News and insights

We are sharing our knowledge and advices. For your success.

Executive Search vs Contingency Recruitment

Executive Search vs Contingency Recruitment

A short guide to understand and choose appropriate HR services provider


It is a common fact that finding and hiring the right person in the local market is becoming increasingly challenging. It started within IT, but many other industries are also becoming affected by the lack of interested qualified people. Comparing to tendencies in Central Europe, greater challenges are yet to come. Passive candidates` response rate of 15-20% is currently considered as quite solid response rate in Germany. This means that you are on the right track if you have 15 out of 100 proactively approached people, within non-IT industry, who are willing to hear details of a job opportunity. Locally, we are still not in such a tight spot, but experts` support is often quite necessary.

If you are about to consider expert`s support, the first thing to be decided is choice of a type of provider: Executive Search or Contingency Recruitment. Let’s clarify the differences between those two models.

Majority of global executive search associations describe contingency recruiters as simple CVs dealers who send a pool of unassessed ready to move candidates from their databases to numerous clients. This description is simplified, but the fact is that there are two different business models. Different business models imply different services, and whether a service will create a benefit, depends on the need itself.

Key components of Contingency Recruitment are volume, high-speed delivery, and moderate price without prepayment, while key aspects of Executive Search include exclusivity, thoroughness and true consulting approach. Important difference is the fact that Contingency Search is recruitment business, while Executive Search is consulting business. In a recruitment business, any recent or current similar project is seen as advantage as implies exposure to requested pool. On the contrary, Executive Search emphasizes exclusivity and parallel projects as a risk for the full and thorough service toward the client. Additionally, Executive Search does not perceive pure exposure, but understanding and appropriate evaluation as the key. Executive Search implies a personal relationship, a relationship that is based on trust. Executive Search Consultant is client`s only point of contact, there is no corporate structures and multiple teams, the consultant is the one who defines a service based on understanding of client`s need, delivers the service and advises client during the whole project. Finally, search and selection phases differ methodologically.

Back to the beginning: the client’s need is the one that determines relevance of one or another model. If a company needs an operative, hands-on person in accounting department or sales or some other field, it would be overengineering to launch an executive search project. Contingency recruiters, based on their exposure, can quickly provide an optimal solution. On the other hand, if a company needs a person for a strategic role on which the business itself depends, or a senior manager in any field, there is no space for risks, but only for “getting it right”.


Ana Santovac, Partner
Dr. Heimeier Executive Search doo
Ziegel House, Nebojšina 36, Belgrade, Serbia
Mob.: +381 63 24 66 50


Share article

Are you looking for the right people? Then feel free to get in touch with us.

Dr. Heimeier Executive Search d.o.o.
Ziegel House, Nebojšina 36
Belgrade, Serbia
+381 11 457 51 58

Copyright © Dr. Heimeier Executive Search d.o.o. 2023. All Rights Reserved