What Are The Different Types Of Recruiters?

What are the different types of recruiters scaled 1 What Are The Different Types Of Recruiters?

content updated 9/22/2023

What Are The Main Kinds Of Recruiters?

There are a few different types of recruiters, including in-house recruiters, staffing agencies, and executive recruiters

Two types of recruiting models dominate the modern industry: contingency and retainer. While both types ultimately have similar goals, the differences in business models have led to a differentiation between the two in regard to tactics, goals, and philosophies. 

Contingency recruiters are only compensated if they are able to find a candidate who checks all the boxes and successfully joins your company. Contingency recruiters typically work on a large volume of open positions to generate profit. They base their fee on a percentage of the candidate’s first-year salary, typically between 25-35%.

Retained recruiters receive an upfront payment from their partners to find and present a highly-refined pool of qualified candidates. Retainer agreements typically involve additional payments at significant milestones like transitioning from the search to the interview process or negotiating a final contract with a candidate. 

Retainer recruiters may work on a smaller number of positions to maintain a high level of engagement. Despite adhering to a different search, presentation, and payment process, most retained recruiters charge a fee that aligns with their contingency-based colleagues – 25-35%.

Quick Look at Different Types of Recruitment

Type of RecruiterNotes
Contingent Recruiter A contingent recruiter is only paid when they fill your role to spec.
Retained RecruiterA retained recruiter acts as a partner in defining and building your talent strategy.
In-House RecruiterAn in-house recruiter is an employee of your company who recruits.
External RecruiterAn external recruiter operates outside of your organization on your behalf.
General RecruiterA general recruiter fills a variety of lower to mid-level roles.
Executive RecruiterAn executive recruiter specializes in finding top talent to fill your leadership team and accomplish your business’s strategy.
a group of in-house recruiters talk with their CEO about the advantages and disadvantages of using a boutique executive search firm and other different types of recruiters

Comparing In-House Recruiters and External Recruiters

The initial and perhaps most pivotal step in crafting a tailored recruitment strategy is the decision between employing an in-house recruiter or partnering with an external recruiter. This choice lays the foundation for your entire talent acquisition approach and should be driven by your organization’s specific needs and goals. Opting for an in-house recruiter offers the advantages of in-depth company familiarity, cost-effectiveness for consistent hiring, complete control over the recruitment process, and an ideal fit for strategic projects.

On the other hand, external recruiters excel in swiftly fulfilling urgent hiring requirements, navigating roles demanding external expertise, providing scalability, offering an objective perspective, and ensuring confidentiality when needed. This decision requires careful consideration, as it sets the tone for how you approach talent acquisition and, ultimately, how well you meet your staffing needs while aligning with your strategic objectives.

In-House Recruiters

In the realm of talent acquisition, the role of in-house recruiters is nothing short of pivotal. They are the architects of your internal hiring strategy, possessing an intimate understanding of your company’s culture that runs deep. In this segment, we’ll embark on a comprehensive exploration of their responsibilities, which extend far beyond just sourcing candidates.

In-house recruiters are more than just conduits for candidates; they are strategic partners who forge close collaborations with hiring managers. Their deep-rooted knowledge of your organization’s ethos allows them to identify not just the right qualifications but also the right cultural fit. However, as we venture into their world, it’s essential to recognize that their path is not without its challenges. The workload can be substantial, and we’ll delve into the potential limitations they might encounter.

Where In-House Recruiters Shine
  • Consistency in Hiring Needs: In-house recruiters come into their own when your organization experiences consistent hiring needs. Their continuous presence within your company enables them to develop an acute understanding of your specific requirements. This familiarity allows them to source candidates who not only match the job criteria but also align seamlessly with your company’s culture.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: In-house recruiters can offer a significant cost advantage in the long run, especially when your organization has a consistent demand for talent. While they are salaried employees, their ability to tap into internal talent pools and manage the entire recruitment process internally can lead to substantial cost savings.
  • Complete Control: If your organization highly values control over the recruitment process, in-house recruiters are the ideal choice. They provide a level of transparency and control that external recruiters may find challenging to match. This control extends to every stage of the hiring process, from sourcing to onboarding.
  • Handling Cross-Departmental Projects: When your recruitment needs extend beyond talent, in-house recruiters can effectively span departments of your organization.
Recruitment Strategies In-House Recruiters Use

Inbound: Basically, recruiters post a job opening on a job board and wait for resumes to come in. They likely get thousands of resumes, which seems ideal. Still, in reality, because of the open nature of the postings, likely very few in the deluge are high-quality and qualified candidates. So, they have to review, rank, and select candidates from an overwhelming stack, which can actually slow the hiring process they are meant to conduct. Critics argue that this passive approach might not yield the results you need in a timely manner. Instead of actively seeking out the best talent, inbound recruiting often relies on a more passive, wait-and-see methodology, which may not align with the urgency many businesses face in filling crucial positions.

Promoting from Within: Years ago, hiring from within the ranks for the organization was the hot new strategy in recruiting. However, a significant challenge arises in the form of managerial reluctance. Managers, understandably protective of their best team members, may hesitate to let go of star performers. Simultaneously, they might suggest employees who, while competent, don’t possess the same level of skill or expertise.

External Recruiters

An external recruiter’s vantage point lies beyond your organization’s borders, granting them access to a vast talent reservoir that might remain hidden from in-house teams.

External recruiters come armed with specialized knowledge that cuts across various domains. Their position as outsiders can provide a fresh perspective and a more extensive reach. However, this diversity also poses a challenge – cultural mismatches can arise if not managed with the utmost care. We’ll explore strategies for mitigating these potential pitfalls.

Scenarios Favoring External Recruiters
  • Swift Hiring Needs: When the need for talent is urgent, external recruiters can be your strategic allies. They specialize in fast-tracking the hiring process by leveraging their extensive networks and expertise in candidate sourcing. This agility is particularly crucial for time-sensitive projects or roles where prolonged vacancies can impact your bottom line.
  • Roles Requiring Outside Expertise: Some roles demand specialized knowledge and networks that might not be readily available within your organization. External recruiters bring this external expertise to the forefront. Whether it’s highly technical positions, niche industries, or geographically dispersed roles, they possess the know-how to navigate these intricate landscapes.
  • Scalability: External recruiters offer scalability that can be advantageous during periods of rapid growth or fluctuating recruitment needs. Instead of adding to your in-house team, you can engage external recruiters as needed, providing a flexible and cost-effective solution.
  • Objective Perspective: External recruiters provide an objective perspective on candidates, reducing the risk of unconscious biases that can sometimes affect in-house recruitment processes.
  • Confidentiality: In situations where confidentiality is paramount, such as executive searches or sensitive role placements, external recruiters can maintain discretion effectively.
Recruitment Strategies External Recruiters Use

Network Nurturing: External recruiters invest time in building and maintaining extensive networks within their areas of expertise. They build deep relationships with leaders, having many in-depth career conversations with them over time. This network-centric approach allows them to tap into a wide pool of talent when a job opportunity arises, as they already have a roster of elite professionals they’ve built deep connections with and assessed for suitability. This strategy helps external recruiters quickly identify and engage potential candidates for their clients’ job openings.

Market Research of Passive Candidates: One of the core strategies employed by external recruiters is the art of candidate sourcing through extensive market research. Beyond merely finding candidates who fit the job descriptions and keywords on resumes, external recruiters look deeply into understanding the dynamics of the job market. This research-driven analytical approach helps external recruiters identify passive candidates who might not be actively seeking new opportunities but are open to change when the right offer comes along. They not only identify potential candidates but also assess their motivations, aspirations, and expectations. By staying attuned to market conditions, recruiters can tailor their approach to entice these candidates effectively. They’re not just matching candidates to job descriptions; they’re strategically positioning their clients in the market to attract top talent.

More on Other Different Types of Recruiters

  1. Executive Search Firms: These firms are the go-to choice when you’re searching for top-tier executive talent. They excel in identifying and attracting C-suite professionals and leaders for critical roles. The advantages of engaging them include their extensive networks, specialized industry knowledge, and a deep understanding of the executive landscape. However, their services often come with a premium price tag due to the high stakes and specialized expertise involved.
  2. Boutique Recruitment Agencies: Choosing a boutique recruiting firm over a Big 5 Search Firm can be a strategic decision. Boutique firms offer a more personalized approach and often specialize in specific industries or niche markets. This specialization can be a game-changer when you’re looking for highly specialized talent. Boutique recruiters are known for their agility, in-depth market knowledge, and ability to focus on quality over quantity.
  3. Retained Recruiters: Retained recruiters are typically engaged for senior-level or executive searches. They work exclusively on your search, providing a high level of commitment and dedication. Payment arrangements for retained recruiters usually involve an upfront fee, a mid-point payment, and a final fee upon successful placement. This model ensures a focused and thorough search process.
  4. Contingency Recruiters: Contingency recruiters operate on a “no placement, no fee” basis. They are ideal for roles where multiple candidates may fit the bill, and you’re only billed upon successful hire. This model can be cost-effective, but it’s crucial to manage expectations and communicate your needs clearly.
  5. Headhunters: Headhunters are your partners in tracking down passive candidates who aren’t actively seeking new opportunities. They specialize in direct, targeted recruitment and excel in industries where top talent is in high demand. Headhunters are typically compensated through a fee structure based on the successful placement of a candidate, making them a cost-effective choice for filling crucial positions.
  6. Staffing Agency Recruiters: Staffing agencies are versatile partners for a wide range of roles, especially in industries with high turnover or seasonal employment needs. They maintain extensive candidate databases and can quickly provide candidates for temporary, contract, or permanent positions. Understanding their characteristics and cost structures is essential to leveraging their services effectively.
  7. Technical Recruiters: In the tech-driven world, technical recruiters specialize in identifying and acquiring top tech talent. They speak the language of developers, engineers, and IT professionals, ensuring that you’re not only finding candidates with the right skills but also the right cultural fit for your tech team. Understanding their fee structures and the tech recruitment landscape is key to success.
  8. Freelance Recruiters: Freelance recruiters offer flexibility and scalability, making them an excellent choice for businesses with fluctuating hiring needs. They often work on a project or contract basis, and their costs can vary depending on the project’s scope. Freelance recruiters bring industry-specific knowledge and can be particularly valuable for short-term or specialized recruitment initiatives.
  9. Specialized Recruiters: Specialized recruiters cater to niche markets or industries, bringing a deep understanding of your unique talent requirements. They can quickly identify and engage with candidates who possess specialized skills or qualifications. While their fees may vary, the value of their specialized knowledge is often immeasurable.
boutique executive search firm recruiter shares her candidates with the team

What Do Recruiting Specialists Do?

Recruiters are the architects of talent, supporting leaders as they shape the future of organizations by spearheading talent acquisition, especially in pivotal leadership, research, or senior roles. Their multifaceted activities include:

  1. Immersion in Client Needs – Recruiters are more than just matchmakers; they’re strategic partners. They deeply understand your organization’s intricacies, needs, goals, and expectations for that perfect new hire. When you engage a recruiter, you’re not just hiring; you’re gaining a collaborator who comprehends and is committed to your vision inside and out.
  2. Connecting with Exceptional Leaders – Recruiters don’t just sit behind desks; they’re out in the field, and constantly taking calls from top talent, expanding their reach and deepening existing ties. When you collaborate with a recruiter, you’re not just hiring but tapping into an ever-growing nexus of industry connections.
  3. Technology-Driven Selection – Recruiters don’t make decisions based on gut feelings. They wield objective tools to evaluate prospective candidates, ensuring their skills precisely match your needs. It’s not about guesswork; it’s about informed selection with the guidance of a deeply experienced expert.
  4. Stringent Screening – It’s not just about hiring someone who looks good on paper; it’s about ensuring they measure up to scrutiny. Recruiters conduct rigorous reference, education, experience, and background checks. When you partner with a recruiter, you’re not just hiring but investing in the assurance of a secure hire.
  5. Masters of Negotiation – The art of negotiation, from job offers to compensation packages, is their forte. Recruiters are not just closing deals; they’re crafting success stories. They ensure you secure the best talent on your terms.

Why Choose a Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm?

In your pursuit of the perfect candidate, you may wonder why a boutique executive recruiting firm like Medallion Partners, should be your top choice.

We understand that your search for exceptional talent isn’t just about filling a position; it’s about plotting your company’s future. 

We deliver bespoke results with surgical precision, unburdened by the bureaucracy that often accompanies larger firms. Our approach is lean, agile, and tailored to your unique needs.

While in-house recruiters may be steeped in company culture, they often lack the extensive networks and specialized industry insights that boutique firms offer. We’ve got a wide network of engaged executives and deep industry knowledge, and we work hard to imbed ourselves in your company’s culture yet challenge what hasn’t worked for you in the past.

We’re not just recruiters; we’re your strategic, supportive partners in executive talent acquisition. We love to get in your business.

Our approach isn’t about buzzwords or superficial promises.

It’s about challenging the status quo, supporting your vision, and delivering decisive results.

We don’t offer generic solutions; we craft bespoke strategies that align with your objectives. 

When you engage Medallion Partners, you’re not just hiring a recruitment firm but securing a competitive advantage.


Speak with an expert and get clear on your 2024 organizational strategy.

About Michael Morgan

ae18397d4200b6543d24926998dce3a8?s=90&d=mm&r=g What Are The Different Types Of Recruiters?Michael Morgan is the Vice President & Managing Director at Medallion Partners. He's responsible for company wide day-to-day delivery of business results, team leadership, cultivating trusted partnerships with clients, and client-specific strategic analysis. Michael ultimately works to bring change to people's careers, propel companies, and impact industries.

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