Mercury Hampton

Recruitment: every HR Manager’s favourite subject. But bear with us for five minutes, because we could genuinely make your lives easier. That’s right, a recruitment company that can make your life easier. Isn’t it clever what they can do these days? Whatever will they think of next, sliced bread? Moving on swiftly…

Do any of the following scenario’s sound overly familiar?

  • Are you paying extortionate recruitment fees?
  • Does your hiring budget seem to increase year-on-year with very little to show in return?
  • As Hiring Manager, is your neck on the chopping block because people just don’t stick around after they’ve been hired?
  • Have you experienced poor recruitment results because you’ve used the same recruitment model for years because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done?’

If the answer to any of the above is an emphatic YES! then you need to know that there’s a more cost-effective way of hiring in 2021, one that will actually reduce your overall cost-to-hire while simultaneously increasing your post-hire retention rates.


Yes, really.


This new-fangled super-duper recruitment method is called retained search and selection, and it won’t cost you a kidney or your firstborn to implement it. But what makes retained search and selection so much better than the contingency recruitment approach? We’re glad that you asked…



This type of candidate search is ‘solely’ focused on attracting candidates within the open market. By open market we mean candidates who are presently looking for a new position and most likely have their CV registered on databases, online job boards or are applying to adverts. The fee is typically invoiced on the candidate’s start date – ‘payment on placement only OR no win no fee.’



Retained recruitment assignments are often referred to as Search & Selection or Headhunting recruitment. This is usually reserved for critical hires or niche appointments where the candidate pool is likely to be heavily reduced or difficult to attract. It is the perfect solution for mid-to-senior hires and strictly confidential appointments (i.e non-mass-market positions). It’s especially effective in sales or commercial disciplines and technology-driven appointments.




  1. No upfront costs.
  2. No costs at all if the vacancy is not filled.


  1. Comprehensive market searches proving fruitless. If candidates aren’t available on the open market, then this type of search can be frustrating. Sometimes it’s just plain impossible.
  2. External threats. It’s a common misconception that engaging multiple recruiters for a contingency search provides the best results. Recruiters prioritise their most committed clients – once competition is invited, your vacancy will no longer be a priority. In most cases, they are only looked at after 4.00 pm once all the retained assignments have been dealt with.
  3. Contingency-based searches involve more than one recruiter searching in the same candidate pools. This can result in a poor impression of the hiring company due to numerous recruiters discussing the same role with the same candidates. Even worse than that, you get the same candidates being put forward for the same vacancy from multiple recruitment agencies. Not a good look for anyone involved.
  4. Contingency recruitment is speed-based; the first over the finish line wins the fee. However, this just encourages CV-throwing to secure it. This results in a compromise in quality as the numerous recruitment consultants all focus on getting to the finish line before the competition rather than taking the time to secure the best possible candidate.
  5. Contingency recruitment results in less commitment on both sides, recruiter, and client.
  6. Other than the lure of possibly winning the fee, the recruiter has no pressure whatsoever to fill your vacancy.
  7. The industry average conversation rate for contingency recruitment is roughly 37%. That’s just over a third of vacancies being placed successfully. Pretty pitiful, right?

Mercury Hampton has a conversation rate on contingency recruitment assignments of 74%, double the industry average. However, over 92% of Mercury Hampton’s advertised vacancies are retained, and here’s why:





  1. The recruitment consultant will only take a nominal retainer fee upfront. The remainder of the fee is only payable on the basis that they can fill the vacancy, therefore, you always have 100% of their commitment.
  2. All contingency assignments will take a back seat whilst your recruiter looks after your needs as a priority.
  3. With a headhunt/search & selection approach, candidates are proactively enticed rather than placing all your hopes on ‘open’ market candidates above. It’s a full market search with no stone left unturned.
  4. A candidate map is created that YOU, the client, are in control of. This includes identifying target candidates within competitor businesses, or companies who employ people with the required skillset.
  5. The client and the recruiter work in partnership and the process remains in total control throughout.
  6. Increased advertising spending. In most cases, the retainer fee is used to engage additional resources, especially advertising.
  7. No external threats prevent CV throwing – the client and recruiter decide where the finish line is.
  8. The search & selection process is 100% quality-focused, not a speed-based search – absolutely NO CV throwing!
  9. A vigorous recruitment process with full psychometric profiling, including technical aptitude testing.
  10. Recruiters are commercially focused, so positive client relationships and gaining repeat business are critically important to their survival. Because of this, retained assignments will be filled no matter what, meaning that you get a guaranteed return on the time invested.
  11. Retained Search & Selection has an industry average conversation rate of 80%, much higher than contingency-based recruitment. Mercury Hampton, however, have a conversion rate of 97%


  1. In some cases, selecting the wrong head-hunter for a retained assignment can result in paying a retention fee without completing on the role.


Now here’s the main reason why our clients primarily work with us on a retained basis: Mercury Hampton offer a full headhunting service with psychometric testing for the same cost as Contingency recruitment.

Now can you see why retained recruitment is a total win-win situation?

We were founded on the idea of bridging the gap between extortionate headhunting fees & low-quality, speed-based contingency recruitment – retained recruitment is how we do it. Retained recruitment is a more professional, dedicated, laser-focused approach that increases productivity, improves workforce retention, and vastly reduces cost-to-hire bills.

For more information, please contact us 01925 937 311 or

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