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Benefits of Retained Search

When partnering with a headhunting firm on finding the right candidate for an opportunity, you will often have a choice of two search options - contingent or retained - and some top-level firms also offer a project management service. Both contingent and retained searches will yield success, however if you are looking to ensure an efficient, in-depth search, retained should always be the number one choice.

What is Contingency Search?

Contingent recruitment means “success only”, meaning a fee is only due when the successful candidate starts employment. Contingent roles can often be outsourced to a number of different headhunting firms, while you can also have your own internal recruitment teams working the role along with a job advertisement out on several job boards.

If a role is success only, this means it is a risk for a headhunter. A headhunter could put in hours of work sourcing and speaking with candidates to find out the role has been filled internally, filled by another headhunter, or even that the role has been pulled or put on hold.

On top of this, a successful headhunter will often have anywhere between 10-20 open vacancies at a time and will need to prioritise which are most important. This will come down to if a role is retained, if they have exclusivity, or what position gives them the best chance of success.

What is Retained Search?

If you “retain” a headhunter, this essentially means you pay an upfront fee (usually 40% of the full fee) to dedicate them to a search. If a headhunter is retained, they will always put these positions above the other positions they have on their desk and completely prioritise the search. Mantell Associates has a unique search approach which ensures a position is filled in a matter of weeks and provides you with the best candidates on the market based on personality fit, experience, interest in the role and various other factors.

There are a number of different reasons why the retained model is far superior to contingent if you are serious about hiring and want to fill a position quickly and efficiently:
  1. In depth search

Here at Mantell Associates, when we have been retained, we break the search down into a number of key areas to provide you with the best possible candidates. The search will begin with market mapping and identifying every single direct competitor. Following on from this, we look into these businesses to identify every single candidate who does the job you are hiring for, create a longlist, then contact each of them to discuss the open position and whether it is the right fit. From speaking to roughly 60-80% of the longlist, we then create a shortlist of the best possible candidates for the role based on the requirement. This list will also be presented at one time, as opposed to candidates coming one by one - something you will often see with contingency search.

  1. Speed

If a position is urgent, retained search is really the only option due to the speed at which the search is carried out. When discussing the role at the “kick off stage” of the project, clear deadlines are agreed including when the shortlist of candidates will be submitted, pre-booked interview times, and a deadline for candidate start date. For example, Mantell Associates will always present a shortlist two weeks from kick off, and our unique method of retained search consistently results in a signed offer letter one month from the kick off date. 

  1. Priority

Most headhunters will have a niche in a certain area, meaning they are often working the same or similar positions across numerous clients. If you retain a headhunter, they will ensure they speak with top-level candidates about your opportunity before any others, meaning you get exclusive access to the market before any of your competitors.

  1. Cost Effectiveness

Not only is retained search more efficient and in depth, you will find this search method is more cost-effective. The overall fee for a retained search is often cheaper than the contingent model, as the risk is shared as opposed to the sole risk lying with the headhunter in contingent search.

To find out more about how our retained searches work or how Mantell Associates can help you with your business requirements, reach out to Rumman Ahmed on +44 (0)20 3854 7700 or at