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Retained Recruitment Revealed

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 4 years ago

​You have a vacancy. You’ve advertised. You’ve used your usual recruiter. Yet you still haven’t found the right match for your role. Maybe it’s time to consider using retained recruitment? Wait, no, that’s too expensive, it takes too long and maybe you’re just not sure what it is. This short-read will reveal why retained recruitment might be right for some of your roles.

What exactly is retained recruitment?

Firstly, retained recruitment goes by a number of names – just to make it more difficult for people to understand - think headhunter, search & selection specialist and executive search. It’s just a type of recruitment. But how does it differ from “contingency” recruitment (i.e. when a consultant delivers you candidates but they don’t get paid until a hire is made).

Here’s how. You have a role to fill and you pay a fee (that’s the retained bit) for a consultancy to conduct a search for the ideal candidate, which invariably (given, not always) will lead to you hiring. Fees vary massively dependent on the role, the scarcity of candidates and the estimated time it will take to fill the role. 

What do retained recruiters do differently?

Fees are potentially higher with retained recruitment. This is a value driven transaction; retained recruiters could have spent years networking in their specialist sector to know the right people to fill your role. This is not a volume transaction where you get 100s of CVs in the hope one or two might fit the bill.

What retained recruiters do is firstly understand the role they are recruiting for (at Allen & York we’ve spent years working in the environment and sustainability sectors so can understand the role types and technicalities required). Retained recruiters also understand their client’s business, their culture and their needs. 

Time is spent up-front to get the best understanding of the role, the ideal candidate, what’s worked/not worked in the past, the culture of the business. Once this information is gathered, a plan is put in place to assign resource (rarely is this a one person job) and to look at the methodology to be used to find the best match. 

What then?

As stated previously, this is not a “spray and pray” volume approach. Retained recruiters will usually present between three to seven people who they believe have both the skill and necessary experience and would be a cultural fit for the business. They’ll also look at where the person is located (commutable or relocation implications), their salary and benefits expectations, aspirations for the future and development prospects all before interviews are even scheduled. All delivered to the timeline agreed.

At Allen & York we screen candidates and provide candidate packs outlining skills, experience and detail around the agreed criteria set with the client at the briefing stage. We’ll even run first round interviews so as to present the best candidates for the role and take some of the time pressure from our clients.

How much will it cost?

Fees for retained recruitment are higher. There’s no getting away from that fact. However, they don’t need to be extortionate and they are delivering a higher-end service and will invest more time and work harder for your order as they are guaranteed a payment for their time (hence it’s a good motivator to find the best talent). Usually the fee is based on the first year’s salary/package and can range from between 20% to 50%. 

We’re not suggesting all roles should be mandated on a retained model. Where retained works best is finding managerial and executive-level (more hard-to-fill) roles. If you have people leading your business, like a Chief Executive Officer, or Global Sustainability Director, you want the best people in the market. For those roles that don’t quite meet these levels, you can also look at a “mini-retainer” and agree parameters that work for both parties.

What if it doesn’t work out?

With retained search, the consultancy will follow up with the employed candidate and the client to ensure everything is going well. If the worst-case scenario happens, there is likely a rebate clause in the recruitment agency contract to rebate some of the fee on a decreasing scale over a set period of time.

What if it does work out?

In the vast majority of cases, employment works as you’ve spent the time and effort to brief the consultancy, they have understood the role requirements and culture and you’ve all agreed that you’ve hired the best person for the job. Therefore time from on-boarding to that person being a valued (and valuable) member of the team will be shorter and the fee will have been well spent.

When should you use retained recruitment?

  • When you have a niche role in a niche industry that you need expert help with.

  • What candidates for that role are likely to be scarce or it’s a really competitive market.

  • When the salary level is high and you want to hire the best match first time round.

  • When you require confidentiality due to the market/internal concerns.

  • When you don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself. 

If you would like more information on Allen & York’s retained recruitment service (or even our mini-retainer model), please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01202 888986 or email our MD, Lester Lockyer, at llockyer@allen-york.comfor more information.

Allen & York, recruiting for the green economy and beyond, since 1993.