The Value of Retained Search

Talent acquisition is only becoming more complex, especially in niche markets and for specialized roles. It’s a monumental task to hire an ace in this challenging talent market which is why many look for outside assistance.

Before you can decide whether engaging a retained search firm is the right move for you and your organization, you have to know what it is and what value is provided by utilizing one.

What Is Retained Search?

Retained search, also known as executive search or retained recruitment, is a highly tailored method of headhunting used predominantly for senior-level and specialized roles. A retained search firm joins you at the starting line with your recruiting needs, using the expertise and experience of its consultants to help define job requirements and identify the most sought-after qualities in a candidate. And they stay with you throughout the entire process, providing assessments and recommendations all the way through to the finish line of hiring and onboarding your new leader.

Other headhunting methods include a dedicated in-house talent acquisition team, contingency search agency and even managers handling their hiring needs informally alongside other responsibilities. All are solutions suitable for different scenarios, but none is more high-touch and comprehensive than when you partner with an executive recruiting firm.

What Are the Benefits of Retained Search?

While there is an up-front cost associated with retaining an executive search firm’s services, the benefits of that agreement easily outweigh the search fee. A successful new leader will positively impact an organization’s bottom line and company culture. Conversely, the cost of a bad hire is a ripple effect that can be extremely detrimental to a business.

Unlike contingency search or in-house recruitment, retained search firms take responsibility for hiring the right person. When working with a contingency search firm or handling in-house, the cost is often lower, but the onus falls on you to make the hire. With retained recruitment, the search continues until the right person is found.

Additional benefits include:

  • Highly Personal: Your needs and challenges are unique to you and to your industry or sector. The right retained search firm invests significant resources into understanding those needs and challenges before tailoring a search strategy and guiding you through the headhunting process.
  • Broad Reach: Executive search firms spend years building trust and cultivating relationships. This gives them access to resources and networks that simply don’t exist for others, including passive and cross-sector talent, increasing the chances of finding that ace candidate in a timely manner.
  • Discretion: High profile = high stakes. Hiring for a senior level role in any organization requires discretion no matter what side of the process you’re on. A retained search firm acts as a neutral intermediary in these delicate situations.
  • Quality over Quantity: Utilizing a retained search firm when hiring for multiple roles rather than spreading them out across several channels ensures an efficient process. Building a long-term relationship with a firm ensures consistency not only in representing your brand and in positioning your opportunities, but also in how candidates are assessed.
  • Value – Added: Executive recruiting firms often offer additional services such as salary benchmarking, leadership coaching, and third-party psychometric assessments that can be utilized during or outside of a search agreement.

There are many factors to consider when hiring your next leader, and that’s why our firm is here — putting decades of search expertise and industry experience to work so you can focus on business while we focus on finding your next executive.

To connect with one of our consultants, contact us at