Transitioning From an Agency Recruiter to a Corporate Sourcer

This has to be one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences. The question that came up during the interview process along with even networking with other individuals, “How would you handle the change of pace?” Depending on the size of the agency and the corporation which you are moving to and from would alter this but the principle still stays the same.

I started my career in October 2014 working for one of the largest publicly traded staffing agencies in the world as a sourcer, I moved to a full cycle recruiter at a small boutique staffing firm of 10 people, then finally made the jump in March 2018 to a corporate talent sourcer. I have talked to others who made the transition much quicker and much slower for various reasons.

In this article, I am going to shed some light on what it was like working with one of the largest global staffing firms, and then the shock of working at a boutique firm to making the jump to the corporate world. Not all paths are the same, however, there are a lot of similarities, and I hope this will build confidence in those looking to make the jump to the corporate side or the agency side.

Staffing Agency Experience:

Agency staffing at times gets a bad rep due to the candidate experience. This industry is a numbers game and the VMS world rules all. Large companies who have to work through a gatekeeper have to rely on a handful of people for the right “key skills” of a requisition. After that, recruiters will fiercely start recruiting talent and have the candidates pushed through the VMS tool with little success rate. I considered this a “hope and pray” process because you could truly find an outstanding candidate, but if the “gatekeeper” didn’t approve, the manager would never see the candidate.

This was tough to get used to, however, I learned to source the “gatekeeper” and learn their preferences through their interactions along with taking notes on various candidates they let in vs. kicked out. This allowed me to dress a resume and prepare it in a way that would resonate with the “gatekeeper.” My success rate of getting candidates in the door by doing this nearly doubled. This technique would later come in handy when making the jump to the other side.

When I worked with the smaller firm, we had a bit more exclusive roles where we were able to deal directly with the manager, and I would be able to have the much-needed face time to get to know the manager likes vs. dislikes. This exposure was well worth the transition from a large firm to a much smaller one while working with an agency anytime you can interact with the hiring manager DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to do so! You won’t regret it.

Requisition volume would vary depending on client and vertical. Larger agencies tend to have their recruitment teams focus in one vertical but for many clients or they would have them focus on one client but all verticals. When I first started, I was fortunate enough to focus on one vertical with one company, and due to the success, we were having, it transitioned to more exclusive deals and more manager face time. This the req volume per recruiter on average was roughly from 20 – 30 reqs all 1:1.

The req volume of working with a smaller agency was on average 10 or so. But these were direct manager contact, exclusive reqs and maybe a few of the VMS roles. This volume was a lot easier to manage but also allowed me to source more which was fantastic. I could truly find the elusive purple squirrel for the managers. Having the ability to work with the managers was crucial to understanding their needs and would help prepare even more for the transition.

Preparing For the Transition:

When I ultimately decided to look at leaving behind agency recruiting I wasn’t sure where to start. So I did what any sourcer/recruiter would do, I SOURCED! First, stop SourceCon Facebook Group this was a tremendous amount of help when looking at different roles and networking with professionals who made the transition as well. Next up was sourcing for the right company and the right role.

Once I narrowed down the companies I wanted to look for and found open roles, I took a deep sourcing dive. I would search for current job openings, source individuals at that company in the same or a similar role and look at their background as it related to mine. I would then look to find out who their manager was as the potential hiring manager for the role I came across. This was a HUGE help when editing the resume and applying to the role with confidence.

I had a successful ability in getting to the initial screen, but ultimately fell short and it was always due to the company going with someone with corporate experience. Without having any, that was something I couldn’t compete with. So I tailored the resume and my conversations in a way to relate my interactions from the agency world and how it would be beneficial to the corporate side. One thing I did notice is the same question was asked regarding the speed of corporate vs. agency and how I would be able to adjust.

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This I felt was odd, because when speaking to managers their time to fill was anywhere from 60-90 days on average per opening. I was blown away. I was used to the agency world where a fill was anywhere from 2-4 weeks! After seeing this come up, I started to relay how I could help improve their time to fill rates and come in with an agency perspective when working with the managers.

Corporate Experience:

American Tire Distributors (ATD), the nation’s largest tire distributor posted a sourcing role on a Thursday morning, I applied and had my first interview the very next day. When I got the invite to come in onsite the following week, I got to work sourcing more of the team members in TA and across HR. I wanted to be prepared. This role was to be the very first sourcing member of TA and help build out the sourcing function. This was a dream job and I was going to knock the interview out of the park.

My first day with ATD I wanted to meet everyone and anyone at the company. I wanted to get to know the inner workings of the company I was getting ready to sell to future employees. When working within the agency this was shielded off as you were only able to interact with the manager and the team, but not the entire org perhaps. I went to work connecting with individuals on LinkedIn, reaching out via email to introduce myself and meet the hiring managers I would soon be supporting.

My foundation in the agency world truly set me up for success in the corporate world by being effective and efficient with each move precisely calculated to always move steps forward rather than backward because the timing was of the essence. Having prior experience speaking with hiring managers allowed me to get quick buy in from ATD managers.

Keys to Success:

The ATD opportunity was a once in a life time opportunity for me and I ran with it. The stars truly aligned and my foundation has helped a lot. I loved every minute sourcing and recruiting in the agency world even if things didn’t go as planned, it still was a great experience. Being able to lean on recruiting managers, account managers, and fellow recruiters the best thing to do is soak up everything like a sponge. Those individuals are a wealth of knowledge and I can’t thank my peers enough for the knowledge they have shared with me.

Being on the other side opens up more visibility within the recruiting process and I can’t stress enough but to get as much visibility into the business as much as possible. There is no such thing as a useless piece of information.

Kevin Granger is currently a Brand Momentum Engineer with American Tire Distributors in Huntersville, NC. In this role, Kevin is using his background in Sourcing and Recruiting in a new light. He is creating the brand story of American Tire Distributors as an industry leader that will compile enterprise-wide information to help transform ATD into a digital company, as well as create an industry benchmark when it comes to talent attraction in the Automotive industry. Using his background, instead of hunting the purple squirrels of the world, he is researching and sourcing various information that will be used to drive ATD’s Brand Momentum. Feel free to connect via LinkedIn or tweet at him (@KevinGranger11), as he is an open book on sharing his techniques, processes, and best practices.

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