We do mostly contingency, occasionally retained. The retained searches are often from clients who we also work with on contingency. (By the way Edwin, the "level" we work at does vary, but if I take them on I work them to fill them!)
Besides the fact that I think any search we take on deserves the same quality of service, the fact that to be paid a fee either on retainer or contingency requires me to successfully fill the position.
The relationship with a client (retained OR contingency based), the candidate, and the position all determine the amount of time spent throughout the process, including interview prep.
Amber, I agree you with all recruiters work very hard for their clients, else they would be out of business. The level I was referring to is executive level, or "C level. (i.e. CEO, CFO, CCO, COO, CIO, and board members). I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.
Edwin, I know what you meant and was not remarking on it in a negative way - just really saying that if I take on a search for any level of position, I service them the same. And have also had some mid-level jobs take more work to fill then some higher level ones!
That's how I based my answer to Jeff's question: So my question is do you handle those pre-interview candidate prep calls any differently than you would if you were retained?
@Edwin Yes i do in fact breed the stud on a contingency basis in some cases. Live baby on the ground that stands and nurses and the owner of the mare likes the baby. Then i get the stud fee. Sometimes i get a stud fee up front with no guarantee of anything other than the mare be preg tested in foal. the stud doesn't know the difference he's prepped the same way and does the same thing with the same result. :) He doesn't care how he gets paid. He works every bit the same way in both cases.
All the thoroughbred breeders of racehorse that I know get paid up front, and their fees are up there too. Then again we are talking thoroughbred and they generally perform better.
There's no point in even asking this question because of the morons who want to somehow suggest they're as good or better than the other are going to derail this into a contingency vs retained debate. Who gives a shit. Many contributors in this forum think they're God's gift to recruiting so to debate is such a waste of time.
To answer you question briefly. If you've truly vetted the candidate and your absolutely certain of their ability, you arm them with the ability to put their best foot forward in terms of comparable accomplishments, war stories, etc. The differentiator is your relationship with the client and how well you know them. If you just another recruiting schmo who works only with HR and not the hiring executive, your ability to truly prep your candidates is limited. Thus, the stronger the relationship with the stakeholders, the better your ability will be to help your candidates put their best foot forward. Keep it simple son.
Paul- The morons are those that look for any reason to derail a conversation into a pissing match. If you fit that bill, than feel free to include yourself . Otherwise, don't take my comment personally. I find that many of these questions posed end up going in a completely different direction...like the retained vs contingency debate. Suffice to say, if your clients pay for your service and receive long term value for the service you provide, who cares how you are compensated? Retained search professionals work hard, contingency shops do as well although they are completely different models. I personally don't see many successful retained search firms dabbling in contingency. Independent contractors? Sure, they take what they can get. Frankly, I don't care about how it gets done, as long as the results exceed client expectations. How you accomplish that goal is all relative in my opinion. And that's all it is...my opinion.