The difference between contingency and retained search can be found in both the service you may receive and the fees you may be charged. Retained searches are much more common with executive level searches or with searches in which candidates are in short supply (skills shortage, remote locations, etc).
In the simplest terms, a retained search has your company pay a portion of the fees up front. Fees can range from a few thousand dollars to a third of the search fees. The second installment of fees is typically due mid-way through the search, with the outstanding balance due upon successful hire. Many retained search fees are non-refundable regardless of how long or how successful the search may be, so read the terms of an agreement closely. Often these fees cover the hard costs of a very detailed and documented search process – like additional resources or administration fees of the search. A retained search usually requires you to work with only one recruitment firm in an exclusive agreement. This also comes with the added assurance that a Recruitment Consultant will prioritize time and resources to completing the search.
A contingency search is exactly that – contingent on a suitable candidate being placed into the role. In a contingency model, only if you hire a suitable candidate provided by the recruitment firm do any fees get charged. Service levels of contingency searches can vary from high-touch care comparable to retained searches to very minimal service if a less reputable firm takes on your search, then deems their likelihood of finding the right candidate “a long shot” and turns their attention elsewhere. Contingency fees are based upon a percentage of the new hire’s first year of earnings as per the job offer letter, and are agreed to when you engage a firm in a search agreement.
At The Headhunters, we incorporate the high-touch service found in retained searches in both our contingency and retained search options. Every candidate we work with completes our Workstyle and Performance Profile to give us added insight into his or her personality and predicted performance on the job. Every search we take on has us delve into job and culture fit to make sure the placement works for both your team and the new hire’s career. Part of our proven process is to support the onboarding of your new hire more than any other firm. This sets your employee up for a successful start and reduces turnover and disruption. Ask us how we partner with your team to help build your business by putting the right people in the right roles for you.