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Article authored by Qualigence CEO & Founder Steve Lowisz

Contingent recruiting sucks.

I wish I didn’t have to say it, but it’s absolutely true.

And please don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of AMAZING recruiters who work in the contingent space.

I have a lot of friends and colleagues in contingent recruiting who deliver incredible results for their clients…

But I’ve also seen MORE than my fair share of rip-offs, awful submittals, and shady dealings from contingent recruiters.

I’ve seen recruiters bragging in private LinkedIn groups about making money hand over fist on hires they knew would fail.

I’ve heard every horror story you can imagine (and then some) from directors of TA and hiring leaders.

And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that a lot of people absolutely loathe agency recruiters.

After more than 20 years of experience in recruiting, I can safely say that it’s one of the worst possible business models.

Here’s why.

Commissions Don’t Reward Recruiters for Quality

Contingent recruiting doesn’t reward you for quality of hires. It rewards you for volume and speed.

As a contingent recruiter, you can dramatically increase your financial compensation by working to fill as many roles as you can in the shortest amount of time.

That’s great if time-to-fill is your top priority. But in 95% of situations, a smart hiring leader would rather have the best hire than the fastest hire.

Contingent recruiters will swear up and down that commissions don’t affect their process, but let’s get real. That’s BS.

If we make it profitable to rush the process, what do we seriously expect to happen?

More often than not, recruiters will act in their own self-interest and try to cash as many commission checks as possible.

Contingent Recruiters Don’t Share Your Interests While Negotiating

Beyond quality and time-to-fill, the contingent model works against you at the negotiating table.

The obvious example is a recruiter negotiating for a higher salary for a bigger commission. How many times do we end up paying a higher salary because a contingent recruiter wanted a few extra bucks?

There’s another angle that a lot of people miss. HR and recruiting professionals will pat themselves on the back for negotiating a lower commission percentage with a contingent recruiter.

On paper, that looks like a win. You just saved your company a few thousand, hooray!

But the recruiter is shopping around high-demand candidates to whomever is paying the most.

If you refuse to pay above 19% of base salary and another company is offering 28%, guess who gets the better hire?

If you’re playing hardball on negotiations, you are ending up with the leftovers – the candidates that most people didn’t want.

“Transparency? Never Heard of Her!”

Transparency is vital for making great hires, but with many contingent recruiters, you can forget about it.

There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. You rarely have someone who ticks all the right boxes without any potential concerns or hesitations.

But if you only get paid when someone hires your candidate, you’ll sing the praises of anyone who remotely fits the job description!

It goes both ways, too.

Contingent recruiters will sell a position as “an amazing opportunity” at a “truly incredible company” even when it’s clear it’s not the right fit for the candidate.

And candidates can tell when you’re trying to gloss over any downsides or concerns.

Hiring leaders and candidates alike deserve to hear the good, the bad and the ugly about each other. No one wants to hire someone only to fire them or watch them quit a month later.

It’s better to be honest about who is a good fit upfront and try to put the right candidate in the right role from day one.

Candidates Know They’re Only a Piece of Meat

Nothing ruins your candidate experience quite like someone selling career opportunities like a used car salesman.

I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’ve all talked to the recruiter selling a “great opportunity” for you – before they even took the time to ask what you want out of your career or life in general.

In the past few months, I personally have received several messages from contingent recruiters trying to sell me on recruiting roles.

There’s just one issue I have with that…I’m already the CEO of a recruiting company! You can’t make this stuff up.

And we’ve also known those recruiters who start a conversation, and then take weeks to respond to your message.

The recruiters who never get back to us after we send a resume…

I could go on and on. Candidates know that contingent recruiters don’t care about them or their career, only their next commission.

As the competition tightens for top talent and skilled individuals, you can’t afford such a disastrous candidate experience.

Everything Starts With a Hire

If you’ve stayed with me this long, you may be wondering, “why the heck does this guy hate contingent recruiting so much? Who hurt him??”

Well, I started this business in the first place because I had a dreadful experience with contingent recruiters.

I was trying to hire sales reps and recruiters kept sending me terrible candidates.

It caused all kinds of problems for my team. I ended up picking up the phone to recruit these people myself and found I could do a better job!

And from my own experiences as a business leader and recruiter, I’ve realized that recruiting is one of the most important roles in business. It can literally make or break an organization.

If we’re not recruiting the right people and building effective teams, it becomes nearly impossible to achieve our goals. That’s why it grinds my gears so much to see companies paying MORE for poor submittals and low-quality hires from contingent recruiters.

That’s why I urge you to explore alternatives – like our hourly business model that focuses on quality over quantity.

And one last note for the contingent recruiters…I don’t hate you, I question your business model!!

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