Executive Search vs Contingency Recruitment-
Get Your Facts Clear

January 11, 2023

Executive Search vs Contingency Recruitment

In any venture, focusing on recruitment operations becomes a prerequisite for management. Nowadays, businesses resort to diverse recruitment strategies for their needs, plans and situations. In many instances, their focus is on executive search vs contingency recruitment.  These are two distinct recruitment procedures adopted by millions of entities, across all sectors. Both methods come with their share of pros and cons and proper planning and execution for these specific recruitment strategies are what ventures need.

Executive search vs contingency recruitment-
The Basics

Before delving into the nuances of these specialized recruitment methodologies, you should get the basics in place. A proper understanding of these distinct recruitment procedures is necessary.


Executive search

This is a specialized recruitment service with a focus on selecting, assessing and onboarding talents for senior and managerial posts in an organization. Agencies offering executive search service focus on finding talents for leadership positions in the client company. The designations can be in the line of  – Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, senior manager and Chief Executive Officer etc. This is a specialized recruitment methodology focusing exclusively on niche candidates with long experience in key positions and specific skill sets.


Contingency recruitment

This is a recruitment procedure many businesses resort to, typically driven by urgent needs and unforeseen developments. It is a fairly straightforward recruitment method, in which entities look for candidates to fill up specific positions, often without delay. Recruitment agencies offering contingency recruitment packages cater to such urgent hiring needs of their clients and they supply diverse types of candidates including freelancers, contract workers, freshers etc. Typically, businesses resort to this recruitment method to find candidates during expansion, for short-term projects or when they need to tackle extra workload etc.

Executive search vs contingency recruitment-
The major differences

As already mentioned, these two recruitment methods are quite distinct. The only similarity is the objective of both methods is to find and hire apt candidates to fuel company growth and stay competitive. Some differences between these two methods are obvious and others are somewhat nuanced.



In the contingency hiring method, businesses may hire candidates of varying profiles, with different skill sets. They can, for example, look for applicants with little or no experience as well as experienced people with specific skill sets. It depends on the situation. In contingency recruitment, businesses often hire several candidates and recruitment agencies send suitable batches of candidates. 

 The case of executive search is very different. Here, the candidate pool is somewhat limited but there is enhanced focus on niche qualities. The recruitment agency looks for candidates with matching skill sets, experience and cultural alignment for key posts in the client company.

  • Style of approaching candidates

In Contingency recruiting, approaching the candidates is a pretty straightforward process. The company or recruitment entity posts job openings on various platforms and channels. Interested candidates apply for such posts and companies shortlist them for next steps.

In executive search, a different and more proactive approach is used to recruit suitable candidates. The recruitment agency headhunts to identify suitable candidates and this leads to a long-term conversations, negotiation, assessment, and onboarding process.

  • Positions

In Contingency recruitment, businesses typically do not look for c-suite hiring. It is widely used to hire candidates in various hierarchies of a venture, for both temporary and long-term positions. On the contrary, executive hiring is focused on  leadership positions and board member positions.

  • Time required

Typically, contingency recruitment does not take a lot of time. Recruitment agencies have their ways to find and screen candidates for such requirements and they are capable of sending batches of such candidates to client entities. Of course, they carry out necessary steps for recruitment such as interviews, background verification, and skill assessment etc.


Executive Search tends to be a more time-intensive affair. Those in leadership roles are not always seeking a job change. So, recruitment agencies have to contact and approach them, with well-developed strategies. These candidates seek more than a better pay package to switch to a new job as they are usually clear about their career goals. The negotiation and assessment typically take much longer here.

You might want to read: Full Cycle Recruitment: One stop guide

Executive search vs contingency recruitment-
Benefits of hiring a specialized recruitment agency

Businesses may need to resort to both recruitment methods, based on their situations and growth plans. For such specialized recruitment needs, seeking the services of expert recruitment entities makes complete sense. Nowadays, you can find recruitment agencies catering to businesses with specific and diverse hiring needs. It would be prudent to hire a recruitment entity capable of offering both recruitment services to clients. Ace RPO recruitment providers like PeopleNorth offer both executive search and contingency hiring services for client entities.

Listed below are the major benefits of hiring a veteran recruitment firm for specialized hiring needs:

  • Time-saving

A skilled recruitment agency with expertise in contingency and executive hiring services helps their clients save precious time. In many instances, businesses need to hire various contractual staff and freelancing professionals on short notice. Since these recruitment agencies have access to a wide pool of talent, they can supply such candidates fast. While executive search is typically time-intensive, hiring an ace recruitment firm can still help a business save time.

  • Supply of apt candidates

For executive search vs contingency recruitment, hiring a veteran recruitment company ensures you get the right candidates. The agency is responsible for finding, assessing, and sending candidates with required skill sets and experiences, for short or long-term job requirements. This is applicable for candidates hired for temporary needs as well as candidates required for top and leadership posts in the entity.

  • Cost-effective

Signing up for the services of ace recruitment entities proves to be cost-effective for businesses compared to keeping an in-house recruitment wing. You only need to pay a certain amount to the recruitment service provider and there are no additional cost factors involved. Such agencies supply skilled and suitable candidates and that ensures the company does not need to spend extra after training and grooming the candidates.

  • Reduced risks

For contingency recruitment, companies may need to hire a lot of candidates, more so during expansions. Companies must recruit the candidates with care. It means several new recruits will have access to company data and resources! Entities in sectors like law, healthcare, and financial services have to be especially cautious. They can gain by tying up with an ace recruitment firm for contingency hiring needs. Such agencies ensure candidates are thoroughly screened for backgrounds and track records.

  • Simplified hiring

Specialized recruitment methods like executive search involve many steps and long negotiation periods. Using specific recruitment strategies are required to make things work out. A specialized recruitment agency handles the nuances and makes hiring people with leadership skills and vast experience easier for their clients.  

  • Consistent growth

By hiring a veteran agency for specialized recruitment needs, businesses can remain on the growth track. They get a supply of contingent workers and C-level executives easily when the need arises. This ensures business growth is not hampered by a lack of suitable employees.

Executive search vs contingency recruitment-
Choosing the right recruitment agency

For either contingent hiring or executive search needs of your venture, you will have to hire a suitable recruitment agency. Given the fact many recruitment service providers are active and available, you should assess them on some key parameters.


  • At first, check the client base and track record of a specialized recruitment agency. It is better if the agency has a vast clientele and its clients hail from different sectors.
  • Find out how flexible the recruitment agency is. Does it have pre-designed packages for Executive search vs contingency recruitment? Ask if it is willing to tweak its existing recruitment packages for your business needs.

It is important that you learn about recruitment methodologies used by the agency for both contingency hiring and executive search. Ace recruitment agencies like PeopleNorth deploy effective, tried and tested measures like client need analysis, work culture analysis, and surveys to meet the specific recruitment needs of clients.


Wrap Up

Businesses need to use specialized recruitment methods like contingency recruitment and executive search to meet short and long-term needs. For such recruitment needs, they will gain by hiring ace recruitment agencies. These agencies are capable of meeting such specialized recruitment needs of clients and their services fetch benefits like time-saving, cost-saving, risk reduction, and more. PeopleNorth offers such specialized talent acquisition services for a wide range of clients.

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