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Considering a Retained Search? Here are the Benefits and Costs You Can Expect

Posted on November 19, 2015
Lori ShearinWritten by Lori Shearin | Email author

retained search

I was recently at lunch with a CEO and he was stating how frustrated his team was in finding a top level HR executive.  He felt they were wasting a lot of time and money with no results.  I asked him what the biggest stumbling block was and he felt that his team wasn’t reaching top talent.  His thought was they just didn’t have the time to give the search the attention that it needed to be successful.  I told him I had the solution:  a retained search.  At Helios, we frequently work with clients in this situation—they want to hire the best talent for their senior level roles and don’t have the appropriate resources in-house.  There are many reasons why a retained search is the answer for this problem in hiring.

Top 5 Advantages of a Retained Search 

  1. Focus and Process. A retained search incorporates a meticulous, laser-focused process that most in-house recruiters do not.  When filling executive level roles especially, all steps in the process must be taken with great care.  By working with a retained search firm, you can eliminate a lot of the risk in your hiring process.  Instead of working on many projects, these recruiters are focused on just a couple—giving your search its proper attention.  A retained search offers thorough research, extensive talent pipelines and networks, and meticulous reference checking and background checks.  Most importantly, a retained search firm provides a guarantee for their placements and when hiring executives this can work as a safety net for your organization.
  2. Pipeline and Networks. A retained search firm utilizes their own extensive network which includes active candidates as well as a pipeline of potential or passive job seekers.  This leads to hiring the best possible candidate – not the best candidate who is simply available.  Often in-house recruiting efforts can only rely on the candidates that apply:  those who are unemployed or actively looking for a job.  Also, looking for an executive-level candidate that has a particular skill set can take a lot of time and effort.  Retained recruiters have excellent researching skills and know the best methods to find these high-quality candidates.
  3. Experts in Recruiting. Retained search firms are staffed with experts in recruiting.  They not only provide recruiting process guidelines, candidate pipelines and networks—they provide an expertise in finding these individuals and know-how to navigate the waters when handling delicate situations and negotiations.  These recruiters have excellent people skills so they can determine both a candidate’s qualifications from a skills and experience perspective and if they will fit into your company’s culture.  A retained search can give you the benefit of the recruiter’s expertise at each phase of the recruiting process and if a problem arises with the process, candidate, or job itself, the recruiter can quickly identify it and offer solutions.
  4. A retained search recruiter handles all of the communication between your company and candidates.  They are experts at handling unusual situations and offer negotiations (this is paramount, especially when dealing with senior level executives).  They create and nurture a relationship of trust between the organization, candidates and themselves.  They can often gauge and/or predict potential problems in the process and know best how to address them to resolve issues.  With this knowledge and focus, it often accelerates the process and ensures your chances of finding the best fit for your team.
  5. Time and Cost. Finding highly qualified executive level candidates can be time consuming and costly.  When in-house recruiters or Human Resources professionals conduct these searches, they have to balance time for the search in addition to their primary work which often yields limited search results and an extended timeframe to complete the search.   The longer a position goes unfilled, the more money it costs your organization.  When partnering with a retained search firm, finding candidates for your role is their sole focus. A retained search also allows you to avoid the hidden costs of considering only a small sampling of qualified candidates and most often, a retained search firm can complete the search more quickly therefore saving you money. It typically will cost your firm between 20-30% of the hire’s first year total compensation.

The cost of selecting the wrong person can run into the hundreds of thousands, not to mention the potential negative impact to employee morale and productivity. According to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), it could cost up to five times a bad hire’s annual salary. With precise attention to detail, diligent research and focus, extensive pipelines and networks, and expertise in all areas of recruiting, a retained search firm will deliver a thorough and efficient recruiting process which produces top candidates quickly bringing greater impact and value to your organization.  It will also give you the peace of mind in knowing that the best possible candidates are being identified, vetted and presented.

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