How Much Does A Recruiting Agency Charge?

Recruiting agencies for job seekers can be both a useful resource and something to stay far away from depending on the situation.  While recruiters don’t work for free, if you are a job seeker, you should NEVER be paying out of pocket to work with a recruiting agency.  According to recruiters typically charge anywhere between 15 – 20% of your first year’s salary.

Now, you may be saying, “Joe, didn’t you just say not to pay out of pocket for a recruiter?  Then you’re saying they take 12-15% of your gross salary for the first year.”  Yes I did say both of those things but it’s important to realize the big difference between someone taking money up front and someone taking it AFTER they helped you find a job. 

happy senior businessman counting money while sitting at table with laptop

Taking Money Upfront for Recruiting Services: If a company wants to charge you a fee or a monthly fee for their recruiting services I would be extremely hesitant and in fact, find a different recruiter.  Companies like these may be…and I don’t like to use this word a lot but I’ll use it now….scammy.  They’ll promise you opportunities and interviews that never actually pan out.  You spend more time interviewing with recruiters at the company and telling them about yourself than you do with other companies.  So if a recruiting agency asks you for money up front save your cash for an ice cream cone and keep searching for other places.

Taking Money After You Get the Job: Legitimate recruiting agencies make their money after they help you find the job.  Many times, they’ll let you know what the salary is for the role, whether it’s hourly or for the year.  Let’s say for example they tell you the role will be paying you $25 per hour.  The company may have initially offered $28 per hour but the recruiting agency takes a little off the rate for helping you find the job.  99% of the time you won’t even know what the actual salary could have been so it’s really not something that will affect you.  If you feel the rate is too low for the job, you can always move on to looking for another job. 

man woman laptop office

Now the other important aspect to a recruiting agency is determining whether or not you actually NEED a recruiter to help you find a job.  If you fall into any of the categories below, you should really think about using one.

You Are Okay With Contract Work

Many recruiters will offer temporary opportunities.  These roles could last anywhere from a month to a year.  People who are trying to find something stable get a little scared off by this thought so a recruiter may not be the best fit for them.  If you’re someone who just wants to get their feet wet in the industry or maybe you don’t want to work full-time (although I guess not many people want to work full-time do they?) then taking a temp role is not a bad idea.  Some of these roles may also be temp-to-perm which means if you do a good job, you can get hired full-time.  So for someone who’s unemployed working with a recruiting agency in this sense is not a bad idea.  You don’t really have too much to lose.  If you’re someone with 5 kids and a mortgage (and if you are you should also get your head examined because 5 kids in this day and age is the equivalent to 20 in 1950) but if you have responsibilities and have a full-time job, I wouldn’t recommend leaving to work with a recruiter who is only going to find you something on a contract basis.

man woman office sitting

You Are Stagnant in Your Job Search

If you are looking for a full-time job, I’d always recommend to put your focus 100% into that.  If you are struggling though, finding a legitimate recruiter isn’t a bad idea.  While you shouldn’t rely fully on them to find you a job, it’s basically like having someone help you along the way.  Keep in mind if they find you the job, you may be losing out on the maximum salary you’ll be getting.  Always keep that in mind. Typically though, they have connections in the industry they work in so they could help give you the leg up on the competition.

So for some, a recruiter isn’t a bad idea, when you find the right person and company.  If you don’t though, you could be wasting a ton of time, and no one likes to waste time, especially when you’re unemployed and want to be making money.  Remember, if there’s something that seems a little fishy about the company, it probably is fishy (unless you’re trying to get into the fish industry then fishy is probably a good thing).  There are plenty of good recruiters out there so if you think it might help you, get your searchin shoes on and do some work.

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