Every time a contingency recruiter asks me how to write a retained search, I turn the question around and ask the recruiter, "Before I say anything, first tell me why you think a retained search would be in the best interest of your client."
In other words, forget about how much you'd like to write a search contract and get some money up front. Put yourself in your client's shoes and consider how a retained search would benefit whoever is writing the check.
Don't get me wrong. Cash, commitment and control are pretty nice perks. But they do nothing to address your clients' needs. They're worried about how they can fill key positions, not how they can fill your bank account.
Don't Play Dr. Phil What's really astonishing is how many contingency recruiters want to write retained searches so they can control—or even punish—companies they feel have mistreated them. Unfortunately, fancy contracts and up-front fees can't improve a dysfunctional relationship, any more than putting wallpaper over a bumpy surface will smooth out the wall. The veneer may be new, but the imperfections will eventually show through.
Effective consultants look first for the value they can add, then the cash they'll receive—not the other way around. If you're thinking about offering retained search services to your clients, the first step is to understand the reasons why an organization might choose retained search over contingency. These include:
Or, if you're marketing a hot candidate, and two of your clients are interested in hiring the person, it may set off a bidding war that artificially drives up the price of talent.
Bear in mind that not every position will call for the services of a retained executive recruiter. However, if you decide to offer retained search, always put your clients' needs first. That way, you'll build your reputation and your business at the same time.
- Bill Radin
Bill Radin is a top-producing recruiter whose innovative books, tapes and training seminars have helped thousands of recruiting professionals and search consultants achieve peak performance and career satisfaction. Bill’s extensive experience makes him an ideal source of techniques, methods and ideas for rookies who want to master the fundamentals—or veterans ready to jump to a higher level of success.