Which recruitment method is best for your business to attract new talent?

Recruiting can be incredibly costly to a business. Whether you appoint an external agent to fulfil recruitment or if it is the responsibility of the hiring manager or an in-house talent acquisition team. There is no getting away from it, recruitment is time intensive for whoever is responsible for bringing new talent into the business. There is also the indirect costs of recruitment too. This includes the efficiency of staff leaving, and the time it takes to onboard and get the staff up to speed and operating at full productivity. Therefore, bringing the right talent onboard is incredibly important for employee retention and reducing turnover costs.

There will always be the need to recruit.  However these days there are many recruitment methods which businesses can choose from. To ensure that you are recruiting as effectively as possible, it’s important to recognise which recruitment method is most relevant to your business.

Let’s delve into the various recruitment methods to discover which option would be most suited to your business.

RPO – Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Talent Partnerships, or RPO, is the relative new kid on the block. For the right business, RPO is an incredibly effective recruitment method both in terms of your bottom line and the level of talent brought into the team. RPO is the process of instructing an external consultant to manage all of your companies recruitment exclusively, operating as though they are your in-house recruitment team. Talent Partnerships works brilliantly for businesses who recruit 10+ employees per year and it is also a great way to support cash flow through peaks of troughs of recruiting.

The RPO agent can set up your own company branded careers page, develop a talent pool for future openings but more than that they get under the skin of your business. They get to know your hiring managers, the company culture, your ambitions and goals. Ultimately bringing the right talent into your business who will be there to stay. Typically, RPO style recruitment is quoted on a project by project basis, this is made on a retained monthly basis which is set at an agreed amount.


  • A dedicated team of recruiters who know your business inside out
  • Around half the cost of contingent recruitment on the same roles
  • Get a professional employer brand off the ground
  • Very cost effective if your turnover is over 10+ employees


  • A committed cost even if you are not recruiting for a few months

Who it suits:

  • Businesses between 40-200 employees and with a need for 6+ placements per year

Contingent Recruitment

The traditional recruitment method which is still so often associated with recruitment agents is contingent recruitment. This is a project-by-project assignment, where by a business instructs an agent to make introductions for a one off role. Typically, fees are charged when a placement is made and this can be anything from 15%-30% of the annual remuneration of that particular role, so it can be very costly. Contingent recruitment works well if you only hire a few roles a year or mainly if you are recruiting for a specific profession and you appoint a specialist agent within that field. Specialist agents tend to have fantastic networks within their areas, so they will likely either know or know someone else who knows the right professional for the job.


  • Great for one off hires particularly in specialist areas
  • Access to experts within the field you are recruiting
  • Low risk on costs, paying all or most when a successful placement has been made


  • The cost can be anything from £5,000-£30,000 per introduction depending on the level of the role
  • Not all roles will be placed, agents working on a contingent basis will often take on more roles than they can successfully fill to balance the risk. Meaning if you need a placement and fast, you may find that you get better results working on a retained basis

Who it suits:

  • Businesses who have the need for a one off placement in a specific profession.

Retained Recruitment

Still working on a project-by-project basis, retained recruitment is a great recruitment method if you need a result and there is a time urgency to the project. Agents work by charging a percentage of the fee up front but they are therefore then able to fully commit their time to making a placement and conducting a thorough proactive search campaign. The fee tends to be lower than contingent recruitment. The project is usually costed upfront, therefore you have total transparency and the confidence that any advice given is with the best interest of your business at the forefront.


  • Recruitment expertise only when you need it
  • An agent who is fully committed to making a placement
  • Full transparency of costs
  • Strategic recommendations
  • Lower cost than contingent recruitment


  • Upfront payments without 100% guarantee of placement- albeit placement rates tend to be significantly higher than working on a contingent basis

Who it suits:

  • SME’s who have low recruitment needs but cannot afford for roles to be left vacant. Cost and time effective!

In-house Recruitment Team

For larger businesses who have a significant turnover and constant need for recruitment, an internal talent acquisition specialist or team is undoubtedly the more effective recruitment method. Savings can be considerable if they are able to cut out the need for agency, but don’t underestimate the power of networks in specific areas. It may be that an in-house team will still need to use recruitment agents to place specialist roles. But in a similar way to the RPO model, in-house recruitment teams can operate strategically, supporting a strong employer brand and the development of talent pools.


  • An in-house team who understands the business and has the relationship with hiring managers
  • Cost effective for businesses of a certain size
  • Ability to create a strong employer brand and talent pools


  • Not necessarily the networks for specific areas or professions
  • Very costly for small/medium size businesses
  • Possibly still the need to use specialist recruitment agents for certain roles

Who it suits:

  • Large businesses with 200+ members of staff

Hiring Managers to Recruit Directly

Given the time intensity of recruitment, it is never recommended that it should fall on the shoulders of a hiring manager. Frankly, their time and expertise is better spent elsewhere in the business. With the average time to make a successful placement being up to 80 hours, there really isn’t enough time in the day for hiring managers to be taken away from their daily duties.


  • Cost effective but only if the right candidate is found very quickly


  • Time intensive, ultimately costing the business
  • Lack of expertise and network within the area

Who it suits:

  • Not recommended but sometimes worth trying for a short amount of time if there is not the urgency to fill the role.

And there we have the top five recruitment methods!

If you require recruitment assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to learn about our Talent Partnership, Specialist HR Recruitment or SME Recruitment service offering.