What is Retained Search?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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A retained search is an employee screening process used by recruitment companies. It is designed to enable highly skilled professionals to find opportunities in the work environment. Recruitment companies that use the retained search process are able to offer employers highly skilled candidates with proven track records.

The retained search process uses set criteria in order to obtain the best candidates for any given role. To begin with, the recruitment company obtains a thorough understanding of the company they are recruiting for. This provides them not only with an idea of the type of company, but also with a better understanding of the job role involved. This means that the candidate will get a better idea of the role that is being offered. Unlike a retained search, basic recruitment procedures only give a rough idea of the job roles offered.

The next step is the preparation of the candidate that employers are looking for. When both the candidate and the employer are aware of the expectations from both sides, a better fit for the job role can be found. The agency scouts out organizations and areas where the best candidate can be found. They also use a large research database of candidates specifically for the retained research procedure. The employee candidate may already be employed and may not be considering a move, but the opportunity is made available in case the candidate is interested.


The next step in the retained search process is screening. Potential candidates are contacted, and their work records and qualifications undergo a screening process. They are also be made aware of the opportunity available and asked about their interest in the job offer.

If the candidate is open to an offer, then an intensive evaluation process begins. The recruitment agency conducts interviews and makes assessments by evaluating past performance in similar work environments. The future potentiality of the candidate is also evaluated, as well as the compatibility of the employee and employer.

Only when all the retained search evaluations and assessments have been made will the employer be contacted with potential candidates. The employer will usually be given three or four candidates for consideration. If the process if successful, then follow up procedures will be used to evaluate the progress of the candidate.

The retained search is a highly intensive recruiting tool. It saves time for both the employer and the candidate. By maintaining a research database of potential clients for employers, the recruitment agency can find a fit more quickly. A recruiting company that uses the retained search method only accepts a limited number of assignments in order to give each one full consideration.


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