Contingent vs Retained – What Search Should You Choose?

By Dan Simmons

Do you know what type of recruitment search your company is seeking? Is it a Contingent Search or a Retained Search? Knowing what you want and how you want your recruiter to go about it will help you, the recruiter and all future candidates to have a clearer understanding of the position and it’s requirements.

How to Know Which is Right For You

Let’s assume you have four open positions. Two of them are critical. That means a lot is riding on attracting the right talent. Your efforts have not turned up acceptable internal or external candidates. Does conventional wisdom tell you to get as many recruiters involved in this search as soon as possible? Think twice!

Searches are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different positions require different talent, and it’s the level of talent you need that will dictate your recruiting options. Let’s break this down so you can determine the option that’s right for you.

Let’s Define the Search Terms

Contingent = I need a duck.  If you bring me a duck, I’ll pay your fee.

Exclusive = I need a duck and I’m not telling anyone else I need a duck. Go get me a duck and I’ll pay your fee.

Engaged = I need a duck. Go get me a duck. Here’s a chunk of money to get you committed and for you to know that I’m committed, too.

Retained = I need a duck. Go search for a duck. This is serious.  I want to buy your time so you’ll get my duck. Here’s a chunk of money up front, and I’ll pay you 1/3 in a few days and the balance a few days later. GET ME A DUCK!

The difference is in the level of service, commitment and communication between you and the recruiter.

Contingent or Retained: How to Know

There is a time and place for contingent recruiting, but sometimes searches are best served using a retained/engaged arrangement for five key reasons:

Reason #1: Concentration

If you focus someone’s efforts, you will get better results.  To use a retail analogy, if you send one person to the stockroom to complete a task, you have one person working; if you send two, you have half a person; if you send more than two, no one is working. The same is often true of contingent recruiters. A retained/engaged arrangement focuses the recruiter on your search, and that’s what you want for your critical openings.

Key Reason #2: Commitment

The recruiter will be committed to completing the task because they have a higher level of confidence that there is a payday. No other recruiter will be in the way. This way it becomes a logical process instead of a race.

Key Reason #3: Consistent Message – Don’t mess up your brand!

Having three-plus recruiters running after the same two searches will make your company and the recruiters look less professional and will create a sense of turnover or desperation that no company needs.

Key Reason #4: A consistent process improves results

You will get: ONE format. ONE process. ONE timetable. ONE consistent message. ONE point of contact.

Key Reason #5: Comparison

Your recruiter can be – and should be – your consultant.  If they know every candidate and own every candidate, they can help you compare those candidates without bias.  Also, because of Key Reason #4 (consistent process), you’re able to compare “apples with apples.”  Your recruiter will also be a consultant to the candidate, helping them with the decision-making process.

It’s Your Call

The differences come down to how critical the position is to you and your company. If you’re just looking for someone to do a job, then the giving the search to as many recruiters as you deem necessary may be acceptable. However, if you’re looking for key talent to improve the company’s bottom line, then serious consideration needs to be given to the retained/engaged search.

So now that you know what kind of duck you need, it’s your call. Go get your duck!

Dan Simmons Bio

Dan SimmonsDaniel C. Simmons is a Certified Personnel Consultant who has been recruiting since 1991. Dan has won over twenty awards in the last decade with the Top Echelon Network, America’s leading placement network including Placer of the Year in 2009 & 2010.

Frequently Dan also is a recruiter trainer and has been featured at various Top Echelon Conventions and online as a speaker for various webinars. He has also been published in The Fordyce Letter the recruiting industry’s #1 magazine.

Is Your Company Looking for Great Candidates? Contact Dan Today!

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