Retained Recruiter

What is Retained Recruiter?

A Retained Recruiter is a professional hired by an organization to assist in identifying and hiring top talent for key positions. Unlike contingency recruiters who are paid only upon successful placement, retained recruiters work on a retainer basis, receiving payment regardless of the outcome.

Key Features of Retained Recruiter

  • Exclusive Focus: Retained recruiters typically work exclusively for the client organization, dedicating their efforts solely to fulfilling their hiring needs.
  • Customized Search: They tailor their search strategies to the specific requirements of the organization, focusing on finding candidates who align closely with the job description and organizational culture.
  • Extensive Network: Retained recruiters often have a vast network of industry contacts and candidates, enabling them to access a broader pool of qualified individuals.
  • High-Level Positions: They are commonly used for executive-level or specialized positions where finding the right candidate is critical to the success of the organization.

How Does It Work?

  • Initial Consultation: The client organization meets with the retained recruiter to discuss their hiring needs, including job requirements, company culture, and timeline.
  • Retainer Agreement: Upon mutual agreement, the client pays a retainer fee to secure the services of the recruiter.
  • Search Process: The recruiter conducts a thorough search, utilizing various methods such as networking, direct sourcing, and advertising to identify potential candidates.
  • Candidate Evaluation: They screen and assess candidates, conducting interviews and background checks to ensure they meet the client’s criteria.
  • Candidate Presentation: The recruiter presents a shortlist of qualified candidates to the client, providing detailed profiles and recommendations.
  • Interviews and Selection: The client interviews candidates and selects the most suitable individual for the position.
  • Negotiation and Placement: The recruiter assists in negotiating terms of employment and facilitates the hiring process until the candidate is successfully onboarded.

Retained Recruiter Best Practices

  • Clear Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication between the client organization and the recruiter to ensure alignment throughout the hiring process.
  • Define Expectations: Clearly outline expectations regarding timelines, candidate qualifications, and the scope of the search.
  • Provide Feedback: Offer timely feedback to the recruiter on presented candidates to refine the search criteria if necessary.
  • Collaborate: Work collaboratively with the recruiter to leverage their expertise and insights in finding the best talent.
  • Evaluate Results: Assess the effectiveness of the retained recruiter based on the quality of candidates presented and the success of placements.


A retained recruiter is paid upfront and works exclusively for the client on a specific search, focusing on high-level positions. In contrast, a contingency recruiter is paid only upon successful placement and often works on multiple searches simultaneously.

The timeline can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the search, availability of qualified candidates, and the responsiveness of the client in making hiring decisions. However, retained searches typically take longer than contingency searches due to the thoroughness of the process.

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