Another recruiter focused on something stupid and quietly eroded his corporate recruiting department. Unfortunately, the only person who noticed was me.

So, I thought I'd tell you about it. Do what you will with the information, but I know one thing. There is never one person doing something. If it happens in our office, it's happening to everyone.

The Topic? Candidate Ownership.

Candidate ownership is determined during contractual negotiations.

Part of the contractual agreement with client and recruiting firm, covers the issue of candidate referral. When a candidate is submitted on a search assignment, is the candidate considered referral from the agency, or is the candidate already in the system and considered company owned, thus no recruiting fee is paid. Since a candidate might be submitted by multiple recruiting firms, this is an important issue in the agreement. The time limit for ownership is often twelve months. It eliminates the issue of having to pay two (or more) recruiting fees for one person.

A step too far.

We were talking to Randy, the corporate recruiter about the requisition, and suddenly he said, "Don't contact any of my Linked In contacts about this job. They are off limits". I've already contacted everyone who could be qualified'.

Ownership of a name on social media? How does that work?

No wonder the job has been opened for six months.

This one recruiter has stored up hundreds of contacts. Those contacts are then his, and if submitted by a recruiting firm, not accepted.

Hundreds of qualified candidates who his employer can't hire because they are 'owned' by a recruiter that prospects didn't respond to.

If this was happening in your company, would you like to know about it?

This random decision made by a recruiter in your office is costing you.

Recruiting is not a fake 'connection' on a social website.

Been there before.

A similar thing happened to me years ago when laptops and personal databases became popular. I submitted a candidate for a position through HR. Days later, I was informed that the candidate was already 'known' by them, and in fact the name of the candidate was entered into the directors personal computer as a reminder to contact him. So, since the director had 'thought about' the candidate and cemented the thought by 'entering the name into his personal database', it was honestly believed by my HR contact, and by the director, that the candidate was not my referral. That ridiculous idea, was an honest mistake by the HR contact, and rectified eventually by senior management.

New Technology Confusion

Just like the director who thought that storing a person's name in his database for a later call, constituted candidate ownership; the LinkedIn recruiter is confused by new technology.

The bottom line is this: Recruiting is not about who owns the candidate. Thinking about a candidate, writing down a name, or connecting on LinkedIn is a start, but doesn't constitute a hire.

We have a saying in my office, "I don't care if you had breakfast with a candidate." Who was the person who properly submitted the candidate for the position, along with proper documentation? That is the recruiter of record.

Candidate Ownership Hurts

I understand that if a candidate was submitted by another recruiting firm there is a contractual agreement with that firm. I understand that time limitation, and the need for candidate ownership.

I don't understand the value of candidate ownership when it comes to hiring the best talent available in the market.When a corporation 'owns' the candidates in the corporate database for a period of time before accepting a recruiter referral, it takes candidates that should be interviewed off the table.

If the candidate answered your ads, or visited your website and applied, then wasn't contacted by your recruiting office, or was contacted but unresponsive, or interviewed but for some reason not hired, that candidate is likely to sit in your database, and be hired by your competition.

Which flea owns the dog?

I know this is hard to understand unless you see it from the outside. Candidate ownership is bad for your corporation, but good for your competition.

It restricts who the corporation can hire. Why would a company restrict itself from a candidate already in the database?

Feeding your Competition

Third party recruiters, and your competitors are your competition. This is how it works:

One of the first questions headhunters ask is this: "Where have you submitted your resume personally, or where has your resume been submitted on your behalf by another recruiter?"

The headhunter makes a list of "OFF LIMITS" companies for that particular candidate. And, does not contact those companies. But, the recruiter does submit the candidate to the competition.

Your competition then interviews and hires candidates that you have paid good money to recruit, and keep in your database.

'But For' made sense.

Database ownership rules that on the surface seem to make sense, killed the 'But For' rule.

The "But For" rule was simple. But for the actions of this person, would the transaction have happened?

We have the 'but for' rule in our office. It's the old rule on the books written that helps determine candidate ownership.


Our own recruiting database proves my theory. In our office, candidates are not shared, they are private. And, guess what? Five recruiters have recruited the same candidate. The candidate is in the database. Every one of those five recruiters had the opportunity to call the candidate, engage, and set up an interview.

Surprisingly, only one recruiter will actually submit the candidate for an interview with the client company.

Five different recruiters contacted the same person. Only one recruiter actually was responsible for the candidate hire. The four recruiters who didn't engage the candidate hardly notice. They are busy with candidate relationships of their own, and hires of their own.

I Get Scooped Too!

Candidates in our database are often placed with our client companies; without our knowledge. Our competitors have their own databases, and scoop us, just like we scoop them. Ha, nobody owns a candidate. Nobody. Sometimes we aren't fast enough, or not engaging enough for the candidate. This is a highly competitive business.

We can't see your database, our competitors databases, and we don't have time to look at your LinkedIn contacts.

In our office, 'But For' works. Five times in the database, five different recruiters, one hire. It works for us in our firm. Candidates aren't owned, results are owned.