Contingency vs. Retained Search: Key Differences, Pros & Con

October 21, 2021
Posted in Recruiting
October 21, 2021 Recruiterie

Companies in virtually every industry are facing serious labor shortages. As a result, it’s only natural that the talent hunt has become more competitive than ever before across sectors. Businesses that hope to lure the best workers must decide between a contingent recruitment process or a retained search. That’s often easier said than done.

Are you looking to onboard new talent but don’t know where to begin? Struggling to decide between retained vs. contingency search? Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between the two to help you decide which is the better option for your company.

What is a contingent search?

A contingent search refers to the recruitment process managed by an agency that only gets paid after they’ve identified and hired a candidate for the job in question. In other words, a contingent search means that the recruitment agency doesn’t get paid until their work is fully completed. The recruitment agencies, thus, have every incentive to fill a vacant position as quickly as possible, as they don’t get compensated until the role is filled.

Sometimes, multiple recruiters or agencies will be trying to fill the same position at the same time. Only the agency that manages to fill the position will get paid. Businesses that desperately hope to fill a position as quickly as possible may hire multiple contingent agencies and pit them against one another to receive the most applications in the briefest period.

What is a retained search?

A retained search refers to the recruitment process managed by an agency that’s paid before a candidate is identified and hired. In other words, it requires businesses to pay money to a recruiter before a candidate is actually recruited. While some entrepreneurs may balk at this notion, retained searches are usually relied upon by larger, wealthier companies that are searching for senior executives to fill vital roles.

Retained searches may take longer than contingent searches, as they often consider a narrower pool of candidates. Whereas a contingent search will consider many candidates actively seeking work, retained searches typically only consider the most qualified candidates, including those who might not even be actively seeking work. As such, it’s more expensive and usually more time-consuming.

Retained searches are often exclusive — the recruiting agency conducting the search does not have to compete with other recruiters. Sometimes payment is made in full upfront, while other times it may be issued in milestones over an established time period.

Which option is the best for my business?

When considering retained vs. contingency search, which is better? Whether you pick a contingent or retained search depends upon what kind of worker you’re looking for. Companies that need to hire many employees as quickly as possible and have little regard for professional credentials will often rely on contingent searches. These companies will hire many recruiters at once to try and scoop up as many job applicants as possible.

Businesses that only need to hire one or two individuals and are searching for workers of a higher caliber than usual often depend on retained search. While retained searches take longer and cost more, they’re great at identifying the ideal candidate for an executive position that demands a seasoned professional. While your business would need a bigger recruiting budget to afford a retained search, it will almost certainly yield better results at the executive level.

When dealing with seasonal labor shortages, however, contingent searches are usually the better option. Companies that simply need low or mid-level workers can’t afford to waste valuable time and money on a lengthy search process that only targets the industry’s finest talent. Instead, opt for contingent searches as they need quick results and a large number of candidates to consider.

Supercharge your search results with Recruiterie

The experts at Recruiterie ensure that the executive search process is as easy, affordable, and effective as possible. By carefully analyzing businesses and candidates alike to determine which individual would fit the bill, Recruiterie ensures optimal outcomes for clients every time. The tireless C-level search process at Recruiterie never ends until clients are fully satisfied with the quality of the hire.

Recruiterie’s customized search strategy is perfect for unique companies that can’t depend on traditional hiring solutions during the talent hunt. With experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, Recruiterie’s experts will tailor the search process to fit the contours of your company. Our combined approach that utilizes both retained and contingent pricing methods ensures we’re affordable and effective for businesses of any size in every sector.

Are you tired of wasting time and money on the recruitment of lackluster candidates? Get ready to supercharge your search results with Recruiterie. Contact our employment specialists today to start tracking down the next top executive for your company.


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