Contingency search vs retained search

When you try to find talent and work with a recruitment firm, you usually encounter two recruitment solutions. There are contingency search systems, but also retained search systems. Each one has its fair share of benefits and pros, but also some downsides. Which makes you wonder, what makes each option different and which one is the best to suit your needs.





What is contingency search?


In the case of contingency search, the recruitment company only gets paid if they find a candidate for the job and he/she gets hired. Simply put, this means the recruitment agency will not get paid until the work is complete. As a result, contingency search is usually bringing an incentive to receive the vacant spot. Usually, multiple agencies try to fill the same spot for a business, and only the one that fills the vacancy gets paid.


What is retained search?


Retained search means that the agency gets paid in three installments: engagement, shortlist handover and when the successful candidate accepts the employment offer. The agency invests more time in understanding the vacancy, market maps a targeted group of potential candidates and provide additional levels of pre-screening such as customized assessments to introduce nothing but the best candidates to their Clients. The retained search system is very useful for companies trying to find executive, higher-tier positions or positions requiring an unusual skill-set or very specific qualifications. One of the things to keep in mind is that retained searches are usually taking more time when compared to contingency search. There’s a narrow candidate pool, and here the focus is on who is the most qualified person for the job. In general, this is more time-consuming, but it can also become very fulfilling as well.


Which is the better option?


If you want to hire lots of employees fast, contingency search is the ideal option. However, if your focus is on hiring only a few people on higher position within the business, or people with an unusual skill-set, retained search is definitely better. There’s also a third option, in the form of engaged contingency search. This is a hybrid of the two, as the agency gets paid a percentage of the fee at first.

After that, they need to go and find the right candidate and once the candidate gets hired, they get paid the remaining amount. It’s a great option because you have the retained search benefits, while also receiving the motivation of getting paid when the job is done. One thing is certain, all options are great in their own way, but some are significantly better, based on the situation of the business at hand and what kind of position they want to fill right now.