January 20, 2023

Contingent agencies view you as optional, too


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Contingent rant #4985

Contingent recruiting agencies have contingent clients. If you view them as optional, they see you the same way.

Painting contingent firms with a broad brush is going to ruffle some feathers. And come with some caveats.

So I’ll be real specific on these 3 points:

👉You’re testing them. And they’re testing you.

There are good contingent firms out there. (I said it, don’t @ me haters.) They just haven’t figured out how to transition to a more efficient model yet. (You knew it’s be a backhanded compliment…)

What do they do in the meantime? Test to see if you’re serious. Float a few submissions your way to see if you even respond.

If not? Onto the next.

The problem?

There’s other reasons why hiring companies don’t move on initial submissions. Namely, they don’t know what they’re doing with a role or process and need help figuring it out.

Which is far deeper (and time consuming) work that no rational person will do without a real business commitment.


👉In situations where multiple firms are involved, you’re getting everyone’s worst effort.

I’ll be shocked if any contingent firms even disagree with this: clients with a track record of loyalty & exclusivity get priority. Full attention.

Everyone else?

Whatever’s left over. Less time. Less experienced resources. Which means less domain knowledge and care no matter how you slice it.

If “the more firms I have on an opening, the better” is your hiring strategy: 5 firms’ worst effort doesn’t come anywhere close to 1 firm’s best effort. 

👉You could be anyone and they’ll ‘work’ with you.

Back to the first point. When testing clients is part of your business model…you test everyone.

There’s no (perceived) harm in taking on damn near any search. Because in that slim chance you happen to luck across the right candidate with minimal effort, that’s a check you can cash.

But it still means a reduction in focus to the clients who are the real deal. When no business is guaranteed, you’re always looking for lower hanging fruit.

The question you need to ask yourself: if this hire is important, do you want to be your recruiter’s afterthought?

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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