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Have Recruiter Salaries Stagnated?

By August 31, 2017One Comment

Hello recruiters of New Zealand and welcome to Spring – yussss.  Welcome, also, to the world’s 79th most popular recruitment blog. Oh yeah, you heard right.

Did you watch the Leaders Debate last night? I’m not a particularly political person but I’m pretty sure that must have been the most pleasant, polite and civilised debate between two party leaders I’ve ever seen. Especially only 3 weeks away from a General Election. Why wasn’t Bill hovering menacingly behind Jacinda as she spoke, breathing down her neck in an attempt to unsettle her?

Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s because we’re not in America.

Picture source:

Picture source:

Bill did appear unsettled at times though, especially when pressed on the incredibly low average wage increase during his party’s 9 year reign. It got me thinking about what has happened to the base salaries of the recruitment roles that we recruit for over that same time period. My gut instinct, when quizzed on this by clients, is that salaries really haven’t changed that much over this time period. OTE can change a lot, of course, depending on the amount of billings a recruiter generates and the upside of their commission scheme, but base salaries, it seems to me, are pretty much still where they were back when I started recruiting recruiters in 2007, just before John Key’s National party swept to power the following year.

Lots of recruitment is based on gut instinct, but the best recruiters are able to mix this with science too, and fortunately I’m able to do the same as I still have access to the salaries of recruiters I was placing all that time ago. So let’s have a look at what I was placing back then, versus what I would say is the average (Auckland) market base salary level today:

  • Zero years’ experience, new-to-recruitment:  2008 = $40k  …  2017 = $45k
  • Zero years’ experience, new-to-recruitment (IT):  2008 = $47k  …  2017 = $50k
  • 6 month’s experience, Accountancy recruiter:  2008 = $50k  …  2017 = $55k
  • 1 year’s experience, Business Support recruiter:  2008 = $53k  …  2017 = $55k
  • 1 year’s experience, Accountancy recruiter:  2008 = $58k  …  2017 = $60k
  • 1 year’s experience, IT recruiter:  2008 = $60k  …  2017 = $65k
  • 3 years’ experience, senior Finance recruiter:  2008 = $70k  …  2017 = $75k
  • 3 years’ experience, senior Sales & Marketing recruiter:  2008 = $70k  …  2017 = $75k
  • 3 years’ experience, senior IT recruiter:  2008 = $80k  …  2017 = $90k
  • 5 years’ experience, Contracting Specialist:  2008 = $80k  …  2017 = $100k
  • 7 years’ experience, Executive Search:  2008 = $100k  …  2017 = $120k

So based on the numbers above we’ve seen just over a 10% increase in recruiter base salaries during the Government’s three terms in power. Considering a lot of the roles above would have gone backwards the following year, as the GFC really bit in New Zealand, and the time it took for us to extricate ourselves to where we are now, and the fact inflation has remained at 1% too, I would say we’ve done pretty ok as an industry overall.

Two vector hands, giving money.

It’s clear that the bigger increases have been in the more senior positions, and for those specialising in IT recruitment. For any thinking of starting a career in recruitment, it’s still a pretty low starting salary. But then, same as it always was, it’s about the upside in recruitment. Stick at it for a while, grow your desk, and you’ll quickly access commission to add to your salary. Stay at it for the longer-term and you should see greater gains as your stock rises and you become more in demand.

Will the trend continue if the latest polls are correct and we see a change in Government? It will be interesting to see….

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.