Retained or Contingent Search: Which is Right For My Business?

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When it comes to hiring the right talent, businesses often find themselves at a crossroads, choosing between retained and contingent search services. Both methods offer unique benefits and can significantly impact the quality and efficiency of your recruitment process.

Understanding the key differences and deciding which approach aligns best with your needs can streamline your hiring strategy and ensure you find the right fit for your team.

What is Retained Search?

Retained search, often used in an executive search, involves a dedicated firm working exclusively on your behalf to fill a specific position. You pay an upfront fee to secure the firm’s services, covering a portion of the search process, with additional payments made at various stages, such as upon delivery of a shortlist and when a candidate is successfully placed.

Pros of Retained Search:

  • Dedicated Focus: Retained firms often limit their job orders to ensure each search receives maximum attention.
  • Deep Market Insight: Firms offering retained search specialize in specific industries or executive levels, providing insights and access to passive candidates who are not actively seeking new opportunities.
  • Commitment to Success: Because of the upfront investment, retained search firms are highly motivated to deliver the right candidate.

What is Contingent Search?

When conducting a contingent search, you will pay the firm upon the successful placement of a candidate. Recruiters working on a contingent search basis focus on multiple job openings across various clients simultaneously and compete with other firms and the client’s internal recruitment efforts.

Pros of Contingent Search:

  • No Upfront Cost: You pay only when you hire a candidate the firm has sourced.
  • Speed: Contingent searches are typically faster, as firms compete with one another to secure your hire. 
  • Variety of Candidates: Since there’s no exclusivity, you might see candidates from various sources.

Which is Right for Your Business?

Retained search or contingent search: That is the question. The choice you make depends largely on the role you need to fill and your specific business needs. 

Go for a retained search if: 

  • You are hiring for a senior, executive, or highly specialized position. 
  • Confidentiality and a deep understanding of the industry are crucial 
  • You are willing to invest in quality, additional vetting, and dedication from your recruiter. 

Opt for a contingent search if: 

  • The position is mid-level or you have a high volume of similar positions to fill.
  • You need to hire quickly and be comfortable with a broad candidate pool.
  • Budget constraints prevent an upfront investment.

Find Top Rochester Talent at AP 

AP Professionals supports the hiring initiatives of Rochester businesses through both retained and contingent search. Our extensive network and team of specialized recruiters enable the right fit, whether you’re filling an entry-level position or conducting an executive search to find your next great leader. 

Connect with us today to kickstart your search.