Has anyone used retained recruiters to search for Software Developers?

I've had only minimal success with the "normal" recruiters that I talk to.

However, last weekend I talked to a friend who owns a recruiting company for the Aviation industry. He only works on retained searches.

Has anyone done this while searching for software developers? If so, what kind of results did you get? Better than non-retained recruiters, or the same?

Any info would be really appreciated.


wendii's picture
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do you know why you're not having any success? Have you had any feedback on your job description, location, salary, turnaround times, the market, anything like that? What's your relationship like with the recruiters? Have you tried employee referrals, advertising on your website, direct advertising in places your candidates might be? I know, that's a long list of questions!

Over here you wouldn't find a retained firm who would search for software developers, so that wouldn't be a solution. You have to go through the exercise of working out what you want, where your candidates are and how you are going to reach them in order to give yourself the best chance of finding them.

If you can tell us/me what you've done so far and what the problems are, then I might be able to give you some more specific ideas. In the meantime, if you were my hiring manager, I'd make you answer all the questions below, AND do the following homework (it's ok, I know I'm a task master!)

Here's the homework:

[b]First[/b], get really really clear about what it is you want, the USP of the role, and what you're fighting against - questions below.

[b]Second:[/b] Go back to your recruiters, tell them the summary of the answers, tell them what's wrong with the CVs they have already sent SPECIFICALLY (it's ok, it's not their CV, they won't be hurt!), and ask them what the liklihood is of finding what you want, in the location you want, at the salary you want. Ask them for their market knowledge. Who else is hiring for these roles? What are they offering that you are not? Ask them why they can't find your candidates - is it salary, location etc. Sometimes the candidates you want, just don't exist. Adjust accordingly.

[b]Third:[/b] Give them three days, and if they don't come back to you, call them. Ask them what they've done to find you a candidate. Have they done a database search, an internet search, advertised? Give the recruiters that are giving you the best CVs and/or trying hardest for you the most attention. Change your agencies if necessary.

[b]Fourth: [/b]Network. Ask everyone you know in the company to look out for the candidate you need. Ask them to ask everyone they know. Ask everyone at church, at your football club, at your child's school, at the supermarket if you have to! Look on your professional organisation's website - do they allow advertising? If not, do they have names and addresses, or meetings? The best candidates always come from networking .. and they are free!

[b]Fifth:[/b] If none of that works, you need a contingency. Can you redistribute the work, give Fred with 8 children overtime, borrow resource, work smarter, put off projects, hire an office junior to give your team more time working and less time doing admin, reduce the number of interuptions, buy faster machines, better coffee or get your staff priority parking so they get in the building faster?

And here's the questions:

What education have they had?
What courses have they completed?
What kind of companies are they working in now?
Who are your competitors in terms of employees where they might be working?
What industries will they have worked in?
What kind of roles will they have done in the past?
What location will they be working / living in?
What will they be earning now?
What kind of role will they be doing now?
What is your absolute must have experience?
What are they looking for in a role?
What do they read/watch/listen to?
If you're looking for experience, could you take someone with less experience and train them?
If you're looking for full-time, could you take two part-timers?
If you're looking for someone with less experience, could you take someone from the end of their career, looking for their wind-down job?
If you're looking for someone in the office, could you take someone working from home two days a week?

[b]Your company[/b]
What is the company culture?
What is your team culture?
What is your team's working style?
What hours do you work?
What are the benefits?
What's great about working in your team/your company?
What's the opportunity for progression?
What's the coolest thing about your company (the product/the culture/the equipment/the flexibility etc)

[b]The role[/b]
Why is there a vacancy?
What's the salary and how flexible is it?
What's the location and how flexible is it?
What's the grade and how does that fit into your grading structure?
How well does the job description fit the role?
What's exciting about this role?

[b]Attraction strategies[/b]
What have you tried already?
What have you tried in the past that hasn't worked and why?
What have you ruled out and why?

What roadblocks are there to hiring internally? (budget, scarce skills, turnaround times etc)
What roadblocks are there externally? (legal requirements, location, economic factors etc)

akinsgre's picture


Wow... Thanks!

This is one of the reasons I'm asking. I know that hiring is difficult, and there are a lot of things that would help me be more effective at it.

The Aviation recruiter, I mentioned, talked alot about doing these kind of things as part of a retained search.

akinsgre's picture


[b]First[/b], get really really clear about what it is you want, the USP of the role, and what you're fighting against - questions below.

What is USP?

wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge


Unique selling point... as in why would you want to work with you rather than anyone else?