Independent Recruiters, Split Placements, and Tennis

By Sarah Gawrys

sports-fieldAs many independent recruiters start to explore adding split placements to their business model, different questions arise as to whether they want to split profit, why they would pay to join a network, and most importantly what belongs to whom? Recently picking up the game of tennis, I think many aspects of tennis can be related directly to recruitment and split placements, and perhaps this will give a new perspective on this business model to those on the fence.

Why join a network when you can network for free on Linked-In? Ah. The most common question that seems to be swirling in recruiters’ minds is why they should pay. With Linked-In groups and recruiters advertising they need split partners, it would be easy to say you could attain splits simply this way. That is fine, but what happens when a tennis player relies solely on playing on free outdoor courts? Life. Without the protection of a facility and the unity that comes from belonging to an organization, there is no security that you will not get hit with the unpredicted. Finding a tennis player online to show up at a court to play, you do not know if they have officially been rated, if they will show up, or if the weather will even permit you to play. Trying to find a split placement partner on Linked-In does not give you any assurance of their ethical background, there are no rules or guarantees that they will honor your candidates or fee agreement, and you may never hear from them again after providing valuable information. A network also provides leading industry information, important events, and discounts on products and services you use in your recruiting company.

Why split profit? As an independent recruiter, many are hesitant to start split placements due to the fact that they think they can handle all of the positions and do not want to lose half a fee to a trading partner. In a tennis tournament, notice a single player and a doubles player. The single player will run all over a court frantically hitting the ball over the net, tiring out after a match or two and slowing down significantly. A doubles team uses the strengths of each player, masking their weaknesses and using their partner to balance them, resulting in lasting endurance, and a well-fueled operation that can last many more matches. In split placement recruitment, you are being offered a doubles partner that can take on those positions you are overloaded with, providing you with candidates to fill them, or take on those star candidates you have found and find them positions. The result is two independent recruitment firms making more placements while not running themselves into the ground or increasing overhead.

What belongs to whom? The final question often asked of independent recruiters is in regards to ownership of shared candidates and clients in split placements. This is extremely logical if you are thinking in an ethical manner. When you join a tennis organization and play with a doubles partner, you come to the court with your own shoes, racquets, and gear. Working with one another to achieve a victory, you could not succeed without your partner bringing their belongings; just as in split placements each partner must openly share their candidates and positions to achieve a successful split. When the tennis match is complete, you do not take your partner’s racquet or gear; it belongs to them, and they will be able to use it again the next time you play. In split placements, each trading partner keeps their client relationship, they keep the relationship with the candidates, and you honor that.

Recruiters like to complicate things when in reality, this business transaction is as simple as any other activity you work through in life. At the end of the day, what you must possess is an ethical and professional attitude, and you must look for the same in a trading partner. If you choose not to join a network to do this safely, I urge you to really spend some time learning about your trading partner, their firm background, and construct or use a split fee contract that leaves little room for errors.

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