Avoiding the pitfalls of internal recruitment

In-house recruitment may save money in the short run, but should this trump all other considerations?

Avoiding the pitfalls of internal recruitment

Designing a recruitment approach that is ‘fit for purpose’ was the subject of external recruiter David Whitaker’s recent address at the Auckland District Law Society.

A key focus was the relative merits of in-house and external recruiters. Whitaker, a partner at Saturn Group, made the point that while large companies have the scale to successfully recruit internally, smaller companies may struggle to find the resources.

“I don’t want to be seen to be negative about internal recruiters, because I know a lot of good ones, and I like to think I was a good one … it does work, but only under the right circumstances,” Whitaker said.

Some of the pitfalls of internal recruitment include:


  • Recruitment is frequently delegated to a junior HR person. “The person, if they’re junior, doesn’t always have the influence to control the recruitment process in an organisation,” Whitaker said.
  • A company could also lose credibility if more junior people are interviewing senior candidates.
  • HR department employees may not enjoy recruitment.
  • HR practitioners may not have the necessary time to dedicate to recruitment, since they will have numerous other tasks at hand.
  • Internal recruiters tend to rely heavily on job ads, which restricts their pool of candidates to those actively job hunting.

David Whitaker’s point is not that in-house recruitment can’t work, but that people who like what they’re doing and have the time to do it will, most likely, accomplish a better job.

“In-house is good, and that’s the way things are going, but don’t just chuck people in and give your most junior person or most inexperienced person the job, because it will affect you in the long run,” Whitaker said. First of all, the quality of the candidates in the pool will be diminished and, ultimately, your employment brand and business performance may be detrimentally affected.

Whitaker’s advice for recruitment:


  • “Ensure your recruiters, or even line managers, are fully-trained to recruit.”
  • Use a trusted, external recruiter for those niche technical jobs that are not easy to get to grips with.
  • Don’t rely on a junior recruiter to recruit senior management roles. “Either you involve your senior management in the process, which you should do anyway, or involve a search company or a recruitment company to do that for you.”
  • Work with recruiters that you know and trust, and who know your business. “Knowing the business only comes about over a longer period of time…So my advice would always be to use one or two trusted partners or trusted partners in different sectors who really know your business well.”
  • And don’t get rid of them on the back of one mistake. “It’s like a working business relationship. I always believed in sticking with them for a longer duration.”
  • Harness technology – use a candidate management system. But only use social media if you plan on devoting time to it and using it well.



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