Internal Recruitment is for failed Recruiters…. or so the saying goes within recruitment agencies. I used to buy into this notion as it helped me get through the challenging times. I used to take pride in surviving and billing X amount each quarter and watching my peers down tools one by one and take what I thought was the easy route into internal recruitment.

I was completely wrong; it’s not easier it’s just a very different skill set.

After working with my wife Charlotte Flatley now for a few years I can see clearly why she excelled in the internal arena and how I would be rubbish at it.

After a successful career as an EA in London’ finance hub, Charlotte emigrated to Australia and landed at the time what turned out to be her dream job as an Internal Recruiter for ANZ in Melbourne.

She was a natural. Her previous experience managing challenging executives and being highly organised made the transition seamless, however due to the working holiday visa restrictions she was forced to do her regional work to get her second year visa. I’ll not go into too much detail on that journey but let’s just say picking beans for 3 months isn’t something she would consider doing again.

In the height of the Australian summer we arrived in Perth via Bali successfully clutching our second year visas and Charlotte was primed to continue a career in Recruitment. I had been interested in a career in recruitment after University but was knocked back by a few agencies in Dublin (shame on you) in the early 2000’s and thought it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward 6 years and our primary goal was for me to use my degree and get sponsored so Charlotte could then jump on the back of my visa. Luckily Perth was still booming and I managed to get a start in Robert Walters in the same week Charlotte got into Hays. Within a few months Charlotte felt agency recruitment wasn’t doing for her what internal recruitment did and tripled her base salary to join BHP Billiton.

The Canadians have the right approach to it by blending internal recruitment with HR and asking for qualifications in both. In Australia/UK/ Ireland (and I’m sure in many other markets) HR graduates get persuaded into agency recruitment as a gateway to internal recruitment and HR which is a bit of a disaster for everyone involved especially the grad. It’s like asking a herd of cattle to carefully navigate a minefield; they didn’t study an administrative function to become a sales person. Granted there is always an exception to this but in most cases it’s not beneficial for either party.

I cringe when Recruitment Consultants say to me I would look at internal or agency roles as what they actually mean is “I want internal and I’ll take an agency job until one comes up” or “I’m tired of agency recruitment and can’t think of what else to do.” The truth is internal and agency recruitment requires different skill sets and should in most cases be treated as different career choices (obviously there is some transferable/similar skills involved).

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Originally published at on August 22, 2016.