September 11, 2019

These Insurance Positions Are Perfect For A Retained Search

by Mary Newgard

Over the years I’ve shied away from using the word ‘retainer’. It’s like a dirty word where all the terrible memories come flooding back when you paid recruiters money for a search and never saw results. The fact is, when that happens, those recruiters never understood the how’s and why’s of a retained search. They were looking for guarantees (aka money) in a process (recruiting) that never comes with guarantees.

Retained recruiting projects can provide significant benefits to the search process. A lot depends on the position you’re trying to fill.  The narrative is shifting in the insurance industry. Agencies and carriers are interested in creative recruiting strategies. With that comes dialogue about options to structure a search.

How's and Why's of a Retained Search

  • Also known as an ‘Engaged Search’. These terms are interchangeable.
  • Four to six months is the typical window of exclusivity on a search engagement.
  • One-third (1/3) of the estimated total fee is the average retainer. It’s never more than 50%.
  • The retained fee is subtracted from the final placement invoice.
  • Full transparency, reporting and communication best practices are hallmarks.
  • Engaged contracts do not replace in-force contingency contracts.

Insurance Positions Perfect for Retained Searches

Sales Executives/Producers: “Intend to Be Intentional”

This tag line is the best way I can sum up producer recruiting. Sales candidates don’t easily fall in your lap.  Stick with a contingency agreement if you’re casually interested in seeing profiles. Go with an engaged search if you have defined goals to make hires in any given 4, 6, or 12-month period.


Leaders: “A Long Road Ahead”

There are fewer leaders to source from other insurance organizations than any other type of hire. When you’re concentrated on finding a small group at the top of the heap you need to be very cognizant of the pre-search building plans. Postings for leadership positions will attract applicants. Stick with a contingency approach if you only want to funnel a large volume of candidates into the system and weed them out from there. If you’re more focused on building the profile, mastering market research and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to direct solicitation, then you need an Engaged Search Strategy.


Bulk Hires: “A Lot of People in Little Time”

This is the Costco Syndrome. If I go that store without a plan, I spend twice as much on more things than I intended to buy. Contingency agreements for a large volume of mid-level hires (think service teams and call centers) will rack up costs quickly through postings, sponsored jobs and recruiter fees.  Engaged contracts are hugely beneficial for positions in the $45k-$75k comp range. With a large volume of hires comes a need for flexible options like different payment strategies, reduced fees per hire, cashflow considerations for invoicing and even a mixture of permanent and contract workers (part-time, remote or temp to hire).


You may also like