Talent Acquisition

How to Secure Exclusive Roles From Clients

Securing exclusive work from clients is the dream for any third party recruiter. As soon as you know the role is yours to fill, you can justify channeling extreme amounts of effort and giving the client the stellar service you’re capable of and they deserve. Unfortunately, locking down exclusive roles to work on is easier said than done.

What’s your best bet when it comes to getting exclusive with clients? We put it to our expert panel of recruiters. Here are their top tips:

Lysha Holmes


“Approach recruitment as a partner and work with them as their brand ambassador.

Do the right thing by them.

Don’t push them to hire the wrong person.

Give free advice when they ask for your opinion.

Meet them regularly. Be honest.”

Lysha Holmes is Founder of Qui Recruitment

Gill Buchanan


Make sure you can show strong evidence of a successful track record in their sector. Provide written testimonials and access to previous clients who would be happy to provide verbal references. Take the time to meet and discuss the role and to really understand their requirements. Explain your recruitment plan thoroughly and make sure you follow through with it. Demonstrate that your approach is not one of a ‘C.V. race’ against other recruiters but of a focus on achieving a quality outcome –  a candidate who is the right fit for the role and for the organisation’s overall culture.

Gill Buchanan is Director at Pure Resourcing Solutions

Billy Smith


“The main aim of securing exclusive work is to find out what the client’s biggest need/want is. 90% of the time, we find if we can offer clear timelines on when a client will receive a shortlist, have interviews arranged and offers made, this takes the full process away from them allowing them to concentrate on what they do best. It’s also important to know your sector enabling recruiters to build relationships and give clients the confidence that the right person will be found.”

Billy Smith is Managing Director at FGS Recruitment

Iain Hamilton


“I am bored of the exclusivity pitch, and so are clients. If you are going to offer traditional agency services then deliver candidates so great that your client doesn’t want to use anyone else. If you want to step ahead of the curve, then consider a completely different service model that disrupts all the clichés of the recruitment industry. Flip those clichés on their head and provide a service your client cannot live without. It will take a while to catch on but the question is; do you want to lead, or be led?”

Iain Hamilton is Founder of People Traction

Adam Glassman


Track and use your performance data. What does it say about you? Are you better at driving a volume of applicants? Are you fantastic at finding C-suite placements? What do your time to fill, offer to hire ratios and quality of hire metrics look like? Track all of these elements and use them as your differentiators.

Adam Glassman is Recruitment Strategies Manager at Alorica

Chad MacRae



Just do a good job.

Don’t be a jerk.

Treat people well.

It’s about relationships. And relationships aren’t transactions.

They’re connections with people.”

Chad MacRae is Founder of Recruiting Social

David Morel


Honesty. Clients in this day and age want to deal with honest Consultants who are up front about their knowledge limitations, turnaround times and whether they are going to be able to hit the mark with the candidates they send through. They are more likely to offer you exclusivity if you are straight down the line with them. They might only give you a period of exclusivity for a certain timeframe, but this is better than multi any day!

David Morel is CEO & Founder of Tiger Recruitment

Lisa Jones


“Not a tip as such, as a tip denotes something quick…

Having a really clean and viable talent pool on your database.

Having one which you have nurtured and kept warm… one that needs you, is massively valuable to your clients.”

Lisa Jones is Director at Barclay Jones

Bronwen Hann


For us, what’s old is new again. There are always new ATS and ways of aggregating social media during your searches, but what works long-term is the ability to build relationships. For us the phone is still the best tool to further that goal, so we’re refocusing on that venerable technology and trying to make it newly relevant in our business. It’s valuable to source through social media, but the best way to source is by having conversations with your network – finding out what’s driving their careers, who they know who is active on the market, etc. Recruiters who can harness this will always have an advantage.

Bronwen Hann is President & Senior Partner at Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting

James Nathan


“If you want clients to work with you exclusively, you need to get in first, be extremely easy to work with, be extremely credible and build a high level of trust, and most of all deliver at an amazing level. If you do this the first time you work with someone, then they will be so blown away that you will differentiate yourself so far above your competitors that they won’t even think about doing else where. Then all you need to do is maintain that service. Easy. “

James Nathan is Founder of The James Nathan Experience

Dualta Doherty


Show them a track record of what you can do and examples of the types of candidates you work with. Demonstrate your ability to make this your number one priority, walk them through the process and agree timelines, and invite them to the office to interview the short list with you.  Once you have their buy ask them to give you this assignment for an initial 2 weeks.

Dualta Doherty is Founder of Pro Recruitment Solutions

Caroline Stokes


“We only work on retained searches that are exclusive. Best tip? I’ll turn it into a question instead: What do you need to change in your company to attract a different type of business?”

Caroline Stokes is Founder of FORWARD

By Phoebe Spinks

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.