Agency Recruiters: When you can’t beat your competitors, join ’em!

By Veronica Blatt

image of agency recruiters wrestling over global businessAgency recruiters (at least, most of the recruiters I know) are a notoriously competitive bunch. They like to be first, they like to win, and they like to tell stories about it. They do not, as a general rule, appreciate losing placements to a competitor agency. So you might be surprised to hear that some former recruiting rivals have figured out it can be more lucrative to work together than separately.

In our network of independent recruitment agencies, we do not offer ‘exclusivity’ based on territory or occupational niche (one of the things that makes a network different from a franchise). Recruiters who join NPA are often looking for trading partners who work in similar markets. Sometimes agency recruiters will find out that their arch rival is an NPA member, and they may hesitate to join NPA because of that.

One of my favorite NPA stories involves two such recruiting rivals. I’ll call them Bob and Steve. Steve was a longtime, successful NPA member. Bob worked for a firm that was considering NPA membership. Bob and Steve worked the same niche, with a lot of the same clients. Over the years, Bob lost a fair number of deals to Steve, so he wasn’t too thrilled about “joining sides” with his rival. But you know what? Bob learned that even though they had a lot of the same clients, they didn’t have ALL the same clients. More importantly, they weren’t always working on the same jobs from the same clients. Their candidate databases weren’t identical, either. And that meant that Bob actually got to work on MORE placements than he did when he and Steve were competing with each other. Bob and Steve have a great trading relationship in NPA, with each of them ultimately making more money by working together (and sharing fees) than they did when they didn’t pool their resources. Not only that, they’ve become great friends as well.

The point of this story is that split placements can help agency recruiters serve their clients more efficiently, even when it may seem both recruiters are ‘competing’ for the same business. Working cooperatively allows agency recruiters to have more deals in the pipeline and can speed up the hiring process. As the old cliche goes, “When you can’t beat ’em … join ’em!”

What’s stopping you from working with your competitors?

Split Fee Placement Agreement


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