The Decision: In-House v Agency Recruitment

By Elliott Vie | Talent Acquisition Executive, Morgan McKinley Japan

In recent years, the In-House vs Agency recruitment topic has raised more and more attention among recruiters. In Japan, we are seeing a tremendous number of agency recruiters not just open to opportunities in the market, but only open to consider an in-house (Talent Acquisition) role as a next career step.

So what pushes agency recruiters to go in-house? As an in-house recruiter and ex-agency recruiter, I believe one of the biggest reasons is to get away from the perceived pressure of having sales targets and a high KPI-focused workload.

It`s true that as an in-house recruiter you will not be directly involved in generating revenue, and therefore you will not have the same revenue target-related pressures.

It`s true that as an in-house recruiter you will not be directly involved in generating revenue, and therefore you won`t have the same revenue target-related pressures. On the other hand, when it comes to working in-house, pressure stems from other requirements.

On the other hand, when it comes to working in-house, pressure stems from other requirements, including things like:

  • extremely limited timeframes in which to fill roles,
  • handling critical roles outside of your recruiting experience but urgently required by key stakeholders and therefore not optional,
  • only permitted to direct-source talent without agency/vendor assistance, and
  • working with hiring managers who lack understanding of the market and thus require superior stakeholder management skills

At least working in an agency gives you more flexibility in the choice of roles you want to focus on.

In many cases, agency recruiters might want to explore recruitment from an in-house perspective thinking they will get a more stable income (yet with lower earning potential compared to working in an agency), and the potential to explore other career paths such as becoming an HR, L&D Specialist or HRBP in the future.

Typically, only big firms are able to offer internal mobility and an opportunity to switch to a non-TA HR function. And in most cases where an HR position opens, the company tend to look for external candidates that already have strong experience in the field.

Switching to an in-house role could definitely open new doors career options, but one thing to keep in mind is that these options tend to remain limited. Typically, only big firms are able to offer internal mobility and an opportunity to switch to a non-TA HR function. And in most cases where an HR position opens, the company tend to look for external candidates that already have strong experience in the field.

So before looking at in-house roles, ask yourself these questions; Is it a career step up for me? And does the company offer career development options or are they simply offering a sourcing role with no career track?

In my opinion, it is key to clarify with the company on the points below:

Try to avoid looking at in-house just because you feel like everyone else is moving in-house, or because you just want to escape the agency side. By choosing to go in-house as a way to move out of agency, you may end up making a decision you will regret. And because many hiring managers are aware that agency consultants often try their luck applying to in-house positions as a way to get out of agency, they might assume the same about you. Often they will reject applicants that don’t have a strong enough reason to make the change.

Now, if you feel you`ve carefully considered all angles and have decided to move in-house because your career goals align with what an in-house role offers, then it might be the best decision for your situation. On the other hand, there could be very clear reasons for you to continue your career as an agency consultant if the in-house role you are considering is going to potentially limit your career and personal development. Making sure you`ve fully investigated and considered all possible outcomes will certainly increase your chances of being happy with the decision you end up making.

Elliott Vie is a Tokyo-based Talent Acquisition Executive with Morgan McKinley Japan. He has been in the recruitment industry since 2015.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TADirect or any other agency, organization, employer or company.