The recruitment industry in Singapore has grown exponentially in recent years and, despite increased market saturation, it’s easy to see why when there’s so much opportunity coupled with limited barriers to entry.
But how much do recruiters in Singapore actually bill?
In this article, we share our findings on what recruiters bill on a permanent desk within an executive recruitment consultancy (mid to senior level recruitment and a mid volume model) during normal market conditions.
The numbers in this article have been gathered after working in the recruitment to recruitment industry for over 4 years. The numbers reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. Naturally, recruiters develop at different speeds and certain factors such as the practice a recruiter is covering, how many people a recruiter is managing or the type of agency they work for, create diverse results and a large range. We try to explain the variation in each section.
We also talk about how COVID-19 has affected individual revenue at the end of the article.
Entry level recruitment consultant with 0 – 1 years of experience
SGD $100,000 – 200,000
Being a fresh recruiter is all about learning the recruitment process, your niche market and building a network within it. The first year is crucial to building a solid foundation and platform that you can leverage to increase your revenue in the years to come.
Learning the ropes is arguably one of the most challenging periods of being a recruiter. If you’ve achieved the numbers above, you’re in a good position to build a positive trajectory for the future.
Entry to mid level recruitment consultant with 1 – 3 years of experience
SGD $150,000 – 300,000
Now that you have a good understanding of recruitment, a growing foundation and a brief track record of success, you can now leverage on your relationships and referrals to increase the quality and volume of your leads.
Mid level senior consultant with 2 – 4 years of experience
SGD $200,000 – 400,000
You’ve been in the industry for a few years now and you’ve developed strong relationships with clients who come back to you for repeat business. Your candidates have had a similar experience and are referring their colleagues or friends to you. You’re getting better at matching candidates and clients and conversion rates are increasing.
Mid level principal or manager with 3 – 6 years of experience
SGD $300,000 – 600,000
A few of the clients that come back to you for repeat business are now very impressed with your consistency. They release more senior roles and some even on an exclusive or retained basis. Your access to senior level positions and the elimination of competition puts you in a good position to continue improving your numbers.
You’re also at a stage in your career where you have proven yourself as a highly capable individual contributor (IC). It’s now your decision if you want to continue your path as an IC, increasing your billings year on year, or move into a manager position.
By choosing the IC route, every day is dedicated to billing and you can get up to the higher end of the range, achieving numbers between $400,000 – 600,000.
Taking up the manager route requires more time for training and management, but by using the foundation you’ve built over the past few years, you can continue to bill between $300,000 to 400,000 whilst managing a small team of 1 – 3 recruiters.
Senior level associate director or director with 5 – 10 + years of experience
SGD $200,000 – 800,000
As an individual contributor, provided you’re continuing to build relationships and deliver a superior service, your billings will grow. You are however getting to the point where you are operating at absolute efficiency; you have no more minutes in the day and your revenue will eventually start to plateau. You’re one of the most well-known recruiters in your niche and everyone knows your name. These numbers can be between $400,000 to 800,000.
As a people manager, you’re taking on more responsibilities and your team could be up to 5 to 10 consultants, or more. Your focus may shift from closing deals to bringing on board new clients and delegating roles to your team. You’re so busy ensuring the profitability of your team that you have much less time to close roles yourself. You could be billing between $200,000 to $400,000. Of course, the more consultants you’re managing, the less time you’ll have to bill.
The next step in your career could see you even moving away from billing completely and into pure people management.
The numbers above reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. There will certainly be outliers on both sides of the range for one reason or another.
Some recruiters develop at lightning speed and have the ability to bill up to SGD $1.5 million in certain years and in good market conditions. Other recruiters may be working on a slower desk, market conditions might be adverse and the agency may not have a strong enough platform to achieve desired numbers.
There are certain times where market conditions are adverse and revenue will no doubt be negatively impacted.
Last year, the US-China trade war had an adverse effect on the Singapore recruitment market. It didn’t necessarily cause a decrease or any decrease in recruiter billings at all, but there certainly wasn’t a significant increase either.
This year, COVID-19, the biggest health crisis in recent years and arguably the biggest economic crisis of all time, has majorly affected and decreased recruiter billings, to the point where billings are down by 20 to 70%. Technology is doing well in relative terms, whilst the worst affected industries such as Retail saw recruiter billings decline by up to 70% during the lockdown.
It’s near impossible to provide an accurate figure of how much recruiters’ billings have declined during COVID-19 given how different practices are affected more than others and certain lockdown restrictions cause immediate changes to this figure, but we believe it’s somewhere around 30 – 50%.
Whilst a major contributor to the success of a recruiter is down to their motivation and drive to be successful, your numbers can be affected by the agency you’re working with. If your agency operates a model with lower fees and higher volume, you may not be able to hit the revenue figures that a recruiter is achieving in a higher fee, middle volume model. A recruiter that has accumulated a number of years of experience will learn this along the way and will then make a decision if they need to join a new agency to get to where they want to be.
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