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Why it pays to drive a hybrid . . . in recruiting as well.

Why it pays to drive a hybrid . . . in recruiting as well.

In the world of executive recruiting, there’s an ongoing debate surrounding the relative merits of the two primary types of search firms:  retained and contingent.  Here at Schaffer Associates, we’re not shy: we’ll tell you that we are a fully retained firm at heart because we believe – in fact, we know – that a fully retained search produces the best results for our clients.  While fully retained searches could require a slightly higher investment from the hiring company, they allow the executive search firm to focus on the quality of the candidates rather than on the speed with which the candidates are produced.  Contingent searches, often done in competitive settings with multiple firms, will usually zero-in on the first candidates that are found, rather than the best candidates for the company and the open position.  In the long run, contingent searches run the risk of placing the wrong candidate with the client company, which could cost your organization dearly down the road.

While our firm specializes in fully retained work, our experience in the industry over the last 25 years has shown us that many organizations are not able to invest in a fully retained “Wall Street”-level search for positions at the mid-management levels. In response, Schaffer Associates has developed a “partially-retained search” product—a hybrid approach that allows our firm to work with your company in a way that requires less of an investment but which avoids the pitfalls that can exist in contingent searches.  Importantly, our partially-retained approach gives clients the high-quality services of a retained firm with the “financial comfort” of a contingent search.

So how does it work?  As a foundational point, we view the partially-retained approach as a professional partnership.  We ask our clients to commit to an exclusive business relationship with us for the search (which is not the traditional approach in contingent searches).  Without exclusivity, it complicates a search firm’s ability to successfully recruit the best candidates if those candidates are being pursued for the same position by competing firms.  More importantly, we have found that it can actually reflect poorly on the client when this type of candidate-competing occurs.  The partially-retained option is a good way to avoid that problem.

In concert with the exclusivity agreement, the client makes an initial up-front investment, which is a fraction of the total fee and which financially supports our comprehensive research process to find the right candidates for the open position.  This initial step represents the “retained” aspect of our hybrid model.  The firm then focuses on the quality of the candidates we locate by deploying all necessary resources to navigate the talent-starved labor pool we are currently operating within.  Payment of the final balance does not occur unless and until the client has successfully hired the candidate, thus representing the “contingent” element of our hybrid approach.  In other words, payment in full is ultimately contingent on our shared success.

The debate will go on between retained and contingent approaches.  But if your organization is looking to fill mid-management positions without the investment of a retained firm but with better results than a contingent search, you need look no further than the partially-retained model we have developed at Schaffer Associates.  You’ll get better service, more cost-effective methods, and ultimately the best candidates available for the job.  Call us today and ask about our partially-retained search method so we can help put your organization on the path to success.

Schaffer Associates

Schaffer Associates is an executive search firm specializing in talent acquisition for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As premier executive recruiters with expert focus on your industry, we help you HIRE SMART. Contact us today for help with your officer-level or mid-management level search.

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