Retained search recruiting is one method of recruiting that many companies choose to adopt. When compared to other methods such as contingent recruitment, it tends to take more time but produces more suitable candidates for businesses to consider.

Retained search recruiting vs. contingent recruiting

Essentially, retained search recruiting involves a business paying a retainer fee to a recruitment company. They then work closely with this company as they agree on criteria for finding the perfect candidates for a role. It is then down to the recruitment company to spend time finding the right applicants, before presenting their findings to the business looking for talent.

On the other hand, contingent recruiting refers to the practice of several recruitment companies competing against each other to fill one role for a business. The recruitment company that successfully manages to provide a candidate to fill this role will receive payment from the business.

American Recruiters Professional Resume ServicesAs you can imagine, retained search recruiting produces results more slowly, but it can be a more pleasant process for everyone involved:

  • The recruitment company gets to spend time delivering the perfect candidates, without competition from other recruitment companies.
  • The chosen candidates are very likely to be suitable for the role, given the amount of time put into the recruitment campaign.
  • The business has a pool of qualified candidates to choose from, while developing their relationship with a reliable recruitment company.

More benefits of working with a retained recruitment company

As well as the key benefits described above, there are some other things to keep in mind about working with a retained recruitment company:

  • Response time is faster. Communication, in general, will be much easier for a business when dealing with one recruitment company. Representatives from the recruitment company will always be available since you are working closely with them to find the right candidates and they have already been paid for their services. If you are speaking to several recruitment companies who will be paid only if they produce a chosen candidate, their response time is likely to be slower.


  • Save more time and money on the interview process. Your retained recruitment effort should be able to produce well-qualified candidates, meaning you can conduct fewer interviews. You will not need to gauge whether the candidates have the basic skills you need.


  • Find even better candidates. During a retained recruitment search, the recruitment company will not focus solely on applicants for the job. They may be able to take their time and screen candidates who are already employed or not in their database.


  • All dealings go through one company. It will be easier for a business’ recruitment team to keep track of their spending and other metrics if they are dealing with only one recruitment company in the long term. 

Jack Vale is a writer in partnership with steel piping distributor, Fed Steel.

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