The Race to Place

Are you using multiple agencies to help you source the right candidate? If so, it's time to reconsider!

Industry News
30th October 2019

Are you a looking to make a new hire? 
Are you convinced that it would make sense to use multiple agencies to help you source the right candidate? 
If so, you should reconsider this option…NOW!

Over the years I’ve had many calls & attended many meetings in which hiring companies have wanted to embark on a recruitment campaign, believing they will be getting the best pick of candidates by using multiple recruitment agencies rather than committing to one firm.

Now while I’ve always been able to understand the hiring company’s view on this approach and the seductive notion that they may be getting a “whole of market” view on candidates, in practice, however, the opposite is generally true!

By working with a multitude of recruitment agencies on a position, you will constrain your search strategy before it has even got off the ground.

The life blood of any recruiters’ success relies upon having a bountiful portfolio of roles which they can firstly control & secondly, offer to their network of candidates. On a day to day basis this means that a high quality & successful recruiter is constantly judging which of the vacancies they have on their books will require most of their time & energy. They will be weighing up a variety of considerations; i.e. track record with the client (Are they a business which responds quickly to the availability of great candidates?), the short, medium & long term relationship with the client, the challenges of the search, whether the candidate for this role actually exists, their monthly/quarterly/annual targets & the ROI of their time/energy. 

On the client side, the hiring company will be weighing up the following; how critically important is it for the company to fill the position? (Will there be an opportunity cost for the business by having this vacancy open & unfilled? Will you be losing pace with the market by not having this person in place? Will the business be losing money as a result of not having this person in place?) 

Now assuming that the hiring company is dealing with a critically important vacancy, where not only is it essential to get the hire right but you are also dealing with time pressures, as a business you will be committing five inherently detrimental recruitment mistakes by handing the vacancy to multiple recruitment agencies. These are as follows: 

  • You are likely to only receive CVs from 10% of the candidates in the market – the reason for this is that recruitment agencies are unlikely to invest time in proactively finding candidates from the 90% of inactive candidates in the market & therefore you will often be receiving profiles from active candidates that have responded to adverts & messages within the recruiters immediate network. Conversely, we find that the very best candidates tend to exist within this 90% pool! An active candidate is not necessarily the perfect candidate for your vacancy. 
  • The candidates you receive may not have been thoroughly assessed for the vacancy you have live! Many recruitment agencies still only rely on simply screening a CV and conducting thinly veiled & rushed behavioural & competency-based interviews. This is especially the case when you are up against other agents and are working on a what is commonly known as a “race to place” basis that is focused on simply sending CVs over to the client before one of your competitors does! This will invariably lead to problems further down the line in the process as candidates, who on the surface have an attractive CV, are not appropriately tested for their fit with the position. Or the recruitment agent won’t adequately align the candidate's expectations to that of the hiring company because they don’t have the luxury of time to do a great job! 
  • You will waste time & will find it difficult to control your timeline for recruiting as your recruitment strategy will be reliant on receiving a raft of CVs from various agencies (sometimes the same CV from different firms…that’s a whole other story!) & have a very variable & unstable foundation to it which makes it more speculative than targeted! You’ll be left asking “wasn’t the whole reason I reached out to a recruiter in the first place was because they are specialists and can offer a more efficient approach than using our own methods?” 
  • You may be diluting the reputation of your company in the market without realising it. If you have a number of firms that have agreed to work on your vacancy alongside other agencies & haven’t outlined the pitfalls of working on a “race to place” basis, how diligent do you think they may be in conveying the message of your business in the right way? They know that they don’t have the time to use all their best tools during this campaign & therefore how much time do you think they will be taking to adequately describe the values & ethos of your business to potential candidates? In addition, candidates will question why you have chosen to use so many agencies as invariably this small 10% pool of candidates will be contacted by various agents for the same role. Is it a sign of desperation? Does this recruitment approach reflect the business approach of the hiring company?  
  • One of the biggest problems of this approach is that it can significantly harm one of the most critical aspects of any recruitment campaign which is the candidates’ journey during the process. The very best candidates in the market are highly sort after & appreciate being contacted on a targeted basis by a high-quality recruiter that they can trust to manage the process for them in a discreet & professional manner. I have seen many instances of candidates being contacted by another recruiter for a job they are already being considered for and in some cases just hours after they’ve been interviewed for the same job! This sends major alarm bells & often the wounds created by this are difficult to heal & quality candidates with other options will weigh this up when making a final decision.


Here at Concilium Search we have a developed a model which indicates that using two agencies decreases your chances of making a successful hire within your expected timeline by 30%. Using three takes this drop to 45% and more than three takes this down by 60%. On the flip side working exclusively with one recruitment firm takes your chances of filling a position to 90%. 

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you to optimise your talent acquisition strategy, please contact us at


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