Most of the positions that are filled by recruiters are posted on a contingent basis. In many situations, employers see value in working with multiple firms and paying a recruitment fee only when they hire a candidate presented by one of the firms. Based on intuition, it would be easy to assume that this is the most efficient manner to cover the market. But the reality is that in some cases a retained search—an exclusive partnership with one expert, specialized firm—provides superior market coverage, allows the employer to maintain control and lends a level of cachet to the role.
Probably the most common reason that a company decides to take a retained search approach is that the position is senior and/or visible, calling for a measured, controlled and systematic approach. Examples include Chief Actuary, Chief Analytics Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Risk Officer and Partner roles. Professionals at this level expect an employer to use a retained search process; the best candidates would be unlikely to respond to a contingent search. The fact that the employer is retaining a specialist firm to fill its open position illustrates the significance of the role itself and the value the company sees in their new potential team member. By partnering with one retained search firm, the employer can control the message and method of the search. This approach ensures that the desired message is being delivered to the market, that candidate feedback is collected and that candidate selection is fine-tuned through an iterative process.
A retained search also provides deeper, more thorough market coverage than a contingent search. With the increased level of information about the employer and role that a retained approach provides, along with the time to methodically contact the appropriate individuals, more extensive market coverage is guaranteed. In fact, the retained search firm is contractually obligated to reach out to every potentially appropriate candidate. The contingent recruiter is not. These benefits have proven to be especially important in difficult-to-fill roles.
Some positions simply are harder to fill because of location, required specialized skill-set or communication requirements, for example. Again, the systematic, repeated and complete coverage of the market over time is something only a retained approach can provide; it simply cannot occur under the terms of a contingent search. So, a contingent approach can be an employer’s best bet in most cases. But to truly ensure comprehensive market coverage, to maintain control of the strategic process and to raise the prestige of a role, employers need to evaluate the advantages of a retained search approach. For additional information on DW Simpson’s Retained Searches:Dave Benton Partner, Retained Search Services firstname.lastname@example.org +1 312 867 2338 Dave Retford Director, Retained Search Services
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