It’s not uncommon to hear of a prospective client that has signed an exclusive agreement with a recruiter that makes them the sole provider of all engineering and technical staffing. Exclusive recruiting agreements typically have substantial upfront fees and can result in a drawn-out process with little to show in the way of qualified candidates for your technical staffing needs.
One of my best clients describes exclusive agreements by saying – “they create a monopoly and not a partnership”. If the partnership has both interests in mind, then it should be to fill the position(s) from whatever sources are available, and not handcuff an organization and/or operations. My client goes on to say that outside recruiters “are a source of good candidates, not the source”.
Recruiters working on contingency and those who are paid upfront are drawing from the same pool of potential candidates. Those working on contingency are not paid until a candidate is hired, so they have an incentive to bring the best candidates to the table as quickly as possible.
The key to getting the most out of working with any engineering or technical staffing agency is to develop a good working relationship with the recruiter and choose one that specializes in your industry.
If recruiters are all working from the same talent pool, and they are professional, knowledgeable, and committed to doing a good job for you; you should not have to pay the staffing agency a large sum of money before the first candidate has been presented.
If you do sign an exclusive agreement, make sure it has clauses for “non-performance” that allow you to void the contract if no qualified candidates are presented, because they should be obligated to line up a certain number of candidates for the interviewing process.
But be careful, what they are not obligated to do is deliver a winning candidate.