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Recruiters Anonymous- I’m Living an Agency Lie, and I Need Help

Recruiters Anonymous: I’m Living an Agency Lie, and I Need Help


I have been living a lie. For far too long I have pretended to fit a mould, that simply is not me.

For the past seven years, I have woken up every morning, wrangled my tie around my neck, shined my shoes, put on my corporate face, and tackled the recruitment agency world. My time, my (awesome) clients and candidates, my decisions are not my own.

Working for a recruitment agency is living for a recruitment agency.

Unfortunately there are many agencies out there that know they have a bad reputation. That’s why they all describe themselves as a ‘new kind of organization‘ with a ‘different culture‘, ‘a new way of doing things‘, and where their ‘people really make the difference‘.

They have lots of names. Some call themselves “talent agencies” or “staffing agencies”, while others prefer “placement agencies”, or “employment agencies”.

Noticing a trend? Agencies are all about the whole, the power of many, not about me as the expert, experienced recruiter.

The dictionary defines ‘Agency’ as “an establishment engaged in doing business for another”. Why would I want an establishment engaged in doing business for me!?

I am an individual. I am a recruiter. I am not an agency.

There is a difference. My perseverance, tenacity, social intelligence, and mastery of relationships has made me the best that I can be.

I close deals. I place the best candidates into awesome jobs. I have that special knack for being able to match the right people into positions and companies that fit them perfectly.

So why am I starting to feel that perhaps I’m not longer a good fit for my own company?

I am a person, not just a piece of the agency puzzle. I have a life, and I know there is a world outside of my pod. I would love to escape my not one, or two, but three bosses, and if I have one more ‘meeting about a meeting’ …

Working as part of a team is great, as long as everyone pulls their weight.

My agency, like a lot of agencies, incentivises us with commissions based on how the team performs as a whole.

I work ridiculously long hours, I bring in the most new business by far, and yet I am being compensated as if I am an average performer. The model simply isn’t fair, and only benefits the agency as well as some of my underperforming colleagues.

However, if I were to ever question this model, I would be accused of not being a “team player”.

The truth is I am very frustrated, I feel alienated, and can’t help but wonder if there is a better way to use my polished recruitment skills outside of these walls.

Sorry if this entry has turned into a bit of a rant, but this is my only outlet.

There must be other recruiters that feel the same way I do, who have been silenced by the fear of being hit with the all too frequently thrown around “remember there’s no ‘i’ in ‘team” corporate speak.

If there are others out there that feel this way, it would be nice to know I’m not alone.


7 years working for one of the big players recruiting for the top end of town in Sydney, London and New York. We have offices globally and 'specialise' in 15 different niches. My opinions are my own (once they've been approved internally!). Connect anonymously by tweeting #escapetheagency.

  • katheena

    Ah…the ultimate truth. Well said. Being undervalued and treated like a number is like a disease in our modern world.if u buck the system u get splattered. No one is really encouraged to shine. U become a threat. U don’t conform and u can’t be controlled. Or so they think. Never a good idea to work to ur best when it is for others. Jump ship. Knowledge is power. Power is money. As u have discovered, once shared it is useless.

  • JazzyJeff

    If your so good why don’t you go and start your own agency. Perhaps you, like so many other, over valuate your worth. As with most punters you only ever hear about how much you are making – not how much your costing. Stay in your job – looser.