Vacant sales positions are of the utmost urgency for a company to fill because vacant sales territories mean lost revenues. Also, many sales managers have their own performance bonuses and incentives tied to having their sales headcount full. When a position is open, it is often the “knee jerk” reaction to call several recruiting firms, thinking that more firms on the search will mean more candidates sooner.   Over my twenty-five years in the search industry, I have seen this approach backfire repeatedly. Instead, two bad things happen: the search process is delayed and many of the best recruits steer clear of the opening.

If you are truly partnered with a qualified search firm, that firm will fill your opening with the best possible candidate they can find, and they will do it as soon as possible. Search firms, especially contingency firms, have nothing to gain by moving slow in an effort to fill your position.

Here are some things you need to know about what happens when multiple firms are put into the same market; left to “duke it out” and see who gets the candidates first.

  1. The Company Must be Desperate!” – Many candidates think the company is desperate because they need multiple firms. I have actually had candidates tell me, “No, thanks! You are the third recruiter to call me on this opening this week. If the company is that desperate, I don’t want anything to do with them.”
  2. Too Many Chefs in the KitchenI have had top candidates withdraw from consideration because, after my firm recruited them with good information, a second recruiter came along and had a completely different spin on the opening.   They undersold it or provided wrong information, and when it came time to schedule our candidate for an interview, the candidate withdrew.
  3. Sore LosersBelieve it or not, some unscrupulous recruiters, when finding out they were beaten to a quality candidate by another recruiter, will intentionally sabotage the opportunity with that candidate. In hopes of now unseating that candidate, these unprincipled recruiters will deliberately talk the candidate out of the opportunity in hopes of finding another one of their own.
  4. Diminished Quality ControlMany recruiters do not work your openings directly. Rather, they subcontract, or split your opening with other recruiters. (National Register does not split or subcontract openings. We work your search 100% in house.)  How can your recruiting message be properly delivered to a top recruit when he or she is being called by a recruiter that has never spoken to you?  I actually have had calls from recruiters asking me if I could help them on a search, where they were already the third recruiter in a chain of firms trying to fill the same position through another firm.
  5. Your Recruiter Becomes Your CompetitorWith multiple recruiters, if one of the firms fills your opening, the other recruiters (especially the splits) may not get the word.   We actually had a case when, after we filled a position, one of the other recruiters called the best friend of our candidate that already accepted the job. One week prior to start date, that candidate called us in a real panic, asking “Are they withdrawing my offer? I just got a call from a friend of mine who was called by a recruiter about the job I just accepted!”

Using multiple recruiting firms at best creates unnecessary confusion in the marketplace. At worst, it undermines and damages your efforts to fill a critical position. My advice — find a recruiting firm and give them the latitude they need to be effective for you. If they don’t get the job done, find another one.


By Patrick A. Mingarelle
Executive Vice President , National Register USA

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