Is the Grass Greener? A Look at What Agency Recruiters Earn

Bullhorn comp survey 2014Before you decide the grass is greener in agency recruiting, consult the Money Talks survey from Bullhorn. Released this morning, it shows agency recruiters on average earned $74,000 last year.

Some earned much more. Those who work primarily in contingent recruiting averaged $96,000. There’s no doubt that’s a goodly sum. Just keep in mind that a contingent recruiter earns zero unless the candidate they submit is hired, accepts the job, and keeps it usually for at least 90 days.

The biggest money in agency recruiting is earned by the leaders. CEOs, owners, and partners averaged between $149,000 and $215,000, depending on the size of the firm. Those who headed executive search firms where the work is primarily on retainer did the best, averaging $230,000 last year.

This is just a small part of the compensation data in the Bullhorn survey. The technology provider, whose clients are mostly temp, search, and hybrid agencies, conducts an annual survey on industry performance. A few months ago, Bullhorn released its annual Staffing and Recruiting Trends report that included some detail on agency compensation. Today’s release is a deeper dive into the details. Here’s just 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 percent 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 $200,000. But those at firms with 11-25 employees were the best earners, averaging $215,000.

Comp by industry bullhorn 2014The report includes a variety of breakdowns, including a compensation comparison by primary recruiting type. For instance, temp recruiters averaged $53,000 last year. However, owners, CEOs, or partners of firms that did more than half their business in temp averaged $159,000 last year. Only the leaders or owners of retained search firms did better, averaging $230,000.

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One not surprising finding: Most everyone in agency recruiting (on average) expects their comp will increase this year. Regardless of firm size, at least 81 percent of Bullhorn’s 1,300+ respondents expect an increase. Only 2 percent expect less money this year.

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.