Retained Search Firms, Executive Search Recruiters and Headhunters
Understanding the Differences Between these Recruiting Service Providers
Anyone who has been involved with a job search and the employment market, either as an employer using an executive search recruiter or recruitment service to fill an open position, or a job seeker has heard of executive search recruiters, retained search firms and headhunter. More often than not, these terms are used interchangeably.
There are even more terms that make the confusion in terminology even more significant. For example, there are executive search recruiters and executive headhunters -- just to give you a couple of common instances in which different terms are used in the employment and job search marketplace.
Through this article, we will first discuss the term "executive." As was mentioned, you can find in the recruiting industry a lot of titles with the word executive such as executive search recruiter, executive search firm and executive headhunter. What does the prefix “executive” actually mean? Does it mean that these recruiting providers deal only with executive position?
After visiting with few executive search recruiters, executive search firms and executive headhunters, it becomes clear that these executive search recruiters and the like deal with placing more than just executives into positions of employment.
Therefore if you hear someone call himself an executive headhunter, executive search recruiter or find someone who says he or she is part of a executive or retained search firm, you will know that for sure they will be glad to take care of executive position. However, you will also find that they might be able to assist in placing people in non-executive positions as well.
Moving on to a consideration of executive search recruiters, retained search firms and headhunters. (Keep in mind that the term "executive" will be used in regard to a search firm since it is a common phrase in the recruiting industry today.)
When it comes to this term, there are many different interpretations available today. For example, some people say that "recruiters" is a general term applied to all professionals in the field, such as: executive search recruiters, executive recruiters, headhunters and search firms.
Recruiters covers everyone, from retained search firms to executive headhunters
This statement really is true. All of these types of firms really are providing recruiting services. However headhunters and retained search firms will be more active in hunting passive candidates and act as headhunters in the jungle. They will call potential candidates who are not looking for a job and will try to recruit them.
Most would say that the retained search firm and the executive headhunter are the same term.
In some instances, freelancers and smaller firms will use the term executive headhunter while a larger firm will use the term executive or retained search firm or even executive search recruiter.
When you hear the terms "retained search firm" or "retained executive search firm," these are really executive search firms, but they want you to understand that they charge retainer in advance for their services.
Some of the retained search firms and the retained executive search firms will be willing to work with partial retainer. Which means that they will agree to charge part of the fee as an up-front retainer and the balance of the fee is linked to the results of the recruiting process. Some retained search firms and retained executive search firms will use the term “container” which is the same as partial retainer.
A retained search firm will be willing to work on a container basis mainly when they do not work in full capacity, to get new client trust and compete with low cost recruiting services. A retained executive search firm prefers in some cases to gain new clients and give up the full retainer concept.
In summary, a review of the terms you will hear when involved in the recruiting or job search market is important:
Executive recruiters – a general statement applied to someone who deals with recruiting. However, the executive recruiter does not only deal with executive recruitment.
Executive search firms – term for recruiting firm that does active search and in most cases has a few employees. The executive search firm does not have to deal only with executive positions.
Headhunter or Executive headhunters – term for recruiting firms which is in most cases is not large and sometimes will have even only one headhunter which do active hunting for passive job seekers.
Retained search firms or retained executive search firms – executive search firms who charge the client a retainer or container. You can’t find a retained search firm who will be willing to work on contingency base and without charging retainer or container.
So no matter if you choose to work with an executive search recruiter, executive headhunter, executive search firm or retained search firm we will wish you to do the right decision and choose the best recruiter you can.