You need to ramp up staff quickly. Or you’re looking for a top-level executive or a new hire with a specialized skillset that’s hard to find. Should an in-house recruiter or team that’s part of human resources handle it, or is it time to bring in an outside partner?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both internal and external recruiters can bring value to the table. Here’s how to decide which might be the better option for you.

Who Knows What?

One set of significant differences between internal and external recruiters can be summed up in two words: culture and resources.

An internal recruiter will have a better feel for, and understanding of, the organization’s culture, what the people are like, what it’s like to work for the company, the vibe in the office, what the top executive is like, etc. An external recruiter will have some of that information and can relay it, but it won’t be the same as working for that company.

Internal recruiters may have a better understanding of benefits and perks, unwritten “rules” that aren’t in the employee manual, how internal processes work (such as annual performance and compensation reviews), training programs, and other insider information. They also may have insights into any differences between the organization itself and how it’s perceived externally, as well as why those differences exist. (There are certainly many organizations that have a reputation in their industries that doesn’t match what employees would say.)

Since internal recruiters will have a better sense of the culture, they may be better positioned to ensure the candidate is the “right fit.”

On the flip side, the external recruiter most likely has more recruitment sources, such as company websites, networking, social media, or staffing firms. They may also have access to software automation tools to help them discover candidates’ alignment with specific skill sets. For executives or candidates with hard-to-find skillsets, an external recruiter may be much better positioned to assess whether a candidate should be seriously considered.

An external recruiter can also bring an outsider’s perspective, both in terms of diversity and best practices. They likely will be able to cast a wider net and even improve the entire recruiting process.

An outsider also may have the perspective to judge whether an organization can find the right candidate in the salary range and whether expectations are realistic. Because they’re external, they may also be more able to offer critical guidance that an internal recruiter can’t.

What to Expect with an External Recruiter

Working with an external recruiter can extend the amount of time it takes to fill a position and will carry some costs. The organization will have to invest some time in educating the recruiter about the needs for the position, the must-haves and the nice-to-haves for the role, and the details of the compensation range, benefits, relocation package, and other perks.

The organization will also need to understand the recruiter’s fee structure and what happens if the new hire doesn’t work out. The organization should also have a strong understanding of the recruiter’s screening and assessment process.

On the flip side, in some cases, an external recruiter may already have a list of—or even relationships with—potential hires with the necessary skills, which may shorten the process. This may be particularly helpful when looking for executive or specialized talent.

Best Practices in Working with an External Recruiter

As is so often the case in business, receiving the most value from an external recruiter comes down to building a trusted relationship and educating that recruiter as much as possible about the organization. Even though they’re not an employee, getting a close look at the company and its operations can be invaluable.

The key is to partner with a recruiting firm that doesn’t focus on filling a position, but on getting the right candidate, the right fit.

One good starting point is to ask: “How does your firm partner and build relationships with the firm that’s hiring them to fill a position?” The answer says a lot about what it will probably be like to work with that recruiter.

The Lindenberger Group can help organizations identify, recruit, and maximize the value of new hires, assist with staffing up during a time of rapid growth, and find specialized or executive talent. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.