Recruiting Help: What are my options?

January 24, 2022

Maybe this scenario sounds too familiar: You have a critical position that has gone unfilled for several months. You’ve done all the networking, job postings, and internal referral incentives. You have even thrown some marketing dollars at it and only one halfway decent candidate surfaced. As quickly as they surfaced, they are quickly swept up by a competitor after receiving multiple competitive offers, all before you could schedule the first interview.

Welcome to hiring in 2022. It’s as competitive as it has ever been. Candidates have their choice of opportunities as compensation packages reach new heights. Across industries, it seems everyone is in the same boat. Growth is linked to the ability to hire quickly and often, but how do you do that in this competitive environment?

You may be considering hiring a third party recruiting firm to help solve this problem. Unfortunately, the recruiting industry can feel like a mixed bag of swindlers or average players, while the good ones you know are too busy to take on your search.

Where do you start?

First, determine the type of search that is best for you. There are two types of search firms and the differences between the two are quite significant.

Contingency Search

Contingency Search is a no-win/no-fee approach. You don’t pay until the candidate you’ve selected starts. It sounds like a great deal, right? Before you jump right in, contingency firms need to do two things well to be successful: They need to take on as many search projects as possible and they need to find a few great candidates that they submit across multiple clients. When the recruiter gets nothing until a successful placement, they offset their risk by making their clients compete for the same talent.

Contingency firms need to constantly rank their search projects and work on those that have the greatest chance of closing. They will often have a pool of candidates at the ready in their niche. This is their secret sauce. However, difficult searches are often deprioritized - Their active roster of candidates won’t often fit a unique role. Attracting a group of specialized people from scratch can be hard to justify with no guaranteed payment for that effort.

To get the best results from contingency recruiting firms, give them roles that your internal recruiting team can’t get to but are still straight-forward, every-day openings. Engaging a contingency firm in your industry niche greatly increases your chances of success. Your project will move to the front of their list of project priorities and will get their continued attention.

Retained Search


Retained Search firms deploy a robust search methodology that is successful most of the time. It costs a bit more and there are up-front and milestone fees. This financial commitment from you allows the firm to go deeper in their search and provide a more exhaustive sense of the talent available for your search project. They do exhaustive research identifying all the qualified candidates in the appropriate pool, make multiple attempts to contact each candidate, and with interviews tailored to your position mandate. It’s a strategic service where the search firm and the hiring team lock arms to drive a result.

Retained search firms will demand more hiring team engagement. Involving all your internal stakeholders gets everyone aligned on what a successful outcome looks like. A thorough methodology is the key to success. Finding a retained firm with knowledge of your industry niche is less important to a successful outcome, but it doesn’t hurt.


Employer Brand


Whether you choose retained or contingency search, engaged third-party recruiters can serve another purpose. They are ambassadors for your employer brand, telling your company story. A good recruiter can effectively be a personalized ad for your employee value proposition. It signals to the talent pool that you value hiring strong candidates; that you are willing to invest in talent acquisition and the company is committed to hiring the best. It signals that you are growing at a rate where outside help is needed.

You don’t have to look far to find a strong third party partner. Network in your space and a few names will surface. Understand their niche and approach, making sure they are aligned with your needs. In my next piece, I’ll offer a framework for how you can better evaluate a recruiting partner.


Drop me a line. I’d love to hear your experience working with recruiting firms.

Cory Salmela
cory@salmelatalent.com - LinkedIn - Txt

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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