Should I Choose Retained or Contingent?

Retained Aviation Recruiting Agencies work as consultants and advisors to client companies. Professional search firms partner with clients to understand their unique hiring needs and dedicate recruiting resources to advertise, market and source for qualified candidates. They will identify, qualify and recommend the very best candidates after evaluating the appropriate industry or market sectors. Professional and executive firms typically work on a retainer and are incentivized to reach certain milestones. These types of firms dedicate resources to the search until a solution is found.

Contingent Agencies are usually hired to present resumes from a pool of candidates that are active in their job search. Contingent recruiters generally provide some initial screening and work to provide candidates quickly, often leaving their clients to evaluate and determine the best candidates on their own. Because they are only paid a fee after a candidate is hired, they usually work on a high volume of open positions and there is no guarantee that any client’s search will receive the appropriate amount of attention.



Retained Aviation Recruiting Agencies work exclusively with their clients and will develop sourcing strategies to uncover passive candidates in addition to the candidates actively pursuing a career change. They are engaged in the full lifecycle of the recruit: defining the position, advertising and marketing on the client company’s behalf, evaluating candidates beyond basic qualifications, providing reference check assessments and advising clients on candidate selection and negotiations. Professional firms maintain relationships with the candidate and client long after hire to ensure a quality match is made between the client company and the new candidate hire.

Contingent Agencies are often competing with other agencies and a client company’s internal recruiting efforts. They work quickly to provide resumes and often need to circumvent qualification processes to ensure they have a genuine opportunity to earn a fee. If a search assignment proves to be difficult or the client company is inundated with a volume of applicants, contingency recruiters have no incentive or obligation to continue the search efforts. Just as the fee is contingent upon a hire, the contingent recruiter’s effort is contingent upon many factors. They typically identify candidates who are actively seeking new opportunities and ready to go to work, leading to a higher volume of resumes in a short period of time, in hopes of earning a fee in the shortest time possible.



Retained Aviation Recruiting Agencies will develop a deep understanding of their client’s industry, business, and hiring needs. They will market and advertise on behalf of their clients, leveraging the client company’s own brand to drive industry awareness and attract potential applicants. Professional firms will utilize sophisticated evaluation techniques when identifying and qualifying candidates to ensure the best candidate recommendations are made. They will be transparent and share relevant research and data, which can include sourcing lists, compensation trends/analyses, and competitive intelligence. Candidate recommendations are made after industry-wide vetting and will include the most qualified applicants, who best fit the client’s corporate culture and make the most sense for the organization. Professional search firms usually have longer guarantees and measure their success based on candidate’s impact and longevity within the client company.

Contingent Agencies keep a database of candidates looking for new opportunities that are available to interview and go to work in a relatively short timeframe. They rely on job postings and apply a reactive recruiting model to quickly identify potential candidates and make expedient recommendations to ensure they have an adequate chance of making a placement before their competitors. Due to the quick turnaround time, clients of contingent recruiters will need to internally provide additional screening and vetting of candidates to evaluate the best potential hire. Because their success is typically measured in speed and not accuracy, contingent agencies have shorter guarantee periods and are motivated to find a volume of resumes for many clients as quickly as possible. A high percentage of contingent agencies’ core competency is temporary staffing or providing temp to perm arrangements.



Retained Aviation Recruiting Agencies are typically used for searches that require a deeper dive into the industry to find the best candidates who are harder to persuade into considering a career change. The expertise of a professional firm is required to evaluate and recommend candidates that will have the greatest impact for their client’s company.

Contingent Agencies are most often used for positions of individual contributors, rarely managers or senior leadership. Their searches are usually for positions where they can skim from a large pool of potential candidates and focus on candidates that are actively seeking new careers or have the least resistance to exploring new opportunities. These searches are usually for positions that provide a lower impact within a client company.



Retained Aviation Recruiting Agencies usually have a deep network of relationships with industry leaders, which allows them to discreetly engage potential candidates who may not be actively seeking a career change. They act as an advisor to candidates and are able to build a meaningful relationship that will aid in the search culminating successfully. An executive recruiter knows how to handle a candidate’s interest with the utmost confidentiality, yet always represents the client company with the highest degree of integrity. Understanding a candidate’s motivations and personal desires allows the executive recruiter to minimize a client’s time wasted on the wrong candidates.

Contingent Agencies work with many candidates who are actively seeking a new position. They typically do not have time to build the necessary relationship to uncover a candidate’s desires and motivations. Because they are potentially competing for the same candidates as other contingent firms, they often need to circumvent processes and send a prospective candidate to many clients. For this reason, it is often perceived the contingent recruiter works on behalf of the candidate. It is not uncommon for a client to receive the same resume from multiple contingent recruiters, leading to candidates applying to different recruiters for the same position.


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