Dual or Parallel Processing - terms in the search industry which do not mean much to most people. Should they? And should you be reacting 'positively' or 'negatively' to the terms? The answer . . . . . it depends on who you are. Thus the title: It's about the client!
You ARE the client!
You are conducting a search for a Director of Sales. You are considering four candidates from your retained search firm. You are very serious about two of them. There are two others that are on the 'back burner.'
The search firm is offered a second search for a Director of Sales from another client in another industry. One of the candidates you are considering from this search firm has a background in your industry as well as the other industry. Can the search firm present the candidate (even a 'back burner' candidate) on the other search as well? The answer, if yes, is called Dual or Parallel Processing (of a candidate).
Do you want this to happen? As a client, the answer is likely NO. If you are the search firm, you need to decide what your stance is. Having a candidate in two places at once can be good and bad. As a candidate, you are likely thrilled.
We're back to:
It's about the Client!
While rare with small firms, Dual or Parallel Processing may be a more common practice with national or international firms. They are likely to be conducting more than one search in the same functional area at any given time (across multiple offices in some cases). Contingent firms do this all the time - it is part of a very common business model.
The key - bring it up! What is the practice at the firm you are considering for your search? Are you in agreement? As with most ethical questions, there is no one 'best' answer that fits everyone.
Make sure to have the discussion with your retained search partner!