Retained vs. Contingency Search Firms

Retained Search Firms

  • Retained recruiters are hired by a client company to fill a specific position on an exclusive basis. They do not find jobs for candidates. Retained firms receive the majority of their fee in advance. Even if the hired candidate comes from another source, the retained firm is paid in full.

  • Due to the retained relationship, most search firms in this arena develop significant relationships with their clients; receiving in-depth exposure to their strategy, culture and organizational structure. This relationship allows the firm to be more consultative in nature regarding position definition, its' effect on the organization, recruiting strategies, etc. This exposure also helps the firm represent the opportunity and increases their ability to assess candidates on all levels for the position.

  • Retained firms most typically are used to fill higher level positions-usually $80,000 and above.

  • If you work for a company that has hired the search firm during the last year or two, you will be "off-limits" for any other position it may have.

Contingency Firms

  • Contingency recruiters are most often used for junior and mid-level managers, typically for positions with salaries less than $70,000.

  • Contingency firms receive payment only when their candidate is hired.

  • Contingency recruiters do not usually work on an exclusive basis with their clients. Since they are competing with other search firms to provide candidates for each engagement, they tend to work fast and to submit to the client company as many candidates as they can.



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