Tony Parish

The phrase “less is more” certainly applies to recruitment, you can be forgiven for thinking that using more recruitment agencies increase the odds of filling your vacancy. However, this is a false economy and you will actually save more time and fees with an exclusive recruitment arrangement.

There are many different reasons why you may have chosen to outsource your talent search. You may be busy, and finding the time to invest in building your team has become a burden…one task that you cannot manage alongside the more pressing day to day issues…Alternatively, you might be a small but ambitious organisation and you know that you need to push your business to the next level, however, you lack the resources to find or attract the right hire for your business needs.  These are just a couple of the possibilities that may have led you to seek out the professional support of a recruitment partner.

So how do you get the maximum amount of value from your recruitment partners?  If you are a rookie to the recruitment game and have never embarked on a collaboration with a recruitment agency before, you can be forgiven for thinking that your best strategy is to let as many agencies as possible work on the role.

That would ensure that your job is seen by the most candidates, right? Wrong!

Or that you will have the best efforts of 4, 5 or even 10+ professionals seeking out stellar superstars? Nope.

Or that each agency will work quickly and efficiently, as they battle against each other for your fee?  Wrong again.

In fact, quite the opposite.

You stand a much better chance of success by employing the services of just one or two well-vetted agencies.

How often do we hear that there’s strength in numbers, though?  Or not to put all your eggs in one basket? When it comes to your collaboration with recruitment professionals, this could not be further from the truth. 

If you are unsure about how to go about getting the most bang for your buck when outsourcing your recruitment process, then read on…

There are a few common myths and misconceptions about working with lots of recruiters…

Myth #1: Agencies will compete more fiercely for you.

This is not the case, and you will not receive a better commitment to your role.  Let’s say for example that you send your role to 4 agencies, you are in essence only giving each agency 25% of your business.

All high-quality agencies will qualify themselves out of such an arrangement, leaving you with a collection of desperate recruiters to fulfil your vital hiring requirements. 

The remaining desperados will only be rewarded with 25% of their effort and time. They could be working on other roles exclusively, and will naturally prioritise their workload toward those.  Imagine if one of those is your competitor and they are recruiting a similar or identical position to yours?

If you allow a recruiter to work exclusively on your role, for a period of time at least, you will garner 100% of their time and resources. 

Myth #2: You will get a better spread of candidates.

Research suggests that less than 5% of candidates are registered with a recruiter.  Great candidates are often in employment already meaning that they are not actively seeking new opportunities. Very few, if any passive candidates will respond to job ads at all. In short, your consultant will need to seek them out.

Using multiple recruitment partners will mean that no agency will invest the time in trawling through huge amounts of CVs or LinkedIn profiles to find you the very best candidate. 

Additionally, it is likely that all your consultants will stumble across the same CVs in this rudimentary search process, heavily limiting the reach of your vacancy and the talent pool from which your role is resourced.

Myth #3: You will fill your role faster and save time.

This myth is really an extension of the first two, but it demonstrates again the detriment of a dilution of service.  Firstly, if you are recruiting for a senior position or a higher executive role, this is especially true.

These candidates are more likely to be happy in their role. Perks, higher salaries and a greater level of job satisfaction will mean that they will need to be found and approached.

The time needed to do this will not be afforded to you.  

Secondly, you will more than likely be sent a higher number of unsuitable candidates, none of which being quite right.

Your role will remain unfilled for longer and you will have to bear the time cost of going over the CVs of most likely average and poorly screened candidates.

Benefits of an exclusive recruiter relationship.

The good to great recruitment agencies out there will ask for your role to be given to them on an exclusive basis.  This means that for a period of time, they alone have full access to your role. By affording them this luxury you will maximise your return and really get the most out of your chosen recruitment partner.

Be warned though that you should only give exclusivity to highly competent recruiters!

The benefits of an exclusive recruitment relationship…

You will see a better quality of candidate.  

When recruitment agencies compete in a ‘CV race’ to get candidates in front of you then it can dilute the quality of candidate referral. This is especially valid as we move swiftly into what is known as a “candidate-led market” where there is a shortage of quality candidates

Two competing agencies might rush to get the lower quality “active candidates” in front of you whereas exclusivity gives recruiters the time and breathing space needed to find the higher quality “passive candidates.”

Selling a role to passive candidates will generally have a longer turnaround time. However, the flip side is that it provides a higher quality of candidate. Truly talented candidates are normally employed by good/great employers they are not actively looking so your opportunity needs to be presented to them – and they need a very good reason to move.

You’ll save time

Exclusivity allows recruiters to build a shortlist up and present the best candidates to you from that shortlist. If you have given out a great recruitment brief for this role and selected the right recruiter for the job then you should have some very interesting candidates to choose from. This structured process allows you to batch process this shortlist at a convenient time for you and block off off some time to give that all-important constructive and useful feedback.

The alternative of using several suppliers at once is that CVs will be getting sent to you in ones and twos and pestered by several different recruiters who are frantically looking for feedback.

You will pay less in recruitment fees

Granting exclusivity can be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate lower fees. Exclusivity is a ‘win-win’ deal so the kind of experienced and successful recruiter that you wish to make this arrangement with will be willing to drop their recruitment fees if they are able to be the sole supplier for your role.

Choosing the right exclusive recruitment partner

So with monogamy being so crucial in the success of your recruitment partnership, what should you be looking for in your partner of choice?  

With so many agencies out there that represent themselves as “different” or as “changing the face of recruitment”, it can be a daunting task to pick the best team for the job. Before choosing or even shortlisting, these three questions are a good starting point:

  1. Are they specialists? A recruiter with experience in a specialist field will have professional connections and a personal reputation to uphold. They will also have a genuine interest in your opportunity and will no doubt have filled a vacancy such as yours before and have a network of suitable candidates from which to draw upon. 
  2. Are they professional?  Have you looked into how they operate and have you experienced what the candidates can expect from their representation? Take a look at the way they present their job adverts, would you be happy for them to be viewed as an extension of your business and employment brand? If the answer is no, then move on.
  3. Are they accredited?  APSCo is the ‘gold standard’ of recruitment accreditation for recruitment agencies.  Before an agency can become an affiliate of such a body, they need to provide multiple references and display a certain level of business practice.  It makes good sense to side with an agency that can boast this. Endorsement from an accredited body will provide you with the reassurance that your role, employer brand and candidate experience are in good hands.


It is evident that working with multiple recruitment partners will be of detriment to your recruitment process.  

Not only will it devalue your employer brand and role, it will also not garner you the best possible candidates for the role. Your role will not be filled any more quickly, or with any care.

Investment in an exclusive recruitment relationship or up to two highly-vetted suppliers is the key to maximising your chances of filling your role with the best person for the job.

If your business is looking for a digital or technical recruitment solution then we at Ignite Digital Talent are APSCo accredited and specialists in our field.  Our dedicated and talented consultants pride themselves on delivering a first class service to our clients and we take a unique approach to our talent search.

Why not drop us a line to see how we can manage your recruitment strategy. You’ll be in safe hands.


Tony Parish, Co-Founder and Director of Technology at Ignite Digital Talent

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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