The other side of SPLIT placements... Can exporting candidates build brand awareness?

I just read Jerry's post on SPLIT placements and I thought I comment through a blog post. The business model of split placements seems to be challenged by many members of the recruiting community. Some recruiters love split placements while others shy away from it and avoid it like the plague. For me, a lot of my business is through split placements and I love the concept. Don't get me wrong - I encourage recruiters to do split placements. I believe it provides a good complement to my permanent search business. However, many members of larger recruiting organizations discourages split placements and act to shy away from it.

One of the main challenges of split placements is the following: Why would independent recruiters sub out their 'best' candidates to another recruiter. If one wants to build a company (or his/her brand awareness in a certain niche marketplace), the recruiter that is giving the candidate (I'll call him/her an exporter) has no recognition to the end client. All of the work, brand awareness and trust from the existing client goes towards the recruiter that controls the job order (I'll call him/her an importer). Basically, the end client (company XYZ) does not know anything about the exporting independent recruiter. In the end, the importer is really building his/her business based upon another recruiter's hard work. In exchange, the importer will pay out 50% of the recruiting fee back to the exporter.

This seems like a band-aid solution in order to build a buisness. The exporter loses any identification with the end client in order to receive 50% of the payout. If Company XYZ has another job order, there is no guarantee that the importer will sub out this new job order to the exporting recruiter. The exporting recruiter then loses credibility with the end client and no brand awareness is gained by the exporting recruiting firm to the end client. Almost all credibility that client XYZ gives is put towards the importing recruiting firm and no credit is given to the exporting recruiting firm except for a 50% payout.

The other major challenge of split placements is the following: If an independent recruiter secures a job order, the client expects that the recruiting firm that the client has engaged will spend 100% of their time and effort in order to search the marketplace and find the best candidate to fill this position. At times, subbing this job order out to another recruiting firm seems almost like a cop-out. It feels that the importer did not put as much time and effort into the search as the client expects and expects a good recruiting fee out of it.

Now, I strongly believe in split placements and my position is that I encourage split placements amongst recruiters. I believe it builds teamwork between recruiters and I think it is fantastic when an independent recruiter finds a great split recruitment partner. However, I also believe that one must be careful. If the bulk of your business is built upon split placements, one must ask themselves, "are you really building a strong, solid recruiting firm and building brand awareness with your name/company in a certain niche marketplace OR are you really working for someone else"......

My position - split placements are great and fantastic but should only complement (and not replace) your existing book of business.

Views: 294

Comment by pam claughton on September 23, 2010 at 9:38am
As a full desk recruiter you are working both sides, candidates and clients. Splits when done well with people you trust, offer you a way to better serve both your candidates and your clients. If you keep their best interests in mind, the rest will take care of itself. So, you have a star candidate, don't you want to present that candidate with as many great opportuities as possible? Some may be yours, some may be with your split partners. If you hold back and don't present him/her you have less to offer and also run the risk that another recruiter could present him and then you miss out. Same with the client side. If you take on a search, of course you work as hard as you can to fill it, but if you don't have several great candidates, you can better your odds of filling the role and better serving your client by checking with your split partners to see if they have someone. If you really have a partnership type relationship then you don't have to worry about damaging your brand, because one day it may be your person getting placed with a split partner and the next it could be there person with yours so it all evens out. Unless you are spending all of your time recruiting on your split partner's assignments, which probably isn't the best way to build your business. But, it does work for some who don't like the client side and prefer to recruit.
Comment by Ken Schmitt on September 23, 2010 at 12:42pm
Brian, great conversation. Pam, wonderful comments. I agree that the word "split fee" has a very negative connotation among some recruiters. However, if you spend the time to build trust and credibility with your split partners and you establish some ground rules, I believe it is a great opportunity that can't be passed up. At the end of the day, as recruiters, it is our responsibility to serve our clients and our candidates. If we can be more effective, more timely and more efficient by leveraging our partners, isn't it incumbent upon us to do so? If Company XYZ approaches a valuation expert looking to build a succession plan, shouldn't the valuation expert reach out to her contacts in the succession planning & tax world to leverage their expertise and service their client? In my view, it is no different among recruiters with different areas of expertise and focus.

I am seeing a heightened willingness among recruiters to consider split arrangements and in fact, I just wrote an article entitled "The New Normal: Collaboration". I invite you to read it at
Ken Schmitt, President
Comment by Rob Kornblum on September 24, 2010 at 8:51am
Brian, Ken- Really thoughtful post and response. It's so funny that there is a wave of discussion this week on splits and collaboration. This blog was sitting on my desk for a week and the discussion prompted me to finally post it. I see collaboration as the future. Blog: 5 Reasons Collaboration is the Future
Comment by Jenna Loh on February 9, 2014 at 11:23pm

Hi Brian, I totally agree with you on your thoughts and sharing on your blogs.

I wonder are you still open to split placement. I am operating from Msia and I have some good candidates from Semiconductor R&D would like to move out and find a more promising career out from Msia. If you're open, do contact me at or my hp is 6016-416 6989.

Hear from you soon.

Jenna Loh


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