Why Don’t Recruitment Agencies Collaborate More?

By Veronica Blatt

I was reading a post on LinkedIn this morning titled, “Why Don’t Recruitment Agencies Collaborate More?” and it got me thinking about some of those reasons. As a split placement network, our members have been successfully sharing candidates and jobs for more than sixty years. But, there are definitely recruiters who shy away from the cooperative model. Here are some of the reasons for that reluctance:

  • Viewing their competitors as the “enemy” – Recruiters are a competitive bunch. For some, the thought of working cooperatively with a competing firm just doesn’t feel natural. However, it’s safe to say that no particular recruiter has access to ALL the available talent (with the possible exception of some micro-niches). It’s also likely that two recruiters have some overlap with clients, but not ALL the same clients. Cooperating can provide access to more clients and candidates than you can reach on your own.
  • Mistrust or distrust – Whether you’re generally suspicious or have actually been harmed by unethical behavior, this is one of the most common reasons to avoid collaboration. We recommend a written agreement between split partners to clearly define how the work will be divided, how and when the fee will be paid, what happens in the event of a fall-off, etc. It’s safe to assume that the vast majority of disagreements could be avoided with an appropriate upfront agreement. If you’re still uncomfortable, you may wish to look for a formal recruiter organization that offers dispute resolution or other infrastructure to support recruiters.
  • Fear of violating anti-trust laws – It’s actually really easy to avoid violating anti-trust laws: when working with other recruitment agencies, don’t discuss pricing strategy, don’t engage in discussions to control market share, and don’t make any agreements about bidding.
  • Greed – It can be very tempting to hold out for a full fee. Recruitment agencies that fully embrace split placements recognize that half of a fee is better than no fee. Their primary concern is that they satisfy their clients’ needs. They want to provide the best candidate available, even if that candidate belongs to a partner. There is no worse feeling than failing to submit a split-fee candidate in favor of your own full-fee candidate, and then having the client hire that split-fee candidate from a third recruitment agency.
  • Lack of relationships with other recruitment agencies – While it’s certainly possible to be successful making split placements on a transactional basis, many recruiters prefer relationship-based sharing. Strong trading relationships take time to build, starting with finding time to learn about and meet other like-minded practitioners. It’s worth seeking out established recruitment groups, whether formal or informal, that can facilitate those introductions. If you’re serious about splits, get serious about building your network.

Do you avoid split placements? Why? Please share your thoughts below!

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