Retained vs. Contingent Recruiting: Which is Right for You?

As a retained search firm, we get a lot of questions about the benefits and differences associated with our recruiting model versus a contingent approach. Without going too deep in our sales pitch, here’s an overview of the different recruiting models to help decide which style is best for your organization. Let’s dive in!

Healthcare staffing contingency firms are paid solely on physician or candidate placements, meaning there are no upfront fees associated with starting a search. The basis of this model is essentially “No Cure, No Pay”. Because of this, a contingent recruiter promotes a provider to a large pool of practices in a region, or nationally, where the candidate most likely goes to the “highest bidder.” The focus here is to present as many candidates as quick as possible, hoping one will be a fit.

Retained search firms, on the other hand, are hired to procure a provider exclusively for a specific client and require upfront fees to start the search. In this instance, the assigned recruiter works closely with the client to identify the ideal candidate parameters. Next, they market the job opportunity (as opposed to marketing the candidate). The recruiter targets their search to the most likely candidates and thoroughly vets before submitting to a client. In this model, success has only one definition: the right hire for their client.

According to the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR) 2019 Industry Trends Survey Report, contingent firms reported 776 interviews with 80 placements, whereas retained firms reported 296 interviews with 82 placements.

Retained placements-to-interviews: 28%
Contingent placements-to-interviews: 10%

As a retained search firm, we place a value and emphasis on finding the best fit for our clients and work tirelessly to make sure that the candidates sent over are a good match on both ends. This, in turn, saves the clients we work with valuable time and money.  

Interested in learning more about what it means to partner with a retained firm? Email us at to learn more about the Fidelis difference.

Date Source: NAPR 2019 Industry Trends Survey Report Executive Summary


Leave a Reply