What is a retained search?

A dedicated search for the right candidate

A retained search, often referred to as retained executive search or retained recruitment, is a type of professional service provided by executive search firms to help organisations fill senior-level executive positions. This method is typically used for key leadership roles, such as CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and other top-level executives.

In a retained search, the hiring organisation contracts with an executive search firm to conduct a comprehensive and dedicated search for the right candidate. The key features of a retained search include:

Exclusive agreement

The client (hiring organisation) and the executive search firm enter into an exclusive agreement, meaning that the search firm is exclusively retained for that specific search assignment.

Upfront payment

The client pays an upfront retainer fee to the search firm, which demonstrates the client's commitment to the search process. This fee covers the initial costs and ensures that the search firm allocates dedicated resources to the assignment.

Thorough search process

The executive search firm conducts a thorough and systematic search to identify, assess, and present suitable candidates for the executive position. This often involves market research, industry analysis, and direct engagement with potential candidates.

Client collaboration

The client and the search firm work closely throughout the process. The search firm seeks to understand the client's organisational culture, leadership needs, and specific requirements for the role.

Candidate evaluation

The search firm carefully evaluates potential candidates, conducting interviews, assessing qualifications, and presenting a shortlist of highly qualified individuals to the client.

Guaranteed placement

Retained searches typically come with a guarantee that the search firm will continue the search process until a suitable candidate is hired. This commitment underscores the thoroughness and dedication of the retained search approach.

Retained searches are commonly used for strategic, high-profile, or mission-critical executive positions where finding the right candidate is crucial for the success of the organisation. This approach contrasts with contingency search, where the search firm is only compensated upon the successful placement of a candidate and often works on multiple searches simultaneously. For more information about this topic, check out LinkedIn's article on why you should choose a retained search.

What is a retained search?

Want to recruit top executive talent?

Want to recruit top executive talent?

Now that you better understand what a retained search, you may be interested in learning more about 11 Recruitment's executive search services.

At 11, our executive search process is designed to attract, recruit, and retain high achievers based on the assumption that high achievers are both passive candidates and are scarce. 

We offer our specialised search and headhunting services to clients seeking top executives for a range of positions, including:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • Operations Manager / Director
  • Finance Manager / Director
  • Sales Manager / Director
  • HR Manager / Director
  • Marketing Manager / Director
  • IT Manager / Director
  • Service Manager
  • General Manager
  • State Manager
  • National Manager
  • Commercial Manager

Click the button below to learn more about how 11 Recruitment sources top executive-level talent for businesses throughout Australia.