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Professional Searching – Retained Search or Contingent Search?

As companies have returned (or are returning) to work, the re-focus on recruiting and how to best execute recruiting initiatives in a post-COVID-19 world has led us to the topic of retained search versus contingent search. Social media is not the forum for an in-depth dive on the differences and pluses/minuses of each but we can briefly explore and look at what the different options look like.
Contingent search is the more common and defines itself-the recruiter being paid for her search efforts is contingent on her delivering the candidate she was contracted to find. The name of the game in contingent search is speed. Unfortunately, more often than not, with speed comes sacrificed quality. Many employers believe in the fallacy of recruiter competition-the more recruiters working a search, the more likely you will fill it with the most qualified candidate. What happens in reality is that when placed in a competitive situation with several other recruiters, the focus on speedy delivery trumps the desire for highest quality and the search becomes more cursory in nature-a quick review of job boards and internal databases followed by firing a handful of resumes to a client praying something catches their eye. The best recruiters working contingent search are working exclusively on any particular client’s searches. This allows for a more in depth search process with deeper and broader searching taking place and in the end a much better hire for the client.
business man on his computer contemplating Retained Search vs Contingent Search
Retained search is where the client pays a percentage of the estimated recruiting fee up front to initiate the search process and then pays the balance as other thresholds are met and the desired candidate starts. This is definitely the preferred search process for recruiters but it should be for employers as well! Both parties are going into this knowing their search will be conducted in an in depth, professional manner with the outcome assured on both ends! The commitment up front ensures the recruiter that they will have the appropriate level of seriousness and engagement from the client company and it ensures that this becomes the recruiter’s highest priority! Talk about win-win!
In order to in maximize the outcome of your utilization of a third party recruiter, especially now in the post-COVID world, the two things that will drive a mutually beneficial engagement are exclusivity and utilization of a retained search. Recruiters work best and hardest in both situations and therefore will be able to develop a superior candidate pool. From the company’s standpoint, utilizing either/both of these desirable scenarios allows the company better leverage for fee negotiations. Guaranteeing the highest possible outcome while potentially saving fee dollars while doing it should interest all companies looking to elevate their talent pool.

Hopefully this material was educational and informative. If you have any questions specifically about this topic, please feel free to reach out to me.

Hugh Gallagher 

The Gallagher Search Group 


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