Steve Fenton

Recruitment agent exclusivity

I have been using a single recruitment agent exclusively for finding talented new people. As you’ll know if you’ve ever been involved in recruitment, once your name is associated with hiring, you’ll get several phone calls a day from agents hoping to work with you to fill your roles. They do this mainly for the love of finding people the job they want, but they also get paid handsomly for their services.

Whenever I get a call, I politely explain that I am not currently hiring and that when I do I will go back to the agency that we have a strong working relationship with. There are some key benefits to using a single agent exclusively:

  • You get to know each other, so you can have frank discussions about what you are looking for
  • You get to establish the social contract in your working relationship (i.e. I know that they like early feedback after an interview, they know that I don’t appreciate random CVs when I’m not recruiting)
  • You can deal with one agent throughout the entire hiring process which reduces the noise (less phone calls, less “quick updates”, less emails… just less overhead)
  • There are a lot of very annoying recruitment agents out there, so I can make sure I’m not going exclusive with any of those agents

Of course, when I explain our exclusive relationship to prospecting agents, they almost always point out that I have all my eggs in one basket. However, I disagree.

This is how it would work if using a single agent was equivalent to having all my eggs in one basket (E is the potential employer, the As are agents, the Cs are candidates):

Limited Candidates

In that example, I’d only have access to a third of candidates who were interested in working with me.

But that isn’t the case. No candidate ever signs up for exclusivity with an agent, and all of the relevant job boards are open to all the agents – so if I choose any agent, I get visibility to all of the candidates… just like when you are buying and selling a house (no agent has exclusive access to RightMove!) So really, things look a lot more like this:

All Candidates

So there is no benefit for me or the candidates in sending the job out via multiple agencies. If anything, the duplicated listings in job searches are annoying/confusing and the co-ordination effort makes the whole process much harder.

And that’s why I’m sticking with the agency that have done such a good job with previous hires. Thanks.

Written by Steve Fenton on