Project Description

Are you looking for a star? If your firm has been trying to fill a vacancy, especially in times when it’s hard to get talent, you‘ll have realised how challenging this apparently simple goal can be. Alternatively, perhaps you’ve begun looking into securing the assistance of external recruitment services but are unsure which direction to go.

Keep reading and discover all there is to know about the platinum version of such services: retained search.

What is retained search?

Unlike other types of recruitment, retained search involves an employer paying a recruitment agency for the provision of agreed search services, rather than the alternative approach of paying for the introduction to someone who joins your company.

In the latter case, which is known as contingency recruitment, the recruiter is paid for on success, meaning they only receive a payment at the end of the process when a candidate has been placed into the opening. In contrast, whilst recruiters who work on a retained basis typically have the same fees, settlement of the fees are spread out over the entire recruitment process based on agreed milestones, rather than paid at its conclusion.

For some employers, the cost of paying for a retained search that might not ultimately pay off in a hire looks like a stumbling block. However, the fact is that the risk is shared with the recruiter: payments for services provided are staggered and matched to pre-agreed key milestones being reached. This is how most other service-based business models also work.

Let’s look at the 7 key advantages of choosing a retained search:

#1. Increased focus and attention to detail

The recruitment process is made up of various stages, each one necessary, and it’s crucial to get them right. It therefore takes time and effort, particularly when you’re working on a senior or hard-to-fill role. Retained recruiters don’t just search a database of contacts: they have access to additional networks including passive talent; they focus on matching the perfect skills with your requirements; and, if agreed, they carry out other tasks such as psychometric testing and/or background checks so you don’t have to.

#2. Get greater access to talent

If you use contingency recruiters, you will most likely receive many candidate CVs that are on every  other recruitment agency database but there simply isn’t time (or the incentive, let’s be frank) for these recruiters to perform the sort of extensive searches that everyone would like, especially as there’s no guarantee they will be paid for any of the time they invest in trying to help you.

In contrast, with a retained recruiter, the search is more detailed and will include multiple avenues. As well as the active contacts they have, recruiters will also search for passive candidates, which is where you are often most likely to find the expert talent you’re looking for.

Other strategies can include paid targeted marketing and market mapping techniques. It takes time to build relationships with passive talent (professionals who are already working rather than actively job-seeking), and this where a retained recruiter can make all the difference.

#3. Recruiters take problems away

It goes beyond searching for the right candidate. A recruiter must be able to confidently work their way through the recruitment process using excellent communication skills, specifically in delicate situations and even negotiations.

Retained recruiters will keep you informed at each stage of the process and handle any issues that come up along the way. In this manner, whilst you remain informed, it’s not your problem to resolve any of these issues; they have been outsourced to an expert.

#4. Build stronger relationships

A retained recruiter is the middleman between candidates and clients. Just as a doctor can make a diagnosis by listening to symptoms, a retained recruiter can analyse the situation from an external viewpoint and solve problems, often before they even arise.

As they aren’t just focused on filling the position as quickly as possible, you’ll also be able to spend more time with the recruiter and they gain a better understanding of your company’s precise needs. Having a stronger relationship with your retained recruiter like this allows them to work better at finding the ideal candidate for you.

#5. Save time and money

Recruiting someone is often a lengthy and often costly process. And it takes time away from other core business activities, particularly if you have wide-ranging other responsibilities that demand your attention. A retained recruiter is dedicated to finding the ideal candidate for you and will reduce demands on your time once the search parameters have been set.

Also, they can do searches far quicker than you can since they spend every day doing them, which will result in your business operating at full capacity sooner than might otherwise be the case.

And, whilst a contingency recruiter may be working with multiple other clients at a time, a retained recruiter is 100% committed to working with you, which increases the final quality of hire.

#6. Benefit from first refusal

Another great advantage over contingency recruitment is that, as a client working in partnership with a recruiter on a retained basis, you’ll often be offered the first refusal of a candidate throughout the search process. This prevents competitors in your field being able to poach your potential target hire: particularly appealing when you’re trying to fill a highly specialised or senior role.

#7. More flexibility

When working with a retained recruiter, you’ll be able to enjoy more flexibility in a number of areas. Most agents have a standard contract but, since retained recruiters are more dedicated, they’ll want to make sure you are completely satisfied with their service. In consequence, the timescale, number of payments, and rebate period if applicable can all be discussed and agreed in a mutually satisfactory way. In other words, they are more prepared to go the extra mile.

The right time to go retained

If you’ve been trying to fill a position direct and haven’t been successful, consider using a retained recruiter.

Similarly, if you have been using contingency recruitment service without luck, it’s also a good time to switch to retained.

Additionally, companies that are looking for senior management and directors should do likewise: a retained recruiter has the incentive, resources and time to identify hard-to-find candidates who can’t readily be sourced using traditional methods.

Worth mentioning too, if your recruitment process is time-sensitive: working with a retained recruiter guarantees their full energies and search techniques will be deployed as quickly as possible to secure the talent your company needs.

For all the above reasons and beyond, retained search is the superior recruitment option for firms who are searching for a star and want to work with the best talent partner.


Book a Discovery Call if you’d like assistance or to schedule an introductory call to see how we can help.