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  • Irene Iliopoulos

When selecting a recruitment agency, is it better to use one when hiring, or a few?

What is exclusivity, and am I required to give an agency exclusivity?


Exclusivity in recruitment is when a company outsources their job openings to a recruitment agency for added support, and they only give it to that agency. Are you required to give an agency exclusivity? Usually not, but some do demand it, which I believe to be an issue. If an agency is demanding you only work with them, I’d suggest shopping around a bit first. Many of my clients do exclusively work with me, but that’s because they’ve chosen to. Being confident in my abilities to help my clients hire, and having proven to them that I can, there really isn’t a need to ask for exclusive rights to their mandates. If anything, I think it sets a bad business tone from the get-go. So be careful with, and ask questions if an agency ever demands it of you.


That being said, I do strongly encourage companies to use only one agency at a time. If you really want to test a couple out, maybe give them each a different mandate to help you hire for, but don’t give the same job opening to 5+ agencies (it happens, and it’s terrible).


Why is this a bad idea, you ask.

Well, first, you will have to navigate your relationship, your communications, your feedback, etc… with too many people. This takes up A LOT of your time and will unnecessarily complicate your life. External recruiters, the good ones at least, also pride themselves on providing their candidates with timely feedback, so when trying to remember who sent you which candidate inevitably delays the process, you’ll be bombarded with agency emails and calls for feedback. Then you’ll be annoyed.

Delayed process, another really important factor. As mentioned above, you’ll be trying so hard to stay organized with all the candidates and notes that each agency sends you, you’ll be lengthening the recruitment process. Then your hiring managers will be annoyed.


Speaking of annoyed, let’s look at it from the sourced candidates, jobseekers, and the agencies perspectives.

The sourced candidate: this person is not necessarily looking for new employment, he/she is being headhunted. Recruiters use the internet to find these passive candidates, and these passive candidates already don’t usually like dealing with recruiters. What makes it even worse? When they’ve been contacted by 5 different recruiters for the exact same role. This happened to me in the past with a couple of clients, resulting in the candidates deciding to never work with the company because of how annoying it was to be contacted so many times for the same role. They basically viewed the company (the agency’s client) as unorganized and not a place they’d thrive in.


The jobseeker: this person is searching for suitable roles online and applying. And trust me, they’re not happy applying to the exact same roles 5 times, and being contacted about their application 5 different times.

The agency recruiter. This poor soul is just trying to do his/her job but can’t be effective when they must race against other agencies. Everyone gets a poor service in these circumstances. The agency is annoyed when they’ve found someone great who was already presented to you, the client, by another 3 recruitment agencies. They’re annoyed when they’re told off by candidates for reaching out to them for the same opportunity for the 4th time, and they’re annoyed that their job has now become a competition.


Do I force exclusivity? No, absolutely not, but I encourage it, and as an agency, I very often prove my benefit, and ultimately gain exclusive rights with my clients.