Differences Between Retained and Contingency Search Firms

by Sami Barry
Executive search

Recruitment can mean different things to different people, and there are variances in what hiring organizations want and expect from executive search firms. In continuing with our executive search series, it is important to understand that there are two types of executive search firms: retained and contingency. Each type of firm has its own approach, methods, and advantages. As organizations have diverse hiring needs, both retained and contingency search firms can be effective in different situations. The key is to evaluate which approach is best for your organization.

What are the differences between retained and contingency search firms?

There are some professionals who believe the primary distinction between these executive search approaches is simply how the firms are paid. But in reality, the differences go much deeper. The following chart outlines the key differences between retained and contingency search firms.

Retained vs contingency search firms

Now that you know you're ready to engage a search firm, how to find search firms to best assist you, and the differences between retained and contingency firms, how do you evaluate firms? Stay tuned for next week's post on our recommendations of the questions to ask of potential firms and consultants before engaging them.