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Q: What happens when the role you're interviewing for directly is also run by a search firm?

Q: “Somer, if I find a role directly and it’s run through a search firm, does that help or hurt me? What happens if my employer is also a client of the same search firm?” -Bank MD

A: It shouldn’t matter. Let’s talk about the nuances. (more below)

The goal of a retained search firm is to fill the position with the best candidate, regardless of the source. This is about covering the market, being thorough and making recommendations. Sometimes search firms also assess internal employees who raised their hand for the role.

You’ll likely go through the search firm’s interview process. This way they have perspective on you vs other candidates, and can share their recommendations with the client.

You’ll have the benefit of being prepped by the search firm and a holistic view of where you stand.

If your employer is working with the search firm, it depends on the off limits section of the contract. They probably won’t contact you, but your candidacy won’t change.

Let me end with this: As always it comes down to the specific person you’re working with. If the search firm views their role as “winning” vs “partnership”, then they may root for “their” candidates. Ultimately, though, you’re likely in good hands and I’ve always seen direct candidates get equal treatment.

Check out more related topics on my LinkedIn page.


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