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Five Best Practices When Hiring an Outside Recruiter

Updated: Apr 22


In the dynamic world of business, organizations often find themselves in need of external recruiting assistance, especially when internal resources are stretched thin. This necessity arises from various factors, including the limited bandwidth of in-house teams, the need for specialized talent, or the urgency of filling key positions. When exploring outside recruitment options, businesses generally have two primary routes: hiring contingency recruiters or engaging talent acquisition consultants. Contingency recruiters operate on a pay-for-success model, earning their fee only upon the successful placement of a candidate. In contrast, talent acquisition consultants are usually engaged for a fixed fee or on a retainer basis, offering a more holistic approach to understanding and fulfilling the company's long-term recruitment needs.


1. Understanding the Cost Implications

Engaging an outside recruiter involves a careful examination of the cost structure. Contingency recruiting may initially seem cost-effective with its success-based payment model. However, the fees can be significantly higher compared to in-house recruiters or talent acquisition consultants. This approach also lacks ongoing benefits, such as developing a candidate pipeline that belongs to the organization, potentially affecting long-term cost-efficiency. With contingency recruiters, potential applicants belong to the recruiter, and organizations are obligated to pay a fee each and every time there is a placement. Companies should, therefore, carefully evaluate the fee structure against potential long-term benefits or drawbacks, particularly if your relationship with your outside recruiter will go beyond hiring for just a few positions.


2. Analyzing the Length of the Guarantee

The guarantee period offered by recruiters is a critical factor to consider. This term refers to the time frame during which the recruiter promises a replacement or refund if the placed candidate is not successful. A longer guarantee period can signal the recruiter's confidence in their placements and provide more security to the company. It's important to assess this aspect to ensure it aligns with your company's hiring policies and risk tolerance.  


3. Recognizing the Paradox of Contingency Recruiting

The contingency recruiting model, while appearing to align the recruiter's and the client's interests through a shared goal of successful placement, can lead to a paradoxical misalignment. Contingency recruiters may prioritize positions that are easier to fill or positions that they believe will be easier to fill, potentially overlooking roles that require a deep understanding of the company's culture. This misalignment can impact the quality and cultural fit of the candidates.  


4. Assessing Commitment and Cultural Understanding

Contingency recruiters, as external agents, might not exhibit the same level of commitment and understanding of your company's culture as in-house teams or talent acquisition consultants. Their transactional approach could result in a candidate pool that doesn't align with the company’s long-term objectives and values. Evaluating the recruiter's grasp of your company's specific needs and culture is essential.


5. Considering Loyalty and Attention

Working with multiple clients simultaneously, contingency recruiters might not provide the focused attention and commitment your company requires. Their loyalty may lean towards clients who are more likely to make a quick hire, leading to a divided focus. Assessing the recruiter's dedication to your organization's unique requirements is crucial.



Contingency recruiting might initially appear attractive due to its performance-based payment structure, but it's important to be aware of its inherent risks, including potential misaligned interests, lack of commitment, and higher overall costs. In comparison, in-house recruiters and talent acquisition consultants offer more comprehensive, committed solutions, focusing on the long-term success of the company. A strategic approach to navigating the complexities of talent acquisition is key to avoiding the pitfalls associated with contingency recruiting.

If you'd like to learn more about THRM recruiting services, please feel free to reach out to us at for more information. 



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