P.O. Box 1059
Van Alstyne, TX 75495
Phone:  903.482.1362




Contingency Versus Retained Search

Pre-search Considerations

If, as we say, the basic process of retained search is the same as contingency, why should you choose one over the other?

While all roles can be filled through contingency recruiting, there are several reasons you might wish to use retained search on a particular assignment. We recommend you consider several aspects, beginning with the urgency factor. Additional considerations are:

  1. The level of the role. We seldom recommend retained search below the management level.
  2. The difficulty of finding suitable candidates. Contingency recruiters-the fickle beings that they are-have been known to forsake a difficult search in favor of an easier one or a more responsive client. Retained search guarantees dedicated time by the recruiter for a given search.
  3. The confidentiality of the search. Would you prefer your competitors or employees not know you are trying to fill this particular role? If your managers are conducting initial interviews, it is likely to be discovered.
  4. The critical impact the continued vacancy may have on the success of the company. While retained search normally takes six months to complete, our goal is to have someone on board within 12 weeks.
  5. In addition to relieving the client of the most time consuming portions of the hiring procedure, retained search provides a greater degree of anonymity and objectivity to the search-particularly helpful when internal candidates or referrals are included in the process.


Retained search usually requires an up-front payment of approximately one-third of the estimated fee, one-third payment when candidates are presented, and the final payment upon acceptance of the offer by the candidate. The first two payments are non-refundable and guarantee the client dedicated time and research staff. Your search assumes a priority status with the recruiting firm and is assigned blocks of time not shared with other clients. Retained search also guarantees the firm does not show candidates recruited for your search to other firms until your search is closed. (In contingency search the recruiter may well be working several similar searches at the same time, and-because a fee is only earned only when a candidate is hired-will present the candidates to the other companies on a "first-come first-served" basis.)

Initial Process

The first step in the pre-search process is a meeting between Barcus Associates and your company's management team to review the functional responsibilities and goal expectations of the role, as well as mutually establish the interview and selection steps. Whenever possible, we also like to meet with subordinates and peers of the role. Timing issues are discussed and agreed upon. Notes from the meeting(s) are typed and presented to your management for review and signature to assure we are in agreement.

We utilize three research sources on retained searches: (1) our internal recruiter(s) assigned to the search, (2) an independent research organization specializing in the industry or role, (3) our Top Echelon Network associates. Unlike contingency searches, exclusive time segments and efforts of the first two of these sources will be dedicated to your search, not shared with other clients.

Interviews and Offers

We conduct telephone interviews with identified candidates to determine which warrant face-to-face meetings with us or with one of our affiliates in the candidate's geographic area (a tremendous cost savings for first interviews). Resumes and interview reports of surviving candidates will be shared and discussed with your management.

Barcus Associates will conduct second face-to-face interviews with selected candidates before presenting a short list of three to six finalists to your company for interview and selection. We suggest and can arrange outside management and skill assessment or testing as a part of the final selection.

As in contingency search, the offer should be extended initially through the recruiter to increase the probability of acceptance, and smooth any negotiation bumps.


The task of personnel staffing can be daunting. Competition for talented players is fierce.

Advertising either by conventional means or the Internet attracts primarily those individuals who are unemployed, shopping around, or who lack desired experience. The ideal candidates are generally already well-employed, difficult to identify, and held firmly in place by an employer who values their service and rewards them accordingly.

Barcus Associates has been identifying, recruiting, and placing these candidates for over 15 years. Our primary goal is to build lasting relationships with our clients through quality service and top-tier candidates. Eighty percent of our clientele vend software and systems to the financial industry; so our nationwide network is strong and well focused in this market. Through our Top Echelon affiliates, we can be up to speed and providing candidates in a new market within a very short time frame. Our past and present clients include S2 Systems, Aurum Technology, American Airlines, Hypercom International, Alltel, Nortel, Trilogy Development, Bell and Howell, Recognition Equipment, BancTec, Cofiniti, Comdisco, Diebold, Wausau Financial Systems, Migratec, Persistence Software, Silverrun Technology, Jack Henry and Associates, Acxiom Corporation, ACI Worldwide, Sterling Software, Selkirk, Orbograph and many others.

We'd like to be your recruiting firm too. Please contact us to see how we may be able to help.

Barcus Associates
PO Box 1059 • Van Alstyne • TX • 75495
Phone: (903) 482.1362
Email: moreinfo@barcusassociates.com
Web: www.barcusassociates.com


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