7 Top Reasons To Use Retained Search

In a disrupted world of business with ever-increasing layers of complexity and rapid change, a well-executed executive-level appointment can mean the difference between success or failure.

Prior to the pandemic, your business may have kept this vital search in-house, leveraged its own network, or hired a contingency recruiter. However, the process perhaps wasn’t smooth and a bad hire can have severe consequences and can take time to recoup lost investment.

What does it take to hire and select the best people in the market, consistently? How can you ensure you have the right talent to drive the changes you need to make?

Many growing businesses in the Southwest are using a retained executive search for their executive-level appointments.

Instead of choosing contingency recruitment, where an employment agency is hired to advertise or utilise their database of CVs to send applicants to your company, an executive search firm is retained in a consultative capacity and is engaged in all aspects of the talent acquisition and hiring process, from defining the search, through to talent mapping, selection, assessment, shortlisting and onboarding.

There are many advantages of a retained executive search that outweigh all other options; here are 7 leading reasons why your business could retain an executive search firm to help do all the extensive work required for “game-changing” senior level hires.


1. It’s vital to hire the ‘most’ qualified person, not just a qualified person

A retained executive search firm will identify and persuade executives who are passive, i.e. not ‘on the market’, delivering talent with the right blend of experience, skills and knowledge, along with the essential cultural fit. A contingency firm presents ‘active’ candidates on the market that may have responded to an advert or, who are in their database. Whilst we are not knocking that, and it has its place, retained search and selection for senior and executive hires i.e. tapping into the ‘most qualified candidates is by far the most successful approach.


2. You’ve identified the requirement for a candidate with a unique mix of skills.

The needle in a haystack metaphor springs to mind; i.e. very few people are qualified for the position you have in mind. Whether it’s Tech, Digital, International or Industry-specific expertise, a retained executive search firm directly approaches potential senior talent who are currently employed and successful at target companies. As contingency firms usually represent only active candidates, the unique mix of skills is unlikely not to be found.


3. When it’s a highly confidential hire.

An executive hiring decision is often highly confidential. This may be for competitive reasons or put simply, there are sensitive internal reasons not to publicly announce intention to hire and/or a current person in that post.

Contingency firms often talk to a large number of people about the search and rely on advertising the position online or in print media, retained search firms talk only to carefully selected people and reveal the client’s identity at the latest possible stage in the process. This confidentiality is appreciated by candidates and clients alike.


4. This is a brand new executive position.

This can be unknown territory for your business but the knowledge gap can be plugged by an executive search firm that knows the market, and will also invest significant time and effort getting to know your business and culture.

They will work with you on the needed skill set and advise on the right candidate profile to ensure the long-term success of the new hire.


5. You wish to broaden the senior leadership team’s diversity.

Not all backgrounds are well-represented at senior executive levels. King Executive for example, aims to deliver an even gender representation on all of our short-lists. An executive search firm can help level the playing field by conducting research to ensure equal opportunity whilst respecting all legalities around recruitment discrimination. A retained search consultant will work hard to broaden that pool by identifying, approaching, and persuading candidates, who fit the required skills and bring the desired diversity to your leadership team.


6. Lack of time and resources to perform an extensive executive search.

An extensive executive search can become a full-time job, if conducted from an internal point of view, with no guarantee of success.

A retained search firm engages in the entire due diligence process. Beyond identifying and presentation of candidates, a retained firm invests in assessing the candidates, often through highly sophisticated methodologies, including referencing, psychometric testing, and broader assessments. Support is provided to the integration and on-boarding of the candidate, therefore ensuring the long-term success of the hire. All this greatly reduces the time required for you and your team’s commitment in this process allowing you to focus on more strategic initiatives. See King Executive’s robust 4-stage leadership assessment method, we ensure that your shortlist has met our rigorous selection process.


7. You wish to gain a strategic advantage with a higher level of senior hires.

Retained search firms are focused on helping you to achieve increased performance through the hire of top-performing individuals. Retained executive search firms perform on an exclusive basis with a limited number of assignments to ensure a high level of delivery.

Success in senior hiring is by no means a straightforward process, and having a highly targeted, discreet, and dynamic executive search partner to work with you to deliver the best results is why so many Southwest firms use this as their preferential approach.



King Executive – Selecting High-Performance Leaders for Forward Thinking Businesses across the Southwest. We are a leading executive search and headhunting firm. We work with Owner Managed Businesses through to Private Equity Backed growth firms and PLC’s. We champion Executive Women and we aim to offer an even gender split on all of our shortlists. Contact our CEO Helen Plumridge: 07808 537696 | helen@kingrecruit.com