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Why Internal Recruitment is Struggling Right Now

I am totally showing my age – because I have seen this before – it was the recruitment glory days of 2005 – low unemployment, huge demand for talent and a very, very busy recruitment market.

And we are back here again – 2019 has been an incredibly busy year in recruitment.  Every agency in NZ has more jobs than in the past decade, and talent is becoming harder to access.

For companies with internal recruitment teams – well they are struggling.  Struggling to get through the workload, to access talent, to promote their brand and to deliver to the business.  Here is why:


Typically, in-house teams are targeted with reducing agency spend as a cost saver.  But in most cases, despite senior leadership teams everywhere saying that beautiful line, “people are our most important asset” – the reality is that most in-house recruitment teams have no line of communication with senior leadership.  Does the senior leadership team want to save money or access quality people? Is time to fill important for them, or is it better to spend some money with an agency and get roles filled? These are questions most in-house recruiters have, but don’t seem to be answered.  Clarity from the senior leadership team on the company’s people strategy is essential for internal recruitment teams to know how to work effectively.


Some internal recruiters are managing up to 100 vacancies.  If you imagine that each vacancy needs to be advertised, all candidates responded to (and the brand managed), discussions had with hiring managers, reference checks, offers, counter offers etc. – it is fair enough that most internal recruiters have lost their sparkle.  There is only so much capability and if there are too many vacancies, people burnout or do a rubbish job.


Increasingly, the best talent is becoming more sophisticated in their job searches. They are finding out about potential employers in different ways – their own networking, agency representation, social media and the like – applying on a job board is so last decade!  

Many internal recruitment functions are still working in an old school recruitment world – post job ads, review applications, organise interviews etc.  That is fine for some roles, but in hard to fill specialist areas – this is not the way to access the best talent anymore.

Some in the agency world have already adapted to this – we now have dedicated researchers who spend their time curating relationships before people are even looking for their next role. They access talent via very different methods than the traditional job board and their entire role is candidate focused.  There are very few companies in NZ who have invested in this for their internal recruitment function, and even fewer can withstand up to two years of conversations and meetings with a candidate before they are placed into the organisation.

In an economy where CEOs are demanding the very best in talent acquisition, many internal teams are struggling to access the best people for their vacancies.


I’ve had feedback lately from candidates who have applied directly to in-house teams and have been quite shocked with the feedback (or lack thereof).  From zero response (not even an automated email!) to being told concerning things (like “this role has been open for months – its a nightmare”) – it is easy when you are struggling with workload (and don’t understand the role you are recruiting) to fail at promoting the brand and the company.

When candidates apply to your company – it is paramount that their experience is exceptional.  The reality is that if it isn’t, they will talk to their mates, who will talk to their mates…


Your typical CEO is concerned about specific, crucial vacancies that are typically hard to fill due to a unique skill set, a small talent pool and loads of competition for the talent.  They are less focused on the success of the more high volume recruitment, such as customer service and administration staff.

However, in-house recruiters right now are just focused on filling whatever jobs:  just get it filled and off their to-do list. This is a disconnect with the business and it results with leadership falling out of step with the recruitment team.  We’ve seen this before and we are currently fielding loads of calls from companies with specialist, hard-to-fill roles that have been overlooked by the internal team, despite the role’s importance to the overall business.

Having a good in-house recruitment team can be a great way to manage volume recruitment and to manage your employer brand – but only if the people working in the team aren’t exhausted, exasperated and over it.  So look after your in-house team. Give them clarity of purpose and make sure you are checking in on how much work they have on and the quality of hires they are able to make.

Your business depends on it!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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