I’m lucky to have functioned as an internal recruiter, external recruiter, and recruiting consultant for a variety of organizations. These experiences are incredibly valuable; I use them every day to help my clients answer:

“When would you use in-house recruiters?”

“When should you leverage agency recruiters?”


There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every company. In fact, if you receive a clear-cut answer, you might not be asking the right question.

Personally and professionally, I hope that you’ll choose to hire an in-house recruiter or build an entire recruiting team.

Wait… why?

Taking an expenditure viewpoint, it makes sense to have a stout internal recruiting engine. Based on a candidate experience perspective, an internal team develops a dependable candidate experience and contributes to growing a positive employer brand. Employee retention would benefit from an internal recruiting team because it presents the capacity to drive the conversation with junior and senior talent.

Alternatively, there are 3 reasons when leveraging the services of a recruiting agency makes sense, too.

When it Makes Sense

Speed To Win

How often do you find yourself behind on hiring?

Did you need to hire someone, like, yesterday? (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.)

If you need to get someone on board quickly, agencies are a great resource, as they often have persistent and curated channels of qualified candidates. In-house recruiters, on the other hand, can take a fair amount of time to build pipelines of qualified candidates.


In order to do so, they first need to ascertain the qualities and prerequisites of different roles, build solid relationships with internal stakeholders, and develop a deep understanding of the overall business.

These things come with time, and sometimes time is in short supply. You don’t have it. Not having the employee that you needed yesterday can produce discernable bottlenecks in your organization, with all fingers pointing back at the recruiting team.

In short, avoid this fate by enlisting the immediate help of an agency to get the relief you need.

Tactical Expertise

Are you looking to hire your company’s first lawyer, accountant, engineer, or IT guru? Often, agencies specialize in certain types of roles or possess knowledge of verticals that you may be lacking. Take Relus for example; our core competencies include cloud strategy, architecture & design, cloud migrations, DevOps, cloud managed services, and big data solutions. It’d be silly for us to help you find an IP attorney, right?

If you haven’t had prior experience hiring for a certain role or vertical, you may not know where to begin. Agencies, on the other hand, have “been there, done that.” They don’t need to spend valuable time researching new areas before they start the recruiting process because they live in it every day!

The Elusive Executive Searches

If you’re looking for C-suite or executive employees, leveraging an agency provides the utmost sagacity. If the agency has the right experience, it can help you fill your first CTO role or backfill another executive position that just opened up. These searches often require tremendous confidentiality. Having an off-site agency work on it can help keep things discrete.

Agencies also have the time to focus on these in-depth, extensive searches.

This is typically time that an in-house recruiter doesn’t have because they are focused on building pipelines for evergreen roles. Unless you’re a large organization with the capacity to employ an executive recruiter specialist, this not usually the case.

Instead, executive searches are more time-consuming because recruiters are sourcing from a smaller band of eligible candidates. Finding the right fit is also more fundamental than less senior roles since executives control the bearing of the company. The pressure’s on to weed out the average and isolate the outstanding.

The analysis and interval of the interview process for executive searches take longer, too, and often follows an up-and-down pattern. Recruiters may go weeks, or even months, before finding the next qualified candidate to interview.

All these reasons support why executive searches are challenging, and thus, why it makes the most sense to seek the aid of an agency.

Don’t Let Strategy Trump Success

Leverage what you have learned here to be strategic about when you choose to leverage an agency’s services. If you do have an in-house recruiting team, the goal should be to reduce dependency on agencies over a period of time for two main reasons: lowering your cost-per-hire and ensuring a consistent candidate experience.

However, you should not let these two goals mire the hiring process with subpar or inadequate candidates. When you linger to hire and refuse to use external services, you can routinely incur greater production and innovation costs.

About Brian Fink

As a member of Relus' recruiting team, Brian Fink focuses on driving talent towards opportunity. Eager to help stretch the professional capabilities of everyone he works with, he's helping startups grow and successfully scale their IT, Recruiting, Big Data, Product, and Executive Leadership teams. An active keynote speaker and commentator, Fink thrives on discovery and building a better-recruiting mousetrap.