The Benefits of Using Retained Search

Finding the right talent isn’t easy, especially when recruiting for very specific, niche roles that require unique skill sets. Here, you’ll learn how to best utilize your time with retained search and turn your challenges into opportunities. Onward to finding the best candidate!

Help with the hiring process

As the hiring manager responsible for filling a niche position, you’re probably wondering which recruitment service will be the most helpful. If you have a niche role for an unusual skill set or a vacancy that requires very specific qualifications, retained search is your best option. Retained search (a type of executive search) allows a recruitment specialist to focus on and prioritize your role in a more proactive way. 

What is a retained search?

Recruitment agencies use the term “retained search” to refer to “headhunting,” a proactive recruiting method. This type of recruitment search is a partnership between the client and the recruiter, shortlisting the best and most qualified candidates. Other terms include “engaged search” or “executive hire” but all have the same meaning.

Contingent vs. Retained search: What's the difference?

In a contingent search, a fixed price per placement is agreed upon at the start, payable on successful candidate’s start date — in other words, a contingent recruiter is only paid if they succeed at finding someone. In a retained search, however, a percentage of the agreed price is paid up-front with the remainder payable upon successful completion of the assignment. If the assignment is not completed, the payment is refunded in full. With fill rates at 85-95%, this option offers a measure of certainty and a full commitment to fill the vacancy. 

Without a guaranteed commission, a contingent recruiter is assuming a higher risk — and as such, they may be motivated to place candidates faster than their retained search counterparts. Since a retained recruiter receives a flat fee upfront, their income is not dependent on the outcome. Many companies prefer this method for its convenience and higher level of certainty and stability. 

Retained search fees

As mentioned above, the difference between Contingent and Retained Search is with retained search the hiring manager pays an up-front fee in order to have the search conducted. A contingent search typically works under a “No Win, No Fee” method. The contingency is the recruitment firm is not paid until the candidate accepts the position with the client.  

Retained search agreement

Often, there is competition with other recruitment firms. Contingent search may engage multiple recruitment firms, usually with strict submission deadlines. The hiring manager only pays the recruitment firm that places the candidate. 

Benefits of using Retained Search

There are many benefits to retained search over contingent. Here are 10 reasons to utilize retained search for your next big hire: 

1. Higher priority level

The upfront structure of retained search ensures that the placement takes higher priority than commission-based placements. 

2. Lower risk of bad hires

The focus of a retained search is quality. You’ll often be working with the best of the best recruiters with a high success rate. When it’s crucial to get the right candidate for a high-stakes role, retained search offers a lower risk of a bad hire, and thus a higher certainty and comfort level.

3. The best, not the fastest

When there’s not a race to complete the search, more time can be taken to ensure the very best and most qualified candidate is found — greatly benefiting the company in the long-run. 

4. Finding rare skill sets

A retained search opens up potential candidates who are already employed, meaning they’re able to expand their search to a wider range of individuals — increasing the chances of finding the person with the exact, unique skill sets needed for the niche role. 

5. More proactivity 

As mentioned above, retained search takes a more proactive approach, considering those who aren’t actively seeking a new role. This enables a much wider selection than just those who are in a database, answered ads or shown interest themselves. 

6. Access to resources you don’t have otherwise

Simply put, most companies don’t have the time and resources needed to find the best high-level candidate themselves. Utilizing a retained search firm can actually save them time and money because the process will probably take less time than trying to do it internally.

7. More customized 

Retained search enables a more customized search for roles that are often very unique. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather the recruiter takes more time to gain a thorough understanding of what the ideal candidate possesses. 

8. Most vetted candidates

With retained search, you can have confidence knowing your candidates have been fully vetted — from more strenuous background checks, reference checks and so on, you can know only the most genuinely-qualified candidates, both skill-wise and culturally, will be presented. 

9. More feedback and real-time updates

Retained search recruiters will provide you with more helpful information throughout the process, including market intelligence, competition, timelines and so on. 

10. Multiple options so the best can be chosen

Versus providing only one potential candidate to fill the role, most retained search agencies will present a handful of highly-qualified candidates who fit skill, culture and salary requirements, so that truly the best fit can be chosen. 

With retained search, priority trumps speed 

When an agency is given a new role to fill, it must be prioritized. There is not enough time to treat every new role as the number one priority. Further, for a contingent search, you might have given your role to multiple recruiting agencies. Those agencies want to fill that role as fast as they possibly can, creating a race to the finish line to be paid. Sometimes, speed can take priority over candidate quality. Retained or executive search gives you access to a team committed to giving your role priority. 

Quality over quantity

Looking for candidates for multiple roles? Using multiple recruitment firms can mean juggling many candidates and having to keep up with which candidate comes from which firm. A retained search offers a single point of contact for the entire recruitment process. You are kept informed at every phase so you can keep track of the activity, enabling complete control of the process. Instead of being overwhelmed by multiple candidates from multiple sources, you now have a streamlined and time-effective process.

With an upfront financial investment, retained search enables you to focus on other tasks while the recruitment process is handled for you.  

The best part? The myth that retained search is more costly than contingent search doesn't apply at Brunel. The initial payment is deducted from your invoice. With Brunel, you get higher quality candidates and, in our experience, more satisfied hiring managers.

Contact us today for information on how Brunel’s retained search will help you find the talent you need to grow your company.

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