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I posted this on linkedin this morning but thought that it might be useful for other external recruiters to see and even copy and paste selectively for their own use! Slightly cheeky to teach clients how to work with us but
It is important for clients and hiring managers to understand how contingency recruiters think to get the most out of your recruitment relationship. Let me explain:
After 15 years in sales and sales management, I started a contingency recruitment firm called Glenborn Corp. We focus on filling sales roles for VC-backed companies in Ecommerce and Marketing Technology for the past seven years .
When I started the business, asking for retained search business would have been laughable. Recession aside, I could have tried that route, but without any previous external recruiting experience I was bound to remain idle. Almost by default, I went contingency. But while some people consider retained searches to be highbrow and the pinnacle of recruiting, I disagree. I like the contingency approach better.
Contingency firms like ours are easy to work with. At Glenborn we offer great value and service, plus we work with a great variety of firms which keeps things very interesting. Because of our business model, sometimes we take on clients where we end up outlaying effort for no return. But I think those situations are avoidable.
To help you avoid wasting time with contingency recruiters, let me explain how contingency recruiters think. Once you understand our logic, you can work with firms like mine more efficiently.
Plus, you can avoid a worst case scenario: being fired by your recruiter! Yes, that can and does happen, only it’s likely done so stealthily that you might never realize it.
So here’s your Contingency Recruiting 101 lesson. Class is in session.
Contingency recruiting is when recruiting firms find candidates for clients but only get paid when we’ve successfully placed people. Companies don’t pay us for our efforts. They pay for our results. They assume that we put forward “best efforts,” though the interpretation of best efforts varies wildly by recruiting firms and clients.
On the other hand, retained recruitment firms receive a retainer (generally a percentage of the placement fee) upfront for their services. Their fees are typically higher than contingency recruitment firms. Plus, the fee is charged whether or not the engagement results in a successful hire. When retained firms place a candidate, they get the remainder of the placement fee. Typically, retained search firms focus on C-Suite executives. Given that the client has paid upfront, they expect a guaranteed amount of effort will be made. There’s also an implied moral obligation for these recruitment firms to produce a steady flow of good candidates.
With any recruiting firm - retained or contingency - you are ultimately looking for a vendor that has wide and deep candidate relationships and great personal service for you and your prospective candidates.
If you can get those two things from a contingency firm, they’re the better option. You’ll pay less fees, maintain fewer contractual obligations, and remove layers between your company and your candidates.
A contingency recruiter needs to know that they have a good shot at ROI. They outlay effort and costs in the hopes of a successful outcome. You should give them confidence that if they perform, they will be rewarded. Given that recruiters constantly reevaluate their search priorities based on ROI, your goal is to stay on top of that priority list.
Here’s a non-exhaustive, unordered list of what recruiters think about when prioritizing searches:
How do you stay on top of a contingent recruiter's list of priorities? Let me tell you. Note: points with an asterisk may sound self-serving but they do work!
Definitely don’t do the following:
If you can focus on the above, you’ll get top-notch service at prices you otherwise couldn’t afford. Good luck.