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What Is a Contract Recruiter?

by | May 6, 2021 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Some recruiters work for many clients at one time. They try to fill various job orders at several companies. They aren’t completely loyal to one client, and they might even present the same candidate to several clients.

Other recruiters work exclusively for one client at a time. These recruiters are known as contract recruiters. Below is more information about contract recruiters, including the pros and cons of working as one.

What is a contract recruiter?

A contract recruiter is someone who fills positions at a company on a short-term basis. There is a contract, or exclusive recruiting agreement, between the recruiter and their client. During the length of the contract, you work exclusively for the client. You will source, screen, and communicate with candidates on the client’s behalf.

After you complete the requirements of the contract, the contract is over. For example, if a client contracts you to fill 10 positions, the contract will be over after you fill those jobs.

When the contract ends, you can move on to the next client. You can take your contacts and candidate lists with you. You, not the client, own those lists. To easily take candidate information with your from client to client, you should use a recruiting system to store the data.

If you are a contract recruiter, your client will likely pay you a percentage of the recruitment fee upfront as a retainer. Then, the client might pay another percentage at a certain point in the recruitment process, and another percentage after a candidate is placed. Of course, the exact payment details will depend on the contract terms you and your client negotiate.

A company might hire a contract recruiter for many reasons. It might hire a contract recruiter when it can’t afford to take on a staff recruiter. Or, it might choose to hire a contract recruiter when there is a sudden increase in hiring, but it doesn’t want to hire a permanent, in-house recruiter. A company might also bring on a contract recruiter when there are many, difficult-to-fill positions to hire for.

Pros and cons of being a contract recruiter

Being a contract recruiter has its pros and cons. If you’re interested in becoming a contract recruiter, be sure to consider both.


Contract recruiting is good for recruiters who want longer-term contracts but still want to move between companies. You have the stability of one client keeping you on for a while. And, you have the freedom to move on.

Contract recruiting is a unique way to build your expertise. By being with one client for a period, you have time to settle in and refine your skills. As you grow your skills, you can move on to bigger contracts (with even bigger payouts).

When you spend time with a client’s company, you have more time to network. You can get to know employees there and tap into their networks. This can help you find candidates for that client and future clients.


Contract recruiting isn’t always stable. You’re relying on one client at a time for income. Even though there is a contract, sometimes a client will unexpectedly drop you. For example, they might decide to eliminate the position, meaning they no longer need you. If this happens, you are left without a job until you find the next client. Even if you fulfill each contract to completion, you must constantly think about where your next contract will come from.

With other types of recruiting, you might work for some clients again and again. It’s easy to return to them and ask for their job orders. But with contract recruiting, you might be filling multiple jobs for one client, or you might be doing niche recruiting. It can be difficult to return to your contract clients because you’ve already filled many of their positions or because they only need help with highly specialized positions.

In some cases, a client might try to treat you like an employee. The client might want you to work at specific times and certain locations. They might try to dictate what software you use and how you organize information. This is not ideal because you are not an employee.

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