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The distinction between contingency and retained recruitment

There are cases the place corporations leverage the companies of recruitment businesses. This may very well be as a result of the model has no hiring course of in place, wants extremely specialised expertise or the recruitment aspiration is bigger than the in-house recruiter’s bandwidth. Regardless of the purpose, it’s crucial to debate the 2 totally different fashions of company recruitment: retained and contingency recruitment.

This put up explains intimately the character of those two forms of search and highlights areas through which they each range.

What’s retained recruitment?

Additionally termed retained search, it is a kind of recruitment through which a shopper engages a recruiting agency on an unique foundation to seek out candidates to fill sure roles. Below this association, the shopper pays the search agency an upfront charge to begin the search and steadily completes the fee as outlined targets are reached.

It’s a stress-free kind of recruitment for purchasers because the search agency does the majority of the work as soon as the methodology and processes have been agreed upon. Nonetheless, each events nonetheless work in shut alliance until the perfect candidate is employed.

What’s contingency recruitment?

Contingency recruiting is a kind of recruitment through which a shopper engages a number of search corporations to seek out candidates. Nonetheless, beneath this mannequin, no upfront charge is paid to go looking corporations to begin operations. They solely obtain their pay when the candidate they current is employed for the function.

The “many arms” strategy of this mannequin of recruitment will increase the shopper’s entry to a wider expertise pool. Its aggressive nature helps safe candidates a lot sooner. Moreover, smaller manufacturers are inspired by the truth that they solely should pay when a professional candidate is employed.

With a very good understanding of what these two forms of recruitment are, let’s unpack what makes them totally different from one another.

Contingency recruitment vs retained recruitment: How they differ from one another

Under are numerous factors on how contingency and retained recruitment are totally different


The aspect of exclusivity is the place the distinction between retained and contingency recruitment actually stands out. A retained search agency works with its shopper on an unique foundation. Solely that search agency is contracted to seek out extremely certified candidates to fill the related function.

Nonetheless, this isn’t the case for a contingency search. Below contingency recruiting, the search agency isn’t the one one tasked with discovering a professional candidate for the function. The shopper engages totally different search corporations; there’s a delicate competitors among the many numerous contingent recruiters to supply a profitable candidate.

Model illustration and high quality of service:

Search corporations are ambassadors for his or her purchasers. Candidate expertise, which incorporates the candidate’s encounter with the recruiter, issues lots as a result of it impacts the picture of the shopper and the impression the candidate has of them.

Retained recruiters provide a greater probability of name illustration. It’s because the retained search agency is dedicated to discovering high quality candidates for its shopper. Due to this fact, they train a lot discretion, talk correctly and make each affordable effort to make sure that in the midst of interacting with the candidate, they painting their shopper in good gentle.

These are indicators that the shopper means enterprise so far as hiring candidates is anxious. Retained recruitment can be characterised by a top quality of service as a result of the search agency’s whole consideration focuses on the shopper’s recruitment wants.

Contingency recruitment is fraught with the chance of poor model illustration. The recruiting businesses know that they’re not working solely with the shopper, so they may not be keen about promoting the model to candidates. The setup might result in a ridiculous end result through which one candidate can be contacted by a number of recruiters for a similar function.

Such a scenario would recommend that the shopper is determined and disorganised.

There’s additionally the hazard of a shopper’s transient dropping decrease on the listing of priorities. The recruitment corporations may not really feel pushed to seek out an excellent candidate and will neglect or completely abandon the shopper’s transient for a better or extra promising one.

It’s value stressing that this doesn’t imply that each one retained recruiters will give wonderful service or good model illustration, and neither does it suggest that each contingent recruiter slacks in supply. These factors are solely to emphasize what’s typical in every mannequin.


Retained recruiting is geared in the direction of discovering the perfect candidate for the function. Consequently, the agency concerned is tasked with going to further lengths to discover a candidate who lives as much as the billing. Conducting in-depth searches and a number of interviews to entry candidates will certainly require a major period of time.

Contingency search is often sooner as a result of the search businesses don’t must do any further work. Their accountability is to discover a candidate who is sweet sufficient and assess them. A cursory take a look at their CV and an interview are sufficient to find out whether or not the candidate in all fairness competent earlier than forwarding them to the shopper for last interviews.

In accordance with the Recruiting Benchmark Report of 2019, the typical time to fill a job opening via contingent recruitment is 39 days. It takes contingent recruiters means much less time as a result of their accountability isn’t to seek out the perfect candidate, nor have they got to deal with the complete analysis and hiring course of. If urgency is essential, then contingency search is the best way ahead.

Supreme scenario:

There are cases when it’s essential to fill a emptiness in an organization as rapidly as doable and counting on the efforts of a sole recruiting company gained’t appear sensible. The place that is the case, contingency recruiting is the perfect guess.

A contingency search can be the best way to go if the shopper desires swift and pocket-friendly entry to an unlimited community of expertise. It boosts an employer’s probabilities of tapping from a large expertise pool and allows them to reap the advantages of various views and recruitment concepts.

Because of its nature, contingency recruiting is right for filling decrease to mid-level vacancies. It offers the purchasers an array of choices to select from.

If a shopper desires candidates for govt and senior-level roles, retained recruiting is simply what the physician ordered. This recruitment mannequin is the higher various when a shopper desires the perfect candidate doable for a C-suite, board-level or in any other case management place.

Whereas it restricts purchasers to a restricted expertise pool, it’s excellent for extremely aggressive markets and bigger corporations.


The excellence between contingency and retained recruitment stands out prominently within the space of fee association. With contingency recruitment, no charges are paid upfront for the search corporations to begin the candidate hunt. Even after they discover candidates and ahead them to the shopper for last evaluation, their pay isn’t assured.

Contingency recruiters solely receives a commission when their candidate is employed for the job. Since there’s no monetary dedication on the preliminary stage, this recruitment mannequin is essentially thought of to be cheaper.

Retained recruiting is the pricier counterpart. Firstly, the shopper has to pay an upfront charge earlier than the search agency begins scouting for candidates. Then, the remainder of the charges will probably be paid by the use of instalments because the recruiter reaches sure milestones.

The pay can be often greater as a result of the scope of the recruiting agent’s work is taken under consideration.

Working patterns:

Retained recruitment entails a devoted search agency implementing a technique agreed upon by the agency and the shopper. This various is simpler for the shopper as a result of the agency operates on auto-pilot as soon as the phrases and processes have been agreed upon. Their dedication guarantees a higher probability of discovering the perfect candidate – all it would take is time.

Contingency search, as speedy and environment friendly because it might sound, can show a tad tense to the shopper. Participating and managing a number of contingency search corporations can take a toll on a shopper. Most instances, although, these contingency search corporations use their methodology with out requiring the shopper’s enter.

In closing, it’s essential to re-emphasise that retained recruitment isn’t essentially higher than contingency recruitment. The weather mentioned are their default traits and basic tendencies.

The higher of the 2 is strongly depending on a shopper’s wants and the encircling circumstances.

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