself better equipped to deal with multiple, conflicting stakeholders. You’ll have a track record no one can argue with. And you’ll be able to shoot for a more buttery, biscuit base and far beefier bonuses.

More importantly, you’ll be in a role where you can actually see the people you’ve hired.

They’ll come and sit next to you.

They’ll impact the business in front of your very eyes.

If all of that sounds up your street, click here to read why it might be worth sacking your current Internal Recruiter.