Do Headhunters Work On Commission?

In today’s competitive job market, it can be difficult to find skilled workers. That’s where headhunters come in. They specialize in finding the best talent for companies that need new employees. In this article, we take a closer look at how headhunters are compensated and what this can mean for employers and potential hires.

What Is A Headhunter?

A headhunter is a professional recruiter who specializes in finding and placing qualified candidates for executive roles within companies. Headhunters are typically paid on a fee basis or with commission, depending on the firm they work for.

What Is A Recruiter Commission Structure?

A topic that often comes up in discussions about headhunters and other outside recruiters is the recruiter commission structure. Recruitment agencies and staffing agencies have different structures for paying commissions to their employees.

Depending on the company they work for and the type of job they specialize in, recruiters may be paid a salary or a commission. When it comes to commission-based wages, here’s what you need to know:

  • Commission percentage: the typical commission rate paid by employers ranges from 15% to 30%, with 20% being the industry standard.
  • Bonus structure: most companies offer bonus incentives or rewards programs based on successful placement fees or placements made within specific timeframes.
  • Average salary: generally speaking, people working in this field can expect to earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, depending on their performance and experience.

How Do Headhunters Get Paid?

Headhunters are compensated with either a recruitment fee or base salary, depending on the position being filled. Generally speaking, they are compensated when they successfully place someone in a role and are usually paid a flat fee or a percentage of the recruited employee’s salary range. 

In some cases, they may negotiate additional bonuses with the company based on placement commissions. When it comes to direct hire services, most agencies charge higher rates, as this process is generally more time-consuming than standard recruitment methods and requires more dedication from all parties involved.

Types Of Commission Structures

There are different types of commission structures that can be used when working with headhunters. 


Contingency is a type of commission structure used by many recruitment agencies and external recruiting agency owners. It means that recruiters are compensated for their efforts, usually in the event of a successful hire, through an upfront payment or through installment payments over a period of time agreed upon by the employer and employee.

This form of commission-based compensation means that recruiters invest their own time in finding candidates without the benefit of a regular salary. The advantage of this model is that, if all goes well, those involved in the process can earn a very high annual income.


Retainer recruitment is a type of executive search used by many companies to fill their job postings. The process involves working with a direct hire recruiter, often referred to as a search consultant. This type of recruitment is based on an agreement between the hiring manager and the search consultant that outlines the services that will be provided in exchange for payment, usually an upfront fee and a commission, for any successful hire.

With retainer recruitment, there’s no need to pay additional fees when a candidate isn’t found. It also allows employers more control over job opportunities, since they can choose specific criteria for applicants and have access to deeper research into potential employees than would be found through regular job search channels.

How to identify the right candidate for a job?


A container is a type of recruiter who works on commission and helps candidates find the right career advancement opportunity. This type of headhunter can be an internal or technical recruiter. Here are five important points to consider when working with a container:

  1. They understand the needs and goals of job candidates better than any other type of headhunter.
  2. Containers specialize in candidate placements within private equity firms, which provides more opportunities for advancement.
  3. These recruiters have access to resources that allow them to identify potential job openings faster than their competitors.
  4. They provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process.
  5. Containers prioritize building relationships with employers so they can quickly and efficiently deliver top-notch candidates.

Benefits Of Commission-Based Headhunters

Here’s a look at the advantages of opting for commission-based headhunting services:

Cost Savings

The biggest benefit of hiring a commission-based huntsman is cost savings. Commission-based fees are typically paid only when the candidate is successfully placed in the position, so there’s no upfront cost to you or your business when choosing this service.

Speed and Efficiency

Recruitment agencies must deliver results quickly if they are going to get paid by their clients. That’s incentive enough for them to work hard and fast on delivering suitable candidates for open positions. A commissioned headhunter is highly efficient in searching out strong matches for any job vacancy your company may have, saving you both time and money.

Extended Reach

Generally speaking, commissioned search firms have access to exclusive talent pools that might not be available through other resources. Such candidates tend to be highly sought after and can add tremendous value to any organization they join. Commissioned search firms also allow employers to target their recruitment activities more effectively than conventional advertisements, locating passive talent that would otherwise remain off radar.

Ability To Negotiate Fees

Unlike many recruiting firms who charge already determined fees regardless of individual circumstances, commission-based search firms give employers an opportunity to negotiate their fee arrangements based on specific conditions including job requirements and recruiting criteria. This helps companies ensure they’re getting quality services without having to pay exorbitant costs.

High Quality Candidates

Because commission expenses depend upon successful placements made by commission-based interviewers, they must maintain sufficient standards while searching out appropriate candidates within set parameters so that they won’t have difficulty placing quality people with time pressures present. As such, employers enjoy tremendous peace of mind knowing the quality of their chosen candidate will meet expectations given the incentive placed upon commissioned recruiters.

Why use a recruitment agency to find a job?

How Much Commission Do Recruiters Make?

The exact rate of pay for recruiters is determined by the client company and can vary greatly depending on various factors such as industry standards. Overall, the typical salary for an average recruiter ranges from a few thousand dollars to five-figure salaries annually, depending on the level of experience and current labor market conditions.

Should I work with a headhunter exclusively?

How To Find A Reliable Headhunter

Finding reliable headhunters can be tricky. With so many people claiming to be headhunters, it’s difficult to know who is the real deal. You want to make sure the headhunter you choose has a solid track record of successfully sourcing great candidates that are a good fit for your business. Below are tips on how to find a reliable headhunter.

Research Headhunting Companies

When looking for a reliable headhunter, start by researching different companies. Look into their background, history and client base. Have they had successful placements in the past? Who else have they worked with? This research will help you gather an overall understanding of their services and ensure they have the experience necessary to manage your recruitment needs.

Check References and Testimonials

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, check references and testimonials from previous clients and job seekers who have used the services of each company. Seeing other people’s opinion of them will give you an accurate picture on whether or not they’re reliable sources for finding suitable candidates for your open positions.

Interview Every Headhunter

When selecting a headhunter, make sure to interview each one carefully and ask any questions that you may have before making a decision. A reliable recruiter should be willing to answer any questions that you may have about their services and demonstrate what makes them stand out from rival companies in the industry.

Evaluate Their Approach

A good indication that you’ve found an experienced recruiter is when they take a careful approach when it comes to recruitment search, taking into account both your needs and those of potential candidates. A truly reliable headhunter takes time understand exactly what kind of professional would suit your opening best so that they can find strong candidates who meet all your expectations.

Check Experience in Your Industry

When it comes to finding the perfect candidate, experience matters! Check how experienced your chosen headhunter is in recruiting within your industry. This will help speed up the process significantly as well as ensuring quality results.

Headhunter services

Headhunters are an asset in finding the best talents to meet your organization’s needs. Spartanium is a leading provider of headhunting services. Our team of experts specializesg in recruiting for the fields of insurance, rights, accounting, transport and logistics.

Schedule an appointment 

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