Exploring the Executive Search options: Retained, Hybrid, or Contingent

Attractive young grinning business owner in office with polka dot blouse, folded arms and confident expression in front of group of employees at conference table

At TZR, we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recruiting.

The needs of your business are unique to both the industry you operate in and the style and culture of your organization.

On every occasion, our goal is to serve as a trusted partner in the hiring process, delivering outstanding customer service and quality candidates that will meet and exceed your expectations.

The method in doing so, however, can vary.

Executive Search Options with TZ Recruiting

At TZR, we approach Executive Searches in three ways: Contingent, Hybrid vs. Retained.

Before we dig deeper into these methods, let’s establish a baseline definition of what Executive Search actually is.

The term is often thrown around in Human Resource circles with relatively broad parameters that don’t always get to the heart of what we do.

To that end, Executive Search can be defined as a “…meticulously targeted and specialized form of recruitment engineered to identify, engage, and place top-tier executives and niche specialists within organizations. Unlike standard recruitment, which primarily focuses on filling roles, Executive Search has a more profound objective: finding leaders who possess the potential to drive organizational success over the long haul.

(The) process involves extensive research, thorough candidate assessment, and meticulous decision-making. It’s a more deliberate and strategic approach compared to standard recruitment.”

Our Executive Recruiters are highly trained specialists who lead the charge alongside your Executive/HR team. These Recruiters “…possess in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of high-level roles and excel in identifying and engaging passive candidates who are not actively seeking new opportunities.”

So, back to Contingent vs. Retained. Depending on what you are looking for, our team at TZR can provide an approach that works for your current needs as well as those that you may anticipate throughout our partnership.

What is a Contingent Executive Search?

Our Contingent Executive Search program is a no-strings-attached approach that means you pay after we deliver the best candidate for a specific role. These kinds of searches are “…all about finding suitable candidates for your hard-to-fill vacancy” We’re addressing a need and helping you find a solution as efficiently as possible.

The structure of a Contingent Search is such that “…recruiters only get paid when they find a candidate that you hire. If a Contingent Search does not yield a match for the role, you do not have to pay for the service…” Because of the contingent nature of these engagements, the quality of candidates sometimes suffers to the expense of speed.  It is a simple risk reward paradigm. This means that, while our team is working hard for you no matter the assignment, Contingent Recruitment tends to consist of more transactional interactions with shorter windows of engagement.

What is a Retained Executive Search?

In comparison, Retained Executive Search is an effective and comprehensive approach to identifying leaders who are truly distinctive. Where Contingent Searches tend to be transactional, with Retained Searches – we are in it with you for the long haul. With these programs, our team “…build genuine relationships to match the right candidates with the right roles. Deep relationship building is the cornerstone that makes retained search successful.”

A Retained search starts with “…an exclusive agreement with you to manage the entire recruiting process from start to finish. The fees for retained search are paid in advance (or at least partially in advance) and cover finding, evaluating, and hiring a candidate. Additionally, the focus is on finding the best candidate for your role instead of good candidates for your role. As a result, the Retained Search method is typically more rigorous than the contingent search method because it is a more engaged process. Hiring-related activities like putting together a competitive compensation package and managing hiring negotiations add more steps to complete.”

Generally, a Retained Search would include hiring several quality professionals to round out a C-Suite or other Executive-level team or Confidential searches, where finding the right person is imperative for the success of your organization.

We learn your business inside and out which allows us to find not only the best person for each role, but to also build a team that will help you reach your current and future goals.

Retained recruiting agencies are more focused on finding a handful of quality employees who are perfect for the role. They spend a significant amount of time evaluating your business’ needs, locating talented candidates and preparing candidates for their upcoming interview with you. This guarantees you’ll find an impressive candidate who aligns well with your company goals, values and job responsibilities.”

What is a Hybrid Executive Search?

TZR has developed a search model called Hybrid Search.  It is the best of both worlds (Contingent / Retained).  Our Hybrid model follows more of the depth and quality focus of a Retained model, while offering our clients a mostly Contingent payment structure.  The model takes out ‘some’ of the risk with a small engagement fee up front, then the rest of the fee is truly Contingent.   It builds in accountability on both sides, which ultimately produces a higher caliber candidate hire than a Contingent search option. 

Retained, Hybrid Vs. Contingent Search: Finding the Best Option For Your Business

Taking cost, timeline, and number of openings into consideration, each option has clear benefits and challenges. If time is of the essence and the positions available are at a lower level, engaging in Contingent Searches could yield benefits at a faster pace. And while we don’t always get the kind of quality time together, we prefer, we put our heart and soul into every hire we help with.

Conversely, if you are looking to fill out your leadership team with experienced professionals – including access to our network of industry all-stars – the kind of in-depth, long-term relationship offered by Retained Search is the way to go. The time and effort is worth it in the end, as you can rest easy knowing that you have the best of the best leading your organization onward and upward.

“Because our clients sometimes have blended needs of speed and quality, hybrid model is many times the preferred option to leverage the benefits of the two extreme options,” says TZR president, Mark Fisher.

Experienced Support for Your Next Search from the Experts at TZ Recruiting

No matter what you choose, our team of experienced recruiters at TZR will ensure that the right people find your job listings and each role is filled with the same care and consideration we take in building our own team. We believe in partnerships that yield the right candidate – every time – regardless of the size and scope of your need. 

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