Why You Should Consider an Exclusive Executive Search Partnership

Working with an executive search partner when you need help with specialized or hard-to-fill roles is an obvious solution. What isn't always obvious is whether you should work with a partner exclusively.

Often, when potential clients reach out to us, they may already be working with several firms on the same role – and they may have been doing so for several months. Although we're happy to compete, this scenario doesn't always make for the most productive relationship. While the logic of involving several players to build a larger candidate pool makes sense in theory, it doesn't always hold true in practice. Consider the following situations in which you may want to partner exclusively with a firm:

1. You Need the Right Candidate, Not Just Any Candidates

This especially holds true for senior-level roles or for single locations. Casting a wide net using multiple firms may not only damage your brand (more on that later), but it may also attract the wrong talent. Recruiters who know their contract isn't exclusive may be slinging any candidate at you in hopes of scoring a quick placement.

2. You Need Thorough Candidate Vetting

Speed can often get in the way of quality. When multiple firms are competing on the same position, they will try to send you candidates as quickly as possible. This may mean cutting corners on interviewing, relying on shallow database searches instead of engaging in true headhunting, or simply not reviewing a candidate's job history fully. You'll end up with a revolving door of candidates who aren't fully qualified – and a bucket of frustration.

3. You Need to Control Your Marketing Message

Having multiple firms involved in a search is like playing a game of telephone: each firm will put its own spin on the position. If you're recruiting for a very specialized position, the candidate market is already limited, especially if the position is located in one city. This means that the same candidate may receive several different calls from different firms about the same position, creating confusion and damaging your employment brand. Candidates will be less likely to take the role seriously and may be hesitant to engage with you because of the mixed messages, ultimately making the position more difficult to fill.

4. You Need Skin in the Game

While partnering with multiple firms and seeing candidates from each allows you to build a larger candidate pool quickly, it doesn't often inspire trust from your recruiting partners. In fact, your partners may deprioritize your position because you've farmed it out to so many firms. Search firms generate revenue based on placements, and their chances of landing a placement dwindle when ten different firms are involved. Your recruiting partners may only be devoting a fraction of attention to your position, whereas they'd be investing all their time and energy in an exclusive position. The result is your position doesn't receive the attention it deserves, and it may take much longer to fill – if it gets filled at all.

5. You Need the Right Executive Search Partner

Not all search firms specialize in the same types of roles. By casting a wide net to any firm that'll accept your business, you may not necessarily end up working with specialists who can find you the right fit for your unique role.

To access deep talent networks, consider working with specialist firms in your particular area, such as accounting, engineering, or sales. These recruiters are already working with the top candidates in the market. As they engage with talent on your behalf, they'll sell the benefits of joining your company, build your employer brand, thoroughly interview candidates, and foster relationships so candidates aren't wooed away by competing opportunities. In the end, your position will actually get filled faster, and you'll build a business relationship that will keep your talent pipelines full.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ACA Talent blog.

Sabrina Balmick is marketing manager at ACA Talent.