Retained Search - Investing for Success

Posted in GCC, Recruitment on Feb 16, 2024

In today's competitive talent landscape, securing the right individuals for your organisation is crucial for success. Whilst there are various recruitment methods available, retained search stands out as a strategic approach that delivers exceptional results for clients seeking an assured and structured approach.

What is Retained Search?

Unlike contingent search, where recruiters are paid a fee only upon successful placement, retained search involves a mutual commitment between client and the Search Agency. Clients pay an initial search fee, ensuring dedicated focus and resources are invested in their search. This collaborative approach allows for a deeper understanding of the organisational needs and increases accountability of the Agency to commit time, resources and ultimately, deliver results.

What are the key differences between contingent search and retained search?

Contingent search:

Presentation of a shortlist: During a contingent search the expectation is a shortlist of candidates will be presented.

Shared resources: For contingent searches our consultants have to split time effectively across multiple mandates and clients.

Single Job Briefing: During a contingent search the job briefing is still conducted but this is usually with one stakeholder over one call or meeting.

Progress Updates: Role updates provided upon client request.

  • Standard candidate data gathered and shared for all shortlisted candidates, motivations and details of those candidates shortlisted (with the candidate consent).

Standard interview process: Primarily focus on resume screening and basic interviews.

Positive candidate experience: Aventus always aims to ensure each candidate we engage with for a role has a positive candidate experience and any candidates in the interview process are met in person. Information on the hiring manager, organisation and JD are shared with the candidate but this is not compiled into one written and co branded info deck.

Aventus has a 60% success rate in closing contingent roles successfully

Retained search:

Long list and shortlist: With a retained approach Aventus would map the entire talent market, present the findings before sharing a long list which is then methodically reduced to a shortlist of candidates that are most suitable.

Dedicated resources: During a retained search mandate a search team are exclusively dedicated to the search for a set period of time.

  • In-depth analysis of requirement - Deep dive into your company culture, requirements, and ideal candidate profile by engaging with multiple stakeholders at the Client to build up a detailed understanding of the requirement and organisational needs.

  • Systematic progress updates - These are usually conducted on a weekly or bi-weekly basis but would depend on the client need and urgency of the retained search. Some clients appreciate in person weekly updates which we also recommend.

Detailed market mapping and market data: unlike contingent searches this is not just limited to shortlisted candidates but deeper market data such as number of candidates interested versus approached, reasons why candidates are interested in the opportunity and why others are not. General candidate trends just as salary and benefits benchmarking along with any other market data points requested by the client, such as candidate sentiment of their organisation & brand in the market.

Comprehensive assessments: Rigorous evaluation methods beyond just resumes including but not limited to personality profiling and character ass.

Enhanced candidate experience: Each candidate Aventus engages for a retained search mandate are met in person and given a detailed written brief on the role, hiring company, leadership team, background as well as benefits and even the Aventus search team handling the role this is a cobranded document between Aventus and our client.

Aventus has a 100% historic success rate in closing retained search mandates

Can I still hire successfully using a contingent approach?

Yes! Many of our clients engage with us on a contingent approach and for many roles this can work fine, especially for generic mid-level hires. Some clients just want to see a selection of available candidates in the market and in this case, a contingent approach works fine.

When should I employ a retained search approach?

Retained search is employing a methodology that is far more likely (statistically) to be successful. There are a multitude of scenarios when this approach makes more sense than contingent, here are a few reasons our Clients have given to us.

  • The hire we need is a senior C level or board level appointment.
  • It is a high-profile hire that is business critical, we want to take the approach that is most assured to succeed.
  • The skillset is limited in the market and very few candidates are likely to be available.
  • The location of the role is not somewhere many candidates will be willing to go
  • Previous recruitment searches have not yielded results and a new, more robust approach is required.
  • The candidates I am looking to target are passive and need to be actively headhunted.
  • I am keen to secure the time and full commitment of the recruiter I am dealing with, without distraction.
  • I want Aventus to mobilise additional resourcers and conduct a full market analysis and comprehensive search.
  • As the Aventus Directors have 15+ years market experience each, I would like to ensure they are personally dedicated to this search for me.

How can retained search benefit my company culture?

During a retained search assignment Aventus consultants have more opportunity to engage with multiple stakeholders and build up a more comprehensive idea of the corporate culture, values and vision. This can be achieved on a contingent basis but given limited time this often takes a number of months to fully understand the client and develop the working partnership. With retained search the deep dive can be more immediate and results in a faster partnership and more immediate results in terms of candidates that fit the role and organisation.

Is retained search more expensive than contingent search?

Aventus retained search fees are equal to our contingent fees, there is no additional cost. The only difference is the payment schedule:

  • Contingent fees are paid in full when a candidate is placed.
  • Retained search is split into 3 payments: 1/3 at the start of the search, 1/3 on candidate shortlist and 1/3 on completion.
  • It is the initial 1/3 commitment from the client which allows Aventus to increase the time, resources and priority on that search.

Does Retained Search take longer than contingent?

Not always! The reason this is the perception is because clients often wish to employ retained search to comprehensively assess the entire candidate market, this takes more time than just presenting some of the readily available candidates. However, Aventus have been retained for time critical searches which have required immediate mobilisation of resources and a diligent but rapid interview process. Aventus works to the Client needs with regards to this but retained does not necessarily mean a long drawn out process, at least it doesn’t for Aventus.

What are the key qualities to look for when choosing a partner for retained search

Industry expertise: Choose a search consultant who is a subject matter expert in your field.

Proven track record: A history of successfully closed mandates in that space

Tailored solutions: Ability to customise their approach to meet your unique needs and budget.

Transparent communication: Regular updates and clear communication throughout the process.

Long-term partnership: Commitment to building a lasting relationship and providing ongoing support.

Do Aventus really have a 100% success rate on retained search?

Since our inception in 2016, Aventus have proudly maintained a 100% record of successfully completing every retained search mandate we have been trusted with. How have we done this, if we don’t feel we can complete a retained search we won’t take it on. Our reputation and client satisfaction are more important that securing retainer fees and not delivering.

What retained searches have Aventus closed recently:

Organisation Type Position Requirements
Abu Dhabi government entity Chief Executive Officer High profile local mar et map and search with psychometric assessments included as part of the selection process
Investment Bank in KSA Chief Operating Officer Local investment banking search for a Saudi National COO
Saudi Sovereign Investment Entity Chief Executive Officer Global Search for a highly niche industry leader for a high profile JV between a Saudi SWF and a regional conglomerate
Leading Regional Bank Managing Director Fintech Global search for a key leader within Fintech
Saudi Investment Entity Chief Governance Officer Global Search for a critical C level governance mandate
Leading Sovereign Chief Data Scientist Niche technical global search within data management
Saudi Arabia Giga-Project Chief of Digital Competition Challenging Saudi National Search

Why should I choose Aventus for retained search?

  • Experienced, credible consultants: While Aventus covers many areas as a business, our market leading consultants are niche subject matter experts in their field.

  • Proven Track Record: We have a proven recent track record of placing some of the most high profile roles in the region. Our 100% success rate on retained search gives our clients confidence that their critical hiring is in good hands.

  • Tailored Solutions: Aventus are an agile business, this allows us to customise our search strategies to meet specific client needs and budget. We listen. Based on what we hear we are able to alter our search approach accordingly.

  • Transparent Communication: We keep clients informed every step of the way, providing regular updates and progress reports. We like to do business in person and our clients often appreciate that approach too.

  • Local Market Knowledge: Aventus is a GCC founded company. We understand the nuances of the local market and are proud to be local. Our clients often choose Aventus because we have longstanding candidate relationships developed over a long period of time. This gives our clients the confidence that we know the market and who the right candidates are for your organisation based on relationships and not just CV’s.

  • Long-Term Partnership: Each of Aventus’ four directors have been in the GCC for at 15 years or more. This gives our clients the confidence that we are here for the long term. We believe in building long-term relationships and the tenure of our leadership in the region is testament to that. Our clients appreciate the stability and longevity of having a search partner that is local and committed to the region.

Investing in retained search is an investment in your organisation's future. By partnering with a reputable and experienced local firm like Aventus, you gain access to a wider talent pool, benefit from a deeper understanding of your regional needs, and receive personalised support throughout the entire process from some of the best consultants in the region.

Ready to experience the difference that retained search can make? Contact Aventus today and let us help you find the exceptional talent you need to achieve your business goals.

Keon Jamshidi

Director - Banking & FS

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