Contingent recruitment is a type of recruitment that involves a recruitment being carried out for companies on a contingent, or project-by-project, basis.
The main difference between contingent recruitment and retained recruitment is that the contingent recruiter only gets paid a placement fee if they successfully place a candidate in an open vacancy. See more on retained recruitment here.
The recruiter working on a retained basis, however, is paid a flat rate for their services and their recruitment income is not dictated by the outcome of individual placements. This arrangement is usually put in place because it is convenient for the company working with the retained recruiter, or because the skills and success rate of the retained recruiter are considered to be higher than those of their contingent recruiter counterparts.
As a result of the higher level of risk involved for contingent recruiters, with not getting guaranteed commission for their recruitment services, contingent recruiters are often motivated to put candidates forward to a company more quickly than retained recruiters in order to try to get a higher hit rate.