Competitive vs Exclusive Recruitment

by Chris Booth, Mar 17, 2022

  • Tech
  • Industry

If you’ve ever worked with a recruitment consultant, you’ve likely had a conversation about exclusivity which has left you feeling skeptical.

When you have no history of a successful relationship with a recruiter, how can you justify giving away total rights to an assignment?

After all, surely “many hands make light work”, right?


While an exclusive recruitment relationship isn’t right for every role in every company, there’s much more to it than simply safety in numbers. In fact, the way a recruitment consultant approaches an assignment is completely different depending whether its competitive or exclusive.

So, before you write off exclusivity on your next assignment, take a moment to weigh up the pros and cons of both approaches. We’ve outlined them for you below.

Competitive Recruitment

Competitive recruitment is often about urgency. It’s a race to the finish. Who can send over the first candidate CVs?

Typically, this means quantity and speed are prioritised over quality candidates, which can make the process messy and inaccurate.

In our experience, a competitive assignment will rarely afford you the time, space, or strategy to discover the most high-value talent on the market. In fact, it often wastes the hiring manager’s time, having to sift through useless CVs that leave you feeling exhausted and discouraged.

How It Works

To kick it off, a group of consultants will attend a call with a wider PSL. The hiring manager will likely run this call, where they will brief up to six consultants, who will then eagerly rush off and start their urgent search for the “best” candidate they can find.

You may be thinking: “this doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. I’d love to have six people urgently searching for a candidate to fill my vacancy.”

But, urgency can quickly become problematic…

The consultants will get their job ad up urgently, start hurriedly speaking to candidates on job boards, and urgently check if their “hot candidates” from the last few assignments are still searching for roles.

Then, any candidates who fit on paper are rushed to an interview with a consultant with an urgent request to urgently send their CV across to the company as their representative - whether they’re truly a strong fit or not. (And that’s IF consultants follow proper protocol and receive confirmation of representation before rushing to send over the first CV.)

You, the hiring manager, then have to sift through an unqualified pile of loosely fitting CVs, of which very few candidates will be worth interviewing - wasting your time and leaving you disheartened.

Meanwhile, the other five consultants have found the same best-fitting candidate from the database. They’ve realised the candidate is already being represented, and all is lost…

Their possibility of winning this assignment and generating their commission is gone. So they lose interest.

It’s at this point when work ethic dries up and market coverage starts to slow. Consultants don’t put in the time to find the best candidates because in their minds they’ve already lost the assignment. CVs sent to the hiring company are drastically reduced, great candidates are missed, and you’re left with a choice of candidates who fit 50% of your needs (at best!) while the consultants urgently move onto the next assignment where their chances are higher.

In summary

  • More hands & eyes on your search

  • Speed and urgency

  • Inaccuracy

  • Time wasted sifting through irrelevant CVs

  • Low motivation

  • Missed quality candidates

  • Low CV to interview ratio

Exclusive recruitment

Let’s compare this to an exclusive arrangement.

With one consultant working on your assignment, their approach will be more considered. They need to work fast, yes. But, as only one pair of hands, they have to think strategically about how to use their time efficiently to find the best candidates. No matter what anyone else does, this is their sole responsibility.

So, after a consultant takes a brief for an exclusive assignment, the approach is vastly different to the scattergun approach above. It values quality and efficiency over quantity and urgency.

How it works

After receiving a brief from the hiring manager, in which the consultant will have time to gain a thorough understanding of the role, company, and culture, the consultant working on an exclusive assignment will take the time to consider the best approach.

Even in situations where there is a time limit on the placement, the recruiter will take their time to build a shortlist, screen out ill-fitting candidates, conduct in-depth pre-interviews, and send quality write ups about the candidates. You, the hiring manager, then receive a shortlist of relevant, high-quality candidates, (with tailored cover letters if they’re coming from us) where you can have your pick of who goes to interview.

The thought and dedication consultants put into an exclusive assignment typically means the talent acquisition is much more accurate and efficient, saving you hours of sifting through irrelevant CVs and improving the likelihood of sending these candidates straight to interview.

Plus, exclusive recruitment is not only clean and efficient, but it can also be highly discreet in situations where you’d rather keep an assignment as quiet as possible.

In summary

  • Better market exposure

  • Time saved reviewing CVs - you receive a shortlist of quality candidates

  • Qualitative approach

  • Increased discretion

  • Potential decreased cost (some agencies offer reduced fees based on exclusivity)

  • Increased control on public visibility

  • Consultant efficiency & focus - willingness to go the extra mile & consider more advanced tactics knowing they own the responsibility for the assignment

  • Happier candidates - saving time on roles they don’t fit & a more realistic picture of the competition

  • We can’t think of any!

Let’s be exclusive

At Findrs, we believe in monogamy. We rarely take on competitive work because we think it benefits no one: candidates, consultants, and hiring managers alike waste time and are left feeling discouraged from rushed quantitive searches that reduce the rate of high-quality, satisfactory placements.

We pride ourselves on providing a high-end service and we will never compromise on that. If we can help someone, we will - and we always strive to go the extra mile.

We value honesty and transparency above anything, so if we’re offered an assignment that we think we can’t fill with the perfect candidate, we simply won’t take it on.

Plus, when we’re given an exclusive assignment, we promise:

  • Increased CV to interview ratio

  • Increased market exposure

  • Undying commitment - we won’t rest until we find the right candidate(s)

  • Reduced cost per hire

There’s a range of other benefits to working with us as your growth partner including reduced risk, flexible pricing, and dedication not only to identifying the best candidate, but taking a holistic approach to your recruitment strategy to help you build unrivalled teams.

Get in touch with one of our fantastic recruiters to start your dedicated search.

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