The world is filled with eager job seekers, at the same time there is an endless list of organizations waiting for talents that can help them run and grow. Still, there are so many cases of indecision, confusion, dissatisfaction, and disappointments faced by both parties. 

That’s exactly where executive search firms come to the rescue. These are the firms entirely dedicated to helping organizations find the best talents for their unique needs, and they do this job better than anyone could.

There are 2 types of executive search:

  1. Retained Executive Search 
  2. Contingency Executive Search

What is retained executive search?

Retained executive search is when an organization searching for talent retains the help of an executive search firm and pays them upfront to find C-suit executives or other higher-level talents.

What is a contingency executive search?

Contingency executive search is when an organization searching for talent seeks help from an executive search firm and pays them only when the talent suggested by the firm is approved to be hired. 

Now that’s just the definition but it gets deeper than that, and you will require a little more knowledge to better decide when to go for retained executive search firms and when to go for contingency executive search firms. 


Retained Executive Search

                         Contingency Executive Search
    Payment Structure
                           The fee is paid upfront
No upfront fee; payment is contingent upon successful hire.
    Commitment Level
Higher commitment and collaboration between the client and the search firm; more personalized and in-depth search process.
Lower commitment; multiple firms may compete, leading to a faster but potentially less comprehensive search.
   Type of Positions
Typically used for senior-level or critical executive positions.
No upfront fee payment is contingent upon successful hire.
    Speed of Process
Generally longer timeframe due to a thorough and focused search process. Faster process as multiple firms may present candidates simultaneously to secure the placement.
Risk for Client
Lower risk as the upfront fee reflects the commitment of the search firm.
No upfront fee payment is contingent upon successful hire.

4 Times You Should Go for Retained Executive Search Firms

When You are Trying to Fill Executive, C-Suit, or Other High-Position Roles

Filling higher-level job positions is not only a challenging task but can also be very risky for your organization in case the wrong selection is made. You need to find retained executive search firms that specifically specialize in filling c-suit executive roles

Going for a retained executive search firm not only guarantees that the talent will be found but also you will get nothing but the best. They do in-depth research and they not only target active job seekers but also passive talents until they find the one perfect for your organization’s unique needs.

When You are NOT Mass Hiring

In case you are trying to fill lower or mid-level positions and hiring in bulk you better go for contingency because that’s when the focus is more on quantity rather than quality. 

Retained executive search firms specialize in quality over quantity. Also, you will have to pay an upfront fee to the retained executive search firm, and even though retained search firms can definitely find the best talents for you, going for contingency will probably be easier on the wallet in that case. 

For Hard-To-Fill Positions

Retained executive search firms will go to any lengths to find the perfect candidates for you. Different organizations will have different needs for the same job roles. 

Retained executive search firms are experts at understanding your organization’s unique needs. Not only do they search among candidates actively looking for jobs but they also research and pursue passive talents. 

Retained executive search firms can help you fill those positions that others were unsuccessful in filling for long periods. 

Ruef&Associates is a retained executive search firm that already has a very diverse pool of network from its 35 years of industry experience and 16 years of proven excellence filling hard-to-fill c-suit and executive position roles.

When You Want to Save Time and Energy

Going for a retained executive search firm saves a lot of your time and energy as you don’t need to be actively involved in the recruitment process. Unlike contingency search firms, here recruiters play a more consultative role, acting as advisors guiding you toward the best candidate.    

Whether you go for retained or contingency the performance of the selected employees also depends on the training you provide them. Even the most skilled and talented employees can fail to perform to their full potential in the starting months. As it takes time to adjust to your organization’s unique needs.

Luckily some experienced retained executive search firms like Ruef&Associates also provide onboarding training to the selected employees to help them adjust and upscale their productivity as per your organization’s unique needs. We not only wish your organization the best but also have the skills and resources to bring the best to you. Always there, at your service.