In today’s market, partnering with the right recruitment firm is arguably as important as finding the right candidate because ostensibly the two go hand in hand. Given that a significant proportion of recruitment firms within the legal and intellectual property sectors work on a contingency (‘success only’) instead of retained basis, employers can be faced with a bewildering range of firms and options.

Ultimately, this leads to the question: should an employer utilise the services of one recruitment firm or many? Many employers feel that by casting their net far and wide, via the instruction of multiple recruiters on one brief, their chances of finding the right candidate are significantly increased. However, this approach is potentially detrimental to the employer. Certainly, if a recruiter does happen to have a candidate on its database that fulfils all the criteria for the role, then the employer may have the ideal solution; however if this is not the case, the hiring company may face an endless stream of unsuitable candidates from a variety of sources. The organisation could then find itself wasting valuable resources in interviewing unsuitable candidates. Candidates who come forward from contingency firms are typically looking at multiple opportunities at any given time. Factor in the chance that you may lose your chosen individual to another company and the whole process becomes more complex. Additionally the risk that the vacancy remains unfilled becomes greater. There is then the added risk that the company hires someone who doesn’t meet the original criteria, as they are led to believe there is no suitable alternative in the market, and as the issue of getting the role filled become more pressing.

Among the key benefits of working with an exclusively retained recruiter on a search basis are that only suitable candidates, from both a professional and cultural perspective, are submitted for the role rather than candidates who are languishing on a database and have had their CVs sent to many organisations. A good executive search firm instructed on a retained basis, with a strong brand in its field, should be able to combine suitable ‘active’ candidates with those that have been proactively sourced from its own network, thus offering the client the choice of the best that is ‘in the market’ rather that what is ‘on the market’.

The benefits of working with a retained recruiter are:

  • Candidates are fully screened, from a personal and professional perspective, against that which is desired by the client;
  • Access to a broader and higher calibre of candidates – you are not limited to only those who are actively seeking new opportunities;
  • Professional representation in the market, the role and the company are marketed to candidates;
  • Deeper relationship between company and recruiter, with greater control over the process and closer communication to minimise risks;
  • Time and resources invested by the recruiter takes the burden away from the recruiting company. Agreed criteria and realistic timeframes are worked towards;
  • Better value for money: a similar fee to that of a contingency firm, but with more time and resources invested by the recruiter
  • A choice of 3-5 candidates at shortlist, all of whom have been met by the recruiter and deemed suitable for the position;
  • Finally, and crucially, a significantly increased chance of finding the right candidate for the role.

There is no dispute that contingency recruitment can work, however it should be remembered that while this may work once, there are no guarantees that it will again. The safest and most efficient approach is to retain a recruitment firm as the time invested in finding a solution will invariably have positive long-term implication: the candidate will stay and be an asset to the organisation. Employing the wrong candidate can have financial and cultural repercussions: the cost of having to replace the individual and the cost to the business through not having anyone in the role, as well as the disruption and instability that the wrong hire can cause internally.

If you are looking to develop and grow your IP and Legal departments, we would be delighted to assist. Whether you are looking for your next career opportunity, help expanding your team, or assistance with mergers and acquisitions, contact us today for a confidential discussion.

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For more information, please contact

Chris Adamson

Managing Partner & Practice Head - IP Litigation