What Does a Contingency Recruiter Mean?

What Does a Contingency Recruiter Mean?

Are you looking to hire new talent for your company? Outsourcing your candidate search needs to recruiting firms is a great option, as long as you do your research. First of all, you need to make sure that the recruiter you choose will not actually double your work, which, unfortunately, was the case in this story. Second, try your best to define all of your needs and goals, which will help you understand which firm is best for you. And finally, ask yourself: should you employ a retained executive search firm, or go to one of the many contingency recruiting firms? There is a difference in the way the two firms operate, which can also affect the duration of the search and the final outcome.


How does a contingency recruiter operate?

First, a few words about retained recruitment, which we’ve mentioned in previous articles. This recruiter works on a retained basis and will charge an upfront fee to conduct a search. They work with a client and get paid, whether they manage to find a placement for their client or not. Contingency recruiting firms, however, have a different method of operating. They only get paid if they are successful at finding you new talent, which, in many cases, can make them work much harder, and also faster, to make sure that happens.

When they start working with a new client, the contingency recruiter is taking on a risk, knowing that they might end up working for free. Even if they are very confident in their abilities to find a great match, there can be many other reasons why the placement doesn’t get filled. For instance, the client may decide to cancel the position a few weeks into the talent search. The client may find a candidate by themselves, or decide to promote someone from inside the organization. Also, a client could be working with a few contingency recruiting firms at the same time.


Pros and cons of contingency recruiting firms

Before you decide to start working with contingency executive recruiters, or any type of contingency recruiters, you may want to consider the few downsides of this method of employee search. First, the contingency recruiter will usually work on 15-25 open positions at any given time (as opposed to the retained recruiter, who may only work on two to four). The reason for that is the low conversion rate for each position. And as mentioned, they will not get paid unless they are successful. This may result in them investing less time to find the most qualified candidates. Because the contingency recruiters’ fees are based on the number of placements, they will also work as fast as they can, and offer many choices, who may not be as well researched as the client would like.

However, working fast can also act as a benefit. If you have a position that you’re looking to fill as soon as possible, a contingency recruiting firm will be motivated to help you achieve that. And, of course, the contingency recruiters’ fees can also benefit your candidate search, if you’re on a smaller budget, or if you’re looking to try several methods at the same time.


How to work with a contingency recruiter?

If you’ve decided to outsource your talent search to contingency executive recruiters, it’s important to understand the risk that they are taking and to be considerate in this work relationship. The most important thing to remember is to be responsive during the search process. If the contingency recruiter feels that you’re not being communicative, they might think that you already have a candidate, from a different source. At that point, the recruiter will simply stop investing time in your project.

If that is indeed the case, and you’ve found a candidate from a different source, it’s also important to let the contingency recruiting firm know as soon as possible, so they can move on to a different client. If you want to use this firm’s services in the future, you should treat them as your partners in the talent search, and make them a part of your decision-making. That way, even if they don’t get paid this time, they will still want to come back.