How To Get Exclusive With Your Candidates

In a previous article, we discussed how to sell a Retainer to clients in recruitment, and the benefits it can have on your career. A retainer has a number of benefits for both yourself and your client, so it’s worth spending time perfecting how to sell them.

Today, we’re discussing how to sell exclusivity, to candidates.

Selling exclusivity to clients is tough, but actually, once you have an idea of the benefits for both, can be done very easily.

Selling an exclusive partnership to a candidate is a little harder, and requires not only a great sales pitch, but some hard work too.


Are they passive?

The type of candidate you’ll be able to work exclusively with is a narrow banding. Firstly, I’d suggest it’s in the interest of both parties that your candidate is at the senior end of the spectrum.

A Graduate or junior candidate in terms of experience is much more likely to have their CV on job boards, and anywhere they can automate their search. There’s less hesitation is spraying their details far and wide and they’ll be the most active of anyone on social media.

It’s also more likely a junior candidate will be more readily available and not create the same level of interest in a client.

This also goes for clearly active candidates. There’s little point in an active candidate becoming exclusive with a Recruiter. Unless of course they’re in super high demand and want someone to manage the barrage of calls.

Passive and senior level candidates should be the aim for exclusivity. They’ll be much more appreciative of specialist knowledge, credibility and not being harangued by every employer, Recruiter and their dog.

Sell it

OK, so it’s pretty obvious why a Recruiter would want to work exclusively with a candidate. If you know that person’s in demand, it’s pretty much a guaranteed fee.

But why would a candidate want to work exclusively with one Recruiter?

Well, for a start, it cuts down the number of people that will know they’re looking for a job, so their secret remains safe.

Secondly, they’ll be able to streamline their efforts and only deal with one person. For an entire job search process, having just one Recruiter to deal with, whose sole mandate is getting a deal finalised is pretty powerful.

There’s also the personal element to it. You’d only ever suggest exclusivity with a candidate you know really well. Therefore you’ll both have joint best interests at heart and you can reverse engineer the typical job led contingent model.

Tip: By asking for exclusivity, it positions the situation as something that’s only good for you. It doesn’t sell it as an attractive proposition for a candidate.

And yet, it could well be attractive. It could be the perfect option. But until you tell your candidate why, they won’t know.

When it comes to offers, if you know exactly what options a candidate has, you can negotiate a better deal for them. You’ll be able to push back on factors that don’t cut the mustard.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s infinitely easier to define a strategy between two parties moving in the same direction than lots of parties moving in the market sporadically. If a candidate works with multiple agencies, it’s often difficult to get an idea on overall progress. Let alone agree forward action.

Cheese Counter

Be A Consultant

When setting the parameters of how you work with any candidate, when you’re exclusive, your strategic mapping skill can come to the fore. You know for a fact that none of your competition has the CV you do, which gives you much more freedom and power.

You can agree target businesses and actively (but cautiously) open lines of enquiry. Some of these you might have contacts with, others you might not. But being transparent with your candidate will mean no one’s misled.

This also goes for the reverse. It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re working hard to find a candidate work and they provide half-truths or mis pertinent information. In an exclusive partnership the chance of this happening is a lot lower, meaning more trust is given and the relationship will be stronger.

As a general rule, you’re better off defining a potential type of business/brand/sector and set about making that a reality. As there will always be plenty of options for the best talent.

So, Why wouldn’t they?

To properly sell being exclusive with a candidate, you need to ask your candidate, “What hesitation do you have about working exclusively?”

Because then, almost every single person will highlight a list of reasons. All of which, if you’re a seasoned Recruiter, you can discuss and rebuke if appropriate.

One reason that’s hard to debunk is if they’re already speaking to more than one Recruiter. If that’s the case, you’ve missed the boat. But everything else is a chance to show your credibility, knowledge and skill.

If we assume you’re only likely to do this with passive candidates, you won’t be selling their profile to anyone who will listen. You’ll be defining a strategy and sticking to it with regular reporting back. Therefore the benefits to the candidate are multiple.

Your job is to show them that. Oh and then place them, obviously.

Having testimonials will help. So if you’ve done this with a candidate previously, ask them to refer you. Mentioning your desire to be a career partner, rather than transactional Recruiter will also help.

No candidate will work with you exclusively if it’s not beneficial to them. But equally, it’s crucial to make sure this candidate is placeable. If they’re not someone in high demand, who you know you can place, it could end up being a negative for both parties. 

But if done correctly, an exclusive partnership between a capable Recruiter and great candidate, is a step in the right direction for career success.