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Is A PSL Just a Polite Way of Telling a Recruiter To ‘P-Off?’

4 months ago - Mark Ashton

Is A PSL Just a Polite Way of Telling a Recruiter To ‘P-Off?’

I have never actually been officially signed-up to a PSL throughout my career.  I have been told many times they exist, but, when you have the right candidate matched to the right role – does a PSL really matter? Or, do hiring and HR managers use the term ‘we have a PSL’ merely as a polite way of telling recruiters to get lost?

Why Are PSL’s Used in The First Place?

I know that some businesses and HR Managers value their PSL.  Some businesses choose to use a PSL to dictate which job types can go out to specific agencies.  In some cases, one agency is preferred for all postings and has the task of filling each and every role that is offered from a business.  Whatever my own personal thoughts on a PSL, having worked for as long as I have in recruitment, and done modestly well without being on one, it begs the question, are they really worth the paper they’re written on?

Advantages of a PSL

  • Reduce Costs
  • Reduce Time Spent Dealing with Multiple Agencies
  • Forge a Strong Partnership between Agency and Hiring Manager
  • Become an Extension of Your Business
  • Provides a Framework and Structure for Recruitment
  • Quicker Time to Hire

Now, forgive me if I’m mistaken, but can’t you get all of the above simply by setting out a clear set of guidelines, pre-requites and working rules with any recruitment company?  More still, you aren’t bound by any of the constraints that a PSL can dictate to your business?

Working without a PSL gives your business a little bit more freedom to work without restriction.  If a manager or member of staff recommends a new agency with the ideal candidate for an open role, you have total autonomy to work with whoever you choose.  Often, if a recruiter is new to your business, there is always a little flexibility with the fees as well.

PSL Secrets are Out

I have had conversations with many HR and Hiring Managers in the past who have openly told me saying they have a PSL to recruitment agencies, or passing that message down the line via receptionists tends to get rid of unwanted calls that can stack up when you have several unknown agencies contacting you.

So, are we as recruiters to blame for the old saying ‘Sorry, we’ve got a PSL, and you’re not on it’.  Is it our persistent calling and badgering of HR Managers that has caused them to come back to us with this generic response? Perhaps.


Does having a strict list of companies to work with, that you review annually really add value to your overall recruitment proposition.  Have you had to consider removing someone off your PSL and had to handle that message?

The whole purpose behind a PSL is to enhance and add value to your recruitment efforts and process, not to restrict or hold it back.  Originally, PSL’s gained popularity back in 2000 when budgets were tighter than ever before, and scale-backs were needed. But, with more and more hiring managers opting to work outside of a PSL, has it passed its sell-by date?  Do hiring managers REALLY still use PSL, or is it just something that closes the door on new recruiters who are trying to infiltrate a new prospect or business?

What do you think; Do PSL’s still have a viable place and can they help your overall recruitment strategy?