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Retained Search – When to use it?

Looking to hire a top performer or make a confidential appointment? This is why you should consider using a retained search firm.



Retained search is typically an exceptional tool for specific situations. For some it will be an avenue of last resort when all other search options have been exhausted, for others it will be a pre-planned precision option.

If you are new to search or simply considering that next crucial hire, it is very important to understand how it works and what differentiates it from other methods of recruitment.

Firstly, a retained business such as (Hamden) is specialist in select markets. This allows the client to leverage upon a network of recommended candidates that has been forged after years of conducting high level and important searches. Additionally, the client can rest assured that the search firm has an understanding of the market they are recruiting within, allowing for a quicker start off the blocks and ultimately a faster more reliable hire.

“Highly confidential, great deal of importance”

Retained search is to be used when you require a top performer for your business. This will be someone who has a thorough understanding of the market and will typically have a solid track record in a relevant environment. Some hires cannot wait, others can take an ongoing process. For the ones that need filling immediately, are highly confidential and/or hold a great deal of importance to a business, direct and retained search should be considered.

Direct search companies will partner with clients on an exclusive and retained basis meaning they have sole discretion for the search and will have greater control over the way your company is presented to the market. They will go about the search with greater insight and strategy than a contingent recruiter. This is important for confidential replacements as the dissemination of information in the market needs to be controlled at all times – you wouldn’t want a competitor knowing that you are about to push into a new territory.

“Are you retained exclusively on this search”

Direct search is used for senior and specialist positions where the people being headhunted want to know that they are going to be looked after throughout the process. One of the first questions a candidate will ask is “are you retained exclusively on this search”, headhunters can gain trust by saying yes, contingent recruiters cannot.

Finally, headhunters work on behalf of the client. They serve as an extension of their organisation and will represent them and only them to the market. Recruiters work on behalf of the candidate, often trying to fit square pegs into circle holes. The shortlist a contingent recruiter hands to a client is the best on their books, the shortlist a headhunter hands over is the best in the market!

Here at Hamden, we will invest our time, we will protect your confidentiality and honour our commitments every step of the way.