Do You Get More Candidates When Hiring Multiple Recruitment Agencies?

I can sort of understand why companies hire multiple recruiters to source for the same role.

I’m guessing they see it like a treasure hunt. If you hire one person to find the treasure, you have a slim chance of finding it, but if you hire SEVEN people to find the treasure, you multiply your chances by seven, am I right? Am I right?

Except that now, your treasure hunters are all using advanced technology that means they can ALL find that treasure within 5 minutes.

Now, the treasure hunters are weighing up whether it’s even worth searching for the treasure because they can see six other treasure hunters firing up their technology. Some of them have cool tools, as well.

Should we try to find this treasure, or wait for an easier opportunity?

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Hiring multiple recruiters for one role encourages the wrong behaviours:

  • Rightly, the recruiter weights up their commercial chances of making some money.
  • If that chance is one in seven, you won’t get maximum effort. At most, you’ll get 1/7th the effort required.
  • That means you’ll probably get:
    • Recycled candidates from previous jobs
    • The most active candidates, interviewing in many places & sending prospective CVs everywhere
    • Very little attention from the recruiter who knows commercially, this is all it’s worth. They will rightly concentrate on exclusive roles or retained partnerships where the fee is more certain.
  • Can you be guaranteed that all seven recruiters are representing your brand accurately? As marketers, we know how important this is.
  • And is it a good candidate experience when they’re contacted by multiple recruiters about the same role? In our experience, candidates value the opportunity less.

Recruiters get a bad rap – and many deserve it. But offering a partnership that is effectively a gamble only encourages gambling. If you had a 1 in 7 chance of earning your fee, would you give it your all?

The reality is that all recruiters have an equal opportunity of uncovering your target candidate market. All recruiters have a network, a database, and the ability to search for your ideal profile. But rightly, they’ll only do so if it’s commercially viable. To request someone to complete work with a one in seven chance of being paid only encourages reckless behaviour, and only gives you a low-quality service.

That’s why we pulled out of a role where we discovered we were up against 6 other recruiters. For one, our candidates were being put forward by two or three recruiters, and were confused.

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I think this stems from the belief that recruiters are like estate agents.

I used to think this when I was a marketer working both in-house and agency-side. I thought recruiters were gamblers who wanged out CVs on a half-chance of earning a fee.

And then I retrained and I met recruiters who took a very different approach. No gambling. No CV-wanging. No pushy sales techniques.

So if you are in the market for a recruiter, just go for one. Only one. And ask them for the following:

  • Who do they know in your industry? (Their LinkedIn profiles will help you)
  • What do they know about the roles they’re hiring for? (previous experience doing the roles will help)
  • What can they realistically offer you from the marketplace? (i.e. is your brief realistic?)
  • What experience do they have with similar roles? (i.e. timescales to expect, salaries, competitiveness)
  • How do they work? (Job ads, headhunting, recycled candidates, that kind of thing)

If you hire multiple recruiters, go for two or three at the very most, and ensure that they’re covering different bases. For instance, a headhunter, a job boards specialist and a networker. They may overlap, and likely they’ll still be contacting the same people – if your brief is tight enough – but the very best recruiters will be able to cover all areas anyway.

The hiring of many recruiters stems from mistrust, a mistrust that has been brought about by… hiring many recruiters. A vicious circle. As both clients and recruiters, we need to end that vicious circle.

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