Contingent Vs. Retained – Understanding The Difference

Joe Henry
08.08.18 03:04 PM Comment(s)

Contingent Vs. Retained – Understanding The Difference

If you’re looking for a recruitment company to work with, you may have some questions about the two different primary recruiting business models – contingent recruiting and retained recruiting.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics of each type of recruiting – and show you which method you should always be using to find the most qualified recruits for your company. Let’s get started.

Contingent Recruitment – A Bad Option For Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Candidates

Let’s get this out of the way first – contingent recruiting is not a good way to work with a recruiter. You can also think of contingent recruitment as “No Win, No Fee” – it is contingent on them finding the right candidate, and getting hired.

Usually, with contingent recruitment, you are not working exclusively. You hire multiple outside recruiters, and also utilize internal human resources workers, as well as other people management companies to fill the position quickly. 

This means that all of the recruiting companies working with you are scrambling to put candidates in front of you – and that means you’ll be given a long list of recruits who may be unqualified.

Retained Recruitment – The Best Way To Work With A Recruiter 

Working on a retained basis is a much better choice when working with professional recruiters and staffing agencies. Unlike contingent recruitment, they do not simply get paid when a hire is made – you pay a fee for their services, rather than a fee for their success.

When you work with a recruiter using retained recruitment, they are working exclusively for you – so you don’t have to worry about their services or personnel being spread thin. They will use all of their resources to find the very best candidates for your particular needs.

This means that your recruiting partner has time to tap into their networks, hire headhunters, reach out to highly qualified candidates, and perform the legwork required to find the very best job candidates. 

You typically must pay the recruiting company a set percentage fee up front, then pay them again once the shortlist of candidates is brought to you. Then, a final payment is issued upon hiring a candidate.

Retained recruitment means that you get 100% commitment from both parties – and that you have the time and resources to find a truly qualified candidate. In turn, this improves the results both for you, and your clients.

This method usually does not cost clients more than a contingency recruiting process – and almost always results in a better, more highly-qualified candidate. Because of this, it’s the best way for your company to work with a recruiting agency! 

Want To Learn More? Contact Westminster Search Now! 

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between contingent and retained recruiting, or you have other questions related to recruiting and human resources, contact Westminster Search right away, and learn more about what we do! 


Westminster Search are experts in the recruitment of professionals across the Public Policy, Public Relations and Property sectors.

Direct Line: +44 (0) 207 692 8355

Mobile: +44 (0) 74 326 289 79


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