What Do Recruiters Charge?

Mark Landay is Managing Director at Dynamic Synergy (mark@dynamicsynergy.com). In this video he speaks about what recruiters charge.

  1. Generally charge ⅓ annual salary + bonus
  2. Paid in 3 Installments
  3. Possibility of charging a flat rate
  4. Pay differs for retained & contingency


I’ve been asked during my executive search career about how do recruiters get paid. There’s quite a mystery about headhunters. Do they steal people at night? Well, recruiters generally charge a third of the annual salary plus bonus. This is, you know, the annual salary plus any projected bonus and you just divide it by three and that’s generally the executive search fee.

They’re generally paid in three easily installments, so one installment to get started on the search and then a couple progress payments to cover that fully. Some recruiters will also work on a flat rate so they will calculate what this will cost per head and just give you a flat number dollar amount.

Recruiters are both, as we talked about, retained recruiters who are hired as management consultants who required a payment upfront and contingency recruiters who are transactional recruiters who are paid at the final and conclusion of the search.

So in short, executive recruiters generally get a third of the first year’s compensation as a search fee and you’ll find this to be a value add to your business.