Stop Accepting Contingent Searches!

Seriously. Just stop.

Believing that all staffing agencies are eager to compete with other companies to fill open positions, many clients will give their orders to anyone who calls. These clients also operate under the delusion that they’ll get better quality candidates by casting a wide net. In other words, they’re not showing discriminating taste when choosing staffing options.

Accepting these types of orders immediately devalues your firm both as a recruiter and as a value-added partner. As soon as you accept the order, the race is on to submit a marginally qualified warm body faster than the competition. When agencies undermine their own value this way, both they and their clients suffer. In short, everyone loses!

Not only do you send a message that you’ll scrabble for any crumb that comes your way (a message that can affect your reputation and your bottom line), but odds are good that in spite of your efforts you’ll turn up empty-handed. You’re very unlikely to fill more than one in five of these orders—which means there’s an 80% chance you’ve wasted a lot of time chasing rainbows.

Because the best candidates are often those who aren’t actively looking for jobs, the “Get a warm body in the chair, stat!” directive means that clients gain access only to immediately available candidates—that is, those who have self-identified as active job seekers and can show up at a new workplace at a moment’s notice. When you’re competing with several other firms to be the first to fill a particular opening, you don’t have the time to search for the perfect fit. And when you know there’s only a 20% chance you’ll get paid for your hard word, you may not be very motivated to put in a lot of effort sourcing passive candidates.

When a client treats staffing agencies as commodities rather than as business partners, agencies consider them a second-tier (or even third-tier!) client. Think about it: why send your best candidates to clients that don’t value your relationship—and are content with less-qualified candidates (as long as the positions get filled by someone)? In that situation, it’s clearly in your best interest to send your top talent to clients who’ve committed to you. They treat you right, so you treat them right in return.

Want to bolster your reputation and increase your overall value to your clients? Start demanding exclusive relationships with them. Whether you’re assisting clients with temporary staffing or helping them with direct-hire searches, this approach builds your brand as an agency that prioritizes the quality of your relationships and services above merely getting billable bodies out the door. If you successfully communicate to your clients the value of vendor-on-premise (VOP) programs and retained searches, you’ll create a win-win situation for everyone involved: they’ll get your best candidates, and you’ll get a return for the time and effort you put into conscientious searches.


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