At first glance, using multiple recruiting agencies seems like a good idea. It seems like a good idea if you’re a hiring manager. And it seems like a good idea if you’re a job seeker or candidate.
However, the first glance is deceptive. That’s because it is NOT a good idea.
But what are the reasons why people think that using multiple recruiting agencies is a good idea?
The reasons people try to use multiple recruiting agencies
From the point of view of a hiring manager, it seems to make perfectly logical sense. You need to hire somebody to fill an important position. It’s so important, in fact, that the company’s leadership has decided to use the services of a third-party recruiting agency.
So if it’s okay to use one agency, why wouldn’t it be okay to use more than one?
After all, doesn’t that means you’ll see more job candidates? And if you have access to more candidates, doesn’t that increase the chances that you’ll find the right one?
Job seekers and candidate apply the same logic. They believe that working with multiple recruiting agencies will mean access to more job opportunities. And if they have access to more opportunities, doesn’t that increase the chances that they’ll find the right one?
This line of reasoning does appear to make sense. Ultimately, though, using multiple recruiting agencies is counterproductive.
Multiple recruiting agencies: the employer side
As of the publishing of this blog post, it’s still a candidate’s market in the employment marketplace. That means many things. First, it means there are more available job opportunities in most industries than there are qualified candidates to fill them. Second, it means that qualified candidates have the leverage in most hiring situations. In other words, employers need the job candidates more than the candidates need the employers.
As mentioned above, this would seem to be a situation in which working with multiple recruiting agencies would make sense. Especially since qualified candidates are so difficult to find, much less engage, recruit, and successfully hire.
However, just the opposite is the case. If you’re a hiring manager or other decision maker attempting to fill an important, high-level position, the best way to do so is with one recruiting firm. Working with multiple recruiting agencies will only complicate the process and hamper the results. And we have three reasons why that’s the case.
#1—Better quality candidates
Motivation is a critical component of human interaction. This is as true in the professional realm as it is in the personal. People do what they are motivated to do. While that’s a simple reality, it’s not always easy to extrapolate people’s motivating behaviors.
In this instance, if you have multiple recruiting agencies working on the same search assignment, there’s a good chance that the recruiters in those firms will figure out they’re competing against each other. When that happens, they’ll be motivated to produce candidates as quickly as possible. The reason? They want to “beat” the other firms. Does that mean they’ll sacrifice quality for speed? Yes, it does. When you emphasize speed, you de-emphasize quality . . . even if you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing. And in a candidates’ job market, it’s even more difficult to get both speed and quality.
On the other hand, when you work with just one firm, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for speed. That’s because the recruiters in the firm don’t have to worry about competing. All they have to worry about is sourcing the best candidates for your organization’s open position. They’ll be motivated to do exactly what you want them to do, which is find the best candidates possible in the shortest amount of time possible.
#2—Better lines of communication
Poor communication or lack of communication can derail any business deal. This includes the recruiting and hiring of job candidates for critical positions. When you work with multiple recruiting agencies, you increase the chances of miscommunication. That’s because the recruiters within each agency only care about their own firm and their own candidates. They certainly don’t care about any other firm’s candidates. That means it’s up to you as the hiring manager to keep everything straight. And if you can’t manage to do that, then it can lead to complications.
However, those problems do not exist when you work with just one recruiting firm. There’s one point of contact for all of the candidates and all of the interviews. The whole process is more streamlined, and there is less of a chance that there will be a miscommunication. (Let’s face it: the recruiting and hiring process is difficult enough even when there is proper communication!)
#3—A better candidate experience and employer branding
Never has the candidate experience and employer branding been more important than it is right now. Ten years ago—or perhaps even five years ago—not many people were talking about either of these issues. Now it’s generally acknowledged that these are major factors in terms of recruiting and hiring in today’s job market.
The better the experience that you provide for candidates, the better the chances that you’ll be able to hire one of them. (Preferably your top choice.) However, working with multiple recruiting agencies does not ensure that you’ll provide a superb experience. After all, if you work with multiple firms, do you know exactly what type of experience those firms are providing for candidates? More than likely, no—not to the full extent, anyway.
When you enlist the services of a professional recruiter or search consultant, that recruiter and its firm is an extension of your organization. In other words, they represent you. They’re part of your company’s employer branding process, meaning they have the power to brand you in a positive way . . . or a negative way. And when you work with multiple recruiting agencies, you increase the likelihood of the latter, which can negatively impact your odds for success.
Once again, though, it’s a different story when you work with just one recruiting firm. This is especially the case when you work with a firm that is both experienced and reputable and that you trust. In such a situation, you have more control over the type of experience that job candidates have when they’re part of your organization’s hiring process. The candidate enjoys a better experience, you brand your organization the right way, and everybody wins. (If you ultimately hire the candidate you want to hire, that is.)
Multiple recruiting agencies: the job candidate side
The same logic that tempts employers to use multiple recruiting agencies also tempts job seekers and candidate to do likewise. They believe that using multiple firms will increase their chances for success. However, like with employers, exactly the opposite is the case.
And we have three reasons why this is the case:
#1—You are not going to appear more qualified.
Either you’re qualified for the position or you’re not. Hiring managers do not base their selection of candidates upon how many times and different ways those candidates have applied. If you’re not qualified for the position the first time you applied for it or was presented by a candidate, then you won’t be qualified the next time you apply or are presented.
In fact, just the opposite might be the case. When you apply more than once for a position and/or you use different avenues to do so, the hiring manager might think that you’re attempting to compensate for the fact you’re not qualified. They might think you believe you’re relentless, can-do attitude and boundless energy and enthusiasm are hiding deficiencies in your candidacy. And you do not want to create such thoughts in the minds of hiring managers.
#2—It’s a potential personal branding mistake.
Then there is the branding side of the equation. Never has personal branding been as important as it is right now. Even if it’s a candidates’ marketing and companies are willing to hire, you don’t want to brand yourself in a negative way. Applying for a job more than once and doing so through multiple recruiting agencies is one way to brand yourself this way.
Ideally, you want to make a good first impression with a hiring manager. That way, even if you’re not considered a viable candidate for the position, they will remember you in a positive way. Then, when a position becomes open for which you would be a viable candidate, you’ll be one of the first people they reach out to about it. (Or they’ll reach out to the recruiting firm that is representing you—recruiting firm, singular and not plural.)
#3—The hiring manager likely trusts only one recruiting firm.
Speaking of just one recruiting firm, the reasons that we advocate employers use just one recruiting firm are the same reasons that many hiring managers do just that. The bottom line is that it results in a smoother, better search process. From the employer’s perspective, it wants to hire the best candidate possible in the shortest amount of time possible. As we’ve already discussed, working with multiple recruiting agencies does not accomplish that.
Instead, working exclusively with one recruiting firm that is devoting its time, energy, and resources to the search does help to accomplish that. Therefore, if a hiring manager gives the search assignment to one recruiting firm, it means the hiring manager trust that firm. It also means that you should want to be represented by that firm. The logic is simple. If the hiring manager trusts the recruiting firm and that recruiting firm represents you, then the hiring manager is going to trust you as a candidate if the recruiting firm presents you for an open position.
Multiple recruiting agencies: Top Echelon Network
Top Echelon Network is an elite network of highly successful search firms. Top Echelon has been in existence as a recruiting network since 1988, meaning that we’ve served the recruiting and staffing profession for nearly 35 years.
There are, of course, multiple recruiting agencies that are members of Top Echelon Network. In fact, there are more than 500 member agencies in Top Echelon. These agencies undergo a rigorous four-stage screening process before they can become members of the Network. At Top Echelon, we don’t let ever single agency that applies for membership join the Network.
If you’re an agency owner and you think that Network membership might be right for you, we invite you to request a demo of Network membership. After that, you have the option of starting the membership application process. However, as mentioned above, keep in mind that not every recruiting agency that applies for membership actually becomes a member. There are stipulations involved in the membership application process.
If you’re a hiring manager and you’re looking to fill an important and/or high-level position and you need the help of a recruiting firm, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working with multiple recruiting agencies rarely ends well. That applies to both employers and job candidates. That’s why not only should you work with just one recruiting firm, but you should work with the most experienced and reputable one that you can find.