Using a Retained Search Firm to Hire Your Next Executive | Retained Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      Using a Retained Search Firm to Hire Your Next Executive

      A company’s executives are typically also its leaders. Individuals in these positions, including the CEO, CFO, CMO, and CTO, are tasked with leading both individual departments and the overall business. 

      They are expected to be up-to-date on the latest business trends and have the skills required to push mid-level managers and staff to meet specific strategic goals. In addition to ensuring strong business performance, they also act as liaisons between their businesses and the board of directors, stockholders, and other external parties. 

      Hiring a new executive leader isn’t easy. You’ll want someone who is familiar with the industry space that you operate in, has a vision for moving the company forward, and has the communication skills to inspire team members to achieve goals. 

      While you may turn to such typical avenues as job search boards, oftentimes, you’ll obtain the best results by engaging with a retained search firm. 

      What Is a Retained Search Firm?

      A retained search firm finds top talent for corporations or businesses that are looking for executives to lead the company. This specialized type of recruiting firm is often the best place to find quality leaders who meet the recruiting needs of their clients. 

      Retained search firms often have a book of potential executives they have already reviewed for leadership prowess, experience, and skills. They may contact individuals they know who fit the profile of what your company is looking for and are available.

      In addition to their book of clients, they may also have significant business associates in certain industries that allow them to connect with potential candidates who may be a good fit for your company

      If you decide to use the services of a retained executive search firm to find your next executive, you’ll usually pay an upfront executive search fee. They may ask you to sign a contract giving them the exclusive rights to find your hire. This means that you won’t be able to conduct the search using other firms or through job boards. 

      Upon finding a suitable candidate, you’ll pay them an additional fee for their work. Thus, you’ll want to make sure that the retained search firm you use has the experience and qualifications necessary to find appropriate candidates for you. Of course, you will retain the right to make the final decision on whether an executive is a good fit for the job.

      What Are the Benefits of Using a Retained Search Firm?

      There are numerous benefits of using a retained search firm, several of which are outlined below.

      Locating Individuals with Unique Skill Sets

      One of the primary benefits of using a retained search firm is gaining access to individuals who have skill sets that mesh well with the business. Retained search firms that specialize in specific industries are a great option for companies seeking executives who have sector experience that’s crucial to success in a particular role. 

      They can also locate individuals who have experience in specific areas, such as business turnaround or expansion abroad.

      Focus on the Best Candidates

      A retained search firm keeps its focus on finding the most suitable candidates for the role. Since they are paid upfront, there isn’t as much pressure to fill the job as soon as possible using whoever is available. 

      Instead, the search is conducted according to the hiring needs of the company. Anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements is set aside, and the recruiting firm only suggests people who fulfill the prerequisites of the job description. The search firm is truly engaged in finding quality candidates.


      A retained search firm won’t only consider candidates who are currently looking for a job; they’ll also reach out to those who fulfill the requirements but are already employed. In this case, the potential candidate pool widens to include those who are currently looking for a new role and those who may be an excellent fit if they are interested.


      A retained search firm often conducts an in-depth meeting with a potential candidate prior to suggesting them to companies looking for an executive. During the meeting, the firm representative will take a deep dive into the candidate’s résumé, skills, and experience to determine whether they’re a good fit. 

      This custom approach makes the hiring process more efficient and effective as it’s tailored to an individual company and its needs. While it may take a little longer to find a suitable candidate this way, the results often hold more value. 

      Decreased Risk of a Poor Hire

      Since the retained search firm will spend a significant amount of time looking for someone who meets your company’s requirements, you’ll likely be able to find someone who will meld seamlessly into the role. 

      There is less risk that the person you hire won’t have the skills or experience needed to provide direction in the company. This is important because you don’t want to have to repeat the entire process six months down the line.

      Increased Feedback

      Finally, using a retained search firm allows you to benefit from enhanced feedback during the hiring process. Since these firms are typically boutique and tailored to meet the needs of specific businesses, they have the time and staff available to retain their relationships with their customers. 

      You’ll likely benefit from more updates during the search process, including market intelligence, competition for potential hires, and timelines for finding the ideal candidate.

      Strategic Leadership Makes a Difference

      Medium and large-sized companies and those seeking to scale their business are most likely to benefit from the use of a retained executive search firm. These types of companies require the strategic leadership of an experienced executive who can lead the business and promote its growth. 

      The best candidates for executive roles in these companies can be found using a retained executive search firm. While the cost of using a retained search firm may be more expensive than that of other search firms, the quality of candidates is typically much better.

      National Retained Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      As leaders among the nation’s best executive recruiters, we have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000 companies or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion.

      Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEOChief Operating OfficerChief Financial Officer, CHRO, CMO, and include vice president sales and marketinggeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

      Check out our industry-leading resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leader among the best executive search firms in St. Louis, Milwaukee, AnchorageNew York CityChicagoSeattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

      Cowen Partners is proud to provides the highest quality executive recruitment services to all major and minor industries, including (but not limited to):

      Accounting, Advertising, Aerospace & Defense, Biotechnology, Banking, Credit Unions, Board and CEO Services, Computer Hardware, Construction, Consulting, Consumer Products, Computer Software and Hardware, Education, Energy & Utilities, Entertainment & Sports, Finance, Financial Services, Food Products, Government, Human Resources, Health Care, Hospitality & Tourism, Insurance, Industrial, Internet & New Media, Legal, Tax, Crypto, Bitcoin, Private Equity, Journalism & Publishing, MarketingManufacturing, Medical Device, Non-Profit, Pharmaceutical, Private EquityReal Estate, Retail & Apparel, SalesTechnology, Telecommunications and Transportation.

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