7 September 2020 | by Louise Archer

As recruiters, when we work on a contingent or subject to chance basis, we have to work on multiple jobs at any one time. This is the crux in where the contingent model falls short.

All agencies do the same thing

Because we’re working for free, at risk, we’ve got to grade or rank the jobs in order of priority to work closest to the fee in order to make sure we’re successful against our targets.

So if a job is with a company with a great brand and a great location with an easy skill set to find, it’s higher on our list.

If for any reason it’s more challenging or requires more work, it goes further down our list of priorities – it’s very difficult for us to justify spending the time it needs…

Because there’s always the possibility the client might decide not to recruit it.

So the tougher positions or those with really specific requirements, actually end up at the bottom of our list. Especially if we know there are other agencies that are working on it.

It’s easy for the client to think that by putting it out to multiple agencies, they are multiplying the effort. The reality is they’re actually getting less effort from each one.

The Iceberg Effect and the contingent model

When you realise that only 30% of any talent pool is active, think the top of an iceberg. With such limited time to risk on a contingent basis we are typically only able to engage with the 30% of the talent pool who are active, i.e. those that will respond to LinkedIn messages, and emails. The 70% who don’t respond to LinkedIn messages – like you or me – don’t respond to initial approaches and it takes too much time to get engagement with them.

Even now, in the current climate, the candidates who are available aren’t generally the ones the client wants or needs. In fact, the best candidates are actually being kept hold of tighter than ever before and are more nervous of making a move.

Unfortunately, on a contingent basis, it is usually the same candidates that get approached multiple times. They are approached by different recruiters with slightly different messages. This doesn’t have a great impression on the talent pool. The client can end up looking a bit like a house with multiple for sale signs outside.

And then when you remember, that on a contingent basis, we are in a race, we have no time to carry our work out properly, because when we do find a candidate that looks to be right, we have to get their CV over to the client immediately, before anyone else does.

Changing client relationships

What time does this allow us to assess that candidate? Or make sure they have truly considered the opportunity? Really, very little.

If it’s a niche, senior, urgent, critical or challenging hire, the most effective and efficient solution is to work in partnership, on a retained basis to put a robust, rigorous and well thought through plan together, apply careful headhunting techniques and importantly, commit to working together until the position is filled.

Louise Archer

Louise Archer

Louise has worked on the front-line of recruitment for twenty years. Having been a contingent recruiter before transitioning to retained she understands the struggles that consultants and companies face, operating on a contingent basis. Louise started training Retained Search four years ago, and since then has taught hundreds of recruiters to move to Retained.

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