December 1, 2021

Contingent Recruiting Is Still the Dumbest Business Model Ever


I’ve said contingent recruiting is “the worst business model in the history of business models.” (I’m right btw.)

I’ll be honest: I’m not trying to change the minds of any contingent recruiters out there. If they don’t love themselves enough to value their own time, that’s their right. (Unless you’re a contingent recruiter looking for a better life, hit me up.)

The only thing still propping the model up is inertia. The lack of understanding of how the recruiting landscape – and options – have changed for hiring companies.

The classic HR model of “build a huge internal team, engage a bunch of contingent firms during spikes, try not to actually use them, throw your hands up when things aren’t getting filled” is over. (Seriously, stop doing this.)

Why’s it over?

Change in 3 areas:

1. Retained doesn’t mean what it used to.

Most associate the word ‘retained’ with executive search. Super expensive and paying a huge chunk up front. Regardless of results. For most hiring, the exec search model doesn’t make sense.

But that’s not what retained really is.

Here’s the thing: every search in professional skill sets is headhunting. Time intensive. Targeted. And thorough.

Requirements have gotten more specific. Recruitment expertise has gotten more specific with it.

Experts don’t work for free. And specialized recruiters are no longer putting themselves in that position either.

Most retainers aren’t big amounts.

You want a position maybe filled? Or definitely filled?

2. Companies need help with the whole damn process. Not a pile of resumes.

Job seekers have gotten more and more sophisticated with higher expectations. And (the smart) companies know this. 

Candidate experience is just process and communication. Recruiters who integrate with the hiring teams (dedicated On-Demand recruiters or retained specialists) do this well.

That’s the real hiring problem. Contingent resumes mills don’t solve it.

3. You don’t need contingent, you need better sourcing.

I like throwing shade at contingency firms for being glorified sourcing. Sometimes it’s fair (the resume mills), sometimes not (the ‘good recruiters who are stuck in an awful job’ seriously guys hit me up). But I like to troll so the latter group can deal…

It’s irrelevant. Regardless of the skill level, a lot of companies DO treat contingent firms like sourcing. They only want help with resumes.

Tech-enabled sourcing, dedicated sourcing, even offshore sourcing. It’s all growing. And it’s all a better solution for those orgs who really don’t feel like paying those fees anyway.

Hirewell does all 3 by the way. Just saying. 

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