Recruitment fidelity is a thing. So much so that recruiters have been known to drop their rates and extend the guarantee period just to be in a monogamous relationship with the client. There is something to be said for exclusivity, much like swans, finding a partner who is with you and you only makes for a strong union. Between the company, recruiter and candidates there are many interests that need to be served, throw in multiple recruiters and things can get messy. In a marriage between client and recruiter, two’s good company, more and the marriage can get crowded. Of all the conversations I’ve had in the 15 years of working in recruitment, the one I find myself having most is the topic of exclusivity - the holy grail of the recruitment industry.
Some companies I speak to question the value of exclusivity. Many companies believe that collaborating with several agencies is advantageous and can even give them a competitive edge, but this idea is foolish and inevitably works against their best interest. Here we debunk the myths and explain why it is far better for companies to work exclusively with one recruiter.
More recruiters mean more candidates
Not really. There are two types of job candidates—active and passive. Any candidate that is making themselves known to a recruiter is an ‘active’ candidate as they are actively looking for a job. A passive candidate isn’t marketing themselves actively to recruiters as they are gainfully employed and generally satisfied in their role. With short deadlines and multiple recruiters, you will generally get access to active candidates that are available in a short time frame. These candidates apply to every recruiter so chances are you will receive the same CV multiple times. If you are looking at making a more strategic hire, one that will impact the growth of your business, then having access to networks of passive candidates from the recruiter’s database will provide a much more qualified pool of candidates. Approaching passive candidates involves hard work and time. When an agency knows they have been retained on an exclusive basis, a full strategic plan will be put in place to ensure that you get their top candidates. Multiple firms, all working on a contingency basis, are just not going to put in the effort needed to produce stellar results. They will not commit the time to the search knowing that you are working with several other firms. Non-exclusive recruiters will often present good candidates to multiple clients at once, upping their chances of placing the candidate. This can result in a bidding war for talent and you may even lose out on an ideal candidate as a result. Conversely, an exclusive recruiter will submit candidates only to your company and work to convince top talent to accept your offer instead of others. Not only are you exclusive to your recruiter, but they are exclusive to you, too.
When recruiters compete, they work harder
Contrary to popular belief, unrequited love does not make recruiters work harder. It is a misconception that numerous recruiters will commit more and work harder. Giving a job to five different recruiters is effectively saying that they have 20 percent of your commitment. In an industry that works on a contingency basis, why would they offer 100 percent in return for your measly 20?
Multiple recruiters will ensure quantity and speed
True, but quantity will replace quality and the focus will be on speed. Speed is not always the way forward, we all know what happened to the rabbit. The recruiter generally shifts from submitting quality candidates to cutting corners and working quickly. Many will aim to get their candidates’ CVs registered first so they can ‘lock’ them in. This results in more CVs for the hiring manager to review and undermines the value of the recruitment process itself, which is to screen the candidates first. Some unscrupulous recruiters will send CVs without even having interviewed or spoken to the candidate – just so they can beat the competition. We call them recruitment cowboys - dishonest and careless in business, unqualified for the job. Time is money so when recruiters race, the focus is on who can send the CV first, irrelevant of whether the candidate is suitable or not. This often leads to recruitment wars where the client is placed firmly in the middle and needs to prove which recruiter sent the candidate first. This is time consuming and never ends well. The client will be stuck in the middle of a recruitment battle with multiple recruiters claiming to represent the same candidate. This will lead to double invoices or legal letters where the client is better off losing the candidate and going with the second choice. Waging war, wasting time and sacrificing your top contender is not a good outcome.
Double the recruiters, halve the recruitment time
Really? Think about this for a minute. Hiring multiple recruiters takes time from your busy schedule to explain the position, review candidate requirements and outline your hiring process and work culture. Picture the scenario, you have one job and give it to five recruiters, each recruiter sends five candidates. These are 25 profiles that you need to review and give feedback on. This entails numerous calls and emails and the interview process has not yet begun. Once candidates are invited for interviews, calendars need to be coordinated and feedback will be required. Twenty-five times over. There’s a lot of extra work involved when employers brief multiple recruiters for the same job vacancy. If you prefer a more efficient and effective approach, work with one dedicated recruiter and you only need to go through this process once.
Using multiple recruiters will make you more visible
Correct, but what kind of visibility? Too many recruiters advertising positions at your company will create the image that you have high staff turnover, which is unsettling to potential candidates. If candidates hear of the same job from multiple sources it reflects badly on your business, making you seem muddled and desperate. Additionally, what exactly are candidates hearing? Your brand is important, and the right information and tone needs to be relayed. Working with a sole recruiter provides the opportunity to form a genuine partnership. An exclusive recruiter becomes an extension of your brand—maintaining the same level of professionalism and integrity that you promote with a message that is easily controlled by you. Working with multiple recruiters will lead to inconsistent messaging.
Ultimately, using a recruiter exclusively boils down to two magic words - accountability and partnership.
Find the recruiter that’s right for you and then engage them exclusively. Set clear expectations, hold them accountable and let them see your level of commitment to the partnership. If they don’t deliver, find another and work exclusively. Being in a monogamous relationship with your recruiter will save you time and give you access to top talent while keeping your brand intact.
Moral of the story, when using a recruiter, be a swan not a rabbit.
Maria Titan is the co-founder of WorkForce Cyprus. She’s a champion recruiter, cake baking wannabe and super mom to two humans and three furry things.