Should I Pay For An Executive Recruiter?

Strong companies aren’t built on hasty decisions. Decision-makers entrusted with handling external partnerships have a duty to carry out due diligence before committing their organization’s resources to a new strategy or asset. 

If you’re considering investing in an executive search recruiter, you probably want to ensure it’s the right call for your company and circumstances. That’s why we put together this blog to answer questions like:

  • How do I know if I need an executive recruiter?
  • What are the pros and cons of working with an executive recruiter?
  • How much does a headhunter cost in 2023?
  • How do executive recruiters get paid?
  • And how much do executive recruiters make?

So, if you’ve been on the fence about investing in executive recruitment, keep reading.

How Do I Know If I Need An Executive Recruiter? 

The most important step for ensuring a successful executive recruitment experience is ensuring you need external assistance in the first place. 

Executive recruiters are highly specialized talent acquisition experts who tap into their global network to generate transformative placements in pivotal roles. They help companies land leading executives, high-level researchers, and other niche specialists that can be hard to connect with on your own. 

If you plan on filling your executive vacancy internally, or if your requirements are such that finding an executive that meets them will be quick and easy, you probably don’t need an executive recruiter. But if you’re going after industry-leading executives or specialists at the top of their fields, an executive recruiter’s guidance, experience, and refined processes are invaluable. 

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Hiring An Executive Recruiter? 

Like all business decisions, partnering with an executive recruiter has pros and cons worth careful consideration. Let’s take a look at three of the most common advantages and disadvantages organizations experience during executive search partnerships


The first disadvantage related to hiring a recruiter that every company considers is cost. Hiring a reputable recruiting partner typically costs 25-35% of the hired candidate’s first-year salary, which may be higher than you’re used to paying.


Partnering with a reputable executive recruiter helps organizations shorten their time to fill and reduce hiring expenses. It also helps organizations avoid productivity slumps due to the soft costs of in-house recruitment. Executive recruiters also empower organizations to land new executives and specialist team members with the perfect skill sets, experience, and leadership abilities for the role. Good executive recruiters also make sure to find candidates who are a good cultural fit for the organization as well.

What Is The Average Cost Of A Headhunter In 2023? 

Like most recruiters, executive headhunters in 2023 base their fees on the first-year salary of the candidates they place. 

Most executive headhunting firms charge 25-35% for their services, which (assuming an average executive salary of $125-150,000) leads to average costs of between $31,250 and $52,500. This fee may be charged upfront, in increments, or as a lump sum after a successful placement. One advantage that Medallion Partners offers is that we only charge based on the hired candidates base first-year salary, unlike many other firms, which charge based on the hired candidates total first-year compensation. 

How Do Executive Recruiters Get Paid? 

Executive recruiters fall into one of two camps: contingent or retained. 

The main difference between these two types of executive search firms is how they charge for their services. Contingency-based executive recruiters only invoice their clients after they’ve made a successful placement. Contingent search firms prioritize speed and volume, making them great partners for organizations that need to fill a vacancy as quickly as possible.

Retained search firms break their fee into payments made incrementally during the search process. Retained search firms provide the same services as contingent search firms, with an added layer of guidance, attention, and refinement. Retained recruiters serve as consultants and search specialists, making them valuable partners for organizations that want to find a one-in-a-million candidate

What Is The Salary Of An Executive Recruiter? 

So, how much is the average executive recruiter earning each year? 

Recent data from Glassdoor and shows that most executive recruiters command a healthy wage of between $80-115,000/year, while stand-out performers can bring home as much as $150-250,000 annually, after performance incentives and bonuses. 

How Medallion Can Help With Your Executive Search Needs

Medallion Partners is an industry-leading executive search firm with more than 15 years of experience facilitating world-class placements. 

Our unmatched expertise, data-driven candidate identification and evaluation technologies, and hard-earned access to the world’s most talented executives and specialists make us ideal partners for businesses that need a transformative hire. There is a reason that over 98 percent of our placements are still in their roles two years later. To learn more about our strategic executive search process, contact us today

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