Contingent Recruiters or Retained Headhunters…Which is Best?

by Dave Nerz

I just read a blog post on by Fraser Hill.  The premise is about RPO, but the stereotyping of recruiters is what was most fascinating to me.  It seems that Mr. Hill believes the “Headhunter” (retained) recruiter to be more capable than the “RPO” or “Contingent” recruiter.

In my opinion, it’s all about how the client wants to pay, not the result they are looking to achieve.  Each model provides ample opportunity for the client to specify what they want and expect.  If the client is willing to pay a reasonable fee to gain the result, I think any of the many recruitment models and recruiters available can do the work to find top talent.

It is particularly interesting to see that “contingent recruiters” are evolving to more complex payment models as they engage multiple times with the same client.  I see “containers” (a mixed contingent and retained fee), small retainers, recruiter engagement fees, pay for hours worked, pay per candidate, and increased total fee payouts all be effective to motivate and incentivize a contingent recruiter to work a complex and longer-term search.  Again, it is just a payment issue not a capability issue that drives recruitment models.  It is interesting to see that not everyone views it that way.

Do you feel one recruitment model is more capable or effective than the other?

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