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Imagine you’re on a call with a recruiter you’ve collaborated with over the past few months. You’ve primarily engaged in contingency searches and have established a comfortable rapport. The candidate quality and communication have been consistently excellent – a perfect synergy.

However, in this conversation, the recruiter introduces the concept of a “retainer,” hinting at a more exclusive commitment after just six months.

You inwardly express, “This feels a bit abrupt. I’m not prepared for such a significant commitment yet.”

As you pace your office, the recruiter waits on the line, expecting you to break the silence (they believe the first speaker loses in negotiations). You’re feeling overwhelmed, bombarded, and defensive.

But fear not, there’s a solution.

This doesn’t have to spell the end of your collaboration.

“We don’t have to part ways!” you exclaim.

…Wait, are we still discussing recruitment?

Absolutely! The container search offers a compromise where both sides win. You don’t have to risk everything on a hypothetical scenario, and the recruiter appreciates being recognized for their time and expertise.

“So, what exactly is a container search?” you inquire.

A container search is a hybrid approach, blending two common models: contingency and retained searches. You provide an initial fee to a single recruiting firm to secure their resources and time. This upfront payment acts as a deposit that can be shifted or applied to a future search if the position is successfully filled using alternate means.

As you strategize your hiring priorities, you’ll likely transition from generic recruiter-client relationships to a trusted partnership with a specific recruiter or search firm.

A container search fosters the essential trust-building while mitigating the financial risks often associated with retained agreements.

Many container partnerships tend to evolve into retainer arrangements as trust deepens and staffing plans become more refined.

How does a container search differ from a retained search, you wonder?

The distinction is straightforward. In a retained search, your upfront fee isn’t refunded if the position is filled through other efforts. With a retained search, the recruiter you’ve contracted gains exclusivity over the job order. They put their best foot forward and dedicate their time to filling that role, under the assumption that they are the sole player.

You refrain from investing your own time and energy into the search and focus on other tasks or positions.

In a container search, the process is quite similar, but you might still have your internal team or another recruiter competing to fill the position. If your team or another recruiter identifies the ideal candidate, you can transfer the initial fee to another job order with the same recruiter or firm.

In essence, you haven’t lost this fee; you’ve simply pre-paid for future work.

Who stands to gain from a container search, you may ask?

Businesses taking a proactive hiring approach, seeking a stronger recruiting partnership, will find the container search model advantageous. This agreement allows your organization to establish a robust relationship with an external recruiting firm, all while sidestepping the financial risks associated with retained searches.