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Before selecting a Recruiter, let’s review your specific situation and what kind of Recruiter you’ll need.  In order to do that, let’s define the different types of Recruiters.

Contingency Recruiter

A Contingency Recruiter works on a contingency basis for a Client Company.  In other words, they are paid by a Client Company only if there’s a successful hire (or placement).

A successful Contingency Recruiter typically specializes in a particular industry niche and/or a particular geography and/or a particular title within a niche.

If done properly, the Contingency Recruiter is very well networked in their specialty.  When they hear of an opening in their “space” they reach out to their network and see if anyone would be interested in the opportunity.

Tip:  They’re typically only looking for people within their “space” and currently employed.  If someone’s not employed or is outside their “space” they’re perceived as “can’t helps”.  Hiring Companies feel they could’ve found the Candidate (or Candidates like them) on their own.  Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant as perception is reality.

Client Companies are willing to pay a Contingency Recruiter for:

  • The service of convincing someone who may not otherwise have found the opportunity on their own, to take a look even if they’re happy and gainfully employed.
  • The service of finding someone they couldn’t have found on their own.
  • The service of finding someone they knew about, but couldn’t (for a variety of reasons) recruit the Candidate on their own.
  • The service of finding the absolute best Candidate (that’s interested in the opportunity) to interview.

Want to know how they’re paid? The Contingency Recruiter is paid a percentage of the Candidate’s first year salary. The average salary on a Contingent Search ranges $60,000 to $150,000.

Want to know how much? The average percent charged ranges from 20% to 35%.  The Client Company pays the fee.  A great Contingency Recruiter typically makes $100,000 to $250,000 a year, with the top 1% earning in excess of $500,000 and more.  The average Contingency Recruiter makes $75,000.

Are you interested in becoming a Contingency Recruiter?  Learn More.

Retained Recruiter

The main difference between a Retained Recruiter and a Contingency Recruiter is the Client Company Pays the Retained Recruiter up front to capture the Retained Recruiter’s attention so they’re assured the Recruiter is actively working on their behalf.

The Contingency Recruiter has no guarantee the Client Company will work with them (return their calls, interview their Candidate, etc…) so they often present great Candidates to multiple Companies.  A Candidate who is actively looking to make a change (even if gainfully employed), may prefer this.

The Retained Recruiter caters to the Client Company and most likely will only be presenting you to the one assignment.  But on the flip side, this Recruiter will have an excellent relationship with the company.  If the Recruiter is working with you it’s because they think you’re a fit.

Want to know how they’re paid?  The Retained Recruiter is paid 1/3 upfront, 1/3 at presentation of Candidates, 1/3 at placement.  The average salary on a Retained search ranges $120,000 to $300,000.

Want to know how much?  The fee is typically 25% to 35%.  The Client Company pays the fee.  A great Retained Recruiter typically makes $150,000 to $300,000 a year, with the top 1% earning in excess of $500,000 and more.  The average Retained Recruiter makes $100,000.

Are you interested in becoming a Retained Recruiter?  Learn More.

Contract Staffing

A Contract Staffing Recruiter hires “Contractors” (a Candidate who works on an hourly basis for a Client Company to complete a project).  The Recruiter and the Contractor build a strong relationship because the Contractor knows their relationship with the Client is only for a limited time.  However, a good Contractor Recruiter relationship can last through several Client projects.

The entire project relationship works like this; the Client engages a Recruiter to find a Contractor that can fulfill a Client’s project. There's usually no interviewing process with the Client.  If the Contractor doesn’t work out, the Recruiter pulls them from the project and brings another one in.  The Client pays the Recruiter based on the hours the Contractor works.  The Contractor turns in their time card each week to the Recruiter and the Recruiter pays the Contractor their wages.

Want to know how they’re paid?  The Contract Staffing Recruiter charges an hourly rate to the client which includes the expenses relating to payroll.  There is a margin built in for the Recruiter’s fee.  Typically the margin is equal to what a Contingent Recruiter’s placement fee would be if the contract lasts 12 months.  If a contract runs over 12 months, the Recruiter may offer the Client a small conversion fee so the Client can offer the Contractor a full time position if that is what all parties want.  A great Contract Staffing Recruiter typically makes $100,000 to $250,000 a year, with the top 1% earning in excess of $500,000 and more.  The average Contract Staffing Recruiter makes $75,000.

Are you interested in becoming a Contract Staffing Recruiter?  Learn More.

Outplacement Recruiter

This Recruiter provides placement assistance to Candidates who have been downsized.  The fee for placement assistance is paid by the Company that downsized the Candidate. The Outplacement Recruiter also provides resume, interviewing, and career coaching assistance, which is sometimes paid by the Company, but usually paid by the Candidate.

Want to know how they’re paid?  The fees are varied depending on the services and there is really no typical scenario.

Want to know how much they make?  Since the services vary greatly it really depends on what specific areas the Outplacement Recruiter specializes in.  I would guess their compensation is similar to that of the Recruiters listed above.  Here is a link to an Outplacement Recruiter I highly recommend, Don Straits.  If you do reach out to Don, say “hi” from Lorena!

In-House Recruiter

This Recruiter works for one Company and is part of the Company’s HR team.  This is who you'll most likely interface with if you are actively conducting your own Career Search.  You will notice throughout Lorena’s List I will mention to try to connect directly with the Hiring Manager for the position you want, and I always mention to cc the HR Department so they are also aware of the connection.  You always want to keep the In-House Recruiter in the loop regardless if you connected directly with the Hiring Manager or not.

Want to know how they’re paid?  They’re usually paid a salary and some companies give them a bonus for each hire they make.  Salary ranges from $35,000 to $60,000.  I do not have a solid number for the top 1% because the In-House Recruiter’s function varies greatly from Company to Company, but in general, a great one should earn $125,000. 

Employment Agency

The Recruiter in an Employment Agency is normally working with active candidates (candidates that are actively looking for a job).  They're primarily dealing with candidates out of work.  Some employers do find value in this service as the fee is a lot lower than listed in the above definitions because they are not spending time actively recruiting those who weren’t looking (which takes a lot of time and resources, see Recruiter’s Journey in Hunting a Head, coming soon in a Blog entry).

Want to know how they’re paid?  By the Client (there used to be some that required the Candidate to pay, but that trend has passed). 

Want to know what they’re paid?  So do I.  I have heard through the grapevine it's typically 10% of the position's average salary, but can vary up or down.  If you have more insight, please email me.  Once I learn, I'll share the information on this site.

Here is a short list of other terms used for different types of Recruiters:

3rd Party Agency

This can be a Contingent, Retained or Contract Staffing Recruiter and simply implies they’re not an employee of the Company.
Executive Recruiter

This can be a Contingent or Retained Recruiter.  Typically they place more senior management from Director Level on up or Candidates that are paid $100,000 plus.


An endearing term Recruiters have been coined.  The term probably came about because some look at the Recruiter’s role as “stealing” (hunting) happily employed Candidates (head) from one Company and “forces” them to go to work for another Company that paid the Recruiter for “stealing” them.  Hmmmm, if the Candidate in question were that weak minded would the Company paying the Recruiting fee want them?  Or by chance was there another more solid reason the Candidate choose to make the transition.  I wonder could this term have come from someone who felt left out as they were never “hunted”?  Again, hmmmm...

Search Consultant

Again, this can be a Contingent, Retained or Contract Staffing Recruiter.

Technical Recruiter

The name speaks for itself.  This Recruiter is solely focused on placing Technical positions.  This title has been used for 3rd Party Agency Recruiters as well as In-House Recruiters.

Still don’t quite understand why a Recruiter is so important.  Imagine this.  You are single and want a date.  You see the most attractive (guy/girl) in the room.  You want to talk to them.  They seem to like what they see, but then you talk and make a complete fool of yourself.  They laugh, turn away and make eye contact with someone else in the room.

A good friend sees what’s going on.  Your friend is a real socialite and knows everyone in town.  They approach the (guy/girl) and explain that you’re a very good friend of theirs and you really would like to get to know them better.  They go on to explain all your wonderful traits. Your friend casually mentions they saw them looking at that other person in the room, but caution them to stay away and explain why.

Your friend asks the object of your attraction for their number so they can follow up at a better time to tell them more wonderful things about you.

In the meantime, the stranger making eye contact walks up to the object of your attraction and gets their phone number on their own.

The next day your friend calls and says you have a lunch date for later in the week!  They advise you on what to wear, how to act, and give you suggestions on some small talk.  But above all, they advise you to be yourself!  If the object of your attraction doesn’t like the real you, then it wasn’t a match anyway.

Your lunch date goes well!  During your conversation you find out they had a lunch date earlier in the week with the stranger making eye contact.  What a bomb!  "Your friend was right", they say, "there was no match there"!  "What a waste of time".  In addition they mention how intrigued they are that you would have such wonderful friends that would highly recommend you.  "That's what got my curiosity up"!  Thank your friend!

And there goes another story from a day in the life of a Recruiter.  Well sort of.  Still don’t understand?  I don’t blame you.  I will give you a clearer real life experience in Recruiter’s Journey in Hunting a Head, coming soon in a Blog entry.  I will also explain how an In-House Recruiter hires a Candidate for the Company they work for in HR Recruits, coming soon in a Blog entry.

Find A Recruiter Now.  Go Here or Here

Want To Become A Recruiter?!  Learn More.

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