Contingent Employment

Quality infers “the degree of excellence of something” (Oxford Dictionary, 2018). In the staffing industry, quality refers to fit for the job advertised and the team/function/organisation the role sits in. By their very nature, candidates vary in quality based on experience, skills, education, values and demeanour.

While both proactive and reactive search methodologies can unearth top performers, the more thorough nature of proactive search techniques employed in retained search solutions means the likelihood of discovering high-calibre talent is higher. Proactive search techniques, by their very nature, leave no stone unturned.

Agencies of firms employing a contingent model must focus on quantity over quality. They receive no payment for their efforts until a candidate is placed. As such, to increase their chance of success, their consultants might be engaged in multiple different roles across different industries and clients at any one time. Here, the candidate is the bargaining chip; the agency or firm working on the basis that they are competing directly with other agencies – as well as the clients’ internal HR and Talent Aqusition teams – to place talent. It’s a speed and numbers game; he who places the candidate first, wins.

Read more: define contingent

In contrast, retained search solutions focus on quality. Not only are the majority of these agencies or firms specialists – focusing on a particular industry or niche – but they dedicate substantial resources to the timely completion of a search. (This is why they charge an initial fee). Typically, a specialist team who understands the function will be assigned to headhunt and qualify talent. Because they work on an exclusive basis (see Exclusivity), they can focus their efforts; the team might only be working one or two roles at any given time, all within their specialist remit. They seek to find the best candidate for the position irrespective of timeframe.
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