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Improving Results with Retained & Engaged Search

August 11, 2022 ──── MRINetwork
Executive Search, Recruiting Best Practices

Improving Results with Retained & Engaged Search

Improving Results with Retained & Engaged Search
Talent is in short supply these days, there’s no denying it. As organizations scramble to fill new positions and close turnover gaps, hiring managers, HR departments, and search firms are inundated with work. Whereas many recruiting businesses operated on a contingency basis just two years ago, changing times demand a new approach. Many are now moving to retained and engaged search. 

The terms “retained search,” “contingency recruiting,” and “engaged search” can be confusing, particularly if you’ve only pursued one model, or if you are working with a recruiter for the first time. Each model offers its own benefits, and has its own place and time — so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons for your unique business situation and industry. Read on for insights from MRINetwork search firm leaders, to demystify the different types of engagement, and decide which is better for you in today’s “here today, gone tomorrow” market. 

“You can’t plan for yesterday. We’ve taken a forward approach — what do our clients need today, and how can we best serve them?”  

— Gordon Schmidt, Managing Director at Quest Talent Solutions 

Contingency vs. Retained vs. Engaged Recruiting

How does retained search compare to contingency or engaged recruiting? Each recruiting model takes a slightly different approach, with different pros and cons to each. Contingency is typically best for employers who have more time to manage recruiters and candidates, and who prefer not to pay upfront for dedicated resources. 

Retained and engaged search are best suited for organizations that need to make multiple hires quickly, particularly for advanced and senior-level skill sets. With retained and engaged recruiting, you gain peace of mind partnering with recruiters who know your organization, process, and hiring managers, and who have set aside dedicated time and resources. 

A Quick Comparison for Employers & Hiring Managers

Recruiting ModelHow It WorksProsConsBest For
ContingencyRecruiters are paid only if they are successful in placing candidates.No upfront fees. Employers can invite multiple recruiters to participate in an effort to source more talent.May become lower priority based on recruiters’ workload, thus taking longer to fill. Typically more of a time investment for hiring managers, with less control over how opportunities and your company are presented.Easy-to-find skill sets, lower paying positions, and organizations that have more time to devote to managing multiple recruiters and candidates.
RetainedSearch firms are paid upfront or on a scheduled basis to fulfill ongoing recruiting needs.A dedicated investment makes your search a top priority, ensuring recruiters have the time and resources they need to find the best match.Requires a fee regardless of whether a placement is made or not.Executive/senior roles, critical hires, and advanced skills sets, as well as companies that have ongoing recruiting needs or desire a strengthened partnership.
EngagedA portion of recruiter fees are paid up front, with the balance being paid when a placement is made.Blend of retained search and contingency recruiting helps make your search a priority, while also reducing risk on both sides.May take a backburner to retained searches and retained client needs.Companies that desire a hybrid model, with dedicated resources but less upfront costs.

Why Move to Retained or Engaged Search?

In today’s red hot labor market, retained and engaged search can help you to secure sought-after talent more quickly and effectively. Jeremy Vanselous, President at The SearchWorks Group, and Gordon Schmidt, Managing Director at Quest Talent Solutions, offer insights on what the move has meant to their clients — and what a similar move may mean for you. 

  1. Dedicated time and resources: Whereas contingency recruiting puts your opportunities in the middle of a pack, retained and engaged move it to the top of the leaderboard. Investing in and committing to your hiring opportunities is a win-win for your company and the candidates you seek to engage.
  2. Less time to fill: Today’s tight labor market demands rapid speed and action. Engaged and retained search allow recruiters to increase velocity and achieve more faster.
  3. Improved quality: With multiple offers and remote work arrangements, every hiring organization is facing increased competition — not only from  direct competitors but also from other companies that employ similar skills sets. Retained search increases your chances of securing first-choice candidates before someone else does.
    • As part of MRINetwork, Vanselous and Schmidt also have access to a global network of more than 300 search firms worldwide, widening the talent pool for their clients in any recruiting engagement, without having to engage and manage multiple firms.
  4. Save money in the long run: Contingent recruiting doesn’t require an upfront fee, but it can cost more in the long run when key positions remain unfilled. With retained and engaged search, you’re able to reduce risk of lost opportunity cost while also spreading costs across multiple P&Ls.
  5. Guaranteed milestones: Given dedicated time and resources, recruiters are able to map out a plan for success. Set things up for success with clear milestones and onramps for success.
  6. Enduring relationships: The most trusted relationships often bloom from retained and engaged search arrangements. Moving to a relationship where both sides are committed can lead to stronger, more enduring partnerships that elevate trust, communication, and success. 

The Right Model for You

MRINetwork search firms work hard for you and your business. In this market, retained and engaged search often provide better results for your business. Speak with your recruiting partner today about your industry and needs, and the advantages of retained or engaged relationships. Shifting your mindset may just change the future of your business.  

Need help growing your business and finding high-impact hires? Contact an MRINetwork office near you.