What are the Upsides of Using a Retained Search Process?

What are the Upsides of Using a Retained Search Process?

  • There are several benefits of using a retained process. As in many walks of life, you get what you pay for when purchasing a specialist consulting service.
  • Working with the best Search firm in the market and having access to their time is priceless.
  • A retained search instruction has another benefit many companies don’t appreciate: the impact on candidates.
  • It demonstrates to the candidate that the client is serious about hiring. The role is real and it’s not a company resume or CV shuffling to see if anyone is worth hiring.
  • Candidates understand that the client has already invested in the process, which elevates the entire candidate, client, and recruiter experience and process.

Access to a Skilled and Passive Talent Pool

  • The current hiring market is challenging. Navigating a tight labour market, skill shortages, hard-to-reach candidates, and happy employees who aren’t actively looking, though they are listening, are all in the day-to-day work and skill set of an experienced Search partner that offer retained search solutions.
  • The fact is experienced Search firms have extensive networks and resources to identify and attract high-quality candidates into their personal talent pools that they are constantly building their network for clients.
  • Certain specialisms have highly developed skills in key areas vital to their success. When it comes to Search Firms, they are exceptional networkers who are talking to key players in a market daily. An experienced Search Firm will have mapped the market and roles identifying candidates’ skills, wants, and needs should the ideal position become available.
  • This means they have established relationships with potential candidates that are both passive and active (not a skill every contingent recruiter has) that will fit your expectations for the role and are also an ideal cultural fit. 
  • This benefit alone is worth weeks and months of your or your internal recruitment team’s time.

Deep Sector and Subject Matter Expertise and Market Insight

  • A team will deliver a retained search and leverage experienced professionals inhouse with deep industry subject knowledge and expertise.
  • They have a finger on the pulse of the job market, including salary trends, talent availability, and industry-specific challenges. 
  • An additional plus point here is that certain Search Firms are known for their sector knowledge and expertise, and by default, that will attract a certain level of candidates.
  • This insight enables them to provide valuable guidance to the hiring organisation throughout the recruitment process, giving you the confidence to attract and engage the talent you want.

Targeted and Customised Approach

  • Retained Search Firms work closely with the hiring organisation to understand its specific vision and values and its hiring goals and requirements. 
  • The process is extremely detailed and delivers the creation of a unique approach and tailored strategy for each company.
  • This often involves using the latest technology, sourcing tools, and marketing campaigns designed specifically for each role.
  • Depending on the role and skill set required, a Firm that offers retained search will often be able to identify an ideal candidate from another sector with transferable skills that would be a great hire that contingent recruiters wouldn’t have the knowledge or connections to deliver.

Time and Resource Efficiency and Support for an Inhouse Team

  • Hiring for executive-level positions is both time-consuming and resource-intensive. Engaging a retained Search Firm transfers the burden of sourcing, screening, and shortlisting candidates to the recruiting firm you work with, which naturally frees up often stretched internal resources. 
  • A retained search is delivered so comprehensively that no stone is left unturned.
  • In-house teams, of course, have a place. However, when considering a confidential and senior role, an internal team won’t have the networks, connections, or capacity to deliver a shortlist of candidates in the time frames needed.

Confidentiality and Discretion

  • Hiring will always have a level of confidentiality required during the process, and a retained search instruction will take this to another level.
  • Your recruiting partner understands the importance of maintaining confidentiality, particularly when recruiting for sensitive or high-level positions. 
  • They follow strict protocols and N.D.A.s to ensure the privacy of both the hiring organisation and the candidates. This can be particularly crucial when filling positions where internal promotion may not be an option or during transitional periods in your organisation.

D.E.I Compliance 

  • Firms that provide a retained search process operate at an elevated level in all parts of the process.
  • They will often be fully trained in the D.E.I process aligned to recruitment, with many operating a de-biased approach using the latest software.

They will have cultivated a diverse candidate pool you can access as a client.

Succession Planning and Building your Talent Pipeline

Depending on the department, roles, and growth plans, many Firms offering retained services will also offer a consultancy package, including helping you develop your employee value proposition and the ongoing steps to build your talent pipeline, including succession planning.

Salary Negotiations and Counteroffer Management

  • The retained search process is detailed and often at a deeper level than a contingency search. As such, the salary expectations are benchmarked ahead of time with both the candidate and the client.
  • Selling the role and opportunity to a candidate is a superpower of a skilled and experienced retained search consultant. On the flip side, they also can analyse, within reason, if a candidate might be unpredictable when negotiating an offer or accepting a counteroffer from their current employer.
  • Bringing the offer and acceptance across the line is the role of a retained search consultant and is part of their process and guarantee.

Successful Placements and an Improved Bottomline

  • The retained search process is designed to deliver successful placements by presenting the hiring organisation with a shortlist of highly qualified and well-vetted candidates. 
  • Hiring is not an easy business process; however, using a retained search process reduces the company’s risk.
  • Retained recruitment might have a higher upfront investment, but in the long run, it’s more cost-effective because the shortlist will be highly qualified candidates for the role.
  • Several costs, such as advertising and screening, will be included in the retained fee.
  • By leveraging their expertise, resources, and network, retained search firms increase the probability of securing top talent for critical roles. This ultimately contributes to the organisation’s long-term success.

The Investment for a Retained Search

Using a retained search for business-critical roles is a worthwhile investment in the current skill-short-hiring landscape.

It is a well-known phrase in leadership circles that people grow organisations and consistently deliver results to the bottom line.

Therefore, reducing your risk by finding the right people to stay is a sensible use of your time and resources.

The total investment is generally based on the role seniority, timeframes, and any other consultancy requested during the process, for example, creating an E.V.P., Though most companies include all parts of the process, screening, and marketing within the fee.

The percentage fee will be based on the final total compensation. Different Search Firms use other payment structures, and many offer a guarantee. 

Some companies will require an engagement fee upfront and the remainder on the start date. While others will split the fee across different parts of the recruiting process, for example, initiating the first search, delivery of a shortlist, and successful offer. 

Utilising a retained search process offers significant benefits regarding access to talent, customised approaches, market mapping, efficiency, confidentiality, expertise, and successful placement.

These advantages make it an attractive option for organisations looking to fill key positions with exceptional candidates.


​If you are considering retained search for your organisation and you need help attracting the right talent – we can help.

For more information on how we can help you recruit the high-performing individuals you need, get in touch with Paul Hudson on 01580 857179 or email us here.


Book a call with Paul Hudson

What is The Difference Between Retained Search and Other Recruiting Services?

What is The Difference Between a Retained Search Instruction for Tech and Other Recruiting Services?

The most common recruiting options in the current permanent recruiting market are retained search and contingency-based recruitment with or without exclusivity.

Let’s share more detail about each.

Contingency Recruitment

Contingency recruitment, sometimes called non-retained recruitment, is a common method companies use to hire employees across many different sectors and roles.

As the name implies, contingency is a possible future event or circumstance that cannot be predicted with certainty. 

In the context of recruitment, contingency recruitment refers to a situation where a recruitment agency only gets paid if they successfully fill a position. 

The payment (fee) is contingent, or dependent, upon the successful placement of a candidate. This could be a set fee though more usually a percentage of the role’s salary.

The fee varies depending on the individual recruiter and sector and can be anywhere from 10-30% of the salary of the role in question.

Contingency recruiters typically work on multiple job vacancies at a time. It is logical when you consider that a recruiter puts in time and effort to source candidates who may or may not be hired; consequently, they may not be paid for the work involved in sourcing candidates.

In addition, recruiters often compete with other recruitment agencies to find the right candidate for the role. 

While contingency recruitment can be more cost-effective and quicker than other methods, it may not always deliver the highest quality candidates since the process might prioritise speed and competition between agencies, which in the case of recruiting rarely ends well.

Contingency With Exclusivity

Contingent recruitment can also be delivered on an exclusive basis. This refers to the fact that the recruiting process is still contingent on paying the fee; however, the recruitment agency will work the role exclusively, not competing with other recruitment agencies.

Many recruitment agencies with experience and expertise in a market will only work a role contingent if they have exclusivity on working the role.

Retained Search

A retained search, also known as executive search or headhunting, relates to the fact that the Search Firm works exclusively with your company and has much more involvement and responsibility throughout the recruiting process. 

I’ll share more detail about the fee structure later in the report, and as the name retained implies, the Search Firm is always paid a percentage of the fee on engagement.

In a retained search, the Search Firm is exclusively contracted to complete the recruitment process from start to finish. This typically includes defining and consulting around the job role, market mapping, and sourcing, with exclusive access to candidates, the recruiter has access to that others don’t.

A retained search involves a different level of ongoing marketing of the role; video interviewing and behavioural profiling will occur.

This method is typically used for senior, high-level or confidential and focuses on delivering highly qualified candidates. A retained search is a high touch point, high-level service, and an exclusive partnership between the hiring company and its Search partner.

This is a strategic partnership about the desire to increase the probability of finding the right person who stays with the company and continually contributes to the bottom line.

In the current skill-short market, where business-critical roles must be filled promptly, this recruiting process is becoming the preferred option for many companies.

Contact Paul Hudson, Managing Consultant at Opus Resourcing, for a discovery session to discuss your hiring needs and fuel your growth.

Book a call with Paul Hudson

The Truth About Bad References: What You Need to Know When You Are Search For a New Tech Role

The Truth About Bad References: What You Need to Know When You Are Search For a New Tech Role​

One of the most common ways an employer will assess a candidate’s character and learn more about their work ethic and suitability for the role is by examining references from previous employers. A glowing reference can improve your chances of standing out from the competition when applying for a competitive role, demonstrating your most valuable skills and attributes, while at the same time confirming you are an employee that is capable of performing the role.

A bad reference, on the other hand, can instantly destroy your chances of getting your dream job, and make it almost impossible to find a new employer.

Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, giving a bad reference (or no reference at all) isn’t illegal. Here’s everything you need to know about bad references in the Technology space.

Can an Employer Give You a Bad Reference?

Though a bad reference can severely harm your chances of being hired in the Technology industry, they’re not illegal. There are very few laws that prohibit an employer, co-worker, or anyone else you approach from sharing negative information about you. However, the exact rules and guidelines around references vary from one country to the next.

Legal Regulations in the UK

In the UK, an employer isn’t required to give a reference, unless they agree to do so in writing. If an employer chooses to share their thoughts on your attributes and work ethics, they are required to provide accurate insights, which are fair and legitimate.

While employers are allowed to share honest information about things like poor punctuality, whether you were fired, and whether you acted inappropriately, they are not permitted to add unfair or misleading information to a reference.

If you believe the statements made about you in a reference are false, you may be able to claim damages in court. Your employer will be required to back up the reference and show evidence of its accuracy.

Legal Regulations in the US

The legal regulations surrounding references in the USA are similar to those in the United Kingdom. However, it’s worth noting different states may impose their own rules on top of federal laws. On a federal level, all employers are required to give accurate, true, and fair insights into their employees when writing a reference. This means you can still challenge a reference if you believe it’s unfair or misleading.

Many states also regulate exactly what an employer can say about a previous employee. For instance, some states prohibit an employer from sharing personal information about a staff member without their consent. Some states have “service letter laws” which require employers to describe certain aspects of a team member’s employment, such as their work history, pay rates, or reasons for termination.

Legal Regulations in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia and New Zealand, employers will not breach any Commonwealth privacy laws by providing personal information in a reference that relates directly to an employee’s job. However, they are often required to ask for consent when sharing specific details.

Employers are required to carefully consider what information is appropriate to provide in a reference. Generally, employers aren’t permitted to disclose private information about their staff members, such as their medical history, due to Commonwealth privacy laws. However, the exact information an employee can share may vary based on state or region.

When Might An Technology Employer Give a Bad Reference?

In most parts of the world, employers are permitted to share negative comments about an employee if they’re relevant and fair. Most local and federal laws allow employers to comment on an employee’s conduct in the workplace, their performance, and other factors, such as poor attendance.

However, employers typically aren’t permitted to share defamatory comments based solely on their dislike of an employee, or another irrelevant factor.

Since employers have the freedom to discuss many factors relevant to a staff member’s employment during a reference, it’s crucial for employees to choose whom they ask for references from carefully. If you believe you didn’t perform according to the standards set by your employer during your time working for them, it might be best to forgo a reference.

Negative references not only damage your chances of getting the next role you apply for, but they can also have a long-standing impact on your professional brand. If word spreads about your negative attributes, you may struggle to take the next step in your career.

What to Do if You Receive a Bad Reference

Receiving a bad reference can be extremely detrimental to your future as an employee in the Technology sector. That’s why it’s so important to hold yourself to high standards when working in any environment, regardless of whether you’re planning on seeking out a new job or not.

If you’re given a bad reference by your previous employer:

  • Know your legal rights: While employers are permitted to share negative insights into an employee, they can only do so when their statement is fair and accurate. If you believe that whatever your employer has said about you in a reference is incorrect, obtain a copy of the reference, and consider seeking out legal advice.
  • Speak to your new employer: Talk to your would-be employer about the reference and challenge any aspects you believe to be unfair or unreasonable. If the reference is accurate, tackle the negative feedback head-on, and let your new employer know what influenced your performance previously, and how you plan on addressing these issues.
  • Talk to your former employer: Depending on your relationship with your current or former employer, it may be helpful to speak with them about the reference. Question the issues they raised and ask them whether there’s any chance they may be willing to change the reference. Apologising for any misconduct may help to resolve the issue amicably.
  • Assess other references: It may be possible to mitigate the impact of a bad reference by providing other, complementary references to your new employer. Look at statements you’ve received from other colleagues, co-workers, and employers in the past, and draw attention to these when connecting with your new employer.

You can also consider speaking to your recruitment company for some extra advice. They may be able to offer insights on how you can reduce the impact of a bad reference or seek out better commentaries from other people in your history. They can also help you to develop your professional brand, so you still make a positive impact on new employers.

Opus Resourcing recruits world-class SaaS, technology, commercial and executive talent for companies ranging from seed-stage start-ups to Fortune 500 companies within the UK, Europe, and the US.