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Some financial services recruiters are now being paid nothing at all

If you work in a bank you are probably now resigned to having a smaller bonus paid over a longer period of time. But pity the recruiters/headhunters who are now being paid nothing at all or being paid in commission only (which in the current market probably amounts to the same thing).

Recruitment firm Stephen Raby is said to be among those slow to pay some staff what they were expecting in recent months. Chief executive Stephen Raby declined to comment on individual salary arrangements but confirmed that a number of redundancies have been made.

Raby also said things are looking up: “There has been a sharp increase in activity in the first quarter of 2009 which we are confident will continue in the foreseeable future,” he added.

Other financial services focused search firms are said to have dramatically trimmed staff and shifted to a commission only pay model.

“This will happen more and more often,” says Simon Hughes at search to search firm Strata Search. “These businesses are very lean and most recruitment companies have little reserves. They will need to generate the fees to pay people.”

“A few firms are asking people to drop their salaries in order to keep their jobs,” confirms Ed Bathgate at search to search firm Longbottom. “There are several boutiques that have either dramatically reduced salaries or moved to commission only pay.”

IT recruitment group S3 is understood to be making broad redundancies. However, others such as GRS, the risk focused recruiter, are hiring. A spokesman for the company says risk recruitment is about to “go nuts.”

Comments (37)

  1. Sorry to gloat .but it warms my heart to read this…For far too long Recruiters have been taking home salaries often way in excess of Banking Salaries for pushing around CV’s. 6 and 7 figure remuneration for hassling people to make moves that often do not work out is ridiculous.

  2. You should consider getting into recruitment then.

  3. ah yes recruiters getting blamed for “hassling people to make moves that often do not work out”. I’m sorry i thought you people were the smartest guys in the room- can’t you make an educated independent decision? did a recruiter, with no doubt weaker academics force you to take a job? don’t be so weak. grow some backbone. no wonder the banking industry is in a mess.

  4. i dont remember ever having got seven figure remuneration ! I would largely blame inept mortgage lending, crazed risk taking and maddoff type fiascos for things not working out for many employees, not my peers or I coercing people into non suitable jobs. Largely headhunting is getting the best, well educated, streetwise people good jobs, after that our duty of care is ended as its not us that do the firing. I recently placed two redundant people back into financial services so feel headhunters can add some value, they didnt get big guarantees but are gainfully employed again on largely perfomance based pay , so everyone is happy.

  5. I hate the hypocritical nature of you bankers! The moment you need a job or we get you one….you guys love us…you want us to call you daily and wonder why we did not call you on receiving your ridiculous CVs (a bit like a desperate insecure girlfriend!). ….ah but things change in a bear market ….we cant get you jobs or even interviews and who can you blame….oh yes the damn “CV pushers”!….you damned incompetent bankers!

  6. J21 you obviously a junior and weak recruiter.
    Example Salary 50,000 .Initial Target 150,000 to cover costs/salary..Then 10% comm il you hit 300,000.(150-300) Then 25% til you hit 500,000 (300-500). Then 40% of everything above
    ..If you bill 1,000,000 you get 315,000 p.a ( have double checked the numbers )(nb the salary and commissions percentages are v.low…) To do this you need to place only 16 people on 1st year comp of 250,000( at 25% comm to the Client) easy in other years to get 30% ,,,agree this year will prove bad but the last 10 years have been pretty good…….and all you need is to place 1 Big swinger and you are away !!!!!

  7. My concern about putting recruiters on a commission only basis is that you will be under severe pressure to make a fee. This implies that you will need to hassle, scheme, disregard, ignore and lie even more than you normally do just to keep your job……….

  8. andrew- you sound like my old boss at OxbridgeGroup – didn’t that firm blow up in 2005?!

    research associate Reply
  9. Reccy, While there certainly some recruiters that are earning the kind of salaries you are suggesting. It is far from the norm. I have 10 years in Rec2Rec recruitment placing god knows how many recruiters over the years. The reality is the vast majority in the profession who are successful will earn between 30K and 70k / year

  10. Have been out of work for 4 months and looking for new role in the City. Am bored of seeing fellow bankers (although technically I’m not at the moment) bashing the recruitment guys – can’t we accept that both groups need each other. They need us to get commissions, and at the end of the day in good and bad times we leverage off these guys as well – how many of us bankers have got a recruiter to stir up some interest in us just so we can negotiate better bonuses with our current management knowing that we are safe by having an offer at the other end (i.e. good for us, zilch for the recruiter/hhunter).
    Yes, I have met some real recruitment idiots who don’t deserve a penny of commission but then some of the sell-side sales people who used to try and deal with me fell into that category as well (i.e. other bankers).
    On the other hand, some recruiters have actually been good and some really push to make sure they get good feedback etc. if things don’t go my way.
    Its bad times for both groups so no point in slagging each other off.

  11. Nice to see them suffering, makes me feel so good considering all the useless time wasters that have called me up and wasted my time over the years.

  12. Thanks ghk1 for your obvious reaction. Thanks also Sarah for giving my boss funny ideas.

    I have personally placed 5 unemployed candidates since January, into perm positions, enabling them to feed themselves and pay the rent / mortgage.

    I’m not particulary happy with this return and neither is my boss, however I have justified my existance. The insecurity of my job does mean that I don’t always sleep at night.

    I have assisted the unemployed by working extremely hard and making upwards of 450 phone based sales presentations in the last 12 weeks. Which equates to somewhere in the region of 2500 outgoing phone calls. I have also saved my clients signifcant amounts of money by ignoring the individuals who are proving to have been significantly overpaid pre recession (maybe they got their 07 pay rise and subsequent 08/09 redundancy by holding a gun to their former employers head).

    I also have a fairly long memory and can pretty much garuntee that people who messed me around when the sun was shining are unlikely to be one of the numbers that I dial (you know who you are).

    I AM thick skinned but it IS wearing thin, especialy when 400 people say NO.

    just another recruiter Reply
  13. just another recruiter…2500 phone calls !!!!!! no wonder you are seen as the Antichrist !!! It is people like you who give us HeadHunters such a poor reputation…We are not peddling paper clips…Target your calls to those who really might have an interest. Think first dont go straight into a sales spiel..A decent recruiter in the Financial markets has probably got around 20-30 good contacts / homes where he can put clients (if they have a need/ and the ability to employ).If i phoned my contacts more than twice a week I think quite rightly that they would get pretty bored of me. Focus your calls.It should not be impossible to obtain interest/an interview from 1 in say 5 calls
    2500 !!! who do you work for ..I guess 1 of the churn em merchants

  14. I would say that not all recruiters are made the same and I in particular love helping people find good jobs. Not all recruiters are commission only, but even those have professionalism and treat people with dignity. And if you think it is simply a matter of pushing CV’s, I would say you need to stop eating lead chips.

    It takes an enormous amount of energy to maintain our extensive networks and try to help companies and candidates find each other. If people think it is easy to to this job and easy to make the money we do, then why doesn’t everyone do it??? I would love to see those first couple of days of complete bewilderment.

  15. A lot of you bankers (I presume particularly a lot of the operations / middle office types) are just jealous because good recruiters earn more than you. Having earnt just over 90k in 2nd full year of recruitment at age of 24, I’m off to travel the world! Don’t forget – a lot of the time you candidates need us, so stop slating us! And bad recruiters don’t earn a lot, as they don’t place many people. You simply won’t get rubbishy recruiters earning anything more than, say, 50k a year. Simple as – stop whining!

    An excited recruite Reply
  16. I think excited recruite should learn how to spell and doesn’t deserve to earn 20k let alone 90k.

    He sounds like a typical “rubbishy” recruiter and will be glad to see him travelling away from here.

    An Operations / Middle Office Type Reply
  17. Hha – if you can’t be bothered to do the legwork expect a p45 soon. I don’t peddle anything to my clients, but I do help them identify where the market is and who is available. Its actually lazy fools like you who give my profession a bad name. Thanks for you comments mate but you are obviously totally out of touch and very badly researched. There are over 2000 potential hiring managers / HR in my space, in London. 2500 calls a qtr equates to getting through to 1 in 5 people. So the people I speak to get 1 – 2 calls a qtr from me. Thats on top of the 50 + strong relationships I already have. Ask yourself this, of your 20-30 existing relationships, how many of them have been actually hiring in the past 6 months ? Relationships account for about 10% of the game. Its all about presenting the right candidate at the right time, being well researched and knowing your market. Of your extemley small network I would expect that a good majority are willing to overlook their relationship with you if you don’t deliver the right CV. Looking forward to speaking to your clients soon ……… I know which recruiter I’d rather have my cv with.

  18. 90k for pushing cvs….what a joke. Another great example of a massively overinflated money supply distorting the link between productivity and compensation.

    Recruiters along with estate agents are such bottom feeders.

  19. Steve, well if it’s that case and it’s simply a job of “pushing CVs” then why don’t you do it for 90k? Idiot!
    Supply and demand in a job sector will mean that the more money it pays & the easier / more difficult the job will balance out to mean that people generally get paid what they are worth. You simply don’t get recruiters of 80k + that simply push CVs around. Have fun with your fixed-income Settlements Steve.

    An excited recruiter Reply
  20. I bet excite recruite will come back from travelling with his tail between his legs when he will be like the other 2 or 3 million job hunters.

    Who will help him then?

    I think the answer will be no-one given his lack of ability to spell or even hold down a job for more than 2 years.

    I hear McDonald’s are hiring….

  21. Jar, I am surprised your CV’s get looked at with the type of spelling mistakes you had on your post. I wonder what your CV’s look like?

  22. Great to read the utter ignorance around the recruitment market and how it works. It is rewarding to see how little recognition we receive many of those people we have secured career advancing, salary increasing roles. As a successful recruiter I could invest years of time getting to know my market inside and out, building a strong network of clients, learning and understanding my clients and candidates needs, put hundreds of hours in behind the scenes to enable me to provide an effective high level recruitment service. Or then again I could just “push a CV”.

    Many in the banking profession do a good job and work hard for their bonus, but then again many good recruitment consultants work equally hard to put you in those posts in the first place.

  23. I doubt CV pusher has invested many years in his chosen career.

    Every consultant I’ve met looks about 12

  24. Very entertaining thread. Funny reading the bitter comments from (quite probably ) out of work bankers in the only profession that has been able to challenge the level of poor public image that was held by estate agents in the 90’s.

    Would you like to buy a house? Reply
  25. Hugh – get over yourself you plonker. My cvs obviously go out without typos and I don’t actually send out many cvs you will be suprised to hear.
    MO/ BO type …. your complete lack of commercial acumen is no doubt a reason why you are a cost centre and therefore at risk of redundancy in this climate. If you’d been unemployed for six months and I’d helped you find another job I’m sure you would feel differently.

  26. We look young because we enjoy an easy life just pushing CV’s and sitting back and being paid huge commissions

    I have spent the last 8-years in my current market and 4 years in general recruitment prior to that.

  27. Baz – I’ll come back from travelling and I can guarantee people will still crying out for good recruiters. This is the difference between a cost centre (you) and a profit centre (me) as JAR points out. I make my firm money. As a BO / MO type you cost the firm money, so will always be more sensitive to market fluctuations. Simple!

    An Excited Recruiter Reply
  28. I love reading articles like this.. Always creates a huge argument.

    At the end of the day, you can’t bare to admit it but you NEED recruitment consultants. That’s quite apparent from the 200-300 desperate candidates who call us/apply to adverts everyday, practically begging for a job. Stop slating us just because we make more money that the people we are placing…you would be doing the same if you were in our shoes…


  30. so much anger! why dont you all just put some energy in something else much more contructive!

  31. Whats Contructive?

  32. I think that we can all say that there are great recruitment companies in the city and bad ones. The market is tough at the moment, but it is a survival of the fittest period that we are in. I am a recruiter myself and have been for a number of years. Yes I have earned good money but working 13 hours can be exhausting. I commend the consultant who’s earned 90k in his second year, most consultants only earn between 30-50k. So like most banking staff, had given his pound of flesh.

    So to get to the point, the more we can work together (clients and candidates), the more effort we put in now. The better the chance of coming out of the crunch with an excellent reputation in the market.

    Remember everyone, its not about how hard you can hit, its about how much you can take and keep moving forward.

    Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard Reply
  33. You bankers are all so pompus ! How you love to take the moral high ground . Clearly what you do for a living is worthy … right ?

    Outraged, is it possible that you are just getting older ? Recruiters can be like policeman in that way…… However your typical grad with a couple of years in recruitment is no doubt thinking about taking a gap year quite soon, if in fact they are’nt already on it !

    The market is 1000 times tougher than it has been at any other time in the last 5 years, perhaps this is in fact the toughest market the financial services recrutiment industry has EVER faced. This market will sort the men from the boys. If you find yourself visiting a recruiter still in a job in 2009 / 2010 they are more likely to be in their 30’s than in their 20’s.

    The recruitment industry is famous for having a high turn over, both in the good times and the bad times. The reason for this is that it’s a tough job whatever way you cut it.

    Most of those sitting at home wandering how they are going to pay the mortgage, making snidy comments on this web site and wandering where it all went wrong would not last two weeks in my office. Let alone in their cosy back office

  34. Jar, couldn’t agree more with what you are saying. In the boom times certainly there were more “Cv pushers” around but these times are gone. If you meet with a recruitment consultant still in the industry they are likely to be highly competent and will be the best people out there to find people the right role.

    Remember that in a strong wind even a poorly designed Kite will fly, where as in the duldrums only the very best will sore up there.

  35. Excellent analogy Mr. Pusher. Did you ever see the film “The Kite Runner”? No doubt it would have provided you with many more whimsical comments.

    Recruitment is a tough job, anyone who says otherwise hasn’t done it themselves. The best recruiters are those that not only understand the market and the jobs they are recruiting for, but also those that can create and keep the relationships going. No doubt that these guys are still doing ok in the current environment. However, recruitment is also a really dull job. Cold calling, spec CV’s, every recruiter has used some degree of underhand tactic at some point, email shots etc. hardly equate to a satisfying and rewarding (in the non- sense) job. And if those ‘headhunters’ start whinging about their top-level relationships/non-CV bashing type of recruitment, then maybe they should consider all of the fake calls they make to map markets, pathetic shortlists they produce and their total reliance on researchers.

    I didn’t meet one recruiter who wouldn’t give up recruitment to do a well-paid ‘normal’ job with long term prospects. All of those that turned to recruitment were failures in the FS markets.

    ’nuff said. :-)

  36. Am somewhat alarmed by the acrimony this article has created – on both sides of the fence.
    Why not just accept that there are good and bad apples in every industry (which includes both recruitment and banking / finance) and, who purposefully buys bad apples?
    That said, “Caveat emptor” perhaps?

    Still Searching Reply
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