Contingent, Retained, or Engaged Recruitment Method: Which is the Best?

September 21, 2020

There are three main types of strategic recruitment methods that organizations typically use. 

Dave Fox believes there is a principle at play when it comes down to choosing your recruitment partner and the recruitment method they use. After all, talent is the most important part of the organization. This principle goes like this:

“One option is no choice.  Two options are a dilemma.  Three options are a choice.”

Layout all the options you can think of whether you like them or not.

With these three strategic recruitment methods to choose from, how do you decide which one is the best?

Choose an Engaged Recruitment Method for Better ROI 

Speaking from the 25 years of experience in staffing and recruiting, I recommend choosing Engaged Recruitment Methods. Someone who understands the market and actually has a technical understanding of the roles you’re looking to fill.

You want to work with a specialized recruiter who is motivated to find a qualified candidate. Someone who will significantly influence the organization.

You should always go with the Engaged Search strategic recruitment method. It “checks all the boxes” on a qualified candidate.

Alternative, engaged recruitment searches better serve software startups that are looking for a quality hire as opposed to a “quick hire.”

At Focus GTS, our recruitment specialists work exclusively with Fortune 100, C, and D-Series startups that choose an Engaged recruitment method to scale their business.

As niche IT recruitment specialists, we build and nurture connections with clients and top-rated IT candidates in specialized industries.

We are plugged into different niche IT verticals and have an extensive talent database of specialized IT professionals.

It’s the type of engaged, in-depth strategic recruitment method that sets us apart from other traditional staffing companies.

So, which strategic recruitment method is the best option for you? Read on to find out why Engaged Search might be the best option for you.


In a Contingent Search, the recruiter needs to make a placement to get paid.

The downside? They might seem too aggressive or pushy to candidates because they’re trying to close any deal they can, even if it’s not the best quality match.

Plus, top IT talent already gets bombarded with several calls and messages from different recruiters that don’t speak the lingo thus making the job opportunity sound irrelevant.

The company that is working with contingent recruiters might assume having multiple sources recruiting for the same role helps them fill a role faster, and win the war on IT talent.

This actually creates a candidate quality issue and false narrative.


This is considered a “stiffer” strategic recruitment method for the recruitment process.

A staffing company that specializes in Retained Search has an exclusive commitment with a client.

These recruiters will retain money from clients regardless of whether they perform well or not. They can still retain money from a client even if they do not close out the position.

Recruiters will often breathe more easily knowing they’ve secured a retainer client. They’ll prioritize these retainer roles because they have the incentive and motivation to fill these roles quickly to get the rest of the commission.

If these recruiters are successful, the staffing company will often take about a ⅓ of the first-year salary of the potential hire and have a long-term retainer relationship with the client.


Engaged Search is a hybrid of both Contingent and Retained Searches.

In the Engaged Search recruitment method, a percentage of the fee is paid to the staffing company when the search begins. The remaining fee is only paid if the recruiter is successfully able to place a candidate. We go the extra mile by providing our clients with the best guarantee in the industry.

You get the benefits of a Retained Search and a “pay-for-performance search.” This will ensure you get the recruiter’s full attention.

An Engaged Search focuses on networking and establishing long-term partnerships with clients and candidates.

It’s a win-win situation for all of those involved in this Engaged strategic recruitment method.

Here at Focus GTS, we’re always looking to help our clients find candidates that can create ROI and value.

We do this by establishing long-term partnerships with a client and focusing on specific criteria. We iron out the expectations from the client before reaching out and engaging with a candidate.

As a result, we do our homework before we become the initial point of contact for candidates, and represent your company on your behalf.

This is what our Engaged research encompasses:

  • Length of industry guarantee (Focus GTS has the best guarantee in the industry)
  • A synopsis and analysis of what the marketplace offers

As an Engaged, specialized niche IT staffing company, we provide substance behind every search.

It’s important to establish an engaged, long-term partnership and relationship between clients and candidates. You should find a partnership where you’re not just looking to fill one position, but 10-15 or more positions within the organization.

We engage with our clients because we’re all about making long-lasting connections. We want to help both clients and candidates find a long-term match and not a temporary fit.

The goal behind an Engaged recruitment method is to actively engage and scale the business through partnerships that will make an impact.

Align yourself with an expert! Talk to one of our recruitment specialists about our Engaged Search strategic recruitment method today!