Contingency Search vs. Retained Search Solutions

When you’re looking for a search firm to hire an executive, you’ll come across companies providing retained search, contingency search, or both. It’s worth knowing how contingency and retained search solutions differ, so you know you’re approaching a provider who can fulfill your hiring needs.

Scheduled fee vs. success fee

In a contingency search model, the executive search firm gets paid only if you hire the candidate they present. The executive search firm is paid upfront or a scheduled fee for retained search regardless of when or whether you hire a candidate they present.

Exclusive provider vs. multiple search firms

You engage different search firms to conduct contingency searches and pay the firm that finds a candidate you end up hiring. A firm providing retained search takes care of all your recruitment needs. In other words, you work exclusively with the search firm, although it may have other client companies.

Staffing versus executive search solutions

Retained search firms focus on filling executive-level roles. Contingency search firms are more concerned with staff-level jobs.

Active versus passive candidates

Contingency search firms reach out to active candidates, while retained search solutions are designed with passive candidates in mind. Want to grow your team with quality candidates who aren’t looking for new job opportunities? Save time and effort by engaging Arango & Associates’ monthly retained search service.

Budget vs. value

Professional search and selection are valuable regardless of whether you need to place a candidate immediately or you’re willing to find the perfect fit for the role. Contingency search is the budget solution, and it requires you to pay the search firm only if they can place a candidate successfully. Retained search firms keep working for you, continually helping you find executive-level talent.

Choosing between contingency and retained search solutions

Here’s when a retained search firm is the better option:

  • You need to hire senior executives
  • You want an in-depth assessment through interviews and job simulations
  • Interest in identifying top-tier candidates who may not be actively looking for a job

Instances where contingency search is more appropriate:

  • You need to hire for lower- and mid-level positions
  • You want to fill vacancies as soon as possible
  • You’re hoping to pick the best from a large pool of active candidates

It’s important to mention that candidates may be approached by multiple contingency firms working for you. It may become easily known that you urgently need to fill a position or various vacancies at your organization.

Search firms focused on contingency search solutions may not demonstrate the commitment of retained search firms in placing candidates in hard-to-fill roles. As they’re not assured payment, they may devote their energies to closing as many ‘easy jobs’ as possible to earn revenue from success fees. That said, contingency search firms can be invaluable during a staff hiring spree when time is of the essence and you offer training to prepare new hires for their job.

Arango & Associates provides performance retained search, which includes contingency and retained search solutions. Our monthly retained search is perfect for creating your passive talent pipeline. Get in touch with us to understand how we can help you build high-performing teams.