Why Hire a Contract Recruiter?

Choosing the Right Type of Recruiter: Including my universal recommendation & a list of questions to find the best TA partner for you.

I often get questions regarding developing in-house recruiting versus utilizing an outside source. Professionally, I’ve been on both sides. I did a year of agency recruiting early in my career, another year of contract recruiting along the way, and spent much of my career as an in-house recruiter. Then, with sights set on building a kinder, more efficient recruiting utopia, I started my own contract recruiting firm. Altogether, I’ve been in talent acquisition for over 20 years. So I’m in a unique position to provide an insider’s view.

Read on as I cover the options, my most universal recommendation, and the questions to ask to find the right recruiting partner to help build your own recruiting utopia.

In-House (Corporate):

This is just what it sounds like: A talent acquisition professional that is a permanent employee and handles all of the hiring for your company. The true value of in-house is the unique position to have access to every role and every area of the business. Living the business day to day allows understanding of how each role fits into the vision of the organization. An in-house recruiter is a direct ambassador for their employer brand. In short, if you have the resources to justify in-house recruiting, I strongly recommend doing so.


The recruiter handles the sourcing, screening, and initial interviewing and only gets paid if a candidate is hired. It is easy to see why this model would motivate a recruiter to find a candidate quickly. The risk here is that cost is often driven up considerably, due to the risk of not getting paid. It is not uncommon for a contingency recruiter to take more contracts knowing they’ll only fill some of them.

Retained Search:

A retainer fee is paid up front, to the recruiter, for a candidate search. A second fee is paid when a candidate is found. This can be a good option for high level, one-off positions that are difficult to fill. It is also the most costly option and the up-front fee is spent, regardless of the success of the recruitment.


Many times, a growing small (or even medium sized) organization doesn’t have enough volume to justify a permanent recruiting resource just yet. Certain types of businesses also have consistent, but seasonal, hiring waves that make year-round in-house difficult to justify. Contract recruiters are a great option to consider in this instance and should act as a temporary extension of your existing team.

The “Sticky Wicket”:

Any size business may have surge needs that arise. These can often be unexpected and extremely time-sensitive. Think: massive bulk hire, a particularly fast turnaround, or an especially difficult and prominent position to fill. Keeping this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that my ultimate recommendation for most businesses, regardless of size, is to build a relationship with a skilled contract recruiting agency– even when they also have in-house recruiting. Already knowing who to call when your needs exceed your manpower will save a business countless hours (and dollars!)

Whether the relationship is long-term, or as needed, qualified, trained contract recruiters will combine in-house and agency recruiting skills for the best of both worlds. Sadly, there are agencies out there that give talent professionals a bad name so, be selective. To make your job easier, I’ve compiled a list of questions to ask to ensure you are partnering with a firm that will put your business front and center.

Will you care about my business?

There is often a mindset that contract recruiters won’t take the time to truly understand the business and don’t care as much as in-house employees because they are temporary. Please, ask this question before you partner with an agency. It is a realistic concern and there are agencies out there that validate it. But consider this: In many cases, contract recruiters aren’t just representing your business; They are representing their own. They have skin in the game, because the recruiting business is all about referrals and word of mouth. Your chosen agency should want to be the hero: come in, shine bright, leave an impact, represent the client brand, and move on to repeat this process. Quality recruiting isn’t the kind of contract work you can do from the sidelines. The right firm to partner with will sell the company ALL day. The focus should be on helping from within and representing the company brand well.

What happens to candidate data?

The data garnered in sourcing candidates for your business belongs to your business. Be sure to ask about an agency’s method for providing and transferring this goldmine of information. Candidate data is invaluable for re-use for future hiring requirements. I’ve never had a search that didn’t generate candidates on both sides of the experience continuum. Meaning, when you need to fill future, related roles this data buys crucial time eliminating cold sourcing.

Tell me About Your Pricing Structure:

I recommend partnering with an agency that utilizes a project-based or hourly rate rather than a per-hire fee. Personally, I don’t like to sell on price, and I recommend caution with an agency which focuses too heavily here. However, in my experience, project-based costs to hire 2-3 people through a contract model are roughly the equivalent of one traditional per-hire agency fee. Project-based rates also allow for predictable, straightforward monthly budgeting.

The Most Important Question to Ask YOURSELF:

It is crucial to consider how much money your company may be losing by NOT partnering with talent acquisition experts. Having a role sit unfilled, or cycling through a series of unsuccessful candidates can cause financial hemorrhage. This is particularly poignant given the current hiring climate. I often ask my clients if they want the best talent available or the best talent available right now – either way, the right recruiting agency should be able to craft a plan to get there!

Recruiting Experiences will serve as an extension of your brand to ensure your story is front and center. Reach out to amy@recruitingex.com to learn more.

Interested in becoming a Contract Recruiter? I’d love to chat.

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