Executive Search Recruiter:
Working with a Retained Search Consultant
I understand how a retained executive search recruiter works. My recruiting "roots" are on the retained side of
the business. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the searches I still work directly are
I make this choice for a couple of reasons. First, I like to get paid for the work I do.
With a retained search assignment, my income is guaranteed under my contract. Secondly, I find
that my relationship with my clients is different - I'm a partner in the search process, not
just another execuitve search recruiter working on the project.
This is important to the quality of the product I deliver. It's hard to make a perfect
match if critical information about the job and/or the organization is missing.
I get to know my clients and understand their business and their objectives. I get a feel for
the type of candidate who will fit my client's corporate culture and be successful in their
environment. This fit issue is often more important than the skills and experience a candidate
brings to the position. I can always find people who meet the requirements...it's matching
on the "fit" level that makes a truly successful placement.
You can read about the real inside story on working with the execuitve search recruiter community by taking
a look at my article titled: Working with Executive Recruiters:
Myth vs. Reality. Check it out in the DerrJones Article
In the meantime, let's take a closer look at working with a retained search firm.
Retained Executive Search Recruiter:
What to Expect
I'm sure that many of you receive calls from headhunters on a regular basis. Do you take
the time to hear them out? If it's a retained recruiter calling, you just might want to
listen to what they have to say. Candidates working with a retained recruiter will
- Retained search firms tend to work on higher level positions ($100K+) and with top
companies. Companies who understand the value of recruiting top talent will often turn
to a retained firm to fill mission critical positions.
- A retained executive search recruiter will have a lot of information about their client and about the
position they're trying to fill. They typically will have access to the direct hiring
manager, along with other senior players on the team, allowing them to understand more
about the opportunity than what appears in a job description.
- A retained recruiter will present only the top 4-6 candidates they surface to their
client. This means that you might interview with the recruiter but never get to the
- The retained search process takes longer. It's not uncommon for a retained firm to
take 4-6 weeks before presenting a slate of candidates to their client. The recruiting
firm is constantly evaluating candidates against each other. Since only 4-6 will be
presented, you might have the qualifications but not make the cut, based on the same
types of issues that knock you out of the running with a hiring manager. Often times
there's nothing "wrong" with you - it's just that someone else is a stronger fit.
- Your references will be checked - both professional references and academic credentials
will be verified. Retained firms will often try to speak with people who don't appear on
your official reference list.
- Interviews are likely to be held in person or via video-conference, rather
than by phone.
- You can expect communication with a retained executive search recruiter to be good throughout the process.
This includes communicating to you when you're no longer in the running for the position.
- A retained recruiter gets paid by the client regardless of how the candidate surfaces. It's
not uncommon for a client to send a potential candidate they know about to the recruiting firm
to be screened along side of other candidates. If this client-generated candidate is hired, the
recruiting firm still gets paid.
- Retained recruiters will not share your resume without permission. You will know at all
times who the recruiter is working with and where you stand in the process. You cannot
circumvent the recruiter on a retained search.
- Retained firms are hired to find candidates that completely match the requirements of the
position. Your background will not be submitted if your experience is not a direct fit
with what the client's looking for.