There are two types of search professionals: contingency and retainer.
- Contingency consultants are paid only if the candidate they put forward is hired by the organization.
- Retainer consultants, on-the-other-hand, are paid upfront for conducting the search itself.
It’s pretty easy to get to know contingency recruiters: you are their bread and butter. However, retainer consultants are usually more difficult to find. They’re focused on winning their next search assignment – that’s how they make money. And, they have lots and lots of qualified candidates in their pockets. And because they are the key brokers in the unadvertised job market it’s important to build lasting links to them.
Your first step in building these relationships is to identify search consultants and firms that specialize in your industry or field of expertise. Include large generalist search firms as well; they typically handle most of the job search requirements for their clients. If you don’t know where to find these specialist consultants, the business librarian at your local or regional public library can help.
Find out whether the firms on your list work on a contingency or retained search basis or both. Then, send them your resumé. Retained search consultants probably won’t call you, unless they’re currently working on a search assignment for someone with your qualifications. However, what they will do is add your resumé in their database, which they use as a starting point for their searches. That way, you’ll make the first cut when they begin a search assignment for someone with your expertise, industry background and job level.