The power of exclusivity

Bernardo Pina 24.09.2019

Why are recruiters always seeking exclusivity? Sure, for our benefit. But also for yours.

For us recruiters, a perfect world would be one in which at any given time we are only working with a relatively small number of clients and candidates on an exclusive basis. Clients will often hear us asking how many agencies they are working with on a particular role and candidates will see us trying our best to establish the trust necessary for them to stick with us.

The reasons why recruiters would want every engagement to be exclusive are pretty self-evident. We obviously will have a very high chance of filling an exclusive role or placing candidates who leave their market search exclusively to us. However, clients often want to see as many CVs available out there as possible and candidates want to maximise their chances of hearing about as many open positions in the market as possible. So the advantages for them to work on an exclusive basis with recruiters are not always as clear.

•    Commercial reasons. The first thing to bear in mind is that recruitment is a business. I went into recruitment because I love building relationships and help people achieving their goals. I remain in recruitment essentially for that reason. But if I am not making money, I am out of a job. I am usually working on a large number of roles and, as a service provider who works on a contingency basis, I have to prioritise based on potential for commercial success. If my choice is between spending time sourcing for a role that has 10 other agencies working on it or one where the client trusted me enough to leave it with me only… it’s a no brainer. 

•    Personal accountability. And the choice is obvious not only for the commercial aspect of it. For me there is a lot of personal and professional pride associated with it. Whenever I am lucky enough to have a client or candidate saying “Bernardo, I wouldn’t go anywhere else”, I do not take this lightly and I deeply feel the responsibility not to let these people down.

•    Exclusive commitment. Just to be clear, regardless of any exclusivity, I absolutely do want to fill every role I work on and to place every candidate I interact with. I work hard and diligently to make that happen. But unfortunately that is not always possible. And so when a client leaves an exclusive assignment with me, they can be sure I will map out the market and not let any candidate fall through the cracks. Likewise, when a candidate utters the magic words of exclusivity, they will have in me someone who will stop at nothing in proactively approaching the market in search of a role for them. Basically, an exclusive assignment gets exclusive dedication.

•    Market reputation. For clients in particular, you should consider that releasing your roles to every agency under the sun will probably mean that you will not have the time to properly brief any one of them on the details of the company, the team, the role, your requirements, etc. Which means that you will have a bunch of people out there without being able to accurately represent you. Flooding the market and having candidates getting calls from several different recruiters on your roles is also really detrimental to your image and reputation. Candidates like to hear of positions that aren’t just a commodity available for everyone but rather something more exclusive.

•    Better experience. I believe there is also something to be said about both parties feeling like they have a partner in their recruitment efforts. The level of engagement is much more collaborative, the relationship will often be more pleasant and even friendly. At the end of the day we are all people and everyone likes having someone familiar on the other side of the table or on the other end of the line. 

My advice to both clients and candidates is to choose a recruiter who is trustworthy, transparent, responsive, who knows their market, understands the roles they are working on and is well networked. Once you find them, stick with them.

Bernardo Pina's picture
Principal Consultant


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