How Do Non-Exclusive Recruiting Contracts Impact Candidates?

What is a non-exclusive contract?

A non-exclusive contract is when a company partners with a recruiting firm, but they have not agreed to that firm being the only people to work on the search. This can mean the company is working with multiple recruiting firms, or they have their own internal recruiters working on the search as well.

How does this impact the recruiting firm? How does this impact candidates?

When we work on a non-exclusive search, it usually means we are unable to disclose who our client is to the candidates we reach out to. It also means we can not advertise that we are working with that specific client.

The reason we do not disclose who the company is in our initial messages to candidates is because a candidate could easily go around us once they know who the company is. Many job searchers do not know that recruiters are used as an extension of a company, and that the company chose that recruiting firm for a reason. Some may think that by bypassing the recruiter and applying directly to the company will make the company view their application more favorably.

This is not the case (at least in our experience) and can actually increase the chances of your application being passed over. Our recruiters work directly with the hiring manager, so every candidate we submit ends up on the hiring manager’s desk. Depending on the company’s structure, applying directly could result in a hiring manager never even seeing your application.

Candidates bypassing a recruiter also hurts us as a business. It is our job to source and submit candidates, and when a candidate we sourced goes around our process, we are unable to be rewarded for the many hours of work that go into a search.

However, being unable to disclose who our client is in our initial message means we sometimes miss out on qualified candidates. If someone is not actively job searching, they can be pickier about the opportunities they consider. If they don’t know who the company is immediately, they can view the opportunity as being too much work to pursue, or not worth their time.

Non-exclusive searches also often mean there are multiple recruiters working on a search at once. During very specialized searches, this often means some candidates are contacted multiple times about the same opportunity. This wastes the time of everyone involved—the recruiters who put time and effort into finding that candidate could’ve been using that time to work on another search, and the candidate has to talk to multiple people and spend time fielding messages.

We always encourage our clients to choose the search style that works best for them, and sometimes that is a non-exclusive search. However, when it comes to high level or specific searches, we highly recommend going with an exclusive search.