Retained vs commission – what’s the difference?

Most recruitment agencies work on a commission basis (a percentage of the person they placed annual salary) and a “no win no fee” style approach. Sometimes, recruitment agencies also have a retainer with a client – they’ll also be paid a certain amount every month to focus more on that client. This generally happens on large volume hiring so the company has (supposedly) better/more/focussed contact with their agency.

At Team Prime, our preferred way of working is retainer only, no commission. Why on Earth would we want to do that? Well, although we could make stacks more money by everything being on commission, or adding commission on top, we prefer to offer a genuine consultative approach to our clients. The headhunting and recruiting is just a part of the recruitment strategy and planning we also conduct with them, and we see it as a fairer way of working. Clients & candidates know what they’re getting is the best without any hidden motives, and we know we’re going to be paid every month and can build our business on tight morals and Doing Great Work rather than get all flustered over quantity instead of quality. As it happens, we’re generally pretty awesome at quantity and quality!

We do offer commission based recruiting to smaller agencies and those seeking one-off hires, or where the idea of a retainer is too far out, man. But we try and steer clients towards our way of working as much as possible as we believe it offers the best value (by a long shot) and a tighter, more fun, partnership proposition.