Why use a retained search for your key hires?

Why use a retained search for your key hires?

Identifying the right people for your business is a key investment so why leave it to random chance?

Issues from sourcing, attraction, engagement, and confirmation that your target is the best available candidate for the job are all very time-consuming, labour intensive and in many cases emotionally draining for the business.

Hiring a search specialist to run the recruitment process for you is often the best way forward.

Every business has access to a multitude of candidates through online job boards, social media and candidate databases, but that doesn’t necessarily make the recruitment process straightforward. What businesses often overlook, when recruiting, is that it’s not just about finding candidates; it’s about finding the right candidate. The true expertise lies in matching the right candidates to the right opportunities; a recruitment consultant’s approach towards the passive candidate and their efficacious technique play a part in providing a service that clients are more than happy to use and pay for.


So what is a retained search exactly?

It is a process, in which a client (business) engages a consultant for a specific recruitment need, where part of the fee is paid on engagement, and a full assignment brief is taken by meeting with the client. This allows the consultant to ascertain detailed specifics about the ideal candidate from technical skills, through to personality traits and background. It also allows the consultant to gain an understanding of the client’s culture and working environment.

A retained search involves actively researching the market to identify individuals within “target companies”, normally competitor companies. Once a list of individuals with the right background has been created, the consultant will actively make contact with them to ascertain a level of interest in the role. The consultant will then personally interview each candidate in order to draw up a shortlist of three to four to present to the client.

As well as presenting the client with the best three to four candidates available in their industry, the consultant will provide interview notes and information about each individual’s background. The key benefit of such information is that both client and candidate are better prepared than they would be had they only received a CV, which contained no supporting information.

The consultant’s job is then to manage the recruitment process from there on; arranging interviews, collating feedback and ensuring both parties are kept informed and up to date with developments.

Final fee is due on candidate start date (or written acceptance of offer depending on terms).

Retained searches have a far more in-depth process than traditional agency recruiting. It could be argued that its greatest advantage is that it allows the recruitment consultant to provide their clients with candidates who are not actively seeking a new role, which the client would have not found otherwise. Another advantage of using a retained search for your recruitment needs is that the level of due diligence provided by the consultant is much greater because they have formally interviewed each candidate, as opposed to conducting a brief telephone screening exercise.

The search process can protect your brand and reputation, as you only have one recruitment company discussing your company in the market, meaning it is easier to promote a coherent and consistent message. It also allows the recruitment business to put more time, resources and efforts into filling your vacancy, compared with a contingency recruitment exercise.


4 Simple Steps

If you are considering using a retained search process to fulfil your recruitment needs, here are our 4 key steps to successful executive search recruitment:


  1. Select one specific recruiter or consultancy with a proven track record of helping businesses in your specific sector to hire top talent to your vacancy
  2. Meet with them to discuss the vacancy
  3. Allow them to design the strategy (usually, this will involve advertising, database search, other search activities, referrals etc.)
  4. Work with them to create a universal list of potential candidates and source sites.


Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our services page for more information. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in photonics, electronics, semiconductor, software and IoT in Scotland and the UK. Check out our blog page for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on + 44 131 510 8150