How Did You Do Last Year? Bullhorn Comp Survey Can Tell You

Bullhorn comp survey 2014How much money did you make last year? The industry average for all independent recruiters was $74,000, somewhat less than half the $154,000 agency owners and CEOs earned.

Break that down by the type of recruiting, and who comes out on top but recruiters who work exclusively on contingency. They earned on average $96,000, while owners and CEOs of contingent firms average $149,000.

These are just a small part of Bullhorn’s compensation survey released this morning. Some of the data was first released in February, when Bullhorn issued its annual Staffing and Recruiting Trends Survey. Today’s report focuses exclusively on the compensation, providing a deeper dive into earnings of agency leaders, recruiters and others. Here’s a sampler:

  • Compensation grew for a majority of respondents in all but one industry sector last year. Only those in Packaging/Transport/Warehouse/Cargo had a tough year, with 57% reporting no increase or a decrease (21%).
  • The bigger the firm, the lower the recruiter earnings. Those at firms with 75 or more employees averaged $62,000; at firms with 10 or fewer, the average was $78,000.
  • Owners, CEOs, or partners at small firms averaged $149,000 in comp. At the largest firms, the average was $200k. But those at firms with 11-25 employees were the best earners, averaging $215k.

The report includes a variety of breakdowns, including a compensation comparison by primary recruiting type. For instance, if more than half your time is spent recruiting temps, your average earnings were $53,000. However, owners, CEOs or partners of firms that did more than half their business in temp, averaged $159k last year. Only the leaders or owners of retained search firms did better, averaging $230,000.

Comp by industry bullhorn 2014If you work in perm placement (this category does not include executive search), there’s a breakdown of billing expectations for this year. At the smallest firms, the expectati0n is you’ll bill $227,000 on average this year. At the biggest firms, the expectation is $278,000. Surprisingly, the mid-sized firms expect a recruiter to bill between $292,000 and $293,000 on average.

Now, ask the sales staff, and they expect you to average $336,000. You decide what this means, but sales VPs have the lowest recruiter billing expectations: $142,000 on average. That’s about $100k less than what recruiters themselves expect.

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One not-so surprising finding: Nearly everyone (on average, of course) expects their comp will increase this year. Regardless of firm size, at least 81% of Bullhorn’s 1,300+ respondents expect an increase. Only 2% expect less money this year.

If you ever doubted independent recruiters were an optimistic lot, just look back at how Bullhorn’s respondents answered this question in years past. From 2011 on, the vast majority expected to see their comp grow and hardly anyone expected a cut.

Actual earnings fell short. Over the years, slightly better than 6-in-10 respondents saw more money. The rest either earned the same or saw a decrease.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.