What to be aware of when working with multiple tech recruitment agencies
At Toughbyte, we help companies fill challenging technical positions. Some of our clients prefer to engage multiple external recruiters in search of the best developers and we’re happy to support them by working alongside other tech recruitment agencies.
Getting help from multiple agencies has benefits, such as reaching candidates in different locations and via various channels, having several recruiters with narrow specialization target the most relevant candidates and, as a result, increasing the chances of closing the positions faster. However, the process can get complicated and has potential for conflicts if you don’t approach it correctly. This post will cover a few important things you should be aware of when working with several tech recruitment partners at the same time to make the experience as seamless as possible.
First of all, you shouldn’t expect to have multiple tech recruitment agencies source from the same talent pool and get a proportional increase in the number of candidates at the top of the funnel. If you ask several external recruiters to work in the same location and use the same channels, they will likely exhaust the available talent pool faster and end up contacting the same candidates. What you should do instead is have each agency focus on specific positions or locations according to their expertise.
You should have clear expectations for the agencies from the start, but don’t expect the exact same results from each one. Keep in mind the difficulty of the positions you have assigned to them and the geographical area they are focusing on. The talent pool might be smaller in certain locations and there might be fewer available candidates for certain niche positions with specific requirements.
If you want to engage more than one agency, let the recruiters you are talking to know about it. Some agencies may not want to work alongside others even if they don’t require exclusivity. Being open about your intentions early on will save you from potential issues further down the road.
One important thing you should do when working with multiple tech recruitment agencies is to agree on when the candidate is considered to be found by the recruiter. Make sure to have it defined in writing in the contract before kicking off the collaboration. If you don’t do this, you can end up in a situation where you owe two agencies for the same candidate.
Be clear as to when the recruiter can claim the candidate - on the date when they contacted the candidate, got a reply from them or when the candidate was presented. At the same time, it’s important to agree on the exceptions. For example, if you were in touch with the candidate six months prior to them being presented by the recruiter and can provide written evidence of that, this candidate should be considered yours.
Also, agree on what the ownership period is after the candidate has been presented. Most agencies have an ownership period of 12 to 18 months after the presentation date and will be entitled to a commission for the candidates you hire within this period.
Ensure all the agencies you work with have the information and the resources they need before they start working on your positions. Have kickoff calls with their recruiters, if needed, and provide them with any additional materials you have that would be helpful when talking to potential candidates.
Establish clear guidelines for how the agencies should represent your company when talking to the candidates. Determine what key points you want the agencies to communicate about you, such as your mission, values and culture.
Standardize how each agency should present candidates. Decide what info should be provided, whether you need a cover letter or not and if you do, what it should include. Also, standardize how you provide feedback to the agencies - via email, Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or other channels.
If you decide to bring another agency on board, be transparent and let the ones you're already working with know about it to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. By communicating your plans openly and honestly, you will build trust and strengthen the working relationship.
Set up a clear process for all the agencies to follow to ensure they are on the same page with you. Agree on which steps of the talent acquisition process to delegate to external recruiters and how each agency would fit in.
If you have multiple roles to fill, keep track of which agencies work on which ones. Also, track the candidates presented by each external recruiter. For example, you can ask to include the agency’s name in the subject of the email presenting a candidate. Another good idea is to use an ATS or a spreadsheet to track which candidate was presented by which recruiter and when.
If you can’t process the candidates you're getting from an agency quickly enough, reduce the number of recruitment partners you work with. Providing timely feedback on each candidate is more critical for the success of your recruitment campaign than filling the pipeline with as many candidates as possible.
If some agencies are clearly underperforming, but you’re otherwise happy with their work, change the locations they source from or the roles they work on. If this doesn’t help improve their results, part ways with them. Focus on building a working relationship with the agencies that meet your expectations. You can learn more on that in our blog post on how to build a constructive collaboration with external recruiters.
Working with multiple tech recruitment agencies has clear benefits, but if you want it to be efficient and hassle-free, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First, don’t expect good results from agencies working with the same talent pool. Instead, ask them to focus on specific locations or positions according to their competence. Second, agree on candidate ownership beforehand and in writing. Define which candidates are considered to be found by the recruiter, when exactly they can be claimed by the recruiter and what the ownership period is. Third, establish clear communication from the start. Provide the agencies with the information they ask for, create guidelines on how they should represent your company and standardize how they should present the candidates to you. Remember to be transparent about bringing new agencies on board. Finally, set up a straightforward process for all the agencies to follow. Use a system for tracking the candidates they present, for example, an ATS or a spreadsheet. Reduce the number of agencies you work with if you cannot process the candidates fast enough and focus on collaborating with those who deliver the desired results.
Recruitment is a people business and, at the end of the day, a lot depends on the individual you'll be working with. Good agencies, however, have processes to ensure a good quality of service regardless of the individual point of contact.