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Internal recruiters have been vital for organizations over the past few decades. The ongoing trend started when the internet came to the masses in the mid-1990s, and it has worsened as companies try to save money. However, a recent trend shows that they have gone from being the most in-demand employees to experiencing increasing layoffs as the economy continues its downturn.

This is yet another incidence that shows that no one is immune from hiring freezes, layoffs, and resignations and that the unsettling roller coaster ride continues for both organizations and talent.

In 2021, the pandemic sparked a boom in which startups got investment capital like crazy. With such investments comes the ability, responsibility, and necessity to hire more employees to keep the momentum going.

How Do Organizations Frequently Find Talent?

Hiring managers typically launch five strategies to find the best employees for a position:

  1. They network through various social platforms, including LinkedIn and Twitter.
  2. They engage the services of an external agency recruiter to support or take over the recruitment process.
  3. Internal recruiters are members of the organization, most often working in HR or the hiring department under the purview of HR, monitoring and taking action to ensure the staffing needs.
  4. Hiring recommendations rely on current employees referring candidates for a position, internally or externally, often offering a monetary bonus.
  5. Internal recruiters and some agency recruiters post on job boards to find potential candidates, although this method is clumsy and often ineffective.

A Deeper Look Into Internal Recruiter Layoffs

It’s strange to have watched what has happened to internal recruiters in the past few years, going from being some of the most sought-after professionals to finding themselves laid off. Simultaneously, the economy and investment in businesses are drying up rapidly.

As most savvy business leaders and anyone in the tech industry knows, what goes up, must come down. It was inevitable that the bubble would burst. The only surprise was how quickly it happened, especially for the internal recruiters who received their pink slips.

From what I can determine, the most unfortunate part is that corporate recruiters hired amid the chaotic 2021 boom didn’t understand what was happening well enough to realize what could happen. Startups had to focus on their bottom lines, letting go of the less experienced employees. In some cases, however, organizations might even make the mistake of getting rid of the experienced, high-quality recruiters and keeping the less experienced ones at lower salaries. The latter move indicates that the company isn’t remotely talent-centric.

Let’s look at some of the many reasons this is so unfortunate for internal recruiters.

1. They Lack Quality Agency Recruitment Experience

Chances are that internal recruiters hired into a startup or other organization might have limited options for finding another internal recruitment position in a business’s hiring department. That leaves them with the option of exploring potential positions with recruitment agencies. However, many internal recruiters have little or no quality agency experience and are, by and large, order takers who haven’t been properly trained.

2. They Lack Overall Recruitment Experience

The 2021 hiring boom may have resulted in startups hiring candidates fresh out of college or with little internal recruitment experience. In such cases, the now-searching professionals probably haven’t been in recruiting long enough to have experienced the tech bust, dot-com-style crash, or the last crash in 2008-2009, leaving them uninformed and more likely to feel a sense of panic and dismay.

If organizations hired these graduates to meet the demands of 2021, by now, the new hires have probably fallen victim to the standard operating procedure of “last in, first out,” which is an unfortunate but common practice.

3. They Don’t Comprehend the Pros and Cons of Each Type of Recruiting Experience

The best internal recruiters I know are those who decided to go in-house after several years of agency work, where they could really expand their work experience. However, they got tired of the slog of agency recruitment. They decided they were ready to commit to an internal opportunity for a steady paycheck and relatively higher-quality health insurance.

This is especially true if they signed on with a larger company with better healthcare buying power. Best of all, they earned an annual salary plus bonuses in the neighborhood of $200,000. This may be less than they were earning, but it’s a tradeoff.

One of the key advantages of agency work, especially for recruiters receiving quality training, is gaining a great deal of experience during their tenure. For instance, while I earned $100,000 in my third full year in 1995, I only felt like I knew a lot after my sixth year. And I still had a lot left to learn.

Since the primary focus of an agency is serving both employers and candidates, the daily focus is on improving the necessary skills to satisfy both parties. The salaries are comparable to those of in-house recruiting employment. Agency incomes sometimes exceed the $200,000 mark, and the best recruiters can earn well over $500,000 annually. Like any career, though, recruiters starting out in either environment aren’t likely to earn those numbers. However, with good training and diligence to improve and refine their craft, they can ultimately enjoy unlimited income potential.

Both settings have pros and cons, depending on a recruiter’s experience and years of service. However, with the recent layoffs, it might be worth seeking a position in either environment, especially while the job market is in ongoing disarray.

How Can Laid Off Internal Recruiters Recover and Find a New Job?

After the chaos of the past few years, a job search right now might work more realistically, meaning internal recruiters can take more time to assess a potential organization and its commitment to long-term plans for new hires.

I recommend that internal recruiters ensure that each prospective employer organization is talent-centric, which means it wants employees who feel like they are an important part of the aligned business strategy of the company. Finally, it’s also important to find out what, if any, recruiter training the prospective company or agency will provide.


Creator and Host,

Carol Schultz

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