There is a critical difference between contingent staffing and retained search – that difference is candidate neutrality.

It might seem a bit odd on the surface. Don’t recruiters champion their own candidates? If you are a client, buying the services of a recruiter, this is one of the most critical differences that directly impacts the quality of the candidates you hire.

Let me explain, a contingent staffing firm fills less than 20% of the job orders they intake. In order to improve their odds of success, completing a placement transaction, they will market or promote their candidates to as many companies as they can, as fast as they can. Speed, generating interest and volume are critical to performance. There is no fiduciary duty to perform outside of pursuing a transaction. As a result, recruiting efforts are mostly driven by advertisements, databases, job boards and superficial search efforts.

Retained or engaged searches bring a different set of priorities to the forefront. Because there is a shared commitment to successfully completing an assignment, the focus is on the quality of candidates surviving the identification and assessment process to make it into the final slate of candidates presented. Candidates must be taken through a neutral process to ensure a quality fit for the role.

In other words, the retained search requires a deeper dive into the total talent pool, more thorough vetting and longer guarantee periods. A brief process overview would start with having a research team generate a list of potential candidates, followed by an extensive outreach campaign, weekly client status updates, interviews, assessments, market comparisons and reference checks that narrow the list to less than 10% of the candidates. That is just to get to the point of presenting a list of finalists to a client.

Consider that at any given time, only about 23% of the total talent pool will have a resume posted or apply to job ads. But, 79% of the total talent pool will take a call from a search consultant.

In 2012 the US Department of Labor calculated that a mis-hire of a $100,000 manager costs $300,000 to remedy (e.g., missed opportunity costs, training, hiring costs, replacement hire, etc.). Consider what is best for your team.

– John Light, Partner at Evolving Talent Group

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