You have a role to fill; and you realize the value of outside help.  How many recruiters should you call?

When a role needs to be filled, a recruiter should provide an efficient, valuable service; one for which you feel you are receiving value for money.  Just like any other ‘agency’ or intermediary service – real estate, travel, etc.  – a recruiting firm should be a solution to your problem.

Clients sometimes feel that having multiple contingency-based recruiting firms providing candidates for their role is the way to go.  Why not?  You are only going to pay the one that you end up engaging; the others have all worked for free.

In fact, this strategy does not deliver the best results for anyone – not the hiring organization, not the agency, and not even for the candidates.

Let’s examine some of the assumptions that lead to this strategy:


  • Recruiters will work harder if they know they are in competition.
    In fact, just the opposite is likely true.  When given an exclusive engagement, a recruiter knows that their client is putting their faith and trust in them, and will be motivated to earn and keep it, and earn future exclusive opportunities.  And a recruiter working on an exclusive engagement knows that they have an excellent opportunity to be fairly compensated for their good work if they deliver.  When a recruiter knows they are just one of a number of firms being invited to “pitch resumes”, that is what they will likely do.


  • Working with multiple firms will get me better candidates.
    Most recruiting firms are dealing with essentially the same candidate pool.  True, there will be some candidates known to some firms and not others.  But using multiple firms is far more likely to lead to overlap, duplications, confusion in the candidate marketplace, and debates about ‘who owns the candidate’ than it is to lead to a truly stronger stable of candidates.


  • Working with multiple firms will get me candidates faster.
    This probably is true, as the recruiting firms will know they are in a race for attention.  But will it lead to the best candidates?  Doing a thorough search, particularly for the best passive candidates, takes some time.  A prospecting call to a strong candidate who is not actively looking takes time to develop; they may not rush to return that first message.  If recruiting firms are in a race, they seldom have time to develop these very best candidates.  So what you will get is who is available first; not who is best.


  • Quality will not be hurt if I use multiple firms.
    Again, a race leads to cut corners.  Will all the agencies have met and screened everyone they present?  Will they have vetted them against all key measures?  Done reference checks?  The odds decrease when in a foot race.


  • A firm in competition will give me the best candidates.
    At any point in time, each agency will have some jobs they are working on exclusively, for clients where they have a strong relationship and trust; and others where they are just one of a number of firms competing.  Where do you think the recruiting agency will be motivated to present their strongest candidates?

Recruiters are professionals providing a valuable service.  Like any other professional, they need to see a reasonable chance of being fairly compensated for that service.  You will get the best results when you build a professional relationship with a recruiting agency that wants to earn and keep your business on an exclusive basis.

To discuss these concepts further, please reach out to your contact at PTC Recruiting.

Contributed by Steve Rosen
Managing Director at PTC Recruiting

For more information about Steve click on this picture

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