How to use a search firm to fill roles in an uncertain market

With the current outbreak of the Coronavirus, markets are unstable and details about the immediate future are unclear. In such an uncertain environment, many companies are turning to consultants to fulfill their interim, project, and overflow needs.

However, the fact remains that many businesses will still need to make new hires. So, should you still use a search firm in an uncertain market?

Here at CCN, we have a unique direct hire model with an hourly pricing structure that provides distinct advantages over traditional contingent search models. CCN is perfectly positioned to save you time, money, and risk in your next direct hire search.

The Traditional Contingent Direct Hire Search Model

Contingent Searches are the most popular means of bringing in employees through staffing agencies or search firms. You, the client, only pay the firm or agency if they produce a candidate that you hire. Fees are usually 25-30% percent of the employee’s first year compensation.


  1. Limited risk – You only pay if you hire a candidate. This gives you the ability to see a wide range of candidates without ever being obligated to pay an agency.
  2. Multiple firms – Ultimately you will only have to pay one staffing firm, so you can engage multiple firms to conduct the same search if you wish.
  3. Fast results – When search firms compete against each other, they know that the first one with a solid candidate wins the deal. You can often get an employee identified within 3-4 weeks of starting the search.


  1. High cost – 25-30% of first year compensation gets really expensive. Particularly for senior level positions, you might have to dish out 30, 40, or 50 thousand dollars just to bring someone onboard.
  2. Recruiter turned sales person –  The contingent model tends to create a culture of selling which can impede an open an honest dialogue to find the best candidate. When you wave $30,000+ in front of a recruiter, you just turned that recruiter into a salesperson. To get paid, they must produce the candidate who gets hired first — not necessarily the one who is the best fit for your company. Recruiters ooh and ahh about the barista in the breakroom, the vacation policy, and all the great things that make a position, “the best job ever!” This doesn’t happen at every search firm, nor for every opening, but recruiters must often take a sales approach to get the candidate across the line.
  3. Long-term success – What happens if a candidate doesn’t work out? Especially if the candidate was rushed through the hiring process (see above) it’s possible that person won’t be a great fit for the requirements of the position or the culture. Sometimes hiring agreements include a limited-term guarantee period, but if you lose or have to terminate a new hire down the line, there’s no way to get that contingent fee back. You will have to start all over again and pay yet another contingent fee for a new candidate.

The CCN Hourly Direct Hire Search Model

At CCN, we offer our direct hire or “permanent placement” services based on a new hourly pricing model that puts your needs first. Think of us as your outsourced recruiting department. We find you top-notch, experienced talent and simply bill you for our time. Our fees are limited by both a modest minimum amount and maximum amount — if we hit our upper limit, we’ll work for free until your position is filled.

For a simple comparison, consider a new accounting manager with an annual salary of exactly $100,000. With a contingent search model, you would pay an average of $25,000 just to get that person on your team. With hour hourly model, you could pay as little $10,000. At the very most, you will pay our maximum of $20,000. Either way, you’re saving on every hire!

These savings aren’t just a nice idea, they are based on actual data. We are currently saving companies 50% versus a traditional contingents search. See the chart below for the breakdown using real CCN numbers for our last five direct-hires:

PositionDollar SavingsPercent Saved
Finance Manager$14,62557%
Finance Manager$18,62561%
Senior Accountant$7,50050%
Supply Chain Manager$16,00064%


  1. Low Cost – The financial savings of our hourly model can be tens of thousands of dollars! At the end of the day, our hourly search fees typically equate to between 10 and 12%.
  2. Long-term success – We’re not motivated by a quick payout. This means we can take the time to get to know you and personally select talent to match your unique requirements and culture. This results in a higher success rate of new hires who love their jobs and want to stick around. This can save you huge amounts of time and a big headache later on.
  3. Low risk – Our lower cost means that in the rare case your new hire doesn’t work out, you’re not out too much money. We can simply pick up where we left off, leveraging the work we’ve already done to produce a replacement.
  4. We’re experts in finance and accounting. We can leverage both connections and experience specific to the industry in order to produce exceptional candidates.


  1. You pay as you go – We have a check-in call with our clients every 15-20 billable hours to go over results of our search, candidates we’ve submitted, and ones you’ve interviewed. Each call we “take the temperature” of the search to make sure we all feel confident in the process. The call ends with a “go” or “no-go” decision. If we conclude to not continue, you keep the candidates we’ve submitted, and we’ll invoice you for our time. If it’s a “go”, then we invoice you and keep moving forward with the plan! The disadvantage is that you do have to pay either way.
  2. No refund – since we’re billing by the hour, there is no refund for the candidate you hire. As we mentioned above, you will more than likely have paid only half of a traditional fee, so we think this is a fair trade, but you should be aware that this is a possibility. We’ll gladly pick up the search where we left off if needed. This is very rare, and to date, we have never had to find a replacement candidate!

You can get started on the journey towards a great candidate today. Contact us to learn more about CCN’s direct hire services and how they will work for you.

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