How Retained Search Can Level Up Your Hiring Process

How Retained Search Can Level Up Your Hiring Process

What Is Retained Search?

In a nutshell, retained search is proactive and the highest of quality recruitment, sometimes referred to as ‘headhunting’ and often used for executive level roles but not exclusively.

The most well-known process for recruitment agencies, is contingent recruitment. The big difference between contingent and retained is how they're generally structured. Retained searches tend to be a longer-term partnership and involve more thorough search arrangements than contingency partnerships. Retained recruiters usually offer defined timelines, detailed deliverables and a guarantee of finding the right person for the position.  Contingency recruitment, however, can last longer often with less resource given per requirement, depending on the business needs during the engagement period.

Another difference between the services is that retained search comes with a different fee structure compared with contingency. Most retained searches will charge either a percentage of salary or an all-inclusive flat fee with 3 separate sign off gateways during the process, dependent on successful delivery- generally resulting in higher levels of commitment from both parties and success rates. Whereas most contingency searches are paid if they successfully place someone in the position, therefore generally a more volume focused approach. Because of the differences in fee structure, contingency recruiters tend to provide clients with a number of possible prospective candidates they are currently in talks with. Whereas retained recruiters will provide a highly curated shortlist of quality candidates inline with the client’s exacting requirement for that position. In addition to the difference in payment structure (fee’s actually often align) the retained search method also brings with it a multitude of benefits, which are not usually offered by contingency agencies…extended rebate periods and increased retention rates are an example of this.


Retained Search Is a Partnership

Retained recruitment is a specialized type of recruitment. It is a true partnership between a client and a recruiter, for professional retained search firms such as Harper Fox Partners, the focus is on long-term, meaningful relationships with clients instead of short-term profits. We will take time to fully understand our client’s business and goals to reduce risk and ensure we add real impactful value, whilst delivering an exceptional service to both client and candidate- this is imperative.


Higher Quality and Thoroughly Assessed Candidates

The most obvious benefit of retained recruitment is the higher quality candidate assessment you will receive. With retained search, you can have confidence knowing your candidates have been fully evaluated and are completely invested in the position. For example, within the recruitment structure at Harper Fox Partners, prospective candidates go through a multi-stage process before being presented to clients. This includes, but is not limited to; initial screening, psychometric tests along with first and second stage assessment interviews with the firm, in person or virtually.


Searching Niche Markets and Unearthing Rare Skill Sets

Retained recruiters go way beyond what is on job boards and often do not use these means at all, using their expertise to find the right candidate instead. Their ‘outside the box’ thinking means retained recruiters will be able to advise on transferable skills or different sectors when talent pools are small. Niche sectors and unique skills are areas where retained search can really shine and this is where Harper Fox Partners excel.


Time Saving

Another benefit of retained search is the huge time saving advantages. Internal HR teams are already extremely busy and under huge amounts pressure. Retained recruiters will sift through hundreds of prospects, review CV's, assess and shortlist the best matches, allowing the internal teams to focus on other priority tasks. At Harper Fox Partners we go the extra mile by conducting first and second stage screening interviews with our dedicated research and senior leadership team. This ensures only the very best candidates are presented and that our clients time is fully optimised, along with value alignment and culture fit analysis.


Increased Attention to Detail

Retained search is generally more focused than contingent searches. Retained recruiters have expert knowledge of their client’s business and markets, meaning that they know exactly what will qualify as a suitable candidate. In addition, retained search consultants will often only be assigned to a couple of vacancies instead of working on multiple roles at the same time, in line with the contingent model. At Harper Fox Partners we go one step further and assign both a researcher and at least a further search consultant to each vacancy and allocate this as their sole priority. This ensures consistency and acute attention to detail throughout the search process.


Take Advantage of Market Insights

Retained consultants are specialists who understand the nuances of their verticals, and as such they can provide valuable market insights that may be beneficial to your business.

Retained consultants will be able to advise on how best to position your company in its industry or sector and how to market your business to prospective candidates to ensure you attract and retain the best talent. At Harper Fox Partners we go above and beyond for our clients, if we can add value through sharing our knowledge, we will.


It is clear that retained search offers many benefits for employers. If you're interested in learning more about what retained search can do for you, please get in touch!


Harper Fox Search Partners

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