How to Get Onto a Recruitment PSL the Right Way

Whether you’re an agency or in-house recruiter, you’ll be more than familiar with Recruitment PSLs (Preferred Supplier Lists).

Having worked PSLs from both sides, I know all about the potential challenges of having a PSL in place and where recruiters tend to go wrong when pitching to get on one.

And yes, sometimes you can talk your way around a PSL, but rather than dodging it, how do you actually become a client’s preferred supplier so you can start pulling in a constant flow of repeat business?

Here’s how to go about it!

Respect the HR process

PSL-blogIf you really want to nurture a lasting relationship with a prospect, start by going about the process the right way.

It’s true that you can sometimes get around a PSL by speccing your candidate’s CV over to a hiring manager, but this will never lead to a lasting relationship with the in-house recruiter.

Chances are, you’re going to get on their last nerve more than anything and you’ll get a lot further if you just respect the processes they have in place.

To give you some insight, when I worked in-house, if I progressed a candidate who was specced in by a recruiter who wasn’t on our PSL, this could put me in the bad books with management.

So if you really care about recruiting for the client, just respect that they have a PSL and try to join it instead of getting around it.

Work towards the renewal date

Most companies will have a renewal date for their PSL, so ask when it’s next being reviewed and who oversees the renewal so you can plan your next steps.

It’s worth remembering that in-house recruiters spend a lot of their day repeating ‘we already have a PSL’ to agency recruiters, and sometimes they use this as an excuse just to get off the phone.

So rather than just accepting this and moving onto your next prospect, use this call as an opportunity to gather some more info, such as:

  • Ask when the PSL renewal date is and how to note your interest in applying to join
  • Find out who oversees the PSL so you can start warming them up
  • Find out how their PSL currently works
  • Find out if they’re facing any challenges that they’re facing with their current PSL.

This is all great info to gather and you’ll be opening up a conversation and hopefully making a good impression so you’re front of mind when the renewal comes around.

Nurture the relationship

If you manage to get past the stage of the in-house recruiter hanging up on you and you’ve gathered some valuable information on the PSL - congratulations!

How to take over a long-standing recruitment clientNow’s the time to start working on impressing them to give you a strong chance of making it onto their PSL next time.

Start off with sending them some branded swag – notebooks, water bottles, chocolates etc – whatever you usually send to clients. Everyone loves a freebie, right?

Not only will you have the whole HR team talking, but if your company logo sits on their desk for the next 12 months, there’s a good chance you’ll be remembered when the new PSL is put together.

Aside from branded swag, you could also send relevant market insights like salary reports to show you’re a recruiter worth knowing in their industry as you have your finger on the pulse.

And don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn so that when that golden calendar date comes around, you’re visible.

Become a ‘Second Tier’ Supplier

Of course getting on the main supplier list is the goal to aim for, but it’s also worth seeing if you can become the company’s Plan B in the meantime.

Probe further into their PSL process to see how they manage timescales for putting a job out for agencies to work. You could ask what they do when the agencies on their PSL are unable to supply suitable candidates – would they consider you as a Tier 2 Supplier?

If this is something they agree to, you can start working on proving your worth so they start seeing you as their go-to recruiter.

Once that renewal date comes along, will you be ready? Download the eBook below to find out how to create a recruitment tender that will get you on that golden PSL.

Less Recruitment Stress


Amy Clark

Amy is a Growth Outreach Specialist here at Firefish. After working as both an inhouse and agency recruiter, she knows the sector inside and out.

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