Retained vs. Contingency Recruiters

If you have five or more years of experience in your industry, then your job search should include recruiters. Question is, should you work with retained recruiters or contingency recruiters?

First, remember that recruiters don’t work for you – they work for the employers who pay their tab (a generous 30+ of your new salary!). There are two ways that employers hire recruiters: via a retainer and for a contigency search.

Retained recruiters are paid on a retainer basis, rather like attorneys. They receive a monthly payment from the employer to handle assigned searches as needed. Because retained recruiters have an ongoing relationship with employers, they value that relationship highly. Thus, they are more likely to forward your resume to a client only if you are a great match for the position.

Contigency recruiters are paid on a contigency basis – when and if they source the chosen candidate for the position in question. Because contigency recruiters only get paid if their candidate is hired for the job, they may tend to forward as many candidates for review as they can find in an effort to win payment. Thus, they may forward your resume to a client even when you aren’t a great match for the position.

If you want to play a numbers game, work with both retained and contigency recruiters. If, on the other hand, you want to find the best possible match between you and a prospective employer, focus your energies on building strong relationships with retained recruiters only. They are more likely to advocate for your candidacy and help you identify the best possible next employer and position.