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What's the difference between contingency and retained recruitment models? And Why Should You Care?

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​If you are wanting to expand your team with new members, collaborating with a recruiting firm to locate the best possible candidates for the open positions may be your best option. There are typically two modes of operation for recruitment firms: contingency and retained.

​​But, what actually is the distinction between the two?...

What exactly does "contingent recruitment" mean?

​​The phrase "no win, no fee" is another way of referring to contingency. A form of recruiting known as contingency recruitment is one in which the agency does not get payment until after one of its candidates has been successfully placed in a post. Those who work in this capacity as recruiters usually face competition from the client's own internal human resources department, advertising, direct candidates, and often more recruitment firms.


Advantages of Using a Contingency Recruitment Model


  • There is no expense involved up front.

  • You are not required to pay anything until such time as the ideal applicant has been selected. This means that contingency recruiters do not charge for their search services but instead receive payment based on the results of their searches.

  • Rapid turnaround times

  • Because they are in competition with a large number of other recruiters who are also working with you, contingent recruitment agencies will make every effort to identify the ideal applicant for you as quickly as they possibly can. The fee is awarded to the recruiter who can provide the most qualified applicants in the shortest amount of time.

  • There are no long-term commitments.

  • The relationship between you and contingent recruiters is on a project-by-project basis. They do not anticipate or demand that you sign a contract for an extended period of time. They will take on all of the risks that are associated with the recruiting process, and if they are unable to find you the perfect individual, you will not be required to pay anything to them.​

What exactly does "Retained Recruitment" entail?

​Retained recruitment is when clients pay the agency a percentage of the total charge before the recruitment process even begins. This type of recruitment is paid for by the client. The remaining component of the charge is subdivided between the cost of the candidate's successful placement and the cost of the recruiting search. The recruitment agency will have sole responsibility for finding candidates to fill the position, as they have agreed to work on an exclusive basis.

The Advantages of Using Retained Recruitment to Hire


  • Job Search Prioritisation

  • Because of the nature of contingency recruitment, certain recruiters may send potential prospects to more than one client with whom they are collaborating. Because retained recruiting makes a recruitment firm believe they have a larger obligation to fill your post with the best possible applicant, they will devote their full attention to the hunt for that individual. If you are an employer who is looking to fill a vacancy, the last thing you want is for recruiters to send you individuals who are already interviewing with another company.

  • Ensure the continued integrity of the brand

  • Another advantage of retained recruitment is that it protects the credibility of your brand and makes certain that your business is always shown in a favourable manner to customers and potential clients.

  • If you have multiple recruitment agencies searching for candidates for your company, you run the risk of losing control over how your company is portrayed. On the other hand, retained recruitment is more focused and personal, so the agency will have your company's and brand's best interests at heart.

  • A deeper level of commitment

  • Because of the nature of the retained recruitment agreement, you as the employer will benefit from a stronger commitment. This is because the retained recruitment agreement places sole responsibility for finding the ideal candidate to fill a position on the shoulders of a recruitment agency. When numerous recruitment agencies are working together to locate a placement via contingency recruitment, it is simple for any one of them to "walk away" from the process if it becomes too hard.

​​Did you know you can harness the expertise of a team that specialises in digital marketing recruitment to help you overcome the typical difficulties associated with the hiring process?

​​Henry Nicholas is a digital recruitment partner for businesses in the United Kingdom and around Europe. We provide our clients with an effective and streamlined hiring process that gives them early access to the industry's most skilled individuals.

​​Simply give us a call on 0117 317 8103 or send us a message through our contact page for an informal conversation about any of your current or upcoming positions.