I write this article to shed light on where companies have recently used us and why our retained approach worked. Granted, you wouldn't pay a qualified Tree Surgeon to trim some hedges in your garden, and neither does a full retained recruitment process always deliver the best return.  Sometimes getting your pool of contingency agencies (placement only) scrabbling around the active candidate market is all you need to fill a non-critical role fast.

However, in providing you with strong illustrations of when it does offer the best solution, last week two very different scenarios presented themselves to me:

  •  I was briefed on a newly created GM role with a construction business.  This is a recently acquired SME, with a fantastic vision of how they intend to grow the business.  It is unlikely the business will be able to attract a like-for-like candidate from a bigger business (although we'll try) and so building a robust understanding of future plans, scalability and prospects for this hire was key.  The skillset required is extremely niche and the person will be based in a fixed location. Would this person be sat on an agency database?  Would they be actively looking at job boards? Would a contingency recruiter have the back story to accurately sell the position?  The answer to all of these is highly unlikely
  • Upon taking a brief for an Operations Director role within Building Products last month the client highlighted that they wanted to interview six candidates at first round.  Although I suggested clients typically interview three to five, as I will flesh out the shortlist through my interviews, I obviously respected their protocol.  Through researching and approaching the passive market I interviewed eight candidates but only recommended five to the client.  Through sharing key data on the research and approach work the Chairman was able to better understand the temperature of the regional marketplace and we agreed to expand the search to the southern half of the UK.  Although this turned the remainder of the search into more of a numbers game, I gained interest from a further three candidates and recommended one to the client.  Having interviewed six, with a stronger understanding of the limitations to the search, the client has taken four to finals.  Have I done the job that was asked of me?  Yes, but what has been exceptional throughout the process is how the client has worked with me and used my feedback to build the final interview list

Cost is always a factor when comparing retained to contingency.  My question is what does not getting the best person for a position cost your business?  What value on market conditions does a contingency agency provide?  Is taking a punt or not recruiting for the position a realistic option?