Improving the quality of your hires through Retained & Engaged Search Solutions

Talent is in short supply these days, there’s no denying it. As organisations scramble to fill new positions and close turnover gaps, hiring managers, HR departments, and search firms are inundated with work. There have been many changes in the recruitment marketplace in recent years but building trusted relationships with a staffing firm that will professionally represent your company in the marketplace has stood the test of time.

For some organisations that are hiring, the terms “retained search,” “contingency recruiting,” and “engaged search” can be confusing, particularly if you’ve only pursued one model, or if you are working with a recruiter for the first time. Each model offers its own benefits and has its own place and time — so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons for your unique business situation and industry. Read on for insights from MRINetwork search firm leaders, to demystify the different types of engagement, and decide which is better for you in today’s “here today, gone tomorrow” market. 

 Retained and Engaged Recruitment Solutions have enabled us to build long lasting and successful partnerships with our key clients, which have seen Talent Partners become the client’s talent scout in their marketplace.

— Stephen Kennedy, Managing Director at

Contingency vs. Retained vs. Engaged Recruiting

How does retained search compare to contingency or engaged recruiting? Each recruiting model takes a slightly different approach, with different pros and cons to each. Contingency is typically best for employers who have more time to manage recruiters and candidates, and who prefer not to pay upfront for dedicated resources. 

Retained and engaged search are best suited for organisations that need to make multiple hires quickly, particularly for advanced and senior-level skill sets. With retained and engaged recruiting, you gain peace of mind partnering with recruiters who know your organisation, process, and hiring managers, and who have set aside dedicated time and resources. 

A Quick Comparison for Employers & Hiring Managers

Recruiting ModelHow It WorksProsConsBest For
ContingencyRecruiters are paid only if they are successful in placing candidates.No upfront fees. Employers can invite multiple recruiters to participate in an effort to source more talent.May become lower priority based on recruiters’ workload, thus taking longer to fill. Typically, more of a time investment for hiring managers, with less control over how opportunities and your company are presented.Easy-to-find skill sets, lower paying positions, and organisations that have more time to devote to managing multiple recruiters and candidates.
RetainedSearch firms are paid upfront or on a scheduled basis to fulfil ongoing recruiting needs.A dedicated investment makes your search a top priority, ensuring recruiters have the time and resources they need to find the best match.Requires a fee regardless of whether a placement is made or not.Executive/senior roles, critical hires, and advanced skills sets, as well as companies that have ongoing recruiting needs or desire a strengthened partnership.
EngagedA portion of recruiter fees are paid up front, with the balance being paid when a placement is made.Blend of retained search and contingency recruiting helps make your search a priority, while also reducing risk on both sides.May take a backburner to retained searches and retained client needs.Companies that desire a hybrid model, with dedicated resources but less upfront costs.

Why Move to Retained or Engaged Search?

In today’s red hot labour market, retained and engaged search can help you to secure sought-after talent more quickly and effectively. Some of the benefits that have experienced from Retained and/or Engaged model include:

  1. Dedicated time and resources: Whereas contingency recruiting puts your opportunities in the middle of a pack, retained and engaged move it to the top of the leaderboard. Investing in and committing to your hiring opportunities is a win-win for your company and the candidates you seek to engage. Remember it is a candidates market at present and how they are approached is critical to their perception of the role and the company.
  2. Less time to fill: Today’s candidate driven market demands rapid speed and action. Engaged and retained search allow recruiters to increase velocity and achieve better results faster.
  3. Improved quality: With multiple offers and remote work arrangements, every hiring organisation is facing increased competition — not only from direct competitors but also from other companies that employ similar skills sets. Retained search increases your chances of securing first-choice candidates before someone else does.
  4. Save money in the long run: Contingent recruiting doesn’t require an upfront fee, but it can cost more in the long run when key positions remain unfilled. With retained and engaged search, you’re able to reduce risk of lost opportunity cost while also spreading costs across multiple P&Ls.
  5. Guaranteed milestones: Given dedicated time and resources, recruiters are able to map out a plan for success. Set things up for success with clear milestones and a roadmap for success.
  6. Enduring relationships: The most trusted relationships often bloom from retained and engaged search arrangements. Moving to a relationship where both sides are committed can lead to stronger, more enduring partnerships that elevate trust, communication, and success. 

The Right Model for You

Talent Partners, along with our 300+ offices in MRINetwork, work hard for you and your business. In this market, retained and engaged search often provide better results for your business. Contact the Talent Partners team today about your specific requirements, and let’s discuss the best possible solution for you. Shifting your mindset may just change the future of your business as we work with you to build winning teams.