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Make the most out of your executive search

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​Before we get too far into the topic, have you worked in partnership with an executive search firm in the past and partnered on a retained search? If not, this article will give some great insight into why working with a search firm on a retained basis will be to your benefit.

It’s important to know the difference between someone who says they are a headhunter providing a contingent search service with active candidates in the market, and someone who will headhunt the best people for the brief provided to a search consultant.

The first question must be what and why use a retained search?

A true retained search is a partnership between company and search consultant. The search consultant is likely to be supported by a research team. The research team will be guided by the search consultant and work to a specific brief, which will involve targeting potential candidates in similar roles from the related industry.

Potentially, the direct competition may not be the best source for the solution the client is seeking to resolve. The search consultant and the research team will work with our client partner to look beyond this and align skill sets that the company requires, which could be met by individuals who have transferable skills and will be outside of the direct competitor companies.

As a dedicated real estate executive search and staffing firm, deverellsmith has a dedicated data and research team that works in partnership with our consultants to identify the competition and individuals and where required will go far beyond those of direct competitors.

Retained v. Contingent search

When talking to a business about retained search for the first time, often we hear that the company wants to spread the net as far as possible to gather as many candidates as possible. If you look at this logically, it makes sense – the more recruiters working on the job the more candidates that will be sent and more options the hiring manager has to choose from – this is great thinking!

Contingent searches can create potential risks such as candidates being contacted multiple times, the sell on the business and the employer value proposition (EVP) is inconsistent and it can make some jobs even harder to fill due to rumors going around the market on the company’s approach and investment to hiring.

Factors to consider when going the contingent route:

  • Where do those candidates come from, are they just from a job posting?

  • Does this search firm have exclusive access to this individual?

  • Are these the best candidates “on” the market or “in” the market?

  • How was the company and job pitched?

  • Was the consultant able to understand the culture of the business?

  • How committed are they to going above and beyond to be paid?

  • How much experience does the consultant have in managing the hiring process?

There are significantly more questions that need to be answered when comparing a retained search v contingency, however, it starts to build a picture around the quality of the process.

Retained search for all level of hires

Retained search doesn’t have to be just about C-level searches, it can and will be beneficial to junior and mid management searches. This is often a pool of individuals who are still working their way up the career ladder and may have less conviction when committing to a accepting a new position. They are often more easily influenced to stay at their current company and will need far more coaching around the resignation process which can be very daunting for many individuals.

Searches like this need time and attention to ensure the candidates are fully engaged and managed throughout the hiring process. Having a committed search partner throughout the process will significantly increase your ability to secure the individual for the position and manage the time and cost associated with hiring.

The cost of retained searches

This is your opportunity to vet and check you want to work with deverellsmith and understand our knowledge and expertise in the market!

Many think a retained search is more expensive, there is no need for it to cost any more than a contingent search. A business will find that by working with a single search firm, it will reduce the amount of time spent returning calls or setting up interviews with multiple individuals.

deverellsmith is here to make your life easier and to find you the best possible person for your business.

How you engage with the search firm(s) you use will also impact your returns.

Personally, I have always talked to my teams about discussing the return on investment for a client.

If we can provide a better service for the same cost through increased commitment, then we will provide a significantly better quality of service for a lower cost overall to our clients and their time.

Retained search benefits include:

  • Find the best candidates


    the market not just those


    the market

  • Very high level of success rate in securing the preferred candidate

  • Increased levels of engagement to prospective candidates and the client

  • Ease of communication and visibility between all parties

  • Consistency in assessment and presentation of candidates

  • Consistency in how the business is described, its people and EVP

  • High level of confidentiality to both candidates and clients

  • Work with one point of contact for everyone

  • No public knowledge of the search or advertising

  • No time spent resolving who sent which resume first

  • Highlights the importance and investment in hiring the position

  • Strong market perception and no issues of multiple firms discussing the position with different pitches about the hiring company

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: you can focus on your day to day job in confidence

Not every retained search needs to be for a C-level Executive. Retained searches are there to form a partnership between two businesses with a mutual goal to find the best possible person for the position. When deverellsmith provides this service, we are dedicated and working on behalf of our client to secure the best possible candidate.

deverellsmith has a very strong history and a 100% success rate delivering retained searches, partnering with our clients to source the best possible individuals in the market.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, which has left many people unemployed, retained searches will continue to identify the best professionals in the market.  Your search team will be working even harder than in the past to secure the individual and move jobs.