Why should you use a recruiter exclusively? An honest guide.

Why should you use a recruiter exclusively? An honest guide.

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What’s in it for you, and you, and me? Here I explain why you should use a recruiter exclusively by looking at all parties involved in the recruitment process.

Of all the conversations I’ve had in 10+ years of Recruitment, the one I find myself having most is the topic of exclusivity.

Some companies I speak to don’t know what that means, others question the value of working exclusively over the way they’ve always worked with recruiters:

“What happens if you can’t find the right candidate? I’ve put all my eggs in your basket”

“I need to find someone fast, would more recruiters working on this not speed that up?”

“Can I really rely on you to deliver?”

Ultimately, you can narrow down the reasons for using a recruiter exclusively down to two words:

accountability and partnership.

They’re also two words that can almost always explain why your recruiter has not delivered in the past.

Before delving deeper it’s important to clear up what exclusivity means.


So what do I mean when I discuss exclusivity?

Working exclusively means selecting one recruiter to work with on your recruitment projects on an ‘exclusive’ basis for an agreed period of time.

An exclusive relationship should mean that more time is spent on your roles, with greater knowledge of your company and requirements, with more accountability for filling them, resulting in a greater chance of the role being filled with the right person.

What does this relationship look like in practice?

  • A partnership whereby the Recruiter has time to take a full brief and challenge it, talk about what works for you, and ask what hasn’t and why.
  • Your Recruitment partner should be able to present candidates that fit your business, not just the brief, and then tell you why.
  • You receive a brief on candidates, their story, why they’re looking, what they’re looking for, why they would be a good fit (or not), not just a sent CV.
  • There should be constant updates on the progress of your search, working towards an agreed plan, timescale, and measurables
  • You get feedback on the market and hires, requirements and process; most companies know what they do, a good recruiter knows what the market does. Honesty is key, let’s set realistic expectations from the start.

End result?

You get the best person, not the first person to apply for your role.

You save time. You save money.

All parties are happy.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mirror image, flexibility is a crucial part to the relationship, but these should form the core of the partnership you’ve engaged in.


So what does exclusivity allow?

The above is a good start.

Typically, I’ve found that you are 2 ½ times more likely to fill a role through working exclusively with a Recruitment partner.


The two words I mentioned at the start: accountability and partnership.

To understand exactly why, it’s important to look at why working this way is in the interest of not only yourself as a client but also a Recruitment partner and candidates. This also means telling some truths that are often skirted around.

Let’s start with Recruiters.


Why is working exclusively in the interest of a Recruiter?

When you choose a Recruitment partner you want to be working with a smart one, right? Smart Recruiters understand that time is money.

When it comes to the roles recruiters spend their time on, this means choosing the roles where they feel like their time is best going to be spent getting a return (getting paid).

Clients that work with 4 or 5 different recruiters don’t normally have the time to give the same detailed brief to 5 different recruiters, meaning the recruiter has to work off minimal information and understanding of the company, role, ideal candidate, or even just the job description from 2011.

The chances of the recruiter filling the role have already dropped dramatically.

Now factor in the fact that they would also be up against 4 or 5 other recruiters vying for the same talent in the same market for the same job. Of this competition it’s likely some will submit candidates before even briefing them in order to be first past the post; it’s a rat race with corners that are encouraged to be cut.

Now factor in the chances that the role could go on hold, Dave who worked for the client 5 years ago may reapply, the remit of the role could change, recruitment freeze, or contracts could be won or lost. Again, the recruiter doesn’t get paid.

As a recruiter in this system, you’re effectively hedging your bets with little chance of making money and a whole lot of lost time.

How’d you make up for this?

You have to take on 5x as many jobs in order to fill just one. You’re having to speak to 50 candidates per role, 5 of which interview, there’s 245 to go back to and tell them why they didn’t get the interview, it’s all more time wasted, and there’s no one paying for that.

Bearing in mind all these things, do you really think a recruiter is going to work late into the evening or come in on weekends in order to reach that elusive A* candidate for you without knowing they have a better chance of getting paid? Life is short after all.

This snowball effect creates an environment in which poor practice takes first place, clients aren’t left happy, candidates aren’t left happy, and ultimately the recruiter hasn’t come out too well either.

Speaking of clients…


Why is working exclusively in your interest as a client?

Your frustration with recruiters ultimately lies in their ability to deliver results and save you time and money.

So when you have to spend hours on end sifting through irrelevant, often duplicated, CVs from multiple recruiters you probably realise that you’re going to need a complex management system just to work through it all.

Which of the 4 or 5 agencies fired across Dave’s CV first?

Where are you with which candidate with which recruiter?

Why haven’t you heard anything from A or why do you candidates from B always leave 2 months after employment?

Frankly, you have better ways to spend your time; not wasting it is one of the reasons you engaged a recruiter in the first place.

The best candidates are often not found on job boards and they’re not just a CV. Working exclusively means your recruiter is either going to be able to or will already have mapped the market, make approaches to hard-to-find A* candidates, and then not only present them to you but by understanding you and your business can position the opportunity in the most attractive way.

Good candidates tend to ask the most and best questions, being able to answer these mean that both parties arrive knowing what to expect, saving time and any surprises or problems further down the line.

Your worries about exclusivity are easily allayed with accountability, something you should be guaranteed to have working exclusively. There should be measures in place including break clauses, weekly update calls, and agreed on SLAs in order to guarantee this.

With that said, if your hire is that important, especially in a candidate short market, be sure to never sacrifice quality for speed.

If you want a job done, do it properly. You may invest more time initially working with your exclusive recruitment partner but by the time the interview comes that time won’t have been wasted. This will benefit time and time again. Candidates are in front of you because they are the best for the job, not because a recruiter needed to get the CV in before another.

Imagine 90 minutes per interview, 5 candidates per job, 5 jobs per year, over 5 years. How many minutes is that?

11,250 minutes. That’s 187 hours with some change. That’s a month’s work.

Can you afford to be wasting that amount of time?

Money wasted on a bad purchase can be replaced, time wasted with the wrong recruiter cannot.


Why is working exclusively in the interest of the candidate?

Candidates for your roles biggest frustration is often the lack of feedback on an application. They’re left wondering if the job was real, whether the time they put into it was worth it, and are often approached by multiple recruiters about the same position.

All in all, their lasting thought is whether your company is serious about hiring the best people.

It’s bad for your company’s reputation, and word of this does spread.

What’s more, in my experience, the best people want to work with a company full of other top performers. With a bad experience, it’s likely that company won’t be yours.

Working exclusively with a recruiter enables the time and information needed to keep the candidate updated throughout the application process, give detailed feedback, and honest information about the role and company; there should be no surprises and a much higher chance that they won’t inevitably leave within the first few months.


An exclusive club

The reality is that if your recruitment isn’t working, it’s not all that hard to figure it out. Everybody wants to blame each other, nobody wants to take an honest assessment of what is going wrong, probe, and fix it.

Fixing it simply requires those two words again: accountability and partnership.By choosing an exclusivity with the right recruiter, this is what you’re receiving. The results will follow.

Next time a recruiter asks you to take them on exclusively, ask them why. If they can’t answer, they’re not the exclusive recruitment partner for you.

Recruitment is a business just like any other, and just like any other business partner, you want to work with the one that’s smart, that’s successful, and that delivers.


What are your thoughts?


I’d love to chat with you about working exclusively with us at Eligo or give you advice on how you can improve your recruitment activities. We offer a range of services, fully flexible to your company’s needs and goals. Ultimately your recruitment is all about you. When you partner with Eligo you’re not just receiving a Recruitment supplier; you’re receiving a business partner as well.

Get in touch to discuss further, receive a free benchmark of your attraction, retention, and selection processes, or ask me any questions you may have. You can also find out more about how Eligo works with our clients here.