Corporate Insights: Contingent vs. Retained Recruiting Models


It’s very important to consider which type of relationship you want to have with a search company when you are looking to engage a firm to assist with filling your top level talent openings. Two approaches are fairly common practice, but which one is the right fit for your needs depends on what you want out of your search. Should your company use contingent recruiting or retained recruiting?

Conditions Where Contingent Recruiting is the Best Option:

  1. Your position doesn’t have a very difficult-to-find skill set. Lower-tier sales positions where skill sets are similar and you would just need to provide training on product specifics.
  2. Your position has a high turnover. Some positions just have a shorter half-life for various reasons. For example, the average stay in a fundraising role is around 18 months.
  3. Volume hiring for similar roles. If you are hiring three sales directors, it might make sense to use this model and see many candidates at once so you can choose the top set.
  4. You’re a household name brand. If you’re hiring at a company that rates as an easily recognized and sought-after brand, that name will bring candidates through your recruiter.

Conditions Where Retained Recruiting is the Best Option:

  1. You need your search partner committed. Regardless of how difficult your critical hiring need is, a retained firm will be committed and dedicate the necessary amount of time and resources required to source enough qualified candidates to find a match.
  2. You’re hiring need is very specialized. This search is filling one of the most vital positions to your company. You need a dedicated search partner who can work the networks of qualified candidates.
  3. The position has a small pool of potential talent. You need specific skill sets, emerging areas, or many years of experience. The dedicated recruiting that comes with this model will prevent turning off potentials by being contacted from many people trying to fill the same opening.
  4. This position requires a more seasoned professional. The people interested in your opening are discerning and will be negotiating, and the process could take longer than your average position to onboard. You want consistency representing the company while not alienating the talent or tying up your HR department. A dedicated professional search partner will manage that fine balance.

Another point to keep in mind is that in a retained search, the firm is invested in the long run. While there is a fee upfront, the firm is dedicated to maintaining your company as a partner for the greater returns as more positions are filled long term. Firms become better acquainted with your needs and distinct corporate culture, and become more successful at filling for retention of talent.

Whether you are thinking you need a retained search or a contingent search, Artemis Consultants, can find the talent you need. We offer a variety of executive search options designed to meet different hiring needs. Contact us and we will help you determine which approach is best suited for you to get the right talent to your door.

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