What Is Contingency Recruiting?

Contingency recruiting is when an organization hires a recruiting agency or contract recruiter to find candidates for an open position. The recruitment agency or contractor only gets paid if a candidate they find is hired by the organization. The recruiting fee is typically around 20 percent of the salary of the position filled.

What Does Contingent Mean in Recruitment?

In the context of recruitment, contingent means that the recruiting agency’s pay is contingent (or dependent) on successfully filling your company’s open position.

How Does a Contingent Recruitment Agency Work?

Contingent recruitment agencies work as contractors for organizations, with the understanding that they will not be paid until they find a candidate who accepts the open job offer.

Not all contingency recruiting agencies operate in the same way, but there is a general five-step process they will most likely follow:

It’s worth noting that contingency recruiting agencies are usually not the only ones looking for good candidates. Often, these agencies are competing with your company’s recruitment specialists (if you have any) and applicants who apply directly to your job listings.

Additionally, you may choose to hire multiple contingency recruiters to improve your chances of finding a candidate in a shorter period of time, meaning agencies may also compete against one another.

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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Contingency Recruiting?

Though the benefits of contingency recruiting can be significant, there are also a few potential downsides.


Contingency recruiting can be an advantageous recruiting strategy for these reasons:


While outsourcing your candidate search may sound appealing, there are some shortcomings to using a contingency agency:

What Is the Difference Between Contingency Recruiters and Retained Recruiters?

The main difference between contingency recruiters and retained recruiters is how the agencies are paid:

Because of these different incentives, retained and contingency recruiters are often used to fill different positions:

What to Look for in a Contingency Recruiter

When looking for contingency recruiters, you should make sure the agency does the following: