How many times have you engaged more than one recruiter for a search, only to get the same resume from multiple firms? How often have you been inundated with resumes early in a search, only to have the flow virtually stop after the first wave of resumes? Have you ever found yourself many weeks into a search without a strong candidate pipeline?
There exists a perception in the marketplace that companies will have a better chance of securing the ideal candidate when they engage multiple recruiting firms for the same search. The logic behind this is that using a number of firms will ensure that you reach every candidate in the marketplace. The reality, however, is that utilizing this approach actually limits the pool of potential candidates.
The reason for this is that contingency searches are risky for the recruiter. Recruiters assess the likelihood of success in each search and allocate their time accordingly. While there are many factors which contribute to a recruiter’s risk assessment, one of the most important considerations is the number of recruiters working the search. As the number of recruiters working on a search increases, the probability of an individual recruiter filling the position decreases.
When multiple recruiters are engaged, most will deem the search to be high-risk and will only do a cursory search of their “active” candidates. This often results in companies receiving a wave of resumes, including some duplicates, early in the search followed by a slow trickle. If the position does not get filled through this initial wave of resumes, it is likely to be open for quite some time.
Competition among search firms is healthy and should be encouraged. But it should take place before the search begins. Companies considering the use of external recruiting firms should conduct thorough due-diligence on a handful of firms and award the search, on an exclusive basis, to the firm that will best represent their interests. The exclusive nature of the relationship will give the recruiter the assurance needed to fully execute his or her search plan. This will result in the company gaining access to a deeper pool of candidates from a recruiter who is fully-committed to seeing the search through to completion.