Retained Search vs. Contingency Recruitment Explained

When working with a recruiter to help you fill roles at your organization, there are two basic types of recruitment and search strategy: retained and contingency. Here are the differences and what they mean for your business.

Retained Search

Much like a lawyer who works on retainer, recruiters who perform retained searches charge clients upfront for their candidate search. This retains the recruitment firm’s exclusive search services to find a candidate and fill the role. Recruiters who work on retainers work closely with their clients to understand exactly what the company is looking for in a candidate. A shortlist of the best possible candidates is presented to the company before interviews are scheduled and the client can narrow down the list to the candidates they’re most interested in interviewing.

Contingency Search

Contingency searches aren’t paid until a suitable candidate is found. That means if the recruiter can’t fill the role, the business isn’t responsible for paying them for their search services. Another feature of a contingency search is the recruitment firm is competing against internal HR department, but one benefit of this is there are more resources for a company to draw from and find their ideal fit. Those who’ve used contingency search with a recruitment firm often report that contingency recruiters are motivated to fill the role faster, but often without as much information or planning as those working on a retained search basis.

One thing to note is that in the contingent model, because recruiters are not retained, they may end up marketing some of the strongest candidates to other companies, including direct competitors of the business that hired them on contingency. Retained search can help clients by reserving the sourced candidates for that specific client.

Which is Better?

The best kind of recruitment strategy will depend on your business and the role you’re trying to fill. We’re here to help you build your best team. That means our job is helping your business find the right people to do the jobs you need. No matter what role you’re seeking to fill, our teams work with you to find out what you need to drive the success of your business. If you have questions – about anything from our process to our recruitment fill rate – contact our expert executive recruiters today.

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