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: 8153

Comment by Ryan McMillan on March 29, 2010 at 8:20pm
I appreciate everyone taking the time to comment on this post. I can tell that this strikes a cord with all of us and that it's a source of BIG TIME frusturation. This seems to be one of those issues that can be limited but not illiminated. In fact I walked into the office today and within an hour a colleague of mine had a 2 double submittals.

I want to comment on a couple of points made by you:

@linda - I bet you are a rockstar of a recruiter! (You have to be better than I am :) Chris put it perfectly when he said to "push for the exclusive". I have also worked out the same "confidential" deal with a few of my clients in the past, but it has always been under the pretense that the business was exclusive. I can only see problems down the road if you have multiple vendors working on the same position but still not disclosing the client with candidates.

@Andy - Ride that horse brother. I agree that double submittals are in some part driven by the client and their policies, especially regarding "speed of submittal". I also think that the increased adaptation of VMS' by our clients (http://www.recruiterryan.com/vms-impacts) has had a negative impact on double submittals, but don't start getting me on MY horse about VMS.

@rebecca & chris - I seem to get this type of double submittal the most now that you mentioned it. I should have written something about it in the main post. The "You think you're slick" title is perfect here. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, getting certain information is impossible, especially if the candidate is holding back or being shady. I have also seen candidates who get double/tripple submitted to companies because they are either trying to get a higher rate or think their chances increase. Most of the time, at least for me, these candidates are people I have never spoken to before and I have no prior relationship with.

That's why I think Tim O'Donohue's last point is on the mark. Once we bring candidates through our screening processes, we can usually significantly decrease the chances of double submittals. Why? - INFORMATION! We take the time to dig in, we ask the right questions, and then we make judgement call on disclosing the client based upon the information presented. I also give trusted candidates the client name very early in our conversations.

Like I said before, I appreciate the ideas and comments from all of you. Your feedback means a lot and helps me become a better writer and recruiter. Afterall, I am a bit of a rookie at this.
Comment by John Pettine on March 31, 2010 at 1:18pm
Having the candidate send an email confirmation with permission to submit to X job number and that no other recruiters have submitted them to the position is a good way to get the candidates thinking hard about whether or not they were submitted. Information (i.e. job number, client, title) are key in identifying if a person has been submitted or not.
Comment by Sam Evans on March 31, 2010 at 1:54pm
Personally I cannot understand why anyone would want to have their CV submitted anywhere without first knowing where it was actually being submitted to? Surely it defeats the object of trust building even before the relationship has had a chance to get off the ground. I have seen many a recruiter put in huge amounts of hard graft and time, convincing the candidate to "trust" them and to gain their permission to represent them for a company believed to be right for the individual. The recruiter does not disclose any information around who the candidate may end up working for at this stage and when an interview request comes back from the client and the company name is finally disclosed the recruiter can often find the candidate is suddenly no longer interested because they had previously heard something bad about that company, interviewed there in the past and had a bad experience (vowed never to go back again), looked at the website and details now presented and simply doesn’t agree that this is the best route for them or their career, or they wanted to work for a larger / smaller organisation etc etc. In some instances, the candidate phones the recruiter and even states they are going to be working through the agent who did disclose the full client name and details – this is because they find them more trustworthy to work with and will happily tell the client this if asked. There are a whole host of reasons why this method should not be used, too many things to list in fact not mentioning that you could submit them to find they have already been submitted and had to mentioned the client up front you could have even saved yourself some work! Ultimately, the only true way of getting candidate commitment and building trust, knowing exactly whether you have their full and genuine commitment, is to work at the relationship from the offset and treat each person with the respect they deserve. ...If you do, you'll find it much more rewarding as they stand by you. They always come to back to you when they are in a position to hire, they also refer you to others and even open new doors - ultimately because they trust you, like you, know how you work and highly recommend it!

Equally for clarification, it’s important to say a recruiter does not just blurt out the information in full glory until you have thoroughly interviewed the individual in detail and feel totally comfortable that you are on the road to building trust and believe the candidate is right for the position - knowing they will agree with you given all of your qualification questioning!

I must also say I agree with Andy above, that the client must take X amount of responsibility for duplication issues. It's no good telling their recruiters they want quality and through qualification if they also enforce a ‘first come, first served’ type policy with CV's submitted. It only encourages this poor behaviour from all agencies briefed – assuming there is more than one and it’s not an exclusive assignment. I like to think all recruiter want to deliver a quality and in depth, thorough service - however we all know that the wrong working environment, wrong client and colleague values all make speed a bigger driver than quality.
Comment by Marni Hockenberg on March 31, 2010 at 3:11pm
Hello! The best way to avoid this is to work on a retained basis with your client. When will hiring managers understand that contingent and retained fees are the same and they won't have the 'double submittal' dilemma to deal with? I've worked both contingent and retained. My business is retained now so that it creates a win-win for all parties in the process.
Comment by Stacey Koconis on April 1, 2010 at 11:46am
Wow I really do not know what to say other than Wow. First of all I do not understand as a recruiter yourself what you really hope to accomplish with this blog but....... I really dont agree with any of it other than yes there are Recruiters out there that only wish to pad thier numbers for Metrics reporting reasons........ as for the rest of us who work really hard it just paints us all in a very bad light to perspective candidates and Clients. Because there are so many variables in this work.... it just isn't right to put blame for a double submittal squarly on the shoulders of the recruiters.
Comment by Barbara Goldman on April 1, 2010 at 12:26pm
Oh goodness. This is a real eye opener for me. I think that there are some very dangerous recruiters out there, and I truly believe this industry needs some kind of mandatory licensing

I'm shocked that anyone would submit a candidate without giving the candidate the name of the company.

I'm shocked but it explains what just happened to us. Two of our candidates were submitted to one of our clients by another agency. Neither candidate was aware that this happened. When we submitted the candidates, Human Resources just rejected both. The candidates both lost, and both were unaware that the other firm submitted them.

So the candidate lost out. We caused harm to someone. How dare we?

How dare we as a profession not care, or think about the candidate's welfare?

You must always ask the candidate if he can be submitted. Always. Anything else is professionally wrong. Period.

Not telling the candidate is all about fear. Fear that another recruiting firm might find out about the job. Guess what? We already know. We know who is hiring, we are excellent researchers. I don't need job order information from another firm. So, what is the point, besides fear of other contingency firms, of not telling the candidate on whos desk his resume is going to land?

No wonder people tell stories of "getting burned" by recruiters.

Let's put our thinking caps on, and think about the population from which we recruit. Every industry is small. People know one another. They go to the same conferences, they belong to the same professional organizations.

Not considering the candidate, and the candidate's professional situation, should be malpractice. This professional, connected person, your candidate, might be harmed in many ways if you toss around his resume.

What if? Someone who works for your client knows your candidate? What if? That person picks up the phone and tells someone? What if? Our professional could lose her job. Also, what if the very presence of the resume would cause embarrassment for the candidate?

Don't tell me that you are great at prescreening, and know what your candidate needs, blah, blah, blah, Candidates don't tell you everything. Sometimes they just don't remember that the HR director of XYZ company lives next door to them and that submitting the resume to XYZ company might cause extreme embarrassment (it happened) The candidate doesn't think to give you a list of everyone he knows, or everyone that shouldn't see his resume.

Put yourself in your candidate's shoes and do no harm.
Comment by Tim O'Donohue on April 1, 2010 at 12:51pm

If you give an intelligent, organized candidate details such as the nature of the project, job description, client's location and confirm all of this in an email, it should protect the candidate, client and broker from a double submittal. I always recommend to the candidate creating a journal with dates of submittals as well as details regarding the submittal. If a double submittal occurs, after our meeting, I think we know who is to blame.


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