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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Looking for new staff?

Do you use recruiters on a Retained or Contingency basis?

If you are looking to recruit a new member of staff, especially at board level, it’s such a powerful investment. Yes, the costs are significant but we all know top-flight staff have a massive impact on business success; business development and future growth. When you make the decision that recruitment is a vital next step there are a few things to consider before you begin the process.

Basically, recruitment methodology is split into three approaches. You are going to work with your recruitment/search partner in one of these ways:

1. Contingency - multi agency. The modus operandi is a based around a success only fee payment structure. That means there are probably one, two or even more recruiters working to fill your position.

2. Contingency - sole agency. This is the same structure where it’s a success only fee payment. However, in this instance there is an exclusive arrangement.

3. Retained. This has structured payment terms and is once again an exclusive arrangement.

The thing is these three options are clear in themselves. But what might they actually mean for a company looking to recruit? Which one might suit your purposes best, for example?Let’s consider the pros and cons regarding how each recruitment model affects outcomes:

Contingency – multi agency.


In this instance there is no upfront financial commitment. This can suit many companies and is a powerful approach for junior level and volume recruitment. If this is the solution that appeals you could do extremely well by adopting this approach. In addition it gives your company the freedom to change recruitment partner with ease.


However, almost inevitably it may well encourage a focus on speed over quality. This can often result in poor selection. Agencies have around a 20% success rate therefore they are unlikely to invest significant resource in their search for you. Imagine the potential that might have on your business.

Of course, managing multiple agencies creates significant additional workload for both HR and line managers. How much will that cost your business with respect to hidden expenses? In addition, candidates are often targeted for the same position by different agencies. The client image and job desirability may well be damaged as a result of this approach. If a candidate receives three calls about the same role in one morning might suggest the company looks desperate.

Contingency – sole agency (exclusive)

Positives: Once again there is no upfront financial commitment. However, you are much more likely to receive more effective candidate assessment and testing provided by the recruitment partner. Inevitably there is a stronger sense of ownership within this method and it’s typically quicker than a Retained approach.

Negatives: We find that agencies still only have a 60% success rate on this model. Without financial/contractual commitment, you’re still not guaranteed delivery. The longer it takes to replace a key member of your team the more it costs. Remember also that face-to-face interviewing is not always guaranteed.

What are people saying about your recruitment processes? Is it favourable reactionConfused about recruitment processes and which ones are best for your business right now?

Retained (exclusive)

Positives: We know this approach adds credibility when speaking to candidates. It’s much more likely that an agency will gain more buy-in and interest. Inevitably it also represents the highest level of market profiling and proactivity. The best candidate is sourced carefully and is probably not the easiest or quickest solution that pops up.

When you take on a recruitment partner they are contractually committing to delivering on the assignment. That will make a difference to the outcome. Of course, you as the client has complete control over the approach and the resulting relationship and it also returns 95%+ delivery rates. We find it is superior to any other approach.

Negatives: If there is a negative it will be that the pricing structure means payments are made before final delivery of the successful candidate. However, if you are serious about getting the perfect fit for your company then we do recommend this approach.

So considering the options available; if you plan to hire a Manager, Director, or VP level professional – ask yourself this question when considering which recruitment/search firm to partner with:

1: “Do you believe the consultant AND company have the track record, candidate network, resources, and correct approach to fulfil your requirement within your budget and timescales?”

Assuming you answered YES, then ask yourself this:

2: “Will you work with that recruitment/search firm on an exclusive or retained basis?”

If you answered NO to question two, the real answer to question one must be NO. In this case – explore where the weak spot is. Keep asking more qualifying questions. If you can’t get to YES/YES, find an alternative recruitment or search partner. When you can, you’ll be rewarded with a ‘trusted advisor’ business relationship rather than a ‘CV waiter’

It will probably come as no surprise therefore to see that Meyrick Consulting strives for deep long lasting ‘trusted advisor’ relationships. It works on so many levels. Firstly the onus is on us. We set out our stall very early in the proceedings to demonstrate what we can do for your company recruitment needs. We want you to put your trust in us because we do everything in our power to find the right people for your key roles.

How hard is it for you to find the right staff for your business without assistance?

We engage carefully with you and often spend up to 90 minutes taking your brief. This is important because we don’t rely on algorithms alone. Often the very best people may well not have their CV in recruiters’ hands. They may not be looking for a job but would be interested if the right opportunity was placed in front of them.

Our approach means we can ensure there is direct access to the most appropriate talent available. We represent your interests in a professional and thorough manner at all times.

Once we win that trust, we repay it with interest – investing all our specialism, experience, candidate network access, commitment and hard work to ensure we deliver exceptional outcomes that influence you and your businesses profitability.

So what happens next…?

If you anticipate any mid-senior level hiring in your business in the next 6 months, and are interested in finding out more on how we can help you, let's have an informal conversation to chat about your goals. Afterwards, we'll recommend the best way to proceed.

For a no obligation discussion please call me directly on + 44 7793 526078 or click here to schedule an appointment directly at a time to suit you

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