team conducting a retained search

Retained Search & Its Pros & Cons

Given that retained search is the most common model for executive search firms to charge for their services. What is retained search? And what are some of the pros and cons of retained search?

What is Retained search?

In a retained search, a client pays the search firm an upfront fee, known as a retainer. This covers the cost for the firm to conduct a comprehensive search on the client’s behalf. Once paid the firm works closely with the client to:

  • Clearly define the job requirements of the role(s), and conduct an assessment of their qualifications, experience and fit in the company culture and values.
  • To correctly design the Job description to target their ideal candidates.
  • To promote, find and persuade your ideal candidates to interview for the role.
  • Provide expert guidance and advice on the process and how to negotiate with potential candidates for the company throughout.

Overall, retained Search is a highly customized and strategic approach to recruiting. Hence why it is the preferred method for many businesses to find Leaders for their business. There is so much at risk in filling Leadership roles. So utilising the expertise of a large retained search firm pays off for most organisations due to the tailored solutions Retained search firms provide.

If you would like the learn more about what an executive search firm does in detail, just click the link.

Pros and Cons of Retained Search

Due to retained search being a more comprehensive service, with a more involved consultant or team of consultants.

The Main Advantages are:

  • More involved Search consultants – Due to the nature of the service you can be sure that completing your search effectively and to your expectations is the top priority of your search consultant(s)
  • Reduced Risk – As it’s more involved, your search consultants carry out your search to a higher standard.
  • Finds the best talent, not just any talent – They are incentivised to spend their time making sure they don’t bother you with time-waster candidates.
  • Access to a wider set of tools and knowledge – Large firms like Boyden have databases of previous hires and compensation information. This along with their wider range of tools helps you negotiate better with your candidates and perform a better search.
  • Candidates are heavily vetted – Since your retained search consultant are more involved in your search and have a deeper understanding of your needs they can vet better saving your team a lot of time in interviewing.
  • Tailored service – The consultants are incentivised in getting you the best talent possible, to get your repeat business. Given this, they will do what it takes for them to be sure that they get you the best talent. Given your business requirements and availability.
  • More Feedback – To be sure that you are getting who you want. Consultants will frequently give you updates and request feedback so they can better focus their future work.
  • A range of options – They will provide a wide range of highly capable candidates, who meet all of your requirement criteria. So that you find the right person for your business.
  • Improved service with repeat service – It’s common for many business leaders to form a long-term partnership with their retained search consultants. As the service generally only gets better and faster over time. As they understand each other better through repeat service. Making the process easier and better for both parties involved.
  • Confidential Search – Doing a confidential executive search is challenging. Retained search consultants are practised in discreetly finding replacement leaders. So you don’t end up with a leadership gap.

The Disadvantages can be:

  • Paying upfront and being on an exclusive basis – Paying the retainer upfront can be a lot to many business leaders who haven’t done a retained search before. Additionally, many firms require exclusivity in the search. So you can’t hire multiple at once.
  • It’s a Collaborative Process – Members of your leadership team will have to be involved. For some leaders, this bothers them, but it is essential to a successful search. So be prepared to have regular contact and meetings with your search firm. It’s in your best interest.
  • Higher cost – Due to the involved and tailored solution they provided. They do charge more than other methods, but this does produce better candidates and results for most businesses. So it’s a worthwhile cost due to the reduced risk of a failed hire.

Other Search Methods

Contingent search is another executive search process. Contingent search and recruitment are the main other methods people use to find talent. These are generally not preferred by top businesses trying to fill their top roles. You can read more about them in this article: ‘Retained Executive Search Fees & Processes – Simplified US & CA‘ Where I concisely compare them with retained search.

Why Leaders Prefer Retained Search

In general, business leaders prefer retained search to fill top positions due to the bespoke service which is provided to your organisation. This generally leads to a larger range of top candidates to choose from, in a process that is more managed by the search firm. keeping a lot of the workload off of your management team.

Want to be connected to a globally present retained search firm that’s best known for the level at which it customises its service to each business? Please feel free to contact me. You will be on route to getting your next great leader in no time

Robert S Travis About Me page

Need Expert Executive Search Help?

As a Managing Partner at Boyden, I can provide you with personal assistance, introduce you to another partner, or assemble a specialized global search team who would be best suited to assist you and your organization with the specific executive search needs.

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