linkedin blue backgroundAre you on LinkedIn? Follow us and stay up to date on all our activity

Contingency vs Retained Recruitment – What is the difference?

In today’s job market, the process of recruitment plays a vital role in shaping the success of any organisation. However, choosing the right recruitment method can often be challenging. Two common approaches that businesses often consider are retained and contingency recruitment. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between these two methods and help you understand which approach might be the best fit for your hiring needs.

Contingency Recruitment – Flexibility

Contingency recruitment is a widely used model where multiple recruitment agencies are hired to find suitable candidates for open positions. In this setup, agencies compete to present qualified candidates to the company. The term “contingency” refers to the fact that payment to the agency is contingent upon the successful placement of a candidate who is hired by the company.

Pros of Contingency Recruitment:

  • Greater choice: Since multiple agencies are involved, contingency recruitment allows access to a higher volume of talent. Different agencies may have varying networks and resources, increasing the chances of finding suitable candidates. But one possible downside to this is that the same candidates might see themselves being approached by more than one agency for the same role.
  • Cost-Effective: The fee structure of contingency recruitment, based on successful placements, can be appealing to organisations with limited budgets.
  • Minimal Financial Risk: The company bears little financial risk since payment is made only after a successful hire. If a candidate presented by one agency is not chosen, the company can still explore other candidates.


Retained Recruitment – A Focused Partnership

Retained recruitment, in contrast to contingency recruitment, involves a dedicated relationship between the company and a single recruitment agency. The company retains the services of the agency exclusively for a specific hiring project or ongoing recruitment needs.

Pros of Retained Recruitment:

  • Focus on Quality: A retained recruitment model allows the agency to invest more time and effort in understanding the company’s requirements thoroughly. They can then tailor the candidate search to find the best fit for the organisation’s culture, values, and specific job requirements.
  • Prioritised Attention: Since the agency is exclusively engaged by the company, it ensures that the recruitment process receives focused attention. The agency can dedicate resources, expertise, and time to thoroughly vet and present qualified candidates. Within this model it allows the recruiter to spend more time trying to source harder-to-reach candidates that are not necessarily on the job market and who wouldn’t be accessible whilst competing at speed with other recruiters under the contingency model.
  • Partnership Approach: Retained recruitment fosters a collaborative partnership between the company and the agency. It allows for better communication, understanding, and alignment between the two parties, resulting in a more streamlined hiring process.


Whether it is right for your business to use retained or contingency recruitment depends on many factors. For more junior roles, contingency can work well, and at Stellar Select we do successfully work on a contingency basis. But for senior hires, specialist roles or hard-to-find skill sets, retained search will almost certainly garner the best results.

How can Stellar Select Help?

Whatever type of recruitment you choose, we at Stellar Select would be happy to help! If you’d like to discuss the best option for your situation, don’t hesitate to get in touch – Submit your requirements or book a call now.

Featured Jobs

  • Telephone BDM – Buy to Let

    benefits | Watford, Hertfordshire
    View job
  • Compliance Advisory Manager

    benefits | Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
    View job
  • Mortgage Underwriter

    Up | Fleet, Hampshire
    View job

emailSubscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with everything Stellar Select