How to Start a Side Hustle As a Freelance Recruiter in 2023

My friend came by and handed me a $4,800 check for placing a district manager candidate with Aldi. Should I call him friend or boss? What does someone that is freelancing call the person that pays them for doing work?

What Is a Freelance Recruiter Anyway?

Freelance recruiting is a side hustle you don’t hear much about in the personal finance community. The job of a recruiter is to fill open positions for companies. Many small-to-medium sized companies use recruiters to fill positions when it can be difficult to find qualified candidates.

The hardest part about being a recruiter is finding clients willing to pay you to fill positions. A strong relationship must be in place between a company and recruiting firm before they’ll be willing to pay a substantial fee to hire someone. 

Finding candidates to fill those positions is also difficult, but there are a lot of tasks that can easily be outsourced. And sometimes outsourced to freelance recruiters like me.

How Do Recruiting Firms Make Money?

Recruiting fees are generally based on a candidate’s starting salary. The fees can range anywhere from 15% to 35% of starting salary. Jobs that are easier to fill are typically on the lower end, with more difficult jobs to fill on the higher end.

My cut of any placements as a freelance recruiter was based on how much of the work I did. For example, if I found a candidate and passed a resume on, my cut of the fee would be around 10%. If I screened a candidate, completed the background screening, and conducted the initial interview then my cut would be closer to 30%.

So if you run the math: a starting salary of $80,000 could result in a recruiting fee of $16,000 at a 20% commission for the recruiting firm. My cut as a freelance recruiter if I found the candidate, completed the background check, and conducted the initial interview would have been $4,800 at a 30% commission.

While this seems like a crazy amount of money, like many commission-only jobs there was a lot of work that went into dozens of other candidates that never resulted in a hire. The recruiting business is not for the faint of heart. There were many times where I thought that I was getting a payout of thousands of dollars, only to have a deal fall through at the last minute.

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