I've seen an increasing number of double submittals lately. As the job market begins to pick up, I believe that we will see a lot more of this going on. I've received questions about the causes and solutions of this problem and wanted to take a minute to address a few of the issues surrounding this drama fest. When recruiters realize that their candidate just got double submitted, they begin to hear that "fingernails on the chalk board" sound. It's a situation that hurts both the job seeker and the recruiter and typically leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the client hiring manager. The lists below aren't an all inclusive set of absolutes. This is what I've seen based on my experience.

Double submittals are usually caused because:

You are working with a bad recruiter - Some recruiters and their agencies only look to "turn and burn" through candidates. They give you insufficient information, rush you for your resume information, and then throw you to the client in the fastest time possible. You can sniff these recruiters out though. They typically won't know much about the position they are trying to recruit you for, because they are trying to juggle 5 different positions at the same time. Ask the right questions and dig in for information. If you're not comfortable with their level of knowledge, seek out another recruiter working on the same job.

You are working with a liar - There are good ones and bad ones. Unfortunately, there are many recruiters out there so motivated by their metric goals that they will do whatever it takes to pad their numbers. They might submit you without your knowledge or even submit you knowing that you've already been submitted.

You are not managing your job search well enough - Most jobseekers who have worked with recruiters for any time at all, know that they can get inundated with calls and positions in a matter of hours. Positions can get confused with other positions and before you know it you're having to go back into your e-mail account and pull 3 different job descriptions to make sure you haven't been submitted before. It's very important that job seekers come up with some type of system to ensure that they aren't increasing their chances of being double submitted.

You aren't making the recruiter disclose their client - I almost fall out of my chair when I hear job seekers tell me that they "don't know the client" that they have been submitted to. How can job seekers be comfortable with not knowing anything about the company they could soon be working for?! Recruiters are often very hesitant to disclose their clients because they have been burned in the past with candidates going directly to their client or going to another agency with the information about the job. This is a legitimate concern for the recruiter. So he/she might not be willing to tell you upfront, until they determine if you are a good fit for the position. Just make it clear to whoever is trying to recruit you that you do not wish to be submitted until you know the name of the client.

Effects of getting double submitted and client responses:

You will end up "burning" one of the 2 recruiters - One side will win and one side will loose. The side that looses will have a harder time working with you from that point on. It's never a good thing to burn the people who give you work.

You can be rejected by the client - Some clients will completely reject you for the position you've been double submitted to. These zero tolerance clients are concerned with time efficiency and take a "principal based" approach to this issue. They realize that it takes a lot of time for vendors to fight over candidates and don't want to take part in this drama-filled situation. They also see it as candidates wasting their time and not having control over their job search.

Money matters - Clients will sometimes go through the agency who submitted you at the lowest bill rate. This is typically negative for the job seeker, as it normally lowers their rate. However, it has less negative effect on you as a candidate because at the lower rate it increases your marketability.

You can choose - Many clients leave the double submittal fiasco up to the candidate and put the decision in their hands. I've seen clients contact candidates directly to ask them which agency they would like to be represented by. This situation is ultimately the best for the job seeker since it allows them to pick who they are most comfortable with. However, this philosophy, in some part, accepts that double submittals are tolerated and can lead to a "snow ball effect". Recruiting agencies realize that they still have a chance to represent candidates who have already been submitted. These agencies can target those who have been submitted and offer them extra perks such as higher pay rates, vacation packages or bonuses in return for them agreeing to go through their agency.

The best advice that I can give on this topic is to PAY ATTENTION! Know the client that you're being submitted to and ask the right questions. Foster relationships with a few recruiters and go with the ones you have worked with in the past who you know is responsible and trustworthy.

Ryan McMillan is a Technical/IT recruiter who specializes in placing testing professionals. He is a native Texan and currently lives in Dallas, Texas. Ryan writes on his blog at www.recruiterryan.com

Views: 8123

Comment by Alexis Perrier on March 29, 2010 at 8:24am
I like your suggestion to get to know the client's name before you are submitted. It has always been very difficult for me when I was looking for a job to get to know the clients name before the first interview. It was almost taboo to ask for it.
Comment by Linda Ferrante on March 29, 2010 at 10:26am
I take exception to your 'know the client's name' point. Several of our clients are using us to hire new employees since, in a market like this one, when people hear about companies that are hiring, those companies become inundated with resumes. Many of our clients use us for a 'confidential' search, and per their request, we do not disclose the name of the client until we have an interview set. There has to be a level of trust between the candidate and the recruiter. While I realize some will say that this is exactly the argument FOR disclosing the client name, candidates have to understand that we gave our word to our clients to maintain their confidentiality.
Please do not say that makes me a bad recruiter, or someone not to be trusted. I would take exception to that as well! Instead, I honor my word and don't want to work with someone who does not understand that.
Comment by Rebecca Griffin on March 29, 2010 at 10:27am
You touched on everything here, Ryan. I couldn't have said it better myself. The frustrating part of this issue is how there are so many recruiters that blankly submit, with out ever getting confirmation or permission from the candidate. Then, the recruiter that does their due diligence and the candidate miss out on potential opportunities. How does a client police this activity?
Comment by Chris Wessell on March 29, 2010 at 10:47am
And then there is the other scenario under "Double submittals are usually caused because:"... and that is, you're a candidate who thinks that, despite the fact that the recruiter tells you it's not advisable to get double submitted, you knowingly go through a couple different recruiters for the same position, because you feel that it will give you maximum exposure and thus the best shot at the job.

So basically the other category would be "You think you're slick"... LOL :)
Comment by Deb McClanahan on March 29, 2010 at 10:59am
The other situation I've encountered recently is the candidate didn't tell me they had already been reviewed by the client. This is another of those "trust" issues - the candidate is remote to the job, and I didn't expect the company would move anyone. So although I thought the candidate an excellent match on many levels, I would have been surprised if it had worked. And he had come to me...
It takes all kinds, as they say.
Comment by Chris Wessell on March 29, 2010 at 11:11am
Definitely experienced that one many times Deb...
Comment by Chris Wessell on March 29, 2010 at 11:12am
The secret to avoiding double submittals... push for the exclusive!! :)
Comment by John P. Coffey on March 29, 2010 at 11:18am
Excellent article. We create job searching software for independent contractors and job seekers for full time positions and we are amazed at how few job seekers know anything about submittals. As former IT contractors ourselves we built the submittal flag into our software as it was so ingrained in what we knew about getting hired. We have expanded our help file on the subject, but so many job seekers think it is something unique to our product. It isn't! We impress upon our clientele that submittals are extremely important to the point of having legal implications. This applies whether you have been submitted by a networking contact, a recruiter or you applied for the job via the normal channels of the employer. If your resume is in the hands of the hiring manager you have been submitted and every job seeker should guard their candidacy with a vengeance. One double submittal can kick your candidacy to the curb! Great article!


John P. Coffey, President
JobTabs, LLC
Job Search Software
Comment by Andy Young on March 29, 2010 at 11:31am
This is an excellent post and one close to my heart. It's the subject that is more likely than most to get my normally good blood pressure rocketing! And you know what? It HAS to come back to the client. Sure, the candidate needs to be adult and professional in their own behaviour. However, for as long as clients brief multiple agencies with an emphasis on speed, then that's what they'll get - speed. This is justified as "covering the market", but the fact is that just by dealing with one, possibly two recruiters and briefing on a basis of quality will remove many of the well documented ills of the recruitment process.
In the current market it is also inaccurate to suggest that a client will get a "better spread" by briefing multiple agencies - as the chances are the best candidates may not even be registered with any of them. Which again brings you back to time and quality - if the client focuses on this, then the selected recruiter can take an approach that targets the "passive" market much more and increase the chances of the person staying with that business for the long term - which then brings us to new territory, cost of hire!
Thanks for allowing me to get on my high horse Ryan!
Comment by Tim O'Donohue on March 29, 2010 at 12:02pm
I feel the best approach when dealing with a candidate I have yet to meet, test or perform references is to give them the industry and location of the client.

Once I have completed my vetting process and the client has an interest in setting up an interview, I will disclose the client to my candidate.

If I am working with a "trusted candidate" with a track record, I will disclose the name upon submittal.


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