Contingency or Retained Recruitment

Contingency and retained recruitment are different ways in which recruitment agencies and consultancies work.

If you are looking to hire new talent, you might be thinking about how best to go about this. No doubt, you’ll be asking should we outsource to a recruitment agency.

If this is a consideration, then you should also be asking how do I want to work with a recruitment agency.

Let’s take a look at the difference between contingency and retained recruitment models.


Contingency Recruitment

Contingency recruitment is similar to the “no win, no fee” advertisements you hear from time to time. This means that the recruiter only gets paid when they have found the client a suitable candidate.

It is often deployed when the recruiting company wants to cast the net wide and will work with multiple agencies. They may even be using their own recruitment methods also.


Retained Recruitment

Retained recruitment is the opposite where companies will work with a consultancy on an exclusive basis. This can also be referred to as headhunting, executive search or search and selection.

It will usually involve an upfront fee to conduct the search, a payment on the production of a candidate shortlist and then a final payment when they find a successful candidate.

The retained model allows for a greater one to one consultative process. This enables the consultancy to understand their client’s culture and requirements. Which, in turn, improves the likelihood of finding candidates who are a good fit with the company and job profile.


The Pro’s and Con’s

With both models, there are upsides and downsides that the recruiting company should consider.

Contingency or retained recruitment

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The Pro’s for Contingency Recruitment


The Con’s for Contingency Recruitment


The Pro’s for Retained Recruitment


The Con’s for Retained Recruitment


When to Use Retained and Contingency Recruitment

Firstly, it depends on the needs of your business and the role you are recruiting for. It also depends on the resource and time you have within your recruitment department.

Contingency Recruitment can work well for junior roles or positions that require less staff screening. Jobs that can be easily trained or requires less qualification and criteria is a good example of this. Therefore, casting the net wider can be a more suitable approach.

Also, it can work well in markets where there is plenty of demand for the role. Knowing that there are plenty of available candidates to choose from, then contingency can be applied effectively.

Whereas retained recruitment is better suited to senior, hard to fill, niche and higher salary roles. These positions require greater screening and identification of not only the right skills and qualifications but also the right personality traits.

Senior members of staff are responsible for embedding the company culture throughout the organisation. Therefore, a thorough screening process is required to ensure they fit with the company culture.


Specialist Recruitment Works Well with Both Models

In either scenario, working with a specialist recruitment agency can help you to understand which model is best applied to your industry.

With having an in-depth knowledge of the industry, the recruitment agency/consultancy can advise if there is a crowded job market or if a targeted approach is better.

Their experience will often reveal which method often finds the right candidate that best suits your needs.

Sigma Recruitment provides specialist recruitment and talent attraction services for companies in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the rest of South Wales. But we also specialise in Technical, Engineering and Manufacturing Industry Sectors nationwide.

To see how we take a consultative hiring approach with our clients click here

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