Part 3: What You Get in a Retained Executive Search


Retained Executive Search vs. Contingency Recruiting: Which One is Better?


Can you hire talented performers yourself?  Aren’t they all on the Internet?  When should you a professional recruiter — and which kind?


This series of articles will help you choose.



The contingency recruiting process is quite simple.  Recruiters learn the basic facts about the job vacancy scan known candidates and submit their resumes as quickly as possible.

The retained search process has many more steps.  If your situation advocates the more in-depth process of a retained search – in other words, a specific mandate to find the best candidate for a specific position — then here is what you can expect from your chosen agency

  • The consultant will conduct detailed interviews with the client organization’s management team to develop a full understanding of the position to be filled and the qualifications of the executive to be recruited.
  • A summary of this understanding, including a detailed profile of the qualifications and experience of the desired candidate, will be communicated to the hiring executive at the outset of the engagement.
  • This engagement letter will also include a complete description of how the search will be conducted and will outline the firm’s policies on fees, expenses, guarantees and assurances against recruiting executives away from the client organization in the future.
    • The consultant will conduct original research, targeting organizations identified as likely employers of potential candidates, and accessing proprietary and commercially available databases for sources of potential candidates.
    • Through this research, the consultant develops a “long list” of potentially qualified candidates, and then conducts telephone interviews to develop candidates for possible in-person interviews.
    • During one or more in-person interviews the consultant conducts a thorough evaluation of each candidate’s suitability for, and interest in, the position.
    • At this point, the consultant may also apply formal assessment tools to create a profile of the candidate and his/her suitability in meeting the goals the client has outlined.
    • The consultant presents several qualified candidates to the client for interviews, and throughout this process acts as a mediator to assure that all issues relevant to filling the position are being addressed.
    • Once the client has selected one or more candidates it would like to hire, the consultant conducts final reference checks to confirm the accuracy of judgments about the candidate’s suitability and to assure that all relevant information about the candidate has been gathered.
    • The consultant will help the client develop the job offer and will help the candidate prepare to accept it.
    • After the hiring, the consultant will stay in touch with both the client and the successful candidate to assure an orderly transition.
    • Finally, the hiring organization can expect two assurances from the search firm: first, the firm will pledge that, during a given period of time, if the hired candidate does not work out for reasons the search consultant should have foreseen, the firm will repeat the search at no extra charge (out-of-pocket expenses only); second, the search firm will pledge not to recruit from the hiring organization for a stated period of time following the engagement.





This four-part series first appeared on the Cornerstone Kansas City website and includes material originated by The Association of Executive Search Consultants.


The AESC is the professional association representing retained executive search consulting firms worldwide bound by a Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines.



 PREV: Part 2: When to Use Which Process

NEXT:  Part 4: Improving the Odds of Success with Onboarding


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