You know you need a recruiter, whether it’s because you have an influx of applications, you can’t seem to land the elusive passive candidate, or you simply don’t know how to get applicants. Deciding you need a recruiting firm is the first step, but selecting what type of search services you need is the next. Contingency searches and retained searches are two of the most common recruitment types, and the differences between the two vary wildly. You don’t want to throw away money by using the wrong search type for your needs.

Contingency Search

contingency search is a service performed by a recruitment company for free until they place a candidate with their client. Because an organization only has to pay the recruiter who successfully places a candidate, they often work with several contingency recruiters at once. By doing this, clients maximize the number of resumes and potential hires they receive.

Most contingency searches are for mid-level positions. Sometimes a firm will use a contingency search for other levels if it is an as-needed fill with a quick start.

Contingency fees are most often a percentage of the new hire’s gross salary. Because the search risk is shifted almost entirely to the search firms, fees tend to be higher for clients.

Retained Search

retained search is a service performed by a recruitment company for an up front cost for the time and expertise of the firm, much like a retainer you’d pay to a lawyer. Clients will often choose to work with one retained recruiter at a time since they are investing in the partnership regardless of placement.

Clients will select this type of search for senior and executive level positions and will often choose to work with a firm they’ve had prior success filling openings with.

Fees for this type of search vary and are typically dependent on the number and seniority-level of the open positions. Cost per hire tends to drop when working with a single firm for multiple retained placements.

Although contingency and retained searches are the two most common types of recruitment searches, they are not the only types. What method you ultimately decide on is dependent on a number of factors. We’ve made it easy for you to determine which search type best suits your needs in this interactive quiz. Click the button below to find out what type of search your organization needs.

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