By: Len Adams, CPC, CTS

The conventional wisdom of most organizations is that the more outlets they use to post open positions, the better the odds of identifying the “IDEAL” candidate(s). Many subscribe to the theory that “more is better”.

As the owner and CEO of a company in the Search, Recruiting and Staffing space for over 40 years, and, at the risk of appearing to be self-serving, I disagree with this approach for the most part.

I will be the first to admit that the decision to utilize multiple recruiters/outlets to post open positions depends on the specific situation, number of positions, level of position(s), etc.

The truth of the matter is, in most cases, more is not better. As the hiring client, the primary reason to use a recruiting firm should be for the recruiting firm to assist in presenting a qualified pool of candidates. What often happens is a client wants to see a LARGE pool of candidates. I would argue that a large pool doesn’t necessarily mean that a client will find a better candidate based on the number of candidates they see.

Narrowing the pool of submissions

A quality recruiting firm can generally evaluate a large pool of candidates and assist in narrowing the pool down to several that the client would want to interview.

In any given market, if several recruiting firms are being used for a position, chances are they will step on each other’s toes when reaching out to qualified candidates. Most firms have an internal database of candidates as well as access to networks of people as referral sources, etc. A qualified recruiting firm will access all of those tools quickly and effectively. Just because a position is listed with numerous firms, it does not guarantee that a search will yield MORE quality candidates. In reality, having a position listed with several firms may actually REDUCE the quality of resumes that are presented. Oftentimes, recruiters, knowing that there are multiple outlets being utilized, will race to make the submission so as not to “lose the submission race.”

Multiple recruiters submitting resumes can mean multiple submissions. This can lead to scenarios where a timeline of submission can cause a conflict amongst multiple firms (and the client).


If a search is CONFIDENTIAL, it becomes more difficult to control the flow of information than if it’s listed with more than one firm. If a client has asked a firm to keep the search confidential, they can hold that firm accountable. If more firms are working on the search, it becomes far more difficult to control.

Another point to consider is that from a time management viewpoint, it’s far easier for the client to manage a relationship with one or two recruiters than with 30. Plus, if you are working with multiple recruiters, the number of resumes you will receive will multiply by that number of recruiters. Kind of defeats the purpose. With this being said, as the number of resumes multiply, it becomes far more difficult to review each and every resume consistently and effectively.

We hear from clients many times that one of the main reasons they do not work with one firm exclusively is that they do not want to give the appearance that there is something unethical going on (i.e. kickbacks, etc.).

My question to that is, how many Accounting firms, Law firms, Insurance brokers, etc., does the client use? In most cases it is one. If the decision to use one firm is based on SERVICE and QUALITY, then that potential argument should not hold water.

To that point, if a client feels that they may want to maintain good relationships with more than one Search or Staffing provider, perhaps they can do what one client of mine did for many years. She rotated positions amongst three qualified firms. ALL three firms were competitors in the space. We all knew that we were not going to receive every job, but when we did get a job, we had an exclusive. This enabled the client to receive superior service from each firm and allowed the firm to know that when we received an open position, we had a very good chance of filling it, rather than trying to race the clock to make submissions.

This holds true as well when it comes to Temporary Staffing. One of the issues we have encountered when a client lists temporary positions with multiple firms is that “rate Race” occurs. Rate race means that in an attempt to compete, some firms (or candidates) will bid up the rate in an effort to attract the candidate to be assigned through their firm… All this accomplishes is it creates an artificial increase in the value of a position.

When evaluating a Search or staffing firm partner, there are several things that should be considered:

  • Length of time in business
  • Quality of Recruitment staff
  • Responsiveness of Sir Management to any issues, concerns, etc.
  • Resume submission to Interview ratio
  • Internal turnover of staff
  • Is recruiting performed by in house staff or do they outsource to an RPO Model (Generally overseas)

The bottom line is, working with multiple recruiters and staffing firms on every assignment does not really benefit anyone, the client, the candidate or the recruiting firm. As a matter of fact, if a position is listed with more than 1-3 recruiters, the recruiting firm is not incentivized to spend a great deal of time on a position where there is very little chance that they may actually fill it.

If a client can develop a PARTNERSHIP with a small number of firms, they will find that their service level will be far better. If you as the client are truly satisfied with the services of your recruiting firm partner, why go anywhere else.

Conversely, if you are NOT satisfied, or you do not truly believe that they can effectively meet your needs, then by all means, tell them and go somewhere else.

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