Internal vs external recruiting jobs: which is right for you?

When choosing a career in recruiting, you have a choice of whether you want to work in an internal or external recruiting job.

What’s the difference and which one is right for you? There are pros and cons to both internal and external recruiting jobs that mostly depend on the type of person you are and how you like to work. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of these.

A breakdown of some of the differences between internal and external recruiting jobs

Variety of jobs and industries

Internal recruiters will place people in a range of jobs, from receptionist to product manager, but they’re only working for one company and dealing with a finite number of roles. If none of the people you find fit into the available roles or are a good fit for the specific company, there’s probably nothing else you can do with them and you have to let those people go.

External recruiters represent a range of clients, so, if that product manager doesn’t fit into one company, there may be another option for that candidate at another company. One client might not like them but there’s more opportunity for you as a recruiter to place that person.

Internally, you’re more of an employer brand ambassador for one company. One reason people enjoy working internally is because they love getting immersed in a company and they really get to understand the business.

Ask yourself: Do you want to work for one client, be that brand’s ambassador, and immerse yourself in that company, even if it means placing fewer people? Or do you want to have a variety of options and place more people, even if it means being on the outside of a company?

Building careers or helping people find jobs

Another thing people enjoy about working internally is that they like seeing the progression of the people they’ve hired, watching their careers grow internally, and thinking that they had a hand in that.

In an agency, you place them, you move on and you might not ever speak to them again. The satisfaction comes from landing people the jobs they want and making both the client and the candidate happy. Also, they may become a client later in their career or recommend you as a recruiter. Both of these outcomes can be satisfying in different ways for different people.

Ask yourself: Are you more interested in building long-term relationships with candidates and helping build their careers or will you get more satisfaction out of placing people in roles and making your clients happy?

The pressure of performance-based pay

In an agency setting, a high degree of your compensation is commission and you can influence how much you earn. If you’re good at what you do you can earn a lot of money. In corporate settings the base salaries are typically higher but there’s not much variable compensation on top of that. So, it’s very difficult to actually influence your earnings based on your success other than with a pay raise or annual bonus. It depends on the type of person you are. There is naturally no requirement for client business development working in-house as it’s all about presenting the business you work for to those candidates. If you’re at a point in your life where you need that stability and are willing to take it through a fixed salary rather than a higher total compensation, it might make sense to work in house. If you’re comfortable with unpredictability and confident in your ability to earn by placing many candidates in roles, a staffing or recruitment agency might be your better choice.

Ask yourself: How much do you want to influence your earnings and how much do you need the stability of a fixed salary? Do you work well under pressure?

Recruiting only vs ancillary duties

Internal recruiters might also have other duties. These could include paperwork, onboarding, reference checking, and other Human Resources duties. Your role might bridge HR and recruiting, which is great for some people. Others want to focus solely on finding candidates and placing them in roles and will find the ancillary duties to be too much or not of interest. Before taking an internal role, an important question to ask the company is how much the job is recruiting and how much is other duties.


Ask yourself: Do you want to be working solely as a recruiter or do you want to take on a broader role that may encompass other duties as well?


Over the course of your recruiting career, you may work both internally and externally, and enjoy both sides. Or you might find you thrive in one over the other. Only you know what’s right for you.

People make all the difference. Need a great recruiter? At Raymond George Consultancy, we find the people who find the people that make your business a success. 

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