At Fitzgerald Recruiting we pride ourselves on being a value added proposition for our client companies. Our high level of repeat business comes from sourcing Sales candidates that bring high value and relevant experience to the organization for our clients, offering cost savings through a reduced “time to hire,” and providing the service quality expected from a “Best In Class” search firm.

Retained, Partial-Retained, & Contingency Searches

In the recruiting industry searches are typically conducted using retained, partial-retained, and contingency search models.  Understanding the differences between these models is critical in determining which level of service is needed for a particular search.

A retained search is preferable in cases where a company has a pressing executive level need that requires a candidate who will hold key leadership responsibilities and whose services are integral to overall organizational success. And the company’s internal methods to fill the role have not been successful. Given the strategic importance of these positions, there is often a degree of urgency and/or confidentiality that accompanies this type of search. Retained searches are given priority status in terms of the level of consulting talent assigned to conduct the search and the time and resources that are dedicated to the project. In exchange for this commitment, the client agrees to work exclusively with the retained search firm and cease their own recruiting efforts.

FITZGERALD RECRUITING takes great care in working with a client company to formulate a clear and objective outcome-driven search process. Furthermore, using collaboratively derived criteria, FITZGERALD RECRUITING carefully identifies and screens potential candidates based on their skills, core competencies, interpersonal styles, attributes, and work histories in order to insure the greatest potential for “culture fit” and positive organizational impact.  FITZGERALD RECRUITING also offers additional industry specific and validated objective testing instruments should this be a desired service by a client company.

The fees for retained searches are typically higher than for contingency assignments, usually 30-33% of the candidate’s first year’s annual compensation, given the level of energy and resources that a search firm invests in sourcing quality candidates.  These fees are usually paid out over three set time periods as mutually established “deliverables” occur.

The advantages of a retained search are significant.  First, retained searches take precedence over contingency assignments due to the mutual commitments that are involved in the search process.  A client company is essentially securing a commitment from the search firm to prioritize the search.  Search firms prioritize searches by dedicating a team of sourcing professionals to the project, setting target dates for specified deliverables, using direct deep-channel sourcing, and giving the client company the right of first refusal of sourced candidates. Second, initiating a retained search allows potential candidates to see how serious the hiring company is about filling the position, therefore giving credibility and legitimacy to the search firm’s consultants when discussing this position with potential candidates.

partial-retained search offers several benefits to both the client company and the search firm in that many of the strengths of the retained search model can be captured, while at the same time reducing the financial risks for both parties.  In a partial-retained search, the fee is typically divided into two or three parts. The first portion is paid at the beginning of the search and the second and third payments are made in installments based on key search progress milestones.  Usually the final installment is paid when the search has been successfully completed or on the candidate hire date.   While a client company will not get all the benefits of a retained search using this model, the results are usually a lot more satisfactory than a straight contingency search. FITZGERALD RECRUITING offers customized services for specialized search assignments tailored to the needs of individual companies.

contingency search by definition means that the search firm will only collect a fee if they find and place a suitable candidate for the open position.  This type of search may or may not be structured contractually with the client company, and it is 100% “back end” loaded.  Therefore, regardless of the number of qualified candidates presented, if none are ultimately hired, the search firm earns nothing.  A strict contingency search means that there is no exclusivity to the arrangement and therefore the client company is free to use other search firms or source other candidates on their own.  Both the candidate and client experience can be challenging if not structured well.  Candidates apply for posted positions and receive calls from multiple agencies (free-for-all, race-for-the-resume, leaves a bad impression on candidates) for the identical role, and at times are given inconsistent information.  The clients can get overloaded in communications with multiple firms.  And resumes are submitted at times without fully qualifying the candidates or meeting candidates face to face. This arrangement begs the question for the candidate as to whether the search firm actually has such a “client” given the absence of any stated or written commitments for exclusivity.  It also explains why contingency searches are often given less energy by recruiting professionals because of the increased risk of no return on invested energy and resources.

In a contingency search, the process is usually less structured and less about a precise candidate “fit” and more about getting potentially qualified candidates in front of the client so that the client can make his or her own final assessment.  Often candidates in such searches are drawn from a search firm’s existing database or from public job boards.  While these methods can certainly uncover good candidates, such approaches leave a vast pool of talented passive candidates untapped.  Due to less time spent on securing a clear job scope and the sourcing methods often employed in a contingency search, the chances of a candidate/client mismatch are significantly increased.  Fees for contingency searches usually average around 25%, although this varies widely depending on geographic location being sourced, the industry, specific talent being recruited, and the number of positions being filled.

Call Fitzgerald Recruiting today to discuss what search approach is best for your critical hire.