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Fueling the Future in Finance Through Superstar Talent
Contingent Search

How Contingent Search Really Works

Recruiters working a contingent search are working for free.

Would YOU work for free?

I’m talking weeks to months of dedication and hard effort in your chosen line of work, where you expect to get paid, for a big $0.

No? I didn’t think so.

Yet recruiting is the only industry I know of where this is the norm.

Where companies give out assignments to multiple firms, asking them all to do the work. But they pay only the 1 firm that places a candidate.

If you’re a hiring manager or talent acquisition pro, you may be thinking, “well this is just how it’s done.”

But have you ever questioned WHY?

Or asked what you’re getting for the seemingly smoking deal of free work until a candidate is hired?

Reason is, many, if not most, recruiters have never dispelled their clients of their misunderstandings about how recruiters allocate their time and resources on a contingent search. (It’s not your fault, but you may want to listen up, because I’m going to bust some myths)

Busting Myths About Contingent Search

They let them believe that using multiple firms will:

👉 Result in more committed recruiters who work harder.

👉 Keep recruiters honest so they will give better service.

👉 Lead to a larger pool of qualified candidates.

If you give the assignment to say, 4 recruiters, each will commit their top level of resources and work harder. So, the result should be 4x the effort, 4x the service, and 4x # qualified candidates from which to choose.

If you think about this from a commonsense standpoint, it makes NO sense.

In essence, if a client gives an assignment out to 4 recruiters, he/she is giving 25% of his/her commitment to each firm.

Possibly less! Because the company’s internal recruiting effort represents a 5th competitor.

Why would a professional recruiting firm commit MORE than the client’s 20% to 25% level of commitment?

Assuming the firm wants to stay in business, they wouldn’t.

And if they’re honest, they’ll be up front about how much they can invest in the search.

What REALLY Happens

So, if that firm could feasibly make a list of and reach out to 100+ candidates, they’re more likely to keep that list to 20 to 25, and these will be low hanging fruit, minimally researched candidates.


The client is asking them to engage in a RACE, competing on SPEED rather than QUALITY, in order to beat the other firms.

There is no time for research or an in-depth vetting process in this scenario.

Also consider, the other 3 firms are probably making the same list of 20 to 25 obvious (often active) candidates.

No one is touching the 75 or more likely STRONGER passive, harder to uncover candidates, because no one firm can commit the time to doing a quality job on the search.

Most often, the 4 firms make their quick lists, send a few emails, submit 2 to 3 so so matching candidates, and move on to the next multi-firm search…lather, rinse, repeat.

This is not new news I’m sharing, but surprisingly, so many hiring managers and talent acquisition folks still operate with erroneous beliefs about the way recruiters invest their time and resources.

Then they lose out on possibly the best fit candidates.

Ending up with a bad hire or no hire at all…

If you’re not getting the right results from using multiple recruiters, connect with me, I’m happy to discuss further and help you choose a strategy that will generate a successful hire.