Engaged Search


Why do people pay for memberships? While there are various reasons, ranging from discounts to simply being a fan, the main reason is exclusivity and enhanced benefits–benefits that improve your life. In addition, memberships carry a level of commitment between the service being provided and the member. If you need proof, consider Amazon Prime’s 200 million members.

When a membership makes your life better, the relationship is strengthened.

Contingent search is the recruiting equivalent of not being a member. Until the new hire starts, no money changes hands. As a result, there are few repercussions if the job isn’t worked on or the hiring company isn’t responsive. In fact, the hiring company isn’t technically a customer of the recruiting firm.
Hence, 80% of contingent searches don’t end in a hire because there’s no commitment on either side.
Enter the creation of “engaged search.” This is a hybrid of contingent and retained search (half of the fee is paid upfront). The recruiting firm asks for a small fee upfront to ‘engage’ their services, with the rest settled when the new hire starts.


For the recruiting firm, the benefits are apparent:

  • Spend less time spinning their wheels on dead-end searches
  • Greater confidence that their client is serious about the search
  • Placement rates are 80-90% or MORE (instead of 10-20% for contingent)
  • They know from the start that they are getting paid at least something for their efforts
  • Clients stop multiple recruiting firms from working on it because they have paid the firm to fill their position
  • Clients are significantly more responsive to questions, candidate submittals, interview feedback, and other communication


Why is engaged search better for you, the hiring company?

  1. Focused Attention – Do you enjoy working for free? Neither do recruiters. They make up for it by working as many searches as possible. Unfortunately, this results in cherry-picking the easiest jobs to fill, spending what time they have left on the other jobs they hope they might fill (ignoring the others). As a result, many contingent recruiters play the odds and work on dozens of orders simultaneously. Engaged recruiters can focus on a few positions, devoting more time and attention to each search.
  2. Commitment – As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a true client/vendor relationship until the placement occurs and money exchanges hands. This reduces the commitment of the hiring company, but it also means less commitment from the recruiter. As a result, hiring companies believe their order is being worked on, but likely, it’s not to the extent it needs to be for a successful hire.
  3. Enthusiasm – In an engaged search, the hiring company has committed by paying a fee. But just as important, the recruiting firm is now committed to its new client! As a result, they are more confident and energized to work on the job because the new client has proven they are serious about hiring someone. This results in a greater level of commitment from the recruiter (and their manager), leading to a better outcome for both parties.
  4. Priority – Would you enjoy being escorted to the front of a long line? Engaged searches are prioritized over contingent searches. You are the priority because you are a paying customer—a member!

So, if an engaged search is better for both parties, why doesn’t everyone do it?

  • Most buyers don’t understand how little attention to their positions often gets
  • Hesitancy by hiring companies to pay an upfront fee without guaranteeing results
  • Old habits die hard-contingent search has been the standard for decades in the market

Need more info? Click here to read the full post by Tallann Resources.

As the labor market tightens and talent becomes more and MORE challenging to attract, we see engage search emerge as the preferred search method.

To partner with Focus, a premier staffing firm, for your next search, reach out to us here or call 770-937-0410.

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