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Why Should You Use a Recruitment Firm on a Retained Basis?

Retained Recruitment Employment Solutions

Why should you use a recruitment firm on a retained basis?

By Chris Taylor

There are several ways in which a business can work with a recruitment agency in order to fill their vacancies: deposit-paid, retained or contingency-based.

Deposit-paid is when the client pays the agency a deposit, roughly 25% of the total fee, at the start of the recruitment partnership, with the remainder paid on placement of a candidate. Contingency-based recruitment sees the client only paying the agency when a candidate is secured in the vacant position.

Both of these systems have their advantages, both to the client and to the recruitment firm, but in this article we’ll focus exclusively on the retained recruitment model, explaining what it is and why it could be the right fit for you.

What is retained recruitment?

Retained recruitment is the system whereby the client pays a percentage of their fee to the recruitment agent upfront, with the next instalment delivered on the agreement of a candidate shortlist, and the final, third instalment paid when a candidate is placed with the client.

It differs from the other models in that it, generally, requires a larger financial commitment from the client at the very start and during the recruitment process.

Why would I use retained recruitment?

There are several reasons as to why an agency might suggest that they work with a company on a retained basis rather than in a deposit or success-based manner. The most significant is if you are looking to fill a role that is either senior or particularly niche.

If the position is hard to place because there are very few people who are able or available to do it, then it will require an extensive degree of time, expertise, knowledge and skill to source potential candidates. This superior level of headhunting is something that a typical agency or agent would not have.

Additionally, by working with a recruitment firm on a retained basis, you will guarantee that anyone who is presented to you for consideration will be appropriate not just for the job but also for your company and its culture.

Why would I pay upfront?

There’s an old story where a man calls out a plumber to his home to fix his pipes. The plumber reviews the system for a while, selects a hammer, taps one pipe once and then charges £100 after the water starts flowing. The man expresses his outrage at having to pay £100 for one simple tap - the plumber replies: “I’m charging you not for the tap, but for knowing where and how hard to tap.”

Recruiting for senior or niche roles take time - if you want to find the right candidate then an upfront fee covers the time it takes to prepare the planning of the targeted search, to conduct the active headhunting and, ultimately, find the right people that will fit in with your business.

Contingency-based recruitment - whereby the agency only gets paid when their proposed candidate is hired - can seem appealing, especially from a financial standpoint. However, it comes with its own risks. If you post a job online, then many agencies are known to copy and paste the job description, promote it through their channels and scrape CVs from online searches. This will result in you being sent the CVs of candidates who might not even be aware of the role, never mind whether or not they are even a good fit for the position. Though you may receive a great deal more CVs, and more quickly, the likelihood of these candidates being suitable is greatly reduced - wasting your time in the process.

In contrast, a retained-basis model ensures that the hiring company, the recruitment agent and the candidate are all fully aware of and committed to the process before you ever enter the stage of reviewing CVs.

What roles does it work for?

At Employment Solutions, we most frequently work on a retained basis for white-collar, mid-to-senior management roles. Examples would be Sales Directors, HR Directors, Procurement Directors, Operations Managers, Senior Business Development Managers, Health & Safety Managers, Sales Managers and Marketing Director.

We might also suggest this model for a role that is more difficult to find, as it will take longer and require a more exhaustive and detailed search to find the right candidates to put forward to you for review.

What are the benefits of retained recruitment from Employment Solutions?

In addition to the other positives described in this article, a retained recruitment contract with Employment Solutions will guarantee you the following benefits:

  • You gain access to our 20 years of industry-specific experience
  • We work to agreed timeframes
  • You will have 100% commitment from us to get the job done to your satisfaction
  • All of the candidates we send to you are guaranteed to be reference-checked and fully qualified - so you don’t get any nasty surprises down the road
  • Each and every one of our candidates will be thoroughly briefed and debriefed for every interview

At Employment Solutions we specialise in genuinely getting to know your firm and our candidates - we only ever introduce people to companies if we know that they are truly bought into the potential role and are prepared to leave their current position.

If you’re interested in using Employment Solutions to recruit for your current or upcoming vacancies, get in touch with us by calling 0161 839 53 53 or email us at