Comparison Retained vs. Contingency

Retained Recruitment:

Contingency Recruitment:

  • has a methodology that is consulting-oriented

  • firms are contractually obligated to conclude the search


  • represents the client


  • recruits and evaluates: maps talent, reaches out to target talent, and evaluates (fully interview)


  • works with companies on an exclusive basis presenting candidates to only one client


  • is able to engage with candidates and take the time  to determine cultural fit, skill fit, motivation (build rapport with individuals)


  • develops candidate relationships representing a specific search when engaging a candidate; working exclusively on the client's behalf


  • guarantees the candidate, typically for twelve months; does not recruit a placed candidate

  • firm receives payment to start a dedicated research process for a search, and on milestones; such as when the company interviews and when the person accepts the offer

  • has a methodology that is transaction-oriented

  • firm is not contractually obligated to conclude the search

  • represents the candidate


  • recruits and refers: looks for talent that is immediately available, quickly shares resume


  • works for many companies at the same time presenting talent to various clients


  • is up against time to complete a search, beat their competition to get the finalist candidate in, and to receive a return on any time invested


  • takes on the expense of building a pipeline to place a candidate at any company that will conclude with placement


  • guarantees the candidate, typically for 30 to 90 days; some firms will recruit placed candidates

  • agency receives payment only if their candidate is identified as the finalist and is made an offer that is accepted

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