Contingency and Retained Recruiting: Differences and Considerations

Finding a quality candidate who’s a great fit for your organization can often be a challenging and time-consuming task. Luckily, there are a variety of recruiting agencies available to handle this responsibility for you. Learn what contingency and retained recruiting are, discover the difference between the two and review tips to help you decide which is right for your business. 

 

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What is contingency recruiting?

Contingency recruiting involves hiring a recruiting firm to locate candidates to fill lower to mid-level open roles. Companies may hire more than one contingency recruiting firm to help quickly find a great fit for the position. They often do this to obtain several resumes for the role, either to give themselves plenty to choose from or to hire several people to fill certain positions. 

 

For instance, if a company’s looking to fill five content writer positions, they’ll hire several contingency recruiting firms to find many potential candidates to fill all the open spots. The company’s human resources team may also conduct their own recruitment efforts during this time to ensure they’re reaching a wide audience and attracting as many impressive candidates as possible.

 

What is retained recruiting?

Retained recruiting refers to retained search agencies that often recruit for executive and senior-level roles. Many of these recruiters are expected to have advanced knowledge of the industry they’re to better understand what the company needs in a great employee. These recruiting firms often charge a placement fee based on the annual salary their candidate receives when they’re hired. The fee amount varies depending on the expert level of the recruiting firm and recruiter you work with. 

 

To ensure your employees are well-trained and prepared for their new role, some retained recruiting firms also provide coaching, training and onboarding training sessions. This ensures the employee is more aware of their job duties by their first day and removes this responsibility from your HR team to allow them to focus on big-picture tasks. Retained recruiting firms work on an exclusive basis, so they’re the only recruiting company you’re allowed to work with. 

 

Differences between contingency and retained recruiters

There are various differences between contingency and retained recruiting firms. Common differences include: 

 

Payment methods 

Each of these recruiting firms follows different procedures when it comes to charging for their time. Contingency search firms typically recruit for your company for free and don’t receive payment for their work until their candidate is hired. This usually means they’ll work hard to provide you with many candidates at once to increase the chances of you selecting their selections.

 

There are usually three sections of payment you’ll make to retained recruiting agencies. The first is the retainer you’ll pay when the search first begins. The next is on a certain milestone date that you agree on with the recruiter beforehand. Your final payment is provided when the candidate is successfully hired at your company. If the new hire leaves before an agreed upon date between you and the recruiter, they offer a guarantee to replace that candidate with someone who has similar or more advanced skill sets. 

 

Relationship with the company 

When you work with a retained recruiting agency, you’re essentially establishing a long-term relationship with them. Many retained recruiting firms require companies to sign an exclusivity form stating that they’ll only work with their agency to find and hire new candidates. They’ll take their time getting to know your company, industry and hiring needs better to find the best candidates for you. 

 

If you hire contingency firms, you typically have the option to employ several different ones to increase your influx of qualified candidates. This means the contingency firm usually works briefly with you to establish your needs and preferences for the role before finding several potential candidates. They don’t often have a close relationship with you, so you’re able to easily move on to a different firm once your job search process is over.

 

Related: Creating a Recruiting Plan for Your Business

 

Quantity vs. quality 

Retained recruiting agencies are more focused on finding a handful of quality employees who are perfect for the role. They spend a significant amount of time evaluating your business’ needs, locating talented candidates and preparing candidates for their upcoming interview with you. This guarantees you’ll find an impressive candidate who aligns well with your company goals, values and job responsibilities.

 

Contingency firms focus more on getting you a large number of candidates who could potentially be great fits for the position. Many of these recruiters review the needs and preferences listed on your job descriptions and find candidates with resumes that contain a few keywords matching that information. This helps them provide you with a significant amount of candidates with relevant skill sets and qualifications, but it doesn’t guarantee that these candidates are great fits for the position and company.

 

Tips for considering which type of recruiter is right for your business

Follow these tips to help you determine which recruiting agency to hire to help you fill your open positions: 

 

Determine your job search goals 

Before you pick a firm, sit down with your team to determine your company’s recruitment goals. If your organization is smaller and doesn’t yet need to hire a significant number of employees, contingency recruiting could be the best temporary option for you. If you have multiple positions to hire on an ongoing basis as your business grows, consider using a retained recruiter. They’ll work to build a relationship with you and will recruit strong talent when needed.

 

Consider the seniority level of the position 

If you’re searching for a candidate with an advanced skill set who will work in an executive or leadership role, retained recruiting is the best option. They’ll conduct extensive research on candidates with impressive leadership skills and plenty of experience. This ensures you hire an impressive candidate who will make logical and effective big-picture decisions for your company. For lower to mid-level positions, consider hiring a contingency firm to help fill them. 

 

Establish your timeline and urgency of the role 

Think about how soon you’d like to fill your open positions. If you have urgent tasks that need to be completed soon for your company, a contingency recruiter will help you quickly find someone with the skill set to complete those tasks. Work with a retained recruiter if you have plenty of time to assess candidates and make sure the one you’re hiring is perfect for the role.

 

Decide how many employees you need to hire

Contingency recruiters are great at finding several candidates to fill your open positions. If you have multiple roles that need you need to fill soon or if you’d like a large selection of qualified candidates to choose from, find a few contingency recruiters with great ratings to assist you in this job search. 

 

Finding the best recruiting firm for your company depends solely on the hiring needs and preferences of your organization. To help you get started, work closely with department managers who have positions they need to fill to determine what they prefer in an ideal candidate.

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