How to Work with Internal Recruiters

WorkCoachCafeSome recent comments by job seekers make it clear that many people don’t understand that there are different kinds of recruiters, what those differences are, or how to work with recruiters. 

There are three important things for job seekers to understand about recruiters to work well with them and avoid making assumptions that could hurt their job search: 

1.  Recruiters are paid by employers to find the best candidates for the jobs the employers have open. 

Consequently, pleasing employers is their primary goal.  Many will help job seekers if they can, but helping job seekers is not what they are paid to do.

2.  Recruiters are seldom the decision-maker determining whether or not you get a job offer. 

They often have input into the decision, depending on the organization, and they are often the person who delivers the news to the job seeker.  But, someone else, often a committee in very large organizations or the hiring manager, makes the hiring decision. 

3.  There are two basic categories of recruiters with very different business models.

Understanding the category of recruiter you are working with will enable you to work more effectively and appropriately with them.  

The Different Categories of Recruiters

The first category is internal recruiters.  They are employees of the organization which has the open jobs.  The second category, external recruiters, are not employees of the organization which has the open jobs.  External recruiters work for someone else.

In this post, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of working with internal recruiters as well as the best way to work with them.  Next week, we will explore the the advantages and disadvantages of working with external recruiters.

Internal recruiters, also known as “corporate” recruiters, work inside the employer’s organization and usually collect a paycheck (salary) from the employer who has the jobs open. 

Their office will typically be on the employer’s premises, and their email and phone will typically be part of the employer’s email and phone system.  So, their email will probably be Jane.Doe@[employer] or possibly HR@[employer], recruiting@[employer], or someting similar.  To reach them by phone, you may call the employer’s main number and then ask for their extension, or you may call them directly.

Some internal recruiters are “contract” recruiters who recruit for the employer for a contracted period, and are paid by the organization which has the contract with the employer.  Contract recruiters typically consider themselves to be on the staff of the employer.  Their income is not determined by how many people they refer who are hired.

External recruiters, also known as “independent” recruiters, do not receive a paycheck from the employer who has the open jobs.  They work for someone else, a recruiting firm or agency, which issues their paychecks.  Some, of course, work for themselves.  None are on the payroll of the employer with the open jobs.

You usually know you are working with an external recruiter when you visit their office and it is not in the employer’s premises.  Email will often provide good indications, too.  Notice the domain name in their email address, if you send or receive an email from them.  If their address is not from the employer’s domain, like Jane.Doe@[recruiting company] or, they are most likely an external recruiter. 

More about working with external recruiters in next week’s post.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with an “Internal” Recruiter

In most organizations, the internal recruiters are part of the Human Resources or Personnel Office staff.  Sometimes recruiting is their only job, sometimes it’s their primary job, and sometimes it’s an additional responsibility, done when needed. 

Internal recruiters get paid whether or not you find a job through them.  Therefore, unlike most external recruiters, they have no vested interest in helping you get a job.  They do, however, have a vested interest in their own continued employment, so they try to do their best to protect the employer and to find – and put forward – the best job candidates.


  • If you are introduced to the hiring manager, that is a positive indication that the recruiter thinks you are a good candidate for the position.
  • They have an insider’s perspective.  They see how the organization works and typically know many of the people inside the organization, particularly the hiring managers.
  • A contract recruiter may have the best perspective on the organization – both from the inside, as part of the staff, and also from outside since they usually have experience with many other employers as well as this one.
  • They may be your advocate, if they believe you are the best person for the job.
  • They may occasionally (NOT often!) coach you in the different personalities and different issues associated with the employer.
  • Within limits, they can be a “friend” to someone they view as a good potential employee, but their loyalty is to the employer.


  • They are insiders, and sometimes that can cause problems if the job seeker gets caught in the crossfire of an internal political fight.
  • Their loyalty is to the organization.  No matter how tempting, don’t tell them anything that you don’t want the rest of the organization to know.  
  • A “contract” recruiter may not have been working with the organization long enough to understand the people or the preferences.
  • They can “bar the door,” keeping you from being interviewed or considered, even if (sometimes, especially if) you try to go “around” them directly to the hiring manager.
  • They have no loyalty to job seekers or, usually, any incentive to help a job seeker land a job.

How do you work with an internal recruiter?

Very carefully.  They are not “on your side” in this process.  No matter how friendly, they are not your friend (yet).  Always present your “best” self to them.  Do not confide in them, or ask them to do you any favors.  Be professional and business-like in all your communications with them.  Wear your interview attire if you are invited in for a meeting with them. 

Understand that they seldom control other employees which means that they don’t usually control scheduling of interviews, timing of decision-making, or salaries.  They are often in the position of trying to organize the process, but other factors – illness, business travel, business crisis management, and even other staff vacations – are not under their control.  They try to make the process work smoothly and quickly, but they are not in control.


Like anyone else, recruiters have different degrees of competence and different levels of credibility with their “customers” (management and the hiring managers). 

Be business-like and professional in your dealings with them, and you will usually be fine if the opportunity is appropriate for you. 

More About Working with Recruiters

How to Work with External Recruiters

How to Get Noticed by External Recruiters

Job Interviews: Are You Listening?

Guide to Working with Recruiters (


© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .


  1. Is it ok to follow-up with an internal recruiter? I have connected with someone at a large company and he thought I’d be a good fit for a particular role. He told me that he’d passed on my resume to the hiring manager – this was about 3.5 weeks ago. I hadn’t heard anything back – it is a large company with, what I’m assuming, is a slow hiring process. Is it ok to follow-up with the recruiter and see where things stand? I wouldn’t even know how to word it. Something like “you haven’t called me for an interview” seems wrong. 🙂 I just thought I’d ask for some advice/guidance.

    • Hi tom,

      Yes, it’s absolutely OK to follow up with an internal recruiter 3.5 weeks later, and, yes, very likely it’s a slow hiring process.

      When you connect with him, remind him of who you are, how you two connected, and when he gave your resume to the hiring manager. Then, ask him for the status of the opportunity (still available, interviewing, filled, or ?), and what the next steps are. Also ask if he needs anything from you or if there is anything you should be doing to help the process. Finally, ask him how to stay in touch appropriately about this opportunity or any others that may develop.

      Good luck!

  2. Hi Susan,

    Not sure you remember me but I was the person who lost out on a job interview even they praised me extremely well. Well guess what? The organisation’s internal recruiter added me on LinkedIn and sent me an email yesterday that more roles have opened up and the hiring managers insisted on seeing me again. I can’t believe it. Do you think this was a trick to get rid of the external agency because the internal recruiter told me the organisation did not want to use them this time. What do you think my chances are this time considering they asked for me again…

    Please revert I need your help

    • Hi Barbara,

      It’s hard to tell why they didn’t use the internal recruiter this time, and I find it wise not to try to interpret someone’s motives. It is SO easy to be wrong. And, it’s not really your issue, so I wouldn’t mention it or ask about it.

      I think that your chances this time are very good, but I would not assume that it will be easy to land this job. Prepare just as well as you did the first time, and focus on giving your best effort, including the follow up.

      Good luck!

  3. Recently I received a request for a second interview from a company that I applied to almost a year ago. I have already found a new job since then. Although I have settled into my new job, I still had an phone interview with them to learn about the opportunity. However after the discussion, I reallized that this is not the right time for me to switch. Currently, I am very busy with school and work that I don’t want to jump into another company yet. Although I want to eventually work for a company such as theirs, I won’t be able to until the end of the year when everything else settles. Now I have been requested for a second interview. How can I explain to this person about my situation without shooting my chances of working for this company. Also, is there a way I can cultivate this relationship so that in the near future when I am ready to transition, I will have a easier chance of getting in.

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Joy,

      This is the company’s loss. Simply explain to them that — while you remain interested in working for the company long-term, you are not available to take on a new position until the end of the year at the earliest — due to school and work commitments made during the year that has passed since your first interview. Thank them for following up, let them know you plan to stay in touch and do hope to have the opportunity to work for them in the future.

      What an optimal situation to be in.

      Good luck,

  4. Hi –

    I interviewed for a role 3 months ago, but this role was put on hold. Although this was initially set up through an external recruiter, I also interviewed and had subsequent direct contact with the internal recruiter (she was the one who told me the position was on hold). I really want to work for this company, and when I saw a different role published directly on LinkedIn through another internal recruiter, I sent an email to my internal recruiter contact explaining my desire to join the company and asking if my profile might be of interest should the original role still be on hold.

    It’s been over a week, but I haven’t had any feedback (I also didn’t have any feedback on the status of the original role until I’d left a voicemail and also sent a follow-up email). I’m not sure if the fact that I was first introduced to the company by an external recruiter is part of the reason.

    Could you please advice me on the best way to proceed? I would really love to be considered, but I don’t want to be a “pest” either.


    • Hi Jo,

      Any chance you can make any connections with the hiring manager — or person who you’d be working for — rather than the recruiter? Recruiters generally act on multiple searches at a time and can get overwhelmed — that’s why I encourage you to reach out directly to — or network with — the hiring manager whenever possible.

      Good luck and all the best,

  5. Hi,
    I got an internal interview 3 weeks ago for a permanent position, now try to follow up with hiring manager, but he’s in vacation now, and my current supervisor want extend my contract, so I need make decision ASAP, but I prefer that permanent position, can I contact another manager which is high level of that hiring manager and ask for hiring status also send him my resume again, what I should say in email?
    Could you give me some advice?

    • Hi Vivian,

      So many people check email while on vacation, you might try e-mailing the person you interviewed with as a first step. Then if he doesn’t respond within 24 hours, reach out directly to the colleague who is on the same level as he is — make sure they are in communication first and will keep your confidentiality before you describe the situation etc. Worst case scenario: You may want to consider signing the extended contract. It is possible that the other manager would asked for you to be released if he wants to bring you on full time.

      Be careful, this sounds tricky.


  6. I have applied for several positions within the same company. An internal recruiter contacted to me to set up a time to interview. Since it was not specified which position I would be interviewing for I asked for clarification. The recruiter said it wasn’t for any particular job, just future opportunities and it wasn’t an interview but rather a conversation. During the appointed time the conversation went very well. I was asked some basic information about what type of job I was seeking, salary requirements, when I could start and was given a good overview about the company. I was also told that the company is expanding and are looking to fill positions in several departments, thus why I wasn’t interviewing for a specific job. The recruiter was going to touch base with several hiring managers to see where I would be a good fit and was supposed to be in touch with me to set up an actual interview within a few days. It has now been 2 weeks and have not heard anything. I am really not sure what to make of all of this since my initial conversation. The recruiter sounded hyped about getting me in for an interview. I would like to think that I wouldn’t be told I would get an interview or be contacted within a few days if the recruiter wasn’t sincere about that promise. I also understand things can be delayed. I did sent an email to the recruiter 10 days after our discussion asking if he had any updates for me but have not heard back. Should I assume this recruiter was making empty promises or should I still be hopeful. What does it mean to talk to someone at a company about future opportunities but not a specific job.

    • Hi Liz,

      If you don’t hear back from the recruiter within the next month, go ahead and apply to the company directly. Recruiters make money for placing candidates. If he hasn’t presented you, there’s no real reason why you couldn’t apply on your own…

      Good luck and all the best,

  7. Hi Chandlee,

    I connected with an internal recruiter through an introduction on LinkedIn about 4 months ago. I kept in touch with this recruiter about once a month just letting her know that I am very interested in her company. I even wished her Happy Holidays during the month of December. She told me to contact her for positions she will be recruiting for in February. Well I did a couple of days ago and she responded that there is a position open and if I am interested, she will set up an interview with that hiring manager. This position is not what I really want to do and the pay is low. However, I know it is a foot in the door especially since I’ve been targeting this company (among others) for months! The other plus is that it is 15 minutes from my house. How should I reply back? I wanted to use some tact to inquire if there are other positions in a specific department that I would like to work in. I am afraid I may lose an opportunity because what if it’s the only position she has open right now! Please advise! Thank you!! Janice

    • Hi Janice,

      A “foot in the door” can be very useful, particularly if it’s an employer you have been targeting for a while. And a short commute is great. The wrong job for the wrong salary, however, can be a long-term problem. Been there; done that, myself, and it is hard to dig out sometimes.

      You could indicate that you are very interested in working there and appreciate that she let you know, but that it’s not quite right for you. Then, you could ask her if she has any other opportunities available or developing? If you haven’t already, you could also tell her what you are looking for in terms of job titles.

      Great strategy for connecting with her via LinkedIn and staying in touch!

      Good luck!

  8. Hi Chandlee,

    I recently did a phone interview with a company I’m DYING to work for. The meeting was set up by their internal recruiter and she is to be the person to contact me should I go forward with the next interview. In any case, I feel like I might have not put my best foot forward in the phone interview with the manager but would really love to have a second chance. Since I don’t have any information on the manager just the recruiter, is it normal to send a a Thank you note and let them know how interested I am in the position or would that just ruin my chances altogether?

    Help 🙁

  9. Hi Susan,

    I have had 3 (4 if you count the phone interview w/ the company’s internal recruiter) for a position at a well-recognized company. Phone interview was first; second interview was in-person with the hiring manager then he brought in his colleague to interview me. Afterward, the hiring manager said he’d want me to also interview w/ his other colleague. A few days later, the recruiter set up the 4th interview. After each in-person interview, I sent “Thank You” emails within 24 hours. The 4th interview was last Tuesday. Last Friday I sent the recruiter a “Follow-up & Thanks” email and also asked if she had a timeframe of when I’d hear back the results. She responded saying hopefully soon. Both the recruiter and the hiring manager had said the sooner the better it’d be to fill the position.

    Meanwhile, I feel like I am going crazy waiting and I have been assigned to a project at my current job which will require travel in less than 2 weeks.

    Thoughts? What should I do? 🙁

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Lisa,

      It feels like time to reach out to the internal recruiter again and to explain the situation you are facing. Perhaps that will speed up the process or they will know that you will be unavailable or unreachable for a while. A phone call is probably the best way to do this, if you can.

      Good luck with this!

  10. Hi Susan,

    I wanted your input. I had applied and interviewed numerous times for a position in March. The position was put on hold due to the training schedule of the position not starting until June. The internal recruiter said I am still being considered. I have emailed the hiring manager to keep myself in mind considering the delay. I have not received a response from the hiring manager. It is a rather large organization. Is it possible the company has a policy against the hiring manager reponding to me since the position is placed on hold? Should I contact the recruiter about the position? Any input is appreciated.


    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Benny,

      It could be that the hiring manager is discouraged from responding to you by a corporate policy, or it could be that they are just ignoring you because they have more urgent issues to handle right now.

      I would stay in touch with the recruiter since we are heading into the middle of May next week which means June isn’t very far off. Try checking in via email, asking about the status and timeline for the process. If you don’t hear from the recruiter in a few days, give them a call the following week to ask the same questions – by then we’ll be closer to June 1.

      Good luck with your job search!

  11. Susan,

    I have had in interview with an internal recruiter and was fortunate to hear back from him after some follow up e-mails expressing my interest in the position. He has set up an interview with the hiring manager. I was wondering would it be appropriate or inappropriate to ask him questions to gain insight about the person who will be interviewing me?


    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Harj,

      It’s not likely that the recruiter would tell you anything about the person interviewing you, and it may not make a good impression. So, I would not recommend you do that with an internal recruiter (that would be a good question to ask if the recruiter was an external recruiter).

      I would definitely Google the hiring manager, and also check to see if s/he has a LinkedIn Profile, in addition to your usual pre-interview preparation.

      Good luck with the interview!

      • Susan,

        The previous posts didn’t ask exactly ask this question but I did get the sense I shouldn’t for the reasons you mentioned. I did do a Google the hiring manager however the profiles are thin.

        Thank for you advice and I’m glad I didn’t jump the gun.


  12. Konstantine says:


    I need some guidance and was wondering if you could help me. I applied 2 weeks ago for a position at a company that I have long been waiting for to have a vacancy open that fit to my requirements. The position is not in my current city but I still applied to it through the company’s website. Since that time I have connected with a corporate recruiter for the company on linkedin and we have become friends. I have not had any conversation with this lady to this date and she may not know that I applied for the position. This is the company’s only recruiter I could find and was wondering if I should contact the recruiter through linkedin or not and what I could say to not come of as I am requesting something from her.

    I really would love to work for this company and I believe this is a perfect fit for me yet I am at a loss on how I should proceed so that my resume will at least be seen by the hiring manager.



  13. Hi Susan,

    I recently interviewed for a position 1.5 weeks ago. After having the initial phone interview, it took a month for them to get back to me and invite me for an on-site interview so it was a long wait. I met with the hiring manager, 5 members of his team, and then the internal recruiter afterwards. I felt really good about it and thought it went really well! The recruiter mentioned there is a 2nd round of interviews to meet with director, but he is out of town so she wasn’t sure whether the hiring manager would want me to wait and meet with him. She said she would follow up with me but I have not heard anything yet.

    After a long 4th of July holiday, I am thinking it may just be taking a little while for her to follow up. (is 1.5 weeks a long time?) Anyhow, I want to follow up but would you recommend I get in touch with the internal recruiter or the hiring manager?

    Thanks for your time,

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Grace,

      I think getting in touch with the internal recruiter is usually the best approach.

      Since it took a month to go from phone interview to the on-site interview, I would give them a few more days, particularly since we have had a holiday recently.

      Good luck with your job search!

  14. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for the great advice provided. I received a call from an internal recruiter after submitting my resume two days prior. We had a great phone interview and it lasted about 25mins. I asked her what the next step was in the hiring process and she asked what my availability was for an in person interview. I told her my schedule was open in hopes to maybe get a set time right the nand there. Needless to say she didn’t have a time for me and said she would call me back on Friday to schedule an in person interview after she said she thought I’d be a great fit culturally for the company. Well Friday came and no call. I didn’t panic too much because the day prior was 4th of July. Monday came and no call or anything so I called around 430 and left a message regarding interview and still being interested. Do you think the call was too soon? What do you suggest I do now. I’m just puzzled as to why she didn’t call on Friday like she said she would. .

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Sarah,

      SO many things can get in the way of getting a decision made on the employer side, even as “simple” a decision as deciding who to call in for an interview. People necessary for the process get sick, go on vacation, have a crisis to resolve, etc. “Buy in” is needed, meetings are held, etc. before the decision is made – which means there are many possible explanations about why she didn’t call back on Friday when she said she would.

      Calling at 4:30 on Monday was probably not bad, but I wouldn’t call back for another week. Unless the position calls for an aggressive person (sales, for example), I would chill out for a while.

      Good luck with your job search!

  15. Hi Susan,

    I noticed you changed your response. Well I actually have a friend that works there. Silly me I didn’t put him down as a referral. He asked the senior recruiter in general if the position was still open and she said yes. Then he told her he had a friend that he thinks would be a great fit for the company and that I applied but didn’t put his name down. She told him to have me resubmit it and put his name on it and she will watch out for it. This a different lady then the one who called me. Apparently she is above her. Does it look bad on my part that now I’m having my friend talk to some one else there about the job for me? At first I didn’t tell him I was already called for for a phone interview and just had him to check to see if it was open. I now told him the lady called. Thoughts ?

  16. Hi- I applied for an internal job posting in my company and was contatced by the national slaes recruiter for a phone interview. Do the recruiters in a big company share your info with the hiring manager first to see what they think or do they just go off of there gut insinct?

  17. Matt that is a good question. Based on my situation, I am thinking that the recruiter liked me and wanted me to come in but when she passed my information to the hiring manager, there may have been a difference of opinions. Therefore I did not receive a call back and the recruiter was probably too embarrassed to call me back and tell me what happened . Hopefully for your sake, the recruiter and hiring manager are both in agreement.

  18. Hi there

    So my resume was sent to the national recruiter as told to me by an internal recruiter. I applied to 2 jobs at this place. The recruiter seems to only talk about one job that I applied to when contacting me (this job was specified in the listing for all locations… like a nationwide listing, the other job was here locally however)

    My question is,… if your resume gets sent to the national recruiting manager does that mean the job is in fact real? and they are looking over people for it? or is it just going to sit there forever and ever with nothing definitive happening on it? such as your in the queue for possible openings but it just sits there collecting dust?

    And if the HR person just talks about the one job that they sent to national recruiter and not the other job? does that mean they are only considering you for that one job?

    This listing was for nation wide opening with all locations listed, I’m assuming they might have this job here locally if they sent my resume in to the national recruiter?

    Now what? do I wait on the national recruiter to send my resume to the manager of the location for a possible interview? how long could this take? I have not gotten a rejection letter yet

    Should I contact this national recruiter after time has passed to see what the deal is? it has been 11 days

    Not sure what to do

  19. Jamie W. says:

    Great article and responses to the questions asked thus far. I have a question for you as well. Over the past five or six weeks I have been working with an internal recruiter at a company I would love to work at. Thus far I have had a phone interview with the recruiter, phone interview with the hiring manager, and a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. Around 10 days ago the recruiter left a voicemail for me telling me that the hiring manager was “very impressed” with me and they wouldd like for me to meet with the SVP of Sales and VP of Account Management (ideally as soon as possible). I called him back an hour after he left the message and had to leave a voicemail); I also followed up with an email to him. I haven’t heard anything back since. I did follow up last Wednesday with a phone call, but had to leave a voicemail. At what point would it be appropriate to follow up again (either via phone or email)? Thank you!

  20. G. Hassan says:

    Hello Susan,

    I was contacted on LinkedIn a couple of days ago by a technical recruiter at a really big company, and now the recruiter said we should have a chat on Thursday. I am not really sure what have a chat means, is this some sort of interview or just an informal chat?

    Thank your for your help.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi G.,

      Great news! Best strategy would be to prepare for a phone interview, because I expect that’s what “a chat” really means in this instance.

      Do your homework before the call, just as you would prepare for any interview. Worst case, you will be over-prepared; best case, you will impress the recruiter with your work ethic and knowledge.

      Research the LinkedIn Profiles for both the company and the recruiter. Review the company website, paying particular attention to anything them might say about their “mission” as well as their products and/or services, the officers, the locations, and their job postings. Also check out the Yahoo Finance page for the company and the most recent annual report on to see the financial performance (and check to see if they are heading for a layoff).

      Also read Please help me ace my phone interview for more tips about how to present yourself well.

      Hope this works out well for you!

      Good luck with your job search!

  21. Hello,
    I got call from a company-A recruiter. He told me that my resume which he got from another recruiter at same company and told me Im a good fit for an immediate position.

    any comment with respect to my chances?

  22. annamairele917 says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just had a phone interview with a company that I really want to work for and the position I applied would be a great foot in the door however the pay is lower then what I am looking for right now. The internal recruiter did say she will keep me in mind if anything opens up that she thinks would be a good fit for me, she’ll be sure to reach out.
    I want to keep in contact with her and be able to connect so that if an opportunity does open up I want to be able to know first thing. But I do not want to come off desperate. I want to stay in touch should I follow up at least once a month about opportunities. Thank you in advance.


  23. Hi Susan,
    I just applied online for a position at a company, but there are 2 other positions that I would like to apply for in the same company. These 3 positions are related but have different titles and I will be happy in any of them. I was able to find an internal recruiter through LinkedIn, and would like your feedback on whether is a good idea to introduce myself and mentioned that I applied for one of the jobs, but are interested in these other two positions I believe I am qualified for. How is the best way to approach this?
    Any suggestions are more than welcomed.
    Thank you,

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