Are the candidates you’re interviewing the best in the market?

When you work with a Search Firm or a Recruiter, you have a choice. And if you’re serious about attracting and hiring the markets top talent for your company, you need to ensure you make the right one.

Contingent Model
Multiple agencies – focused on speed of delivery

Partnership Model
Exclusive engagement – focused on quality of delivery

You can choose the ‘contingent’ model, where multiple agencies are engaged to fulfil a search remit, with the agencies competing against each other. You pay the fee to the relevant recruiter on the successful hire of their candidate.

Now, this approach can deliver results fast. Very fast actually, because each agency wants to get there first and claim the fee. So, there’s an initial flurry of activity.

But is fast best?

The trouble is, when the focus is on speed, it’s not on quality. You may get some CVs landing on your desk, but are these the best candidates for your role and has the process that got them there been appropriately thorough, professional and in line with how you want your company represented in the market?

Probably not.

The other option is a ‘partnership’ or retained approach. In this case, one agency is exclusively engaged to fulfil a search remit. The fee is generally spread across the search process and paid upon agreed and achieved milestones.

A common belief

Sometimes clients will ask for a contingent approach. Their reasoning is that with multiple agencies all working for them, they have the market covered and they’ll get the best CVs. Right?


You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d get more effort from a recruiter when the role is in competition, but here’s what really happens. An initial short burst of high activity, which might generate a number of CVs. However, then the interest wanes as the recruiter realises the client is not showing them the same level of commitment. So, they move on to the next one.

Why the Partnership approach works better

The Partnership model is a mutual commitment between recruiter and client that brings the focus back to quality. It allows the time and resource to provide a much more comprehensive service to the client and a much more professional approach to candidates. We can engage fully with the market on your behalf.

In my 15 years of experience, do you know what one of the main reasons is that roles don’t get filled in a contingency model? Recruiters don’t work the role hard enough.

Yes, the job may demand skills that are hard to find. Maybe it’s a niche market. And yes, sometimes the client constructs a profile and list of requirements that doesn’t exist in one person!

But more often than not, it’s down to the level of effort put into the search by the recruiters. And the reason for this is that in a contingency model, recruiters are not incentivised to put that effort in. If a recruiter knows they are competing against multiple agencies, then there’s a much lower percentage chance of filling the role. So, they adjust their effort and commitment accordingly.

Why Callum James clients choose our Partnership Model

  • You get our total commitment to filling the role. We are exclusively engaged and working as partners, so we now share ownership of the headcount, and from our side, we have a much bigger incentive and an important obligation to be successful for you.
  • We can focus on the quality of our search rather than speed of the search. For key appointments in any business, you want to be interviewing the best candidates in the market, not necessarily the first candidates that are presented to you.
  • Gives us the time required to conduct a structured and comprehensive search of the market. However, with our talent pooling, network and knowledge of the market, it’s still very quick and efficient.
  • Thorough screening & qualification process. We have the time and resource to meet and interview every candidate presented to you.
  • Brings back control of your employer brand. We make sure that your company is being represented professionally and consistently to the candidates that we are engaging with on your behalf.
  • Confidentiality. There is less noise in the market with one discreet approach, which means competitors are less aware of your recruitment activities.
  • Time efficient. You’re dealing with one supplier, so it’s simpler and easier for you.
  • And most importantly, better results. A much-increased chance of filling the role with the best candidate.

Get the right Partner

A quick word of warning – be equally as selective with the recruiter you partner with, as with the candidates you hire.

This is an important relationship. Before you start, please do your research, ask colleagues for recommendations, and establish:

  • Do they have the experience required?
  • Are they a market specialist – can they demonstrate knowledge of your market?
  • Do their credibility and reputation give them access to the best candidates in your market?
  • Do they have developed skills to engage and attract these candidates?
  • Do they have a track record of managing the recruitment process to a successful conclusion?

I guarantee that if you find a recruiter who ticks these boxes and whom you trust, then a Partnership approach will always provide better results. And not only in terms of actual hires, but in the longevity of those hires, and importantly through a better candidate experience, building a positive reputation in the market and strengthening your employer brand for future hires.

To find out more, contact Callum James and see how we can work with you to help make your recruitment process the very best it can be.

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