What is a Retained Recruiter?

A retained recruiter primarily focuses on executive level searches at the VP, C-suite, and Board level. Though an executive recruiter can also be retained to find those hard to fill roles in middle management. Therefore, a retained search firm will work very closely with companies that have openings based on key criteria and criticality of the role. Retained recruiters are relationship oriented with their clients and tend to work with them for many years. They are also relationship oriented with their network of trusted candidates. As such, retained recruiters are often their client’s trusted advisors, and to avoid any conflicts of interest, are exclusive to the search and are paid whether or not they place the final candidate.

If you’re looking to find top talent, you’ll want to identify a trusted retained executive recruiter. Retained recruiters are successful because they have years of experience in the industry, care about their clients needs, understand what makes a good candidate, and they’re willing to put in the hard work to deliver you the best options for your specific role.

Retained recruiters have earned their reputation through years of work. Many cut their teeth at the largest search firms before either striking out on their own or taking a leadership role at their existing firm. They have learned best practices over time and are able to handle whatever is thrown at them.

They are trusted because they understand how to develop a relationship with their clients. Focusing on their client needs and advising them. They also manage the entire process from identification to onboarding, allowing HR teams to focus on other priorities. Additionally, the executive team generally only spends time with the top three to five candidates. They are not wasting time talking to candidates that will not move forward.

Retained recruiters networks have been curated over time to the top people in their fields. Many retained recruiters won’t accept someone new unless they were referred by an existing contact. The goal is to find and support the best of the best. Additionally, the majority of these searches are confidential, both for the company with an opening and for the candidates considering a move. Retained recruiters are known for their discretion and maintaining confidentiality.

At this level, all of the candidates have the resume to fill an opening, what differentiates them is their leadership style. One of the biggest advantages of using a retained search firm is their ability to understand culture fit. Working with you from the outset, they will seek to understand your organization. The number one reason newly hired executives don’t work out is because they don’t fit with the culture. Retained recruiters use assessments and other tools to identify red flags early and eliminate those candidates who look good on paper but won’t fit with the company.

Retained searches are paid for even if the candidate were to come from outside of the search. Some may view this as a financial risk, those that have worked with retained recruiters understand the tremendous value provided by these firms. The work of identifying, reaching out, screening, meeting with, filtering, and presenting the specific candidates a company is looking for takes time, patience, and tenacity. Then there is the offer process and any related negotiation as well as onboarding support to ensure success. Retained recruiters are one of the most valuable business partners a company has.

Sheer Velocity is a boutique retained executive search firm with offices in Denver, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis and Boulder. Our recruiters offer you the same bandwidth and persistence of much larger competitors, combined with the personal attention and customized approach of a smaller firm. To learn more about working with a retained recruiter, send us a note.