One of the frequent questions I’ve been getting in my seminars lately comes from active jobseekers or contract workers who wonder, “why am I getting e-mails from contracting firms asking for exclusive rights to represent me or wanting the last four digits of my social security number?”

The answer is related to something noteworthy that has been instituted within the last year at many of the large area employers such as Microsoft or Boeing.

It’s called the Vendor Management System (VMS).

Prior to late 2009, large, established vendors and contracting firms such as VoltKelly Services,Siemens, or Excel Data recruited directly for the hiring managers at many of the big area employers. Due to favoritism, hiring managers used certain vendors exclusively. This created low competition among vendors and the cost of recruiting started rising.

In late 2009, many companies instituted the VMS to allow all approved vendors access to the same openings, therefore leveling the playing field and forcing vendor fees down. This means that local boutique contracting firms such as Vertical MoveXtreme Consulting, and Allen Partners could compete with the larger firms.

Each employer has its own VMS and generally imposes the same rules to its vendors. Understanding these rules can help you avoid mistakes novice contractors make when applying to contract openings.

  • Recruiters at contracting firms are no longer allowed to contact hiring managers directly.
  • Hiring managers post their openings into the employer’s VMS and vendors are notified of the opening. Some employers could give 200 vendors access to their VMS.
  • To ensure each applicant is unique, employers require vendors to capture “exclusive rights to represent” a potential contractor or the last 4 digits of the candidate’s social security number.
  • Although each vendor might have hundreds of qualified applicants, they are only allowed to send up to four candidates per opening.

When choosing a vendor, make sure to select one you already have a strong relationship with. This can help increase your odds of being considered among the four who may be entered for the job opening. If you don’t already have a relationship with a vendor, do your research carefully to find a firm that is a good fit for you and will work hard to represent you.

Don’t assume that by applying through multiple vendors that you can increase your chances of getting noticed. If the employer’s VMS finds duplicates, it will remove all of your submissions.

What has been your experience working through this process?

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