What’s the Lowest Fee Percentage You Would Accept?

The fee percentage can be a touchy subject for recruiters. Heck, anything related to recruiter fees can be touchy, depending on the specific topic.

But the percentage, that can be a downright inflammatory subject. That’s because what one recruiter considers to be an acceptable percentage another recruiter might not.

So we wanted to see where the members of Top Echelon’s recruiting network stood on this issue, more or less. So we made it the focus of a Members’ Area poll. The question that we posed is as follows:

What is the lowest fee percentage you would accept (not including flat fees)?


The choice of answers that we provided is listed below, along with the percentage of Network recruiters that selected each one:

  • 30% — 0.0%
  • 25%— 4.8%
  • 20%— 69.8%
  • 15% — 22.2%
  • 10% — 3.2%
  • Less than 10% — 0.0%

Fee percentage fun!

Okay, so what stands out about the results of this poll? Let me count the ways:

  1. Absolutely nobody (in this poll, anyway) would NOT accept a fee percentage lower than 30%. Demanding 30% fees across the board from all of your clients would be difficult to pull off. However, if you could accomplish that feat, take a bow.
  2. Absolutely nobody (in this poll, anyway) would accept a fee percentage “less than 10%.” That makes sense, since 10% is typically considered the basement when it comes to fees.
  3. Far and away, the majority of recruiters in this poll (69.8%) indicated they would not accept a fee under 20%. Does that mean every single one of these recruiters have never, ever accepted a fee percentage under 20%. Hmmm . . . you’d probably have to ask them yourself.

When it comes to fee percentages, there’s a “sweet spot,” at least as far as Top Echelon Network recruiters are concerned. That “sweet spot” is between 20% and 25%.

Sure, there are some 30% fees here and there, but they’re generally the exception and not the rule. And sure, there are some 15% (and even 10%) fees here and there, but they’re definitely the exception and not the rule.

Yes, some recruiters offer discounted fees in certain situations. One of those situations involves multiple job orders. “Sure, you give me five exclusive searches, and I’ll drop the fee percentage from 25% to 20% on all of them.”

What a person considers acceptable, including a recruiter, is a thoroughly subjective consideration. And that consideration does extend to the fee percentage.

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