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Corporate Recruiters vs. Agency Recruiters

Understanding Key Differences to Drive Greater Synergy

Written by HRCap, Inc.

July 20, 2023

Corporate Recruiters vs. Agency Recruiters

As job seekers consider new jobs or different career paths, they may have worked with several recruiters. Even professionals not actively looking may have been approached by a dozen or more.

There are as many as 12,554 Employment and Recruiting Agencies businesses in the United States in 2023, which shows that recruitment is a growing industry. Especially in the global executive search market, the market will see abundant growth at a CAGR of 6.4 percent. Recruitment is a critical function in any organization. It involves attracting, screening, and selecting qualified candidates for job vacancies. It also serves as the first critical touch-point on the employee experience, offering the candidate a view into the corporate culture.

CAGR of Global Executive Search Market

One critical decision that companies face when regarding recruitment is whether to handle it in-house or outsource it to an agency. Understanding the difference and knowing the benefits of each is essential in making an informed decision that aligns with the organization's goals and needs.

Corporate recruiters, also known as internal or in-house recruiters, are responsible for managing the recruitment activities within an organization. They work directly for the company and work to fill a multitude of positions across several departments. On the other hand, agency recruiters operate externally and partner with client companies to assist with recruitment needs for specific roles. Agency recruiters work with many clients simultaneously and may also have specialization in sourcing for a specific function or industry.

Similarities Between Corporate and Agency Recruiters

Both types of recruiters have similar responsibilities of finding and hiring qualified candidates for a company’s open roles. This may include writing job descriptions, providing updates about the hiring process, conducting initial screening calls for applicants, managing candidate expectations throughout interviews, and supporting offer processes.

All recruiters also must source candidates using various recruitment technology, such as social media, online job boards, and applicant tracking systems. For some corporate recruiters, the most effective process or backup for a hard-to-fill role would be leveraging their agency partners.

Differences Between Corporate and Agency Recruiters

There are several differences that distinguish corporate recruiters from agency recruiters.

Differences between corporate and agency recruiters

1. Degree of Responsibilities

Though both corporate and agency recruiters share the responsibility of sourcing and recruiting for vacant positions, corporate recruiters cover the internal hiring needs of a single company. Corporate recruiters may also be responsible for other tasks like employer branding, onboarding and training new hires, corporate management projects, and managing employee benefits.

In contrast, agency recruiters represent and support recruiting for multiple client groups.

2. Qualities and Skills

Since in-house recruiters participate in the entire recruitment process and take on other tasks, they must know how to follow and improve procedures, have administrative skills, and have a degree in business, business administration, human resources management, or a related field.

Agency recruiters, on the other hand, do not always need to have a human resources bachelor’s degree and may come from diverse professional backgrounds. However, they must know how to multitask with initiative, utilize account management skills, and have client-facing skills. They must also have a strong customer service-oriented mindset, as recruiters often have to problem-solve and carefully mediate between clients and candidates to help reach a win-win for all.

3. Knowledge of the Company

As an employee of the company, corporate recruiters have the advantage of understanding the company culture, infrastructure, and operations. Therefore, corporate recruiters can better explain the company culture to a prospective employee and identify a better cultural fit for the company than an agency recruiter receiving second-hand knowledge and insight into the client company. As such, agency recruiters must proactively follow up and connect with the HR and hiring teams to understand the nature of the position and the team culture, beyond the simple job description.

4. Extent of Professional Network

Since agency recruiters work to hire for many different roles at different companies, they have a diverse stream of candidates they network with. Recruitment agencies often specialize in a specific industry or function and have an established network of candidates already vetted for their skillset. Corporate recruiters, however, do not usually have the same quantity and variety of candidates in their network, so they would benefit from partnering with agency recruiters to reach a niche candidate market or a limited pool of specialized skills.

5. Differing Approach

Though both types of recruiters use similar recruitment technology, corporate recruiters mainly engage with active candidates applying for a job posting. Depending on the maturity of the organization, corporate recruiters may also reach out to passive best-fit candidates or poach strong talent at competing organizations, depending on the level and confidentiality of the role.

In contrast, agency recruiters are experts at engaging passive candidates who are currently employed but may be open to new opportunities or those who were initially not open to a career change. This is why agency recruiters need sales and persuasion skills because they often pitch and “sell” the company and position. Agency recruiters are often strategically engaged to support client groups on executive-level or confidential positions not shared publicly, since a company's hiring strategy may indicate their business direction or market investment.

6. Time to Hire

Corporate recruiters may have a wide pool of interested applicants that may have submitted their CVs directly, so they would leverage their recruiting tools to select strong resumes and then take time to carefully vet for relevant experience and cultural fit.

On the other hand, since agency recruiters are strategically focused on just recruiting and have an already vetted pool of candidates, they can quickly source and recommend more interested and relevant candidates in a given time.

7. Salary and Compensation

Corporate recruiters receive an annual base salary with a discretionary bonus and/or equity, depending on the company structure.

Agency recruiters usually receive an annual salary with discretionary bonus and/or equity, but may also receive commission potential based on the number of positions they fill individually or collectively as a team.

8. Career Growth

In-house recruiters can shift from administrative tasks to more complex recruiting or HR duties.

Agency recruiters can also grow in their careers by strengthening their recruiting expertise, working on higher-level executive positions, and learning to desk -- manage a client account. They can also specialize their recruiting expertise in a specific function or specialty, or drive business development by bringing new client accounts.


Understanding the similarities and differences between corporate and agency recruitment is critical to driving synergy between the two. Companies that utilize both corporate and agency recruitment are able to maximize their recruiting efforts to hire and retain talent effectively.

Professionals who are proactive, sales-oriented, thrive in a fast-paced environment, and are looking for high-earning potential should consider becoming an agency recruiter at HRCap where budding professionals can start their recruiting career. We also invite corporate recruiters who are interested in transferring their skills to the agency setting.

We realize that the secret sauce for collective success at HRCap is one's accountability and communication skills, coupled with the genuine desire to work in a team-oriented setting to serve others in their career growth.

Our employees have written feedback on their thoughts on working at HRCap and how it has helped them to grow in their careers:

There are endless opportunities to explore and learn about different industries.
The company's been a really good stepping stone for my career.
Good blend of independent and collaborative work.
This role has opened my eyes to new industries, business acumen, and successful individuals. It is a great company and career to get your foot through the door within the business field.
HRCap fosters learning and development for people brand new to corporate/recruiting field and supports upward mobility and professional growth.
There is great career growth as well as being able to learn about various industries and meet top talent across the nation/world.

At HRCap, we pride ourselves in the diverse community of HR professionals that grow together, build organic relationships with our candidates, and continue to deliver highest service excellence to our clients. If you are considering a new career in recruiting, apply today at HRCap Careers.

Source: HRCap, 4 Corner Resources, Aldebaran Recruiting, ITS, Indeed,, Workable Technology


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