How to negotiate recruitment fees like a pro

updated on 7 November 2023

Let’s be real: negotiating recruitment fees sucks.

It’s complex, time-consuming, and often leaves you wondering if you’re getting the short end of the stick.

But fear not. Our colleague Yannick has got three golden nuggets of wisdom to help you navigate this labyrinth like a pro.

1. Do your homework: Know the market rates

First things first, you can’t go into a negotiation blind. You need to know what the going rates are in the market.

It’s like shopping for a car; you wouldn’t just walk into a dealership without having a clue about what a fair price is, right?

For example:

Say you’re in the tech industry, and you’re looking to hire a software developer.

A quick Google search or a chat with industry peers can give you an idea of what agencies are charging for similar roles.

Also try to find out how long it typically takes for an agency to fill a similar role. If Agency A can do it in 30 days and Agency B takes 60, that’s valuable information. Time is money, after all.

Don’t forget about terms & conditions. Don’t just skim through the contract; read the fine print.

Are there any clauses that could come back to haunt you? For instance, what happens if a candidate leaves within the first three months?

Make sure you’re clear on all the terms.

Quick tips:

  1. Get multiple quotes: Don’t settle for the first offer you get. Having multiple quotes gives you a better perspective and more negotiating power.
  2. Negotiate add-ons: Make clear agreements on how the fee will be calculated. Is it a percentage over annual salary and vacation pay? Or will it include bonuses and fringe benefits. You don’t want any surprises afterwards.
  3. Check reviews or testimonials: Look for reviews or ask for client testimonials. It’s like checking a product’s ratings before buying; it gives you a sense of what you’re getting into.

By considering these factors, you’re not just negotiating the fee; you’re negotiating the value you get for that fee.


2. Put it in writing: Document everything

You know what they say, “Verbal agreements are as good as the paper they’re written on.” Okay, maybe that’s not the exact saying, but you get the point. Document all the terms, from performance indicators to costs. This not only protects you but also sets clear expectations for the agency.

So when you’ve agreed that the agency will fill a role within 30 days and that their fee is 20% of the candidate’s annual salary. Get that in writing. This way, if they deliver a candidate on day 31, you have grounds for negotiation.

3. Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish: Focus on quality

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and forget what you’re actually paying for: quality talent.

An agency might offer you a lower fee, but if they can’t deliver the candidates you need, what’s the point?

For example:

Agency A offers a 15% fee but has a track record of hit-or-miss candidates.

Agency B charges 20% but consistently delivers top-notch talent.

The extra 5% starts to look like a pretty good investment, doesn’t it?

Quick win with HirePort

Why juggle all these variables when you can simplify the process?

HirePort offers fixed fees or you can set you own. So you’re in control.

And you’ll work with pre-screened recruiters, and zero surprises. You can focus on what really matters: snagging that top talent.

Ready to take the hassle out of recruitment fees?

Book a demo with HirePort and discover how we can make your life a whole lot easier.