Because no initial commitment is required employers often choose contingent hiring: in doing so they ignore the very significant additional costs that come with this approach. We have set out a few hidden costs below and if any of these resonate with you it may well be worth considering a search process for your next hire!

Partner time – Rather than spending your time on people you have selected as ideal to join your department you spend your time reviewing discussing and interviewing only the candidates who have responded to a job ad or who have been found on a recruiter’s database. This does lead to hires but generally you are getting the best of those who respond not the best you could have. You need to interview a lot of people to find an acceptable solution. This is a time and labour-intensive task.

HR Time – All candidates no matter how inappropriate need to be recorded on the firm’s candidate management system. Staff need to deal with reminders and chasing calls from recruiters and direct applicants.

Timing – How often have you been presented with an ideal candidate when you have no capacity to hire? How often have you found that once you have got sign off and approval to hire there are no good candidates to be had. Contingent recruitment is haphazard and unpredictable – timing is in the hands of the candidates; not yours. When the hiring need is business critical you cannot rely on contingent recruitment to provide the solution.

Reputation - Inevitably a large proportion of candidates who apply are those that you would never seek out and never employ and so as a firm you must reject a large number of people who will remain in the market, often going in-house and remember the rejection.

Quality – While your ultimate selection for a role in a contingent process will be the best person you have seen you cannot determine at the outset who will apply because it is not up to you.

Control – In choosing a contingent hiring solution you should accept that you are choosing a process which you have little or no control over. The best candidate you have seen will often have been the best candidate the contingent recruiter has access to; they will have marketed them to as wide a range of firms as they can access; the candidate may have engaged multiple recruiters and made multiple applications themselves. You may have narrowed the selection pool to one person but that one person will have multiple offers and if they accept an alternative offer to yours you are back at square one.

Retention – Candidates who are “on the market” are often available because they are dissatisfied or underperforming where they are: they are looking for a way out in the hope that their next position will not disappoint. Generally, people who are on the move will continue to move; the issues that led to their departure from their last firm often reappear in the next firm and they will move again.

A well-run search process limits the number of people you need to interact with to those you would wish to hire; it attracts candidates who are succeeding where they are because they are persuaded that they will be even more successful with you and all aspects of the process are within your control.

Search carries an initial financial commitment to enable the search firm to commit to delivery; the overall fee is about the same but the actual cost to the business is a fraction of the cost of contingent hiring.

Mark Husband, Director, Jepson Holt Ltd

Jepson Holt are a specialist legal executive search firm: :  0161 507 0093