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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Armstrong

Tired of Weak Results with Contingent Recruiting?

Finding top talent in today's competitive job market can be a challenge, especially when it comes to industries that require tech and engineering knowledge and where experienced and qualified candidates are in high demand. As you consider different recruitment strategies, it's important to choose the right approach that fits your specific needs. That's why we want to shed some light on the two ways companies often outsource their recruiting efforts - Retained and Contingent. Let’s delve into which serves your company best in attracting and retaining the best talent in your industry.

Retained search consultants take a personalized approach to your talent acquisition needs, which is especially important for industries that require specialized skills and expertise. For example, let's say you're looking to fill a senior software engineering. A retained search consultant would work closely with you to understand the technical skills required for the role, as well as the specific experience and personality traits needed to fit within your company's culture. They would then identify every single candidate available in the market and qualify them against your parameters. This personalized approach allows the recruiter to find candidates who have the exact combination of skills, experience, and personality traits needed for success in the role.

Retained search consultants also have access to a wider pool of high-quality candidates, especially for senior-level roles. These recruiters are known for their reputation of quality and personalized attention, which attracts top talent to work with them. As a result, they have the ability to tap into their network and find candidates who might not be actively looking for a new job but would be a great fit for your role. This is especially important for industries where top talent is in high demand and scarce.

On the other hand, contingency recruiters might not have the same level of specialized attention and access to high-quality candidates. They are often focused on filling a position as quickly as possible and may not take the time to understand your company's specific needs and culture. They’re working multiple reqs and prioritizing those that are easiest to close. Often leaving your critical hire search project for later.

Retained search services also gives you more control over the hiring process, which is important for industries where the cost of a bad hire can be high. For example, if you're looking to hire a new CEO for your company, a retained partner would work closely to go beyond the basics of skills, experience, and personality trait alignment. They’ll do reference checks, past performance checks and behavioral based competency interviews to ensure this individual can lead your organization to success. This personalized approach reduces the risk of making a costly hiring mistake.

In contrast, Contingency recruiters may not provide the same level of personalized attention, which can increase the likelihood of making a poor hiring decision. This is especially true for senior-level positions, where the cost of a bad hire can be significant. Contingency works in some cases, but when it is a critical hire - it’s best to partner closely with a retained search partner.

According to a survey by the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), retained search firms have a success rate of over 90% in filling executive-level positions. This means that clients who use retained search services have a high likelihood of finding the right candidate for their company, which can lead to increased productivity, revenue, and overall success.

We believe it’s an easy call to make, because when it comes to industries that require specialized skills and expertise, like technical and senior-level roles, retained recruiting is the way to go. Plus, their attention to detail ensures a higher ROI in the long run. If you're looking to attract and retain the best talent in your industry, choosing retained recruiting over contingency recruiting is the smart move. So, invest in a retained recruiter, invest in ITEOM and let us help you build a strong and talented team!

At ITEOM Digital Technology Talent Partners, we understand the importance of finding the right fit for both employer and employee. As a #SBA certified #EDWOSB, #WOSB, we are committed to providing exceptional service to our clients and candidates. Our team works with hiring managers to identify, interview, assess, and excellent onboard talent while working with candidates to align their purpose and passion with top employers. Reach out to us at to learn.

Sources - "Retained vs. Contingency Recruiting: Which One is Right for You?" by Erin McDermott Peterson, HR Daily Advisor, 2019. "Why Retained Executive Search Is the Better Choice," by Adam Zoia, Forbes, 2021.


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