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November 14, 2018 7:20 AM

Agency Recruitment vs. In-House – What’s Best for You?

When a company reaches a certain size, the major stakeholders are often faced with a difficult question; should they outsource their recruitment efforts or try to handle everything in-house? While there’s no definitive answer as to which option is better, the differences between both could mean that one method is a better choice for a company.

In our recent post on why recruitment and staffing agencies need more talent pool focus, we touched on the two main differences between the work carried out by in-house recruiters and that done by those who work in an agency. Today, we’re going to go a little deeper so you can decide which option is better for you.

So what does agency and in-house mean?

Let’s look at a simple definition for both types of recruiter.

Agency recruiter – Works in a recruitment agency sourcing candidates for multiple clients usually across a broad range of industries.

In-house recruiter – Works in-house (of course) sourcing candidates for multiple roles within the company.

It seems like they do pretty much the same job, but there are some significant differences between the two. And to better understand these contrasts, we’re going to look at the various aspects of their work and how it could affect you the employer. 

The differences


As we just mentioned, the agency recruiter will work for many clients across multiple industries. They will often work on high volume recruitment drives and will sometimes source and hire candidates for short-term or temporary roles.

They are rarely tasked with hiring for cultural fit and may not have the required in-house knowledge to do so even when it’s an essential requirement.

The in-house recruiter will hire only for the company they work in which means they are limited to one industry. They are also required to pay close attention to cultural fit as they usually hire for permanent roles.

In short, their chief responsibility is to hire with retention in mind.


Skills and expertise

Agency recruiters have a more sales-focused mindset which often allows them to get the job done quicker. They are highly competitive (more on that later) and will leave no stone unturned in their search for candidates. However, the fast-paced nature of their work and the pressure to get over the line as soon as possible can sometimes lead to poor quality candidates making it through their screening process.

As they hire across multiple industries, they often have a better understanding of the recruitment landscape, but this can also mean less expertise within specific niches.

In-house recruiters are more focused on the people aspect of recruitment. As they work in-house, they will often have a better understanding of what it takes for a candidate to be successful in a role.

With the quality of hires foremost in their mind, they can take longer to find suitable candidates, but the upside to this is that employee retention stats are often better when in-house recruiters carry out the hiring.



Agency recruiters often get a basic salary but the majority of the money they earn is commission-based, and this is what makes them highly competitive. As a hiring company, you will need to cover the cost of this commission and the agency’s cut.

This means that yes, agency recruiters can seem a tad expensive, but this is offset by the fact that you only need the recruiter as long as you have vacant positions.

In-house recruiters may earn less in the short-term but keeping a team on the payroll for a year will no doubt cost more than hiring an agency for a specific recruitment drive.

Again, we hate to beat the same drum again, but this cost can be offset by the quality of their hires and the fact that their retention stats are quite impressive.



So what’s best for your company?

Agency recruiters are ideal for high volume recruitment tasks, particularly for non-professional roles. But that doesn’t mean that they are for large companies alone. Smaller companies who hire at irregular intervals can also benefit by not having a full-time team on the books, and so an agency would be a good fit.

They are also ideal for companies that need to fill roles quickly with minimum effort on the company’s part. Ask nicely (and pay accordingly) and they’ll handle the entire recruitment operation, leaving you to manage only the final round of interviews and employee onboarding.

In-house recruiters are perfect for the company that is hiring with a long-term goal in mind. They’re also ideal for mid to large sized companies that have a high turnover of staff or who may find themselves hiring on a regular basis due to expansion.

Employers with a strong focus on brand image and work culture may also find that keeping a recruitment drive in line with the company ethos is much easier with an in-house team.


How you choose depends entirely on the recruitment needs of your company and how much time and money you want to invest in the process. If you intend to hire sporadically or you need to recruit for non-professional roles on a large scale, then perhaps the agency route will suit your needs.

If, however, you have long-term recruitment goals with work culture and brand image high on the list of priorities, then an in-house team sounds about right for you. Bear in mind though that your in-house team may need a little help in sourcing those high-quality candidates, and that’s where we come in.

At vsource, we combine advanced technology with good old-fashioned human intuition to bring you the best candidates for a specific role. Looking to build a solid candidate pipeline? We can do that. Even if you’re an agency recruiter who wants to create a talent pool of passive candidates, we’ve got you covered there too. So get in touch today and together we’ll banish those recruitment blues.

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