This is an interesting piece from Tracy Bittner, a recruiter writing for Forbes. It's guidance for Corporates on how to use Search firms, but the line that stands out for me is the recommendation that clients use multiple search firms on a single project.
This does happen in the retained search industry - most famously, when Gerry Roche of Heidrick & Struggles and Tom Neff of Spencer Stuart worked together on a project to recruit a new CEO for IBM - but it's pretty unusual at that level of search; projects are typically highly confidential and, as a result, the client is unlikely to want to brief multiple firms.
Tracy is correct, however, in that there is certainly an upside to such an approach. Most executive search firms have an "off limits" policy, which basically means that they will not recruit from clients. The nature and scope of the policy vary hugely, but it can be quite impactful for companies that do a lot of work in a single sector.
This is yet another reason why executives should ensure that they are on the radar for a wider audience of recruiters. You may well have been placed by a top Search firm and have a great relationship with the recruiter who put you in your current position. However, it's very unlikely that the same recruiter will be in a position to approach you about your next role - the existing client relationship with your employer may well prevent it.
Creating a profile in GatedTalent allows you to share your details - anonymously - with more than 200 executive search firms from across the globe (and counting...). It's entirely free and you can register here.
I currently work with six. When you have an extremely difficult and high-demand job to fill, one search firm is not going to provide the volume of qualified candidates that you need. Most of your candidate pool is passive, and one or a handful of recruiters at one firm working on your job using the same methodology isn’t going to provide the quantity or diversity that you will want.