18 November 2022 | by Louise Archer

An exclusive search eliminates competition, increases value in your recruitment service and allows you to invest time and money into your assignment without ‘risk’.  


If you’re selling your client exclusives, then you’re ahead of the game in your field. You’ve shown your client true value in your offering, and you’ve built the foundations of a strategic, non-transactional, relationship with your client.   

From your perspective, you’ve eliminated the financial risk involved in pitting yourself against other recruitment agencies and potentially working on an assignment without getting paid for it. Now you can focus your time and efforts onto filling the position without having to keep one eye on the competition. Meaning you can properly assess candidates without having to fast-track them, you can deep dive into the talent pool and add even more value to your service.  

But you aren’t fully protected. The reality is that you’re still operating a contingent search. You’re still at commercial risk under an exclusive search model. You’re largely improving your chances of landing that fill fee but not as much as you could 

We’re not saying that exclusive isn’t better than contingent – it is. But with retained search you can protect yourself with terms, and bat away those existing risks with exclusivity, namely your client being able to pull the assignment or hire someone internally. 


You’re still at risk under an exclusive search 

Your client can still: 

  • Hire someone internally
  • Lose funding for your assignment 
  • Or simply request to ‘put a pin in it’  

By selling an exclusive search to your client, you’ve already identified the flaws in contingent and are trying to combat them which is great 

You’ve also already opened that conversation with your client for exclusivity, you’ve demonstrated the reasons why an exclusive search is beneficial. For example:  

  • They value your service 
  • You’re consistently depended on to deliver  
  • They trust you to find the right candidate  

Also, you’ve shown how it is beneficial for your client. With an exclusive search, the client leaves a good impression on the talent pool. The candidate isn’t being approached by numerous recruiters with the same role, which can make the client look like a house for sale with countless ‘for sale’ signs outside. 

With these pro exclusivity points already on the table, go that one step further and recommend a retained search solution 

A retained search solution: 

  • Eliminates financial risk  
  • Provides you with terms that protect your payments in stages 
  • And helps you achieve a partnership status with your client 


How to Pitch for a retained search solution when exclusive no longer works in your favour  

Try this retained pitch script on your next client call:  

I’m really pleased you are happy with the service we are providing, and we enjoy working with you too. We want to continue to deliver a great service, BUT as I’ve explained, the market is changing. There are fewer active candidates than there ever were before and competition for talent has never been fiercer. Fewer candidates are responding to LinkedIn messages or emails than ever. And in response to this, we are having to spend more and more time on each assignment to make sure we reach a result. 

The problem is that we are currently working completely at risk, on a no-win no fee basis, and we can’t keep doing that. This isn’t an exercise to make more money, the cost is the same overall, but in order to continue to provide you with a great service, and even improve it we’ll need some financial commitment from you to enable us to apply the time and resources necessary to ensure we reach a result. ”                                                                                                  

Want more pitch tips? Download our 10 tips to improve your retainer pitch (which you can implement immediately). 

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.

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