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Container Search – You don’t need to dump your recruiter just because they’re ready for a more committed engagement

Picture this, you’re one the phone with a recruiter you’ve worked with a few times in the past few months. You have predominantly partnered on contingency searches with this recruiter and you feel comfortable with your arrangement. The candidate quality is consistent and communication is strong; everything is perfect!

But during this phone call, they’re throwing this “retainer” phrase at you like you’re prepared to dive right into an exclusive contract after only 6 months together.

“This feels too sudden,” you mutter awkwardly beneath your breath. “I’m not ready for that kind of commitment yet.”

You pace back and forth in your office with the recruiter waiting in silence on the other end (they think the first to talk loses in negotiations). You feel bombarded, overwhelmed and defensive.

But there is a solution.

This doesn’t have to be the end of your partnership.

“We don’t have to breakup!” you excitedly yell. 

… Wait, are we still talking about recruiting? 

Yes! The container search is the compromise where no one loses. You don’t feel like you’re risking it all on a “what if” and the recruiter feels valued for their time and expertise. 

“What is a container search?” you ask.

A container search is a hybrid search service between two common models: contingency and retained. You pay an upfront fee to a single recruiting firm to secure their time and resources. The fee acts as a deposit that can be reallocated or transferred to a future search should you close the position or fill it using alternative methods.

As you begin to strategize and prioritize your hiring needs, you will most likely move away from more general and surface-level recruiter-client relationships and opt for a trusted partnership with a single recruiter or search firm.

A container search offers a chance for that necessary trust-building to occur, while reducing the financial risk harbored in retained agreements.

Most container relationships will evolve into retainers as trust builds and staffing is more appropriately planned.

How is a container search different from a retained search?

The difference is simple. In a retained search, you don’t get your upfront fee back if the position is filled outside of the recruiter’s efforts. When you have a retained search agreement, you are giving exclusivity to the recruiter working the job order. They are putting forth their best effort and their time is spent working to fill that order, with the assumption that they are the only one working it.

You refrain from putting your own time and effort into the search and focus your attention on a different position or task.

With a container search, the process is very similar, except that you might still work the order on your own or have one other recruiter competing to fill the bid. If your internal staff or another recruiter finds the ideal candidate, you can transfer the upfront fee to another job order with the same recruiter or recruiting firm.

You haven’t lost this fee, so to speak, only pre-paid it for work that will be done in time.

Who would benefit from a container search?

Businesses that have taken a proactive approach to hiring and that are looking for a more robust recruiting partner will benefit from a container search model. This type of recruiting agreement allows you, and your organization, to build a stronger relationship with an outside recruiting firm without worrying about the financial risks associated with retained searches.

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