When Your Competition is Your Best Trading Partner

By Liz Carey

Recently, an NPAworldwide network member in Victoria, Australia, made a tough split placement in a very niche IT segment by utilizing a new Sydney-based NPA member’s established connections with his same client. Two recruiters with the same client? Instead of viewing each other as competition, they worked together as trading partners to make a split… a placement they likely would not have otherwise made without each other.

This recruiter has specialized in very hard-to-find, niche IT roles since starting recruiting in 1990. 20+ years ago, he honed in on a little-known Geographical Information System product called SmallWorld, and placed a bunch of SmallWorld consultants in the USA, Europe, and Australia. Ten years later, he discovered that a client in Sydney used SmallWorld and he had considerable success placing people there too between 2008 and 2011.

“However, since then, for some reason, we haven’t been able to penetrate their Procurement and Recruitment ‘walls’,” he said.

At the beginning of June, he found out that they had a requirement for a SmallWorld developer. He called his contact there, who introduced him to the Procurement Manager dealing with the role.

“She sent me the Job Description and seemed to be very happy to talk to me… UNTIL she discovered that we weren’t on… (drum roll)… THE PANEL!!! So, never mind that the Manager wanted to deal with me, never mind that I understood the application area, never mind that I had the ideal candidates. Can’t deal with us.”

It seemed as though he ran into a brick wall, until he remembered that a fellow NPAworldwide member firm in Sydney had a relationship with this same client. He had talked with them years earlier about the possibility of collaborating, and just “met” them again once they joined NPAworldwide and attended a regional conference. Long story short: they connected and ended up placing a candidate on a 12-month contract with the client.

Unlike usual splits within the network where one recruiter has the job order and one has the candidate, the Sydney-based firm had both the candidate and client, and the Victoria-based firm was more of the facilitator, bringing to the table a great relationship with the client.

“The facilitating firm has placed a lot of people at this client, but none in this particular area – their forte is in other spaces: Executive Placements, Marketing Communications and Sales, Environment and Sustainability, Visual Communication, Human Resources, Bids & Tender Professionals. So, it wasn’t a placement that they necessarily would have made (or even sought),” the importer said. “And we had absolutely no chance of making this placement — and this is not an opinion, it’s what was said by the Procurement Manager. But… in collaboration, we did it. Our client got the perfect person. Our candidate has a perfect contract. And we have a little partnership now that could grow into something huge.”

Being part of a split placement network doesn’t just provide recruiters opportunity for splits – they get to share industry knowledge, best practices, and in this case, utilize long-term relationships with hiring authorities to make deals happen! Though they both work with this client, these recruiters understood that rather than seeing each other as competition, they can work together as trading partners to facilitate more splits and add to their bottom line!

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