How to Make More Money as a Recruiter

We’re fast approaching the time of the year when people ditch their New Year’s resolutions; gym bunnies are reunited with their treadmills, the outdoor smoking area is miraculously full once again and we all silently agree to stop drinking green tea in favour of our beloved coffee. This blog post is designed to prevent you from letting your work-related goals fall by the wayside, to give you some realistic tips on how to improve your billing success and ensure that when the time comes, you smash the dreaded first quarter review. Money_pic.fw.pngMost bosses say that to make more money in recruitment you should pick up the phone – and stay on the phone. ‘I’m already on the flippin’ phone!’ I hear you scream in frustration. Put the phone down, make yourself a brew (green tea or coffee, we won’t judge), and take in some decidedly more helpful advice.

1. Focus on increasing contractors

According to figures released by The REC there were 1.2 million people out on temporary, contract or interim assignments via a recruiter in 2014/15; up 3.6% from 2013/14. That translated to every consultant specialising in temporary/contract recruitment having 32 workers out on assignment on any given day. That’s a lot of profit walking around that you could, and should, be tapping into. Increasing your contractors ensures steady income generation, meaning any permanent placements you make on top will make you more money in commission. 

2. Aim higher

Executive level posts are often tricky to recruit for; the candidate pool is smaller than it is for mid-level roles, job specifications are often niche and interest from candidates for benefits such as pensions and profit shares can outweigh an increased salary. What makes these roles worth the effort are the fees. Last year 26% of agencies secured margins of 20% and over , billing 20% of a £100k+ salary may take more time and effort than a role offering less money, but you’ll have brought in £20k+ by filling one role, one!

3. Spec out your best candidates

A lot of recruiters hate cold-calling; they find it awkward because they don’t have something concrete to sell. Speccing out candidates gets around that and allows you to give a potential client hard evidence that you know what you’re doing. Spec out your best candidates individually in an effort to get them interviews, and spec out groups of good candidates to get the company to open that role up to you on an exclusive basis. Getting candidates in front of clients before your competitors know there’s a job available will undoubtedly increase your billing figures.

ID-100322534.jpg4. Do some inter-office deals

Agencies vary in the way they handle fees, some may allocate no part of the fee for getting the client on board and base things purely on filling jobs whilst others put more of an emphasis on getting client buy-in. The way your manager handles this is usually a reflection of their goals for the company. Try discussing a few new ideas with them; work out how you can split fees according to who brought the client on and who filled the role – the fee stays the same but both you and another recruiter in your company can reap the benefits. Once you’ve got that in line, aim to grow your client base by 1 per week, that way you’ll get a percentage of any roles your colleagues fill with them too. 

5. Push your KPIs

You’ve probably heard this from mentors and managers before, but KPIs can be a great way to guide your productivity. Hitting them is a good idea – in the first instance it makes you look good and could help you in potential promotion talks, but exceeding them can improve your chances of conversion to placement more than you might think. Here’s an example:

If you send 2 CVs for each of 4 roles and there are 4 spaces for interview:
2/4 x 2/4 x 2/4 x 2/4 = 16/256 or 1/16
You have a 1 in 16 of getting 1 interview for every role.

If you push your KPIs and send submit 3 CVs for each of the 4 roles:
3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 = 81/256
You’ve increased your chances of getting 1 interview for every role to 81/256 – that’s 5 times more likely!

There are multiple tactics you can use to make more money in 2016 – increase your contractor-base to give you a steady income, aim for Director-level roles and you’re fees will rocket, and make sure you’re ahead of the competition by speccing out your best candidates. Pushing KPIs may seem like a chore but it can make a huge difference to your chances of success, and making a few office deals work for you can earn you money months after you bring a new client on board. Feeling more motivated now? Time to get back on that phone – this time with a spec candidate in tow!

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Credit: Images from Stuart Miles and atibodyphoto via

Heidi Gardner

Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.

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