top of page

How Much Do Recruiters Charge?

Updated: Feb 11

Recruitment is a crucial part of building a successful team for any business. Whether you're a small start-up or a large corporation in the United Kingdom, you may consider partnering with a recruitment agency to source and hire the best talent. However, one of the key questions that often arises is, "How much do recruiters charge?" In this blog post, we will explore the various ways recruiters in the UK charge for their services and help you understand the cost of hiring talent through recruitment agencies.

How much do recruiters charge

Understanding the Basics of Recruitment Fees

Recruitment agencies in the UK charge fees for their services, which typically fall into one of three categories:

  1. Contingency Fees: Contingency fees are success-based, meaning the recruiter is only paid when they successfully place a candidate with the hiring company. These fees are usually expressed as a percentage of the candidate's first-year salary.

  2. Retained Fees: Retained fees are paid to the recruiter upfront, regardless of whether the placement is successful or not. Companies typically use retained services for high-level executive searches where they need dedicated and exclusive attention from the recruiter.

  3. Flat Fees: Some recruiters charge a flat fee for their services, regardless of the candidate's salary. This approach is more common in niche markets or for specific types of roles.

The specific fees and pricing structures vary from one recruitment agency to another, but understanding the general categories of fees is crucial for both businesses and candidates.

Recruitment Fees in the UK

Now, let's take a closer look at each of these fee structures, their typical costs, and factors that can influence the charges:

1. Contingency Fees

Contingency fees are the most common way recruitment agencies charge for their services in the UK. These fees are based on a percentage of the candidate's first-year salary, and they typically range from 10% to 20%. However, there can be significant variations based on factors such as industry, location, and the specific services provided by the recruitment agency.

For example, if a recruitment agency charges a 15% contingency fee and successfully places a candidate with a £40,000 first-year salary, the fee would be £6,000.

2. Retained Fees

Retained fees are usually higher than contingency fees. In the UK, they can range from 20% to 35% of the candidate's first-year salary. Companies typically opt for retained services when they need specialized executive search services for high-level positions. The higher fees often reflect the exclusivity and dedicated resources provided by the recruiter.

For instance, if a retained recruitment agency charges a 25% fee for a high-level executive position with a £100,000 first-year salary, the fee would be £25,000.

3. Flat Fees

Flat fees are more straightforward and may be a fixed amount regardless of the candidate's salary. In the UK, flat fees can vary widely, but they often range from £1,000 to £5,000 or more, depending on the type of role and the services provided.

Factors such as the level of specialization, the difficulty of the role, and the resources required to source the right candidate can influence the flat fee.

Additional Factors Influencing Recruitment Fees

Several factors can influence the cost of recruitment fees in the UK:

  1. Industry and Specialization: Some industries, like healthcare or IT, may have higher fees due to the specialized skills and expertise required to source and place candidates in those fields.

  2. Location: Recruitment fees can vary by region within the UK. In areas with a higher cost of living, recruitment fees may be slightly higher to account for the increased operating costs of the agency.

  3. Level of Service: The services offered by the recruitment agency can impact the cost. For example, agencies that provide additional services like onboarding and training may charge higher fees.

  4. Market Demand: In a competitive job market, where there is high demand for certain roles, recruiters may charge higher fees to reflect the difficulty of finding the right talent.

Negotiating Recruitment Fees

It's important to note that recruitment fees are often negotiable. Businesses and candidates can discuss the fee structure with the recruiter and potentially come to an agreement that works for both parties. Negotiation may involve adjusting the fee percentage, discussing payment terms, or clarifying the services included in the fee.

Transparency and Agreement

Before engaging a recruitment agency in the UK, it's crucial for both businesses and candidates to have a clear and transparent agreement regarding recruitment fees. This agreement should include details such as the fee structure, the percentage or amount to be paid, any guarantees or warranties, and the terms of payment.

The Value of Professional Recruitment Services

While recruitment fees are a necessary expense, they represent an investment in securing the right talent for your organization. Recruitment agencies in the UK provide valuable services, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and presenting candidates, which can save businesses time and resources. Additionally, they often have access to a wider pool of candidates and industry-specific knowledge.

For candidates, working with recruiters can provide access to exclusive job opportunities, valuable insights, and assistance in navigating the job market.

How much do recruiters charge in the UK


Recruitment fees in the UK vary depending on the fee structure, the type of role, the industry, and the negotiation between the parties involved. Understanding the different fee structures, factors influencing fees, and the value of professional recruitment services is essential for businesses and candidates alike. By working closely with recruitment agencies and coming to a clear agreement, you can effectively navigate the cost of hiring talent and make the right investments in building a successful team.


bottom of page