Should You Hire Experienced Recruiters or Train New Hires Up as a TA/HR Leader?

Should You Hire Experienced Recruiters or Train New Hires Up as a TA/HR Leader?


It’s a question that’s as old as the recruiting business itself. You run a TA team—either inside a company or externally in an agency environment—and when it comes time to hire, you need to think about the experience you desire.

Should you hire experienced recruiters or train inexperienced new hires up?

Like a lot of things in life, it depends. There’s no singular right way, just the reality of what works best for you.

At Kinetix, we make primarily experienced hires. We’re lucky to have access to a great pool of talent based on our business model. But not everyone has our access to talent or our world view about what’s most important.

In the world outside of Kinetix, the decision to hire experienced recruiters or train inexperienced new hires up has long been based on two factors:

  1. Ability and willingness of your company to pay market rates for experienced recruiters.
  2. Ability, willingness, and preference to train inexperienced new hires at the level required for proficiency as a recruiter.

Let’s talk about those two factors for a second. For the most part, those with the budget to go out and acquire experienced recruiters prefer to do that, especially in a corporate setting. But there are segments that could afford experienced recruiters but still prefer to bring inexperienced hires in and train them. These TA shops (primarily on the agency side) have very focused views on what recruiting is, and feel it’s easier to train an inexperienced hire from scratch than it is to retrain an experienced recruiter to conform to their process.

Of course, many of the companies that hire inexperienced recruiters end up spending the same amount of money on talent, because they will over-hire entry level talent with the expectation that many of the new hires won’t make it to proficiency—it’s part of the business/staffing model and worldview. Regardless of whether this is someone’s business practice or not, hiring inexperienced recruiters means you should be prepared to invest in training and development.


Had enough yet? Let’s layer in some complicating factors related to hiring recruiters when it comes to location and place.

  1. Most internal TA teams have traditionally been in office, and TA leaders paid for experience because they needed to in a local market and because they could.

  2. With many internal TA teams going hybrid or remote, the option of hiring experienced recruiters outside of a primary market is now viable for internal TA leaders.

  3. Most TA leaders who go the inexperienced recruiter hire/train up model are stuck to a single market, because training inexperienced recruiters is hard, if not impossible, remotely. It’s just too hard to stay connected and get those inexperienced hires through the tough times and period of doubt about their career. Our guess is “place” and “in-office” will still very much matter for those using this model.

To wrap this up, here are your realities related to deciding on whether to hire experienced recruiters or train inexperienced hires up to proficiency as a TA/HR leader:

  1. Experienced hires are going to cost more.

  2. You likely have a post-COVID opportunity to find experienced recruiters anywhere in the US if you’re open to seasoned recruiters working remotely.

  3. If you opt for hiring inexperienced recruiters, you need a training machine to ramp them to proficiency.

  4. Your management of recruiters is dramatically different between the two models: if you hire experienced, you can manage performance and be more “hands-off.” If you hire inexperienced, you’ll need a stronger manager to do the right level of coaching.

  5. Just as important as the decision between “experience” and “train to proficiency” is the behavioral profile of the recruiter, regardless of experience level. Download our free “Assessment Profile of a High Performing Recruiter” to learn more. Regardless of experience, successful recruiters look a lot like successful salespeople. Use an assessment to reduce your hires who don’t make it, regardless of experience level.

Good luck on the recruiting trail. “Recruiting recruiters” is one of the most important things you’ll do for your company.

Kris is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix. He’s also the founder of Fistful of Talent (2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter, and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.

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