Retained Search

With a retained recruiter, you are paying for the efforts of a recruiter for providing you with the right candidate.  Retained recruiters are what are commonly called “headhunters.” They’re usually used for senior positions; the kind of jobs that you wouldn’t fill by placing an advert (although that can be any role).  Contracts vary of course they may use either a third upfront, third at CV submission and a third at completion or half of the recruiter’s fee upfront and the other half once they find the person for your job. Or anything in-between.

Some advantages of retained search:

  1. You would expect a higher level of service re time spent on briefings, understanding the role (this goes both ways as clients tend to invest more time in briefing when they are paying something upfront); allow greater access to stakeholders etc.
  2. You would expect more dedicated time to be allocated to a retained role (contingency recruiters usually work a higher number of roles so have less time can be spent on each position).
  3. Higher level of pre-screening and brand sales (it is also useful that on exclusivity a recruiter can advertise using an employers brand as part of the process for both the recruiter and employer).
  4. Benefit of first refusal: Another great advantage over contingency recruitment is that, as a client working in partnership with a recruiter on a retained basis the search consultant will usually offer the first refusal of a candidate throughout the search process to you exclusively (this is also a benefit of logo paid advertising in contingency), over similar contingency roles. This prevents competitors in your field being able to see your potential target hire at the same time as you (from your agent at least): particularly appealing when you’re trying to fill a highly specialised or senior role.

The main disadvantage most clients would cite is having to pay something upfront without knowing it will be a successful hire with 100% certainty (at least in their desired timeframe).  This is valid but in reality probably based on their release to fill numbers from contingency which will be lower.  Also the saved time and fact that only part of the fee is upfront should give clients some comfort.