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Importance of Exclusivity for Passive-Candidate Recruitment

Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. I’ve been seeing rising cases of insanity amongst employers in the recruiting world, by Einstein’s definition.

Some companies continue to approach hiring in the same way: They always use multiple recruiters, and post on multiple job boards. They do not work in strategic partnership with their recruiter. I do not understand why these clients do not make changes to their process when things don’t go the right way. It just doesn’t make sense.

Case in point: A client recently approached me because they need help filling a role that has been vacant for 4 months. This client came to me because they know I can find a suitable candidate; however, they would not commit to an exclusive recruiting agreement. I passed on the opportunity to work on this role, and the position is still open.

Employers should understand that if you want to achieve recruitment goals in the current environment, exclusivity is a must. Personally, I cannot commit to a non-exclusive account anymore due to time constraints managing multiple business units. Nowadays, the most experienced consultants in the business can generally pick and choose the roles they will support clients on. Without a partnership agreement, you may struggle to find the correct solution to your hiring problem.

Recruitment companies who accept a recruiting job without an exclusive agreement will almost certainly shuffle it off to a more junior consultant who lacks the gravitas to attract passive candidates – those in-demand professionals who aren’t necessarily looking to make a move.

Run-of-the-mill agencies provide average candidates. What is an ‘average candidate’? They have weaker CVs, with questionable work histories. Average candidates have average motivation levels. Average candidates are the equivalent of low-hanging fruit: they are more likely to be approached by several potential employers and recruiters at once.

If you’re not willing to work as an exclusive partner with a recruiter, you are probably going to be sorting through a pile of average candidates, because it takes extra effort from senior recruiters to find the most desirable passive candidates.

Why are passive candidates more desirable?

They are less likely to use your opportunity as a bargaining chip, because they are not looking at multiple opportunities. Passive candidates who have been recruited by an experienced headhunter are more loyal and discerning. As a senior consultant it is imperative that we understand candidate motivations, skill sets, and character. The opportunities we bring to passive candidates are more likely to be a perfect fit: which means it is more likely they can be enticed to leave their current position for a new opportunity.

The best recruiters know and understand our clients and candidates more intimately. We understand human psychology, with an innate ability to read people. We have deeper insights into the market; some might even call it foresight.

There are levels to the recruitment industry. If you want the most capable consultants to work on your behalf, exclusive partnership is a must.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The recruitment game is not about just finding the candidates anymore. Finding them is easy. Nowadays it’s more about courting and managing passive candidates, to convince them that joining your company is a winning move.

If you are not getting the right candidates for your company, do you at least understand why?

HR managers who are not achieving the desired level of success need to ask themselves: Are you listening to feedback and following your recruiter’s advice? Have you given your recruitment agency an exclusive agreement? Without exclusivity, consultants don’t have the incentive to pull out all the stops and approach those prized passive candidates.