Team discussing retained recruitment

Contingent vs. Retained recruitment

Finding the right recruiter and choosing the most appropriate recruitment service are two big decisions you will make as a hiring manager.

Finding the right recruiter and choosing the most appropriate recruitment service are two big decisions you will make as a hiring manager. The two service models used in recruitment are contingent and retained recruitment, each with its own benefits.

If you’re trying to fill a specialised role, a senior position, or hire in a skills-short market, one of these service models will be far more effective than the other.

What is retained recruitment?

Retained or contingent are the two service models in recruitment. The most obvious difference between the two is payment.

With contingent recruitment, you only pay the recruiter when they have successfully placed a candidate. In comparison, retained recruitment requires a percentage of the agreed fee paid upfront while the remainder is paid in instalments over the recruit.

The retained model is an agreement between the employer and the agency. It states the agency will be working to fill the role exclusively. This focus and trust can deliver great results:

  • Your consultant prioritises the role and dedicates more time to candidate attraction.
  • You have first access to top-tier candidates.
  • You have agreed on timelines in the contract.
  • You have a single point of contact.

A contingent service means the agreement is not exclusive and several recruitment agencies can compete to fill a single role. The risk here is that some recruiters may put forward just-OK candidates rather than star candidates as they simply don’t have the time to identify stand-out applicants. Contingent recruitment is best used for temp roles or jobs with a low barrier to entry.

There are many positive to retained recruitment

When is retained recruitment advantageous?

Unfortunately, many employers typically only consider retained recruitment late in the hiring cycle. Often, only once an employer can see they are not getting the job response they hoped for using a contingent model. However, this isn’t the best use of the retained model and could actually end up costing you more.

Some scenarios where it makes sense to use retained search include when:

  • The job role is highly specialised.
  • There are a limited number of candidates on the market.
  • There is a firm deadline for the hire.
  • The job role is a senior position (think, C-Suite).
  • The employer is losing candidates to competitors.
  • There is a strong existing relationship between the employer and recruiter.

Two staff discuss the options of retained recruitment or contingent

Our retained recruitment package

Verve Partners offer retained recruitment through our Partnership Package. This package is the ultimate guarantor, providing complete security in your investment. The terms of our Partnership Package are also cash-flow friendly. We offer a lower fee charged in three stages over the lifecycle of the recruit.

As you’d expect, hard-to-fill roles require hard-to-source candidates, which is a time-intensive task. We put a lot of energy into candidate attraction to counter this challenge. We use our database, Seek Talent Search, LinkedIn and our own established networks as well as engage in discreet head-hunting. We find and engage high-calibre passive, active and inactive candidates. Better yet, for clients using our Partnership Package, we provide priority access to top talent and complete rights to candidates identified for their roles.

This more intense search process yields results. To date, we have filled 100 per cent of roles for clients using our Partnership Package and have 100 per cent client satisfaction.


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