What is the difference between Contingent and Retained Recruiting Services

This is a common question asked by companies thinking about the use of recruiting services.

Initially, one might guess that the difference is as simple as how the recruiting agency is paid for their services. The contingency recruiter receives their fee only when the company hires a candidate they referred, conversely under a retained search the recruiter is paid part or all of their fee at the start of the search and retains that fee regardless of whether a hire occurs.

That having been said, there is an important defining difference between the two methods. The contingency recruiter is paid only when someone gets hired, motivating the agency to provide rapid results in order to manage their invested time in the search against the risk of payment. To be clear, this is not a slight to this method, as it is an effective approach and ultimately leads to quality candidates. (If you are hiring the candidate, you are likely happy with the results.)

The retained search recruiter is being paid to conduct the search. Therefore, they are likely to conduct a more exhaustive search process, providing only a list of top candidates for the position after a longer recruitment period of time. This process is typically more time consuming and used to fill a very specific or more senior role.

Both Contingent and Retained recruiting present viable methods for your business and will produce quality candidates. The process that is best for your search will be dependent on your need. If you need to quickly fill a position, or do not have the risk tolerance for paying a recruitment fee without the guarantee of a hire, then the contingent recruiting arrangement will likely be a good fit. If the position is critical, at a senior level, or the background difficult to come by and you want or need a more exhaustive search then the retained approach is the best good choice for your company.

It is important to choose a recruiter that can meet the needs of your business with proven success. As we discussed in a previous post, What to consider when shopping for a staffing service, partnering with the right staffing or recruiting firm is critical to the success of your business.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at WorkRocket if you have any questions or are interested in our services.

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