I recently had the opportunity to speak with a client who expressed her frustrations regarding her company’s efforts to hire a key legal executive. She lamented that her company was spending an exorbitant amount of money on resources, referring to advertising and sifting through resumes, but they weren’t seeing results. She and her team of in-house recruiters were completely overwhelmed with other priority searches that were farther along and wouldn’t be able to devote the additional time and energy required to find the best possible talent for this high level role.  She was at a crossroads and was looking for help. I shared the benefits of a retained search with her and she was relieved that she could turn to a trusted business partner to help resolve her issue.

While there are many different benefits to a retained search, for the sake of all of our time, I’ve chosen to only speak about a few. After all, we have talent we need to be sourcing…

The main, and, in my opinion, the most important reasons to partner with a search firm on a retained basis are the issues most pressing in each of our workdays… time and money. After all, isn’t our time our money? It can be time-consuming and costly to have a company’s in-house recruiters conduct an executive search, shifting their focus from other responsibilities. When an already over-burdened in-house recruiter is given primary responsibility for an executive search on top of everything else, there is no question that it will take longer to source the best talent, and therefore, the role will likely remain open for longer. That in turn costs the company money and causes the hiring manager frustration.

The second reason to partner with a search firm is focus. When you partner with a search firm, you have their focus and attention. And while a search firm may be simultaneously working on a few additional searches, the volume will not come close to what is on an in-house recruiter’s plate. When you have a retained recruiter focus on your search, they will scour the talent pool for top candidates and you will see more passive, not active, candidates. Why is it beneficial to have passive and not active candidates? Candidates who are actively searching for new roles are generally unhappy in their current position or may not be in good standing. Passive candidates, who may not already be engaged in the interviewing process, may be more excited about the opportunity at your company when it is presented by a recruiter. A candidate who is focused, motivated and driven in their current role can bring that energy to your company’s role. And if you are focusing on active candidates, you are missing a great source of potential employees.

Third, recruiters are experts at the recruiting process. We never shy away from picking up the phone and calling potential candidates. While in 2018 we have many ways to engage talent via social media, the best way to find talent is still to pick up the phone and get dialing.  Only this way can we get to know our candidates, talking to them about their career goals and spending time finding out what would be the perfect role for them. It’s not always easy to find the time to call numerous candidates if your focus isn’t solely on the search.  In a retained search, you have the recruiter’s focus − 100% of it.

Lastly, I want to take a few minutes to discuss retained versus contingent search.  When you engage a recruiter such as myself to conduct a retained search, we are agreeing to enter in a mutually beneficial working relationship.  You are committing to a paying on a schedule for my services (a common business occurrence), which allows me to focus my attention on reviewing, screening and presenting all candidates for the open position. You also agree to grant me time and access to discuss strong candidates, or if necessary, refocus the search.  In exchange, I am committing to making your search my top priority.  In most instances, a retained search is in both of our best interests.  I will use my network and all of the tools at my disposal to find the best candidates out there.  With a retained search, there are not multiple people reaching out to top candidates about your position, therefore, strong candidates won’t feel that you are desperate to hire (a situation I’m dealing with now working on a non-retained search for a company who has shared their search with two other agencies; we continue calling the same people which is diluting the appeal of the company, muddying the waters for my client and candidates and making me less interested in focusing on the search).  Although committing to a retained search can sometimes be scary, as in all relationships, that commitment will produce better results.

Keeping these important reasons in mind, if you have the opportunity to engage a trusted business partner towards a mutually beneficial goal, isn’t it clear how to best proceed? If you’re on the same page as me, please feel free to contact me at sthomas@lucasgroup.com for a further discussion. I’d love the opportunity to speak with you.


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