Contingent Staffing vs Retained Staffing: Which One Should You Use?

January 3, 2024 in Staffing resources


Looking into staffing options? You’ll find two main types: Contingent and Retained staffing. You’ve probably heard of these before, but what do they really mean? And more importantly, which one is right for your business? Here’s a straightforward explanation to help you make a smart and informed decision.

The key differences are the tactics these services use to find candidates and how tailored it is to your needs. One isn’t better than the other but they both suit different needs.

What is contingent staffing?

Simply put, contingent staffing is the “try before you buy” method of staffing. With contingent staffing, agencies won’t charge you until they successfully fill your position. This is great for companies that want to try a staffing service risk-free.

Key features of contingent staffing:

  • No Upfront Cost: You only pay when a candidate is successfully placed.
  • Speed: Contingent recruiters hire fast, ideal for filling positions quickly.
  • Wide Candidate Pool: Recruiters often present multiple candidates, giving you a range of options.

Who typically uses contingent staffing?

Contingent staffing is typically used for general labor to mid-tier management roles that are higher in volume and easier to fill.

Common industries that prefer contingent staffing are Manufacturing, Office/Admin, Hospitality, etc. This is due to the broad skillset these jobs require. Contingent recruiters are able to quickly find suitable candidates.

It’s also perfect for companies with a tight budget or looking to hire urgently. They’re free to use until your position is filled and most will offer a 30 day guarantee on the candidates they provide.

What is retained staffing?

Retained staffing, on the other hand, is a more specialized form of hiring. Here, companies will pay agencies upfront to help them fill their roles. It’s a lot more personalized and in depth, used for hiring executive level positions.

Retained agencies will partner with you through the entire hiring process, from creating the job description to advising you how to advertise the job. They’ll typically target passive candidates who are qualified but are currently in a job and not actively searching

Key features of retained staffing:

  • Upfront Cost: Retained agencies will charge you upfront but will be more committed to filling your position.
  • Personalized Service: Due to the focus on executive roles, recruiters will invest time in understanding your company culture and specific needs.
  • A Different Candidate Pool: Recruiters will often target passive candidates, ones who are already employed in similar industries.

Who typically uses retained staffing?

If you’re looking for specialized, high-level roles, you’ll want to use retained staffing. These are best for filling roles that are critical to the company, usually financially, where you want to minimize the risk of a hiring mistake.

Retained staffing is also used for roles that are confidential and not on public job boards. Since retained recruiters will chase passive candidates, it makes it a lot easier to keep the job opening concealed.

Unlock your staffing potential.

At SlingShot Connections we offer contingent staffing that perfectly aligns with your business goals.

Our contingent staffing services are designed for today’s fast-moving business world. We connect you with a wide range of skilled professionals who are ready to jump in and make an impact right away. And the best part? You only pay once we match you with the right candidate.

Let us take the stress out of hiring, so you can focus on what you do best – growing your business.

Ready to take your shot?

We want to hear from you! We love nothing more than building workforce solutions that enhance lives and elevate communities. Reach out today and a member of our team will be in touch.