Should I engage with multiple recruitment agencies to fill my open role?

Josh Hawkins
October 8, 20113 mins read

With a growing number of consultancies in the market, deciding who and how many agencies to engage with, will be the first and often the most important decision a hiring manager will face.

A common misconception is that engaging three or four agencies on a contingent basis (successful agency receives the placement fee), results in access to a greater candidate pool and three times the effort, ultimately delivering you the most suitable candidate.

However, engaging one strong specialist agency on either a retained or exclusive basis could be the best option, here are a few reasons why.

What recruitment agency works best under time pressure?

When consultants are up against three other agencies it can often become a race against the clock. It’s essential they speak to suitable candidates prior to their competitors in order to deliver a shortlist which will be rewarded.

By working on a retained (% of the fee paid upfront) or exclusive basis, consultants will often prioritise these assignments and take the time to ensure they conduct a thorough and sustained search of the market.

This will include not only searching the database, but speaking to their network of passive candidates, gaining referrals, the use of social networks, interviewing to ascertain personality and culture fit and spending the time to dig deeper into their candidate community to ensure they source the best possible candidate on the market at that time.

Yes, consultants will ensure this process happens on each and every assignment they engage in.

Can recruitment agencies reduce your workload?

Assuming you have your own ‘day job’ to do, reading through 20 CVs and interviewing a large number of candidates from the four agencies you have engaged will not be time well spent. By using one good agency you can be sure that you will receive a shortlist of three of the most relevant candidates on the market at that time.

What branding has to do with recruitment 

Most strong specialist agencies will be aware of the relevant candidates who are currently active in the market, and they will turn these candidates initially on a contingent assignment. By working with four agencies these candidates often get called by each agency with their own take on the role and your organisations values. Strong candidates can often be put off by clients who choose to engage a large number of agencies – if they feel they are one of twenty CVs the client is receiving, and are at final stages elsewhere, it may not be worth their time. Not to mention that the same role being mentioned numerous times by numerous agencies puts the organisation in a desperate light, therefore diluting the attractiveness of the role.

Recruitment is all about building long-term partnerships

Along with the extra time spent sourcing, you’ll find the service you receive will be much higher. Recruitment consultants won’t feel as pressured to send a shortlist, providing greater results. Once they’ve proven their worth on the successful placement, you’ll find a consistent service for future positions, taking the recruitment process into their hands as they will know your business better and the candidates you require.

So for your next assignment, consider using one specialist agency in their field on a retained or exclusive basis. Even if not with Morgan McKinley, you’ll find greater results and may never return to contingent sourcing.

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Josh Hawkins's picture
Associate Manager