13 April 2022 | by Louise Archer

Employees are the lifeblood of a business; they are key to a company’s success. So, when a client hires us to outreach candidates for a role, we play a critical part in finding the best candidate in the market, someone who embodies the company’s values and can later add to the success of the client’s company. 

To achieve this, we need to put in significant time to carry out a search process. With the contingent search model, the time we can spend on one project is mitigated by factors such as:   

  • How likely we are to fill the role  
  • How niche the required skillset is  
  • Who we are competing against   

If there is a strong chance we will miss out on a fee, we are less likely to engage with highly sought-after candidates and engage only with active candidates, who reply to our LinkedIn messages but may not be the best candidate in the market at that time (other recruiters on the same project will also do this).   

The reality is, we want to help guide the client, to offer them an outstanding service, become an extension of their business and ultimately hire the best person for the job. But the contingent model makes this near impossible. This is where the Retained recruitment model comes in. 

Will a Retained Recruitment model work? Contingent is just the way things are

5-10 years ago, retained recruitment was regarded as a highly professional service only offered up by executive search firms. However, in the current market, retained has become a necessity in hiring the best candidates available in the market at any given time. If your top priority is hiring the best person for a role, you have a moral obligation to retained. 

Selling retained search as a solution is easy to suggest, but still, why would the client go against the norm and commit when it is not standard in the industry?  

At Retrained Search, we take inspiration from Simon Sinek. His ‘Start with Why’ Ted Talk is very inspirational, especially when he said, ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.   

So, what is your reason why?   

When you care about your relationship with your client and want to solve their problems, you can form a trusted advisor status with them and focus on achieving their long-term goals. Wanting to make a quick buck isn’t the aim. Pursuing relationships, not money, is the key to success and why there is a moral obligation to retained.


Watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk in full here  


Why do clients need retained recruitment?  

It’s usually the top layers of an organisation that are concerned about the long-term future of a business. Contingent is operational and transactional, which is typical of work at the lower end of a company hierarchy.   

Retained search largely solves problems that are felt higher up in the organisation, so aligning yourself as a strategic problem solver with them naturally takes you up those layers of an organisation. Retained search projects will ultimately elevate your relationships with your clients. 

Contingent recruitment is not sustainable for clients. The market has changed. In previous years, contingent recruitment was enough to find ideal candidates for a company but now only 30% of candidates are reached under the contingent model.  


Let’s look at the Iceberg Effect to explain this.   

infographic displaying an iceberg with the tip above water. The tip of the iceberg is a metaphor for available candidates

We see that without investing in a retained recruiter, the client only has access to active candidates, making up just 30% of candidates in the market. Uncovering candidates with a rigorous retained search process allows the client to make hires that are sustainable and well suited to the long-term plans of a company.   


How we can help you sell retained search 

If you want to form partnerships with your clients, help them to scale their business and hire the best candidates available, then we can help you.   

We train recruiters to sell, pitch, win and deliver retained search assignments. We offer a bitesize, easy-to-learn course that transforms your relationships with clients, and gives you the skills and methodology to work on retained search assignments. And it works.   

Let me introduce you to Julia, who talks about her experience in moving from contingent to retained search.   


Book a call with us to discuss the course today! 

Louise Archer

Louise Archer

Louise has worked on the front-line of recruitment for twenty years. Having been a contingent recruiter before transitioning to retained she understands the struggles that consultants and companies face, operating on a contingent basis. Louise started training Retained Search four years ago, and since then has taught hundreds of recruiters to move to Retained.

Let’s work together

Book a one to one to find out more about Retained Search.

Talk To Us