I had this real email exchange (below) and thought it would be a good opportunity to educate on working with a recruiting firm on a contingency search. I touched on this a couple years ago, but I feel as though this email exchange perfectly illustrates my point. This is obviously not the first time I've been asked this question. And it is a good question. But I always pause and wonder, why do people ask? Does it make a difference to them? And if so...why? What would be the thought process where this would make any difference? Then I must always remind myself, oh right, there is this long standing perpetuation of the idea that somehow in some way the “retained” search has an elevated status. But why does this continue to exist?
Can you please tell me if this job is a retained search or a contingent search?
This particular search like many is on a contingent basis. We do work retained searches but this client prefers contingency for these types of positions. Does that matter to you?
My colleagues have suggested that I avoid the pursuit of contingent searches because they typically turn a resume into a flyer.
If you disagree with that, can you please tell me why? I have not worked with a placement firm, so I don't have any experience to validate this with.
I hope you are ready for this….
It sounds to me as though your colleagues have had unpleasant experiences with recruiters. Just like any profession, there are good recruiters, okay recruiters, and recruiters that have no business being in the business. There are also good recruiters that are not very good at setting expectations up front. As the recruiting business has indeed changed through the years due to technology. Many recruiters tend to see 100+ new candidates per month. So what was once very manageable as far as weekly touching base becomes logistically impossible. So recruiters can get a bad rap for not getting back to a candidate.
Then there are recruiters who do not specialize. If you as an insurance professional connect with a recruiter who doesn't specialize within insurance then you are probably going to be unhappy with the results.
Even within insurance some recruiters tend to have stronger networks in certain disciplines. I for example do a lot of work within the product management discipline. So if your friend is a Product Manager and they connect with a recruiter that does little in product management recruiting, they are going to be disappointed.
A pure retained recruiter will only present qualified candidates on the specific assignment they have at any given time. Other candidates they receive will get deleted or simply placed into a database.
A good insurance recruiter who does work on a contingency basis can and will actually proactively seek out opportunities for a candidate. A retained recruiter will not. If they only do retained, it is submit or not submit and it is done. No marketing of the person.
So much depends on what the person is looking for out of the relationship with a recruiter.
I've been around this for over 25 years. I specialize within insurance. I do a great deal within product management. I do both contingent & retained. I can proactively market a person. Or I can simply make someone aware as I see interesting opportunities that come in. When I’m working on a retained search I am in constant communication with the candidates. When I’m working a contingent search I am in constant communication with the candidates presented.
On the other hand some of my more recent placements have been with candidates I've known literally for years. Sometimes it just takes timing to get to the right opportunity as well.
So like anything, you simply have to be certain you are connected with the right person. And that goes with everything in life, wouldn't you agree?