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Why multiple candidate representation hurts everyone

Business is war, so the saying goes. We disagree.

If a client has two agencies and both put forward the same candidate for the same job then this will make everyone look bad - but where does the fault lie?

Added on 13.09.2014

Is it the client's fault for not briefing the agencies properly?

If a company relies on more than one recruitment consultant to source people for them then these recruiters need to know about each other. It's not just common courtesy, it's good business practice. If two recruiters source the same candidate then time has been wasted - time that could have been spent finding other suitable people for the job.

Is it the recruiter's fault for not briefing their client or candidate properly?

Some recruiters are more about sales levels than they are about building relationships. Some do not speak to candidates before putting them forward for a job. Some do not meet their candidates face to face but instead interview them over the phone. Some do not discuss the roles with their clients. All of this short-termism creates damaging opinions of recruiters and leads to a lack of loyalty from clients and candidates alike.

Is it the candidate's fault for not coming clean with the recruiters?

Some candidates mistakenly believe that to be represented by more than one agency increases their chance of success, but it doesn't. What it does do is show that they can't be trusted.

Poor communication and a lack of openness hurts everyone in the long term, so here's three things that you need to do.

ONE: Agree SLAs (Service Level Agreements) with clients - and talk to them regularly

Make sure that your clients understand that engaging more than one agency to do the same job means that these businesses have to know about each other. If you're not the sole agency for a client, then get a clause added to the SLA that prohibits candidate poaching. Make sure the client understands that 'first come, first served' is an incentive for any recruiter to provide results quickly, but make sure that they also understand that speed and volume does not necessarily equal quality. Make sure they know what you do when it comes to the selection process and the work that goes in to making sure you are sending them great people.

TWO: Demonstrate loyalty to your candidates - and demand it in return

We've written before about making candidates feel valued and appreciated. Show them respect, and ask for it too. We recommend that you get candidates to sign a simple representation form or exclusivity contract, which can be time limited to ensure that the candidate knows that you both have responsibilities that need to be met.

THREE: Build a talent pool so you can work fast

If you have to start looking every time a role comes your way, you're going to lose out to those that look every day.

At the end of that day it's all about two things: showing quality and building relationships. Successful people in any area of business know that these are the two most important things to survive and thrive in the long term.