Retained Recruitment

What is Retained Recruitment?

Retained Recruitment is a specialized hiring service offered by HR professionals or recruitment agencies where the client organization retains the services of the recruiter to fill specific job positions. Unlike traditional contingency recruitment, where recruiters are paid only upon successful placement, retained recruitment involves an upfront payment or retainer fee regardless of the outcome.

Retained Recruitment Key Features

  • Exclusive Engagement: Retained recruitment involves an exclusive engagement between the client organization and the recruiter, who dedicates their efforts exclusively to fulfilling the client’s hiring needs.
  • Customized Search: Recruiters tailor their search strategies to the specific requirements of the client, focusing on identifying candidates who closely match the job description and organizational culture.
  • High-Level Positions: Retained recruitment is commonly used for filling executive-level or specialized positions where finding the right candidate is critical to the organization’s success.
  • Payment Structure: Client organizations pay a retainer fee upfront, which serves as a commitment to engage the recruiter’s services. Additional fees may be paid upon successful placement of a candidate.

How Does It Work?

  • Initial Consultation: The client organization meets with the recruiter to discuss their hiring needs, including job requirements, desired candidate qualifications, and organizational culture.
  • Retainer Agreement: Upon mutual agreement, the client pays a retainer fee to secure the services of the recruiter for the recruitment process.
  • Search Process: The recruiter conducts a thorough search using various methods such as networking, direct sourcing, and targeted advertising to identify potential candidates.
  • Candidate Evaluation: Recruiters 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 Recruitment Best Practices

  • Clear Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication between the client organization and the recruiter to ensure alignment throughout the recruitment process.
  • Define Expectations: Clearly outline expectations regarding timelines, candidate qualifications, and the scope of the search to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Collaborative Approach: Work collaboratively with the recruiter to leverage their expertise and insights in identifying and attracting top talent.
  • Feedback Loop: Provide timely feedback to the recruiter on presented candidates to refine the search criteria if necessary and improve the quality of candidate matches.
  • Evaluate Results: Assess the effectiveness of the retained recruitment process based on the quality of candidates presented and the success of placements.


Retained recruitment involves an exclusive engagement between the client and recruiter, with an upfront retainer fee paid regardless of the outcome, while contingency recruitment only pays recruiters upon successful placement.

The timeline for retained recruitment 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, it often takes longer than contingency recruitment due to its thoroughness and exclusivity.

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