Why Retained Search Is Most Effective | Seattle Executive Search Firm

      10 Reasons Why Retained Executive Search Is Most Effective

      In the realm of executive recruitment, headhunters work on a retained or contingency basis. Generally, retained executive search offers several benefits over contingent search. Here’s why and what you need to know about contingent versus retained executive search.

      Retained Executive Search v. Contingency Search

      Retained refers to the “retainer” paid upfront by the client to start the search for qualified executive candidates. Typically, the retainer is half or 1/3rd of the total fee. The rest is paid when the work is finished, which is similar to other professional services, including services from lawyers, accountants, and consultants. Contingent means the fee is paid only if the search firm finds someone.

      Now, if you compare that to any other professional service, you know any reputable firm won’t work for free until the work is done. Would you want your CPA firm or lawyer working on your behalf, hoping they get paid in the end? No, of course not, because that brings up quality assurance concerns. Search firms are no different. Make sure you do your due diligence when selecting a search partner, verify whether they have expertise in your field and always check references. The search firm you choose is your company’s brand ambassador.

      What Is a Retained Executive Search Firm?

      Retained executive search consulting firms operate on an exclusive, client-centered basis and work on a limited number of assignments at one time. Executive search firms often find candidates with diverse backgrounds and have access to candidates who are not actively seeking a new position. They are engaged in all aspects of the process, from defining the search through candidate integration. They charge a consulting fee (retainer) for the assignment, consistent with their in-depth advisory work. Executive search consultants deliver high-quality service, a slate of highly qualified candidates, and develop long-term relationships built on trust.

      What Is a Contingent Executive Search Firm?

      Retained Executive Search Firm in Seattle
      Retained Executive Search Firm in Seattle

      Contingent recruiters seek to place as many candidates as possible in the shortest possible time. They tend to work with many assignments concurrently. If a particular assignment is not getting traction, contingency recruiters have little incentive to continue. Contingent recruiters offer their service with no money upfront, and they get paid for candidates who are hired from resumes they present. Fees are generally lower, reflecting their limited scope of work. Contingent recruiters deliver broad access to “ready to move candidates” and a quick presentation of a large number of resumes.

      How to Choose Between a Retained Executive Search Firm vs. Contingency Headhunters

      While some human resource managers believe that both models are the same, they clearly are not. Some clients try to negotiate the lower fees of the contingent recruiters but desire the full complete and thorough search service of the executive search (retained) firms. At the same time, they show no loyalty by trying to do these same types of deals with multiple search firms all at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster and clients like this are avoided like the plague.

      It is important to understand that investing in human capital is important thus organizations should employ best practices. An executive search consultant (retained search consultant) invests time and resources in understanding their client’s industry and individual needs. In comparison, contingency recruiters focus on pulling as many resumes out of their databases as they can as fast as they can.

      Executive search consultants use competency-based interviewing practices and advanced assessment tools in the identification of talent which best matches the business culture and needs of the client’s position. Multiple interviews with candidates over time and various technologies such as telephone, video conference, and face-to-face whenever possible are standard operational procedures. Also, pure search methods seeking the best talent, even those who are not in anyone’s database is routine and required to find the best talent. This is in direct contrast to the contingent recruiters who rely more on supplying resumes from their database as quickly as possible. Too often it is a matter of quality versus speed.

      In contrast, contingent recruiters do not have the time to—and rarely do they—interview candidates multiple times to assess their capabilities or do any type of formal assessments. They are all about database searches and getting resumes into the hands of the hiring manager ASAP.

      Top 10 Reasons Why Retained Search Is the Most Effective Recruiting Method

      1. Executive search consultant (retained search professionals work with their clients on an exclusive basis).
      2. They are dedicated to following best practices and doing the job right. They work very closely with the client by developing a methodology, action steps, and timing that is realistic and that matches with the needs of the client.
      3. They are truly management consultants; you’re not alone.
      4. Remember that contingent recruiters are in a race to provide resumes as quickly as they can. It’s your job alone to evaluate the resumes and assess if they fit your position and company.
      5. The goal of the executive search consultant is to present four to five high-quality candidates with the skills, fit, salary, etc. desired by you, the client.
      6. Intelligence is provided through exhaustive research on the industry, competitors and ideal candidates.
      7. Candidates are screened and assessed using modern assessment tools and are pre-qualified to fit the position and your company culture.
      8. Cost-wise, executive search (retained search) fees range from 25% to 35%, and contingency recruiters try to charge the same amount but provide you with much less.
      9. Contingency recruiters work on a No-Win-No-Pay basis. So, their dedication based upon their actions is very limited. They are not set up to provide the same level of professional services as a retained search model provides.
      10. With a retained search consultant, you will receive full briefings on the search process, competitors, the market, and the talent pool.

      In conclusion, for best practices and the most effective executive search service, the retained search model for middle to senior-level positions is the choice of champions.

      How to Choose an Executive Search FirmHow to Choose an Executive Search Firm | 5-Star Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      Receive our  “How to Choose an Executive Search Firm” brochure. Designed for companies seeking an executive search firm service.

      Reaching out to a retained executive search firm often plays a key role in answering this question. Executive search firms are talent acquisition specialists who invest their entire careers focused on helping their clients identify, attract, and hire the most qualified individuals for their unique organizational needs.

      But how do you choose the right search firm for your organization? Contact us for a copy.

      Check out our industry-leading resources to see why Cowen Partners is one of the best retained executive search firms in Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

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