April 17, 2019

’Recruiter Monogamy’: 5 Reasons Why It Matters


Recruitment fidelity is a thing — so much so that recruiters have been known to drop their rates and extend their guarantee periods just to be in monogamous relationships with their clients.

There is something to be said for exclusivity. As is the case with swans, finding a partner who is with you and you only makes for a strong union. Between the company, the recruiter, and the candidates, there are many interests that need to be served in the hiring process. Throw in multiple recruiters, and things get messy fast.

However, some companies question the value of exclusivity. They believe simultaneous collaboration with several agencies can give them a competitive edge. In reality, this strategy is foolish and inevitably works against the employer’s best interests.

Here, we debunk the myths and misunderstandings surrounding recruiter monogamy and explain why it is far better for companies to work exclusively with one recruiter:

Myth No. 1: More Recruiters Means More Access to Great Candidates

Not really.

There are two types of candidates: active and passive. Any candidate 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; they are gainfully employed and generally satisfied in their role.

When deadlines are tight and you are working with multiple recruiters, you will generally get access to active candidates, as they are more readily available. These candidates apply to every recruiter they can find, so chances are you will receive the same resume multiple times over.

If you are looking to make 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 it has been retained on an exclusive basis, its recruiters will put in place a full strategic plan to ensure you get their top candidates.

On the other hand, multiple firms working on a contingent basis are just not going to put in the effort needed to produce stellar results. Knowing that you are working with several other firms, no one firm will commit the time to the search. Moreover, nonexclusive recruiters often present good candidates to multiple clients at once, upping their chances of placing those candidates. This can result in a bidding war for talent, and you may 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 also exclusive to you.

Myth No. 2: 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 competing against one another will commit more and work harder.

When you give a job to five different recruiters, you are effectively telling each one they have 20 percent of your commitment. In an industry that works on a contingent basis, why would any recruiter offer 100 percent in return for your measly 20?

Myth No. 3: Working With Multiple Recruiters Ensures More Candidates in Your Pipeline

True, but quantity will replace quality and the focus will be on speed. Speed is not always the way forward — just think of the “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

When competing against other recruiters, a recruiter will generally shift from submitting quality candidates to cutting corners and working quickly. Many will aim to get their candidates’ resumes registered first so they can lock them in. This only results in more resumes for the hiring manager to review, undermining the value of the recruitment process itself, which is meant to screen candidates before letting them into the pipeline.

Some unscrupulous recruiters will even send resumes without having interviewed or spoken to the candidate just so they can beat the competition. We call them “recruitment cowboys”; they’re dishonest and careless in business and unqualified for the job.

Time is money, so when recruiters race, the focus is on who can send the resume first, irrelevant of whether the candidate is suitable or not. This often leads to recruitment wars in which multiple recruiters claim to represent the same candidate. The client ends up in the middle, forced to prove which recruiter sent the candidate first. Rather than dealing with the inevitable double invoices or legal letters, the client may be better off simply losing the candidate and going with the second choice. Waging war, wasting time, and sacrificing your top contender is never a good recruitment outcome.

Myth No. 4: Double the Recruiters, Halve the Time

Think about this for a minute. When you hire multiple recruiters, you must take time from your busy schedule to explain the position, review candidate requirements, and outline your hiring process and work culture with each recruiter.

Say you have one job and give it to five recruiters; each recruiter sends five candidates. That’s 25 profiles you need to review and give feedback on. This entails numerous calls and emails, and the interview process has not even begun yet. Once candidates are invited for interviews, calendars need to be coordinated and feedback will be required — 25 times over.

If you prefer a more efficient and effective approach, work with one dedicated recruiter and only go through this process once.

Myth No. 5: Using Multiple Recruiters Will Make You More Visible

Correct, but what kind of visibility are you gaining? Too many recruiters advertising positions at your company will create the image that you have high staff turnover, which is unsettling to candidates. If candidates hear of the same job from multiple sources, it reflects badly on your business, making you seem muddled and desperate.

Additionally, you have to ask what exactly candidates are hearing. Your brand is important, and the right information and tone need to be relayed. When you work with one recruiter, you have the opportunity to form a genuine partnership. An exclusive recruiter becomes an extension of your brand, maintaining the same level of professionalism and integrity your company promotes and delivering a message that is easily controlled by you. Working with multiple recruiters, on the other hand, will lead to inconsistent messaging.

Ultimately, the value of recruiter exclusivity boils down to two magic words: “accountability” and “partnership.”

Find the recruiter who is right for you and 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 recruiter instead. Being in a monogamous relationship with your recruiter will save you time and give you access to top talent while keeping your brand intact.

The moral of the story? When working with a recruiter, be a swan not a rabbit.

Maria Titan is the cofounder of WorkForce Cyprus.

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Maria Titan is the cofounder of WorkForce Cyprus. She is a champion recruiter, cake baking wannabe, and super mom to two humans and three furry things.