When recruiters change agencies, the driving motivations behind a move are rarely solely due to a base salary. A combination of other factors, such as hitting a glass ceiling, an issue with a line manager or misalignment in recruitment methodology are more common.
Some would argue that as agency recruitment is a performance-driven role, there should be a bigger focus on potential commissionable earnings over the base salary itself.
Whilst many recruiters have this mindset, a competitive base salary still plays an important part when changing jobs and can sometimes be the key to the final piece of the puzzle.
Are you being paid in line with the market average in Singapore? What is a competitive base salary in Singapore? What factors influence what base salary you’re offered? In this article, we answer these questions.
The salary ranges in this guide were gathered after working in the recruitment to recruitment industry in Singapore between 2016 to 2019. COVID-19 has created a shift in salaries. This shift has not been accounted for in this guide, but we have commented on the pandemic’s impact at the end of this article.
Associate Recruitment Consultant (0 – 1 years of experience)
SGD $2,500 – 3,500 per month
Fresh grads are paid a salary between 2.5 – 3.3k whilst professionals with 0 – 1 years of experience in another industry transferring into recruitment can leverage a higher salary between 3.3 to 3.5k.
Recruitment Consultant (1 – 3 years of experience)
SGD $3,500 – 5,000 per month
Newly promoted recruitment consultants are paid between 3.5 – 4k whilst recruiters with a few additional years are paid between 4 – 4.5k. Recruiters with niche market experience and a good track record can leverage a salary in the higher end of the range between 4.5 – 5k.
Senior Recruitment Consultant (2 – 5 years of experience)
SGD $5,000 – 6,000 per month
Newly promoted senior recruitment consultants are paid a salary between 5 – 5.5k whilst recruiters with a few additional years of experience or highly specialised niche market experience can expect between 5.5 – 6k.
Managing / Principal Recruitment Consultant (3 – 7 years of experience)
SGD $6,000 – 8,000 per month
Newly promoted managing/principal recruitment consultants are paid a salary between 6 – 7k whilst recruiters with a few additional years of experience or highly specialised niche market experience can expect between 7 – 8k.
Manager (5 – 10 years)
SGD $7,000 – 9,000 per month
Newly promoted managers are paid a salary between 7 – 8k whilst managers with a few additional years of experience or managers who are managing larger teams can expect between 8 – 9k.
Associate Director (7 – 13 years)
SGD $9,000 – 12,000 per month
Newly promoted associate directors are paid a salary between 9 – 10k whilst associate directors with a few additional years of experience, associate directors who are managing larger teams or associate directors with more P&L responsibility can expect between 10 – 12k.
Director (10 – 15 years)
SGD $11,000 – 15,000 per month
Newly promoted directors are paid a salary between 11 – 13k whilst directors with a few additional years of experience, directors who are managing substantially larger teams or directors with more P&L responsibility can expect between 13 – 15k.
Managing Director (12 + years)
SGD $14,000 – 19,000+ per month
Newly promoted managing directors are paid a salary between 14 – 17k whilst managing directors with a few additional years of experience, managing directors who are managing entire or regional offices or managing directors with regional P&L responsibility can expect 19k and upwards.
Factors influencing salary ranges
The salary ranges above should provide a rough guide of the general market rate. There are certain factors that may affect your salary or cause outliers:
- Billings can highly affect salary ranges. For example, if you start developing and billing ahead of others, you will be promoted faster where you could be earning a much higher base salary than someone with an equivalent amount of experience
- All agencies have a commission or bonus scheme that return earnings which vary vastly. If you have a lucrative scheme, as a trade-off, your base salary may be lower than the market rate
- Management responsibilities can increase salary. For example, the more recruiters a manager is managing, the more likely it is they will have a salary at the higher end of the range
- P&L responsibilities can increase a recruiters salary. For example, if a recruiter is at Associate Director level but managing a team as well as the entire office P&L, they could expect the higher end of the range
- Some agencies use different titles for the same level of experience. In this case, you can refer to the brackets containing the years of experience for each salary range
Typical salary increments
Typical increments we see when changing jobs in the market are between 10 to 15%.
Achieving an increment above 15% is possible but can only be leveraged in a few select situations. Hypothetically:
- You have a solid track record of billing success in the same practice you will be transitioning into with your new employer
- You have a rare skill set in a candidate-short market such as a contracting recruitment manager
Matching your base salary also happens in the market in certain situations:
- You have changed your practice to a market you’re passionate about, your new employer is happy to make an investment in you but you require a longer runway to become profitable
- You have relocated internationally, your new employer is happy to make an investment in you but you require a longer runway to become profitable
- You have only recently joined your current firm (< 6 months) and have not managed to achieve your strive yet
- Your billings are not outstanding in your current firm but you have good potential in your new firm
- You’re moving jobs in adverse market conditions, your employer wants to make the hire but can only get budget approval for a matching or lower base
COVID-19 has impacted salaries across the Singapore market. During the circuit breaker, there were a number of firms who cut employee salaries by 10 – 20% to adjust to the decline in revenue.
For recruiters changing jobs, the salary increments mentioned above were challenging to secure, especially during the circuit breaker. During this period, we saw offers being made that matched the candidate’s last drawn salary or in some cases offering a lower salary (with a custom commission scheme to adjust for lost fixed income).
Post-circuit breaker, there is still a level of caution when it comes to hiring but we have certainly seen an improvement. Salaries that are offered in today’s market are determined on a case-by-case basis. Firms that are performing well in less affected markets are able to offer salary increments to attract great talent in a cautious market.
All in all, a recruiter can always increase their earnings through commission but having an attractive base salary is not something they would turn their head away from.
Next week, we’ll be publishing Hong Kong’s base salary ranges. If you find these recruitment insights useful, please consider subscribing for exclusive articles like this one direct to your inbox every Thursday.