Sole Rights. Why agencies suddenly asking contractors to give them it

Agency Sole Rights to supply contractor
Agency Sole Rights to send in Contractor's CV to a client

Sole Rights to a Client

Why are agencies suddenly asking contractors for sole rights at a particular client’s?

There are a lot of agency dirty tricks that get played on contractors.

So, contractors are always suspicious at any new moves that agencies make.

And rightly so!

Signing an Agency Contract for Sole Rights

So, contractors are wondering at the sudden appearance of agencies asking them to sign a contract giving the agency sole rights to put forward a contractor to a particular client.

The reason given is that if a CV arrives at a client through two different agencies then there could be a squabble possibly costing the contractor a chance of an interview or contract.

Well, that seems OK then and all above board doesn‘t it?

Agency on Preferred Supplier’s List

Well, yes and no – there are still some imponderables.

Does that agency actually have an ‘in‘ with the particular client. Or are they just sending in a few CVs hoping the client will bite.

They may not be on their preferred suppliers list.

CV Chucked in Bin

What you may find happening is that the client will just chuck your CV in the bin. That’s because you have not come through one of the agencies that they use.

If another agency, who is actually on the list, calls you up and asks if they can put your CV forward you will have to tell them you‘ve given sole rights to another agency.

They may never even consider you for a contract that is just up your street.

Agreement Period for Sole Rights

Also, how long does this ‘sole rights‘ last?

Does it put any date on the agreement?

Could you find yourself stymied the next time you are looking for a contract?

Signing the Agency Agreement on Sole Rights

There‘s also something else that you might want to consider before signing that agreement.

It could be possible that the agency is not trying to get you the contract but to deliberately put you out of the running.

Consider this for a moment.

The agency gets the job spec from the client and picks out the 10 contractors from their database, or who apply through a job board, that suit that contract requirement for that client best.

However, like maybe other agencies on the Preferred Supplier List at that company, they may only be allowed to submit what they think is their best three.

Agency’s Chosen Candidates

Agencies aren‘t experts in IT and are never really sure which candidates are most likely to get the contract.

They put forward their chosen best three.

However, they know of 7 other candidates who other agencies may contact and put forward as rivals to their candidates.

That‘s a worry.

Sole Supplier Agreement Solution

What could they do to prevent that?

Why, they could attempt to get as many of those other seven as they can to sign a sole supplier agreement even though they are never going to put them forward for the role.

Would agencies do this?

Damn right they would.

Signing Sole Agency Agreement

It may be a perfectly straightforward request to sign the sole agency agreement and there may be nothing untoward.

However, I can‘t see what‘s in it for the contractor and I can see several dangers if they do sign.

What the contractor can say is that as soon as he gets some kind of confirmation from the client that they have received his or her CV and are considering it, then he or she will sign the form.

An alternative is to tell the agency that you will send them an email stating that they were the first to contact you which they can show to the client if there is any dispute.

Duplicate CVs No Problem

However, this is a solution to a problem that is not even really there.

I‘ve hired a lot of contractors in the past.

What I used to do was look through them and create a pile of those contractors CVs which I liked.

If there were any duplicates I looked at the date on which I the agencies sent them and then threw the most recent ones in the bin.

All agencies have to do is get the CV in as quickly as possible and then they will be first.

If they delay by waiting for you to sign a sole agency agreement then they could end up second.

Let me tell you that agencies wouldn‘t delay anyway.

They would send your CV in as quickly as they could and wouldn‘t wait for any sole agency agreement coming back to them.

So, even if you said no to signing it, if the client came back to them and said they would like to interview they would be on the phone to you like a shot.

Price of Cheapest CV

I suppose one other consideration for the client would be the price.

If agencies put you forward at two different prices I might chose the cheapest one.

However, that is probably good for you as long as you told the different agencies the same rate.

You are more likely to be on the interview list if you come through an agency who is cheaper.

This may be what your agency is thinking of.

They may have lost out in the past by putting the same contractors in at higher prices than rival agents.

How Dumb is this Contractor

They want the sole right to put you in at whatever price they like.

They might put a slight premium on you as the choice would now be taken away from the clients as to what agency they can choose you from.

As a hirer it might brass me off a bit if they forced me to choose the most expensive option because your agency had a sole agreement from you in their pocket.

Depending on what kind of mood I was in, and the extra price obviously, it might cost you the interview.

‘How dumb is this contracto’, I would think. ‘Would we want him working here’?

Weeding Out Duplicate CVs

Agency always like to tell contractors that it could cost them the contract if their CV arrives to the same place more than once.

However, that doesn‘t make sense.

Is a client going to look through his pile of CVs (or online) and weed out the duplicates and throw them away without even having a look to see if they are any good?

Why would he or she do that?

Sole Rights Agency Ploy

This is just an agency ploy, and as far as I can see it is all for their benefit and not for yours.

Indeed it may actually harm you to do this.

You‘re probably well advised just to say no to the agency, but if you feel you need to do something send them the email saying that they were the first agency to contact you about that contract.

They can then show this to the client if there is a dispute.

That way, if they never present your CV, or it is thrown out because they are not on the PSL, then they‘ll never use it – and it doesn‘t stop you letting other agencies, who are on the PSL, send your CV through.

Telling the Agency

One last thought, how would an agency ever get to know who was put forward through another agency?

If I had three agencies that I regularly use who were allowed to put several candidates each through, the very last people I would tell about who I was going to interview would be the other agencies (other than the contractors from them, of course).

As they like to keep clients sweet they would never dare ask who the other candidates were and if they did they would get a very short reply and maybe even get taken off the list.

Choosing Contractors for Interview

So, the only way they would ever get to know is if a client was dumb enough to phone them up and say that he had received duplicates from two different agencies.

Clients are extremely unlikely to do that (I never did). They would just make their own mind up who to choose for interview and contact the agencies with the names of the ones selected.

Agencies would then concentrate on those and would not be interested in asking why their other candidates had been rejected.

Try calling them to ask why you have been rejected for a contract.

Losing Contractors the Contract

So, as you see, this scenario that agencies are putting to you that it could cost you the contract if your CV arrived twice at a company is a whole load of baloney.

They are just looking after themselves and not you.

Next time they ask you, just tell them where to get off!

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    1. I once had the situation where 2 agencies had sent me for the same job (I was young and naive and told the 2nd agency about the role before I interviewed, so they also put in my CV). The first thing said in the interview, I was asked if I knew I had been submitted twice. The 2nd recruiter was very forceful with the client, saying they could get me cheaper through them. After the interview, the recruiter rang me up and said, he was doing it for my benefit to get ME more money! Of course, once I told him to get lost, there were threats I’d never work again in the industry blah blah blah.


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