The Cost of Being an "Average" Recruiter

You leverage social media as part of your recruiting strategy… great! So does 92% of the recruiting profession.

You “bang the phones”… awesome! Is it more than 40-75 calls a day? Because that’s the number of calls the average recruiter makes each day.

But what is average to you? Is average a goal, a benchmark, or maybe even an excuse? In the recruiting profession, being average puts you here:

  • The average recruiter submits 1-2 quality candidates per day
  • The average recruiter places 2 candidates a month
  • The average recruiter has been in their current role for 1.2 years
  • The average recruiter with less than five years of experience makes between 40K-45K (According to SIA, 3-5 years experience is 45K)

On the surface, being an average recruiter might not seem that bad. According to the American Staffing Association, there are 20,000 staffing companies operating 39,000 offices… and that’s just in the US. SIA (Staffing Industry Analysts) predicts that the US staffing market will reach $146.6 billion in 2018. A growing industry coupled with a tight talent market means one thing for recruiters: “average” doesn’t cut it.



Reason # 1 – In the recruiting profession, the average “senior” isn’t senior at all.

The staffing industry seems to be one of the only industries that grants a senior title to people after just two years on the job.

To be fair, after working two years as a recruiter, you’ve certainly climbed a big portion of the mountain. You’ve learned the do’s and don’ts, how to structure your day, and you’ve established a network of candidates. But don’t let this trick you into thinking you’ve reached the summit.

Some may say that this is a matter of semantics, but giving the title “senior recruiter” too early does recruiters a disservice. By suggesting that someone has achieved senior status, staffing leaders are conveying a message: that the employee has achieved mastery in their profession… and that’s just not the case.

Any seasoned staffing professional will tell you that there is no substitute for time and experience. And for most recruiting professionals, it takes 5 years to achieve some degree of mastery in their role.

(note: This is not to say that anyone who is in a senior recruiter role has not earned/ does not deserve the recognition that comes with consistent quality performance on the job.)


Reason #2 – In the recruiting profession, the average tenure of a recruiter is 1.2 years.

On average, millennials are more likely to hop from job to job than previous generations…and this puts them at a disadvantage when they enter the recruiting profession. By not taking the time needed to fully understand the job, they set themselves up for disappointment.

To master the recruiting profession, you need at least 3 years to build your desk up, and five years to fully develop yourself as a recruiter. Why?

Because the first three years is spent:

  • Building your own network / book of candidates
  • Establishing a personal brand and reputation within your network
  • Mastering your responses to all of the various objections you will encounter
  • Expanding your initial network of candidates through referrals
  • Finding your own voice/style/niche within the profession


Reason #3 – Competition is intense – and being average just doesn’t cut it.

With unemployment at historical lows and the gig economy becoming increasingly popular, it goes without saying that today’s market is a candidate’s market. Everyone is going after the same piece of the pie. Being average in a sea of recruiters means that most of the time, you won’t even get a reply from a candidate. Do you want to be successful? Break out of the prison of average:

  • Be a hunterDedicate yourself to constantly expanding your network of candidates.
  • Be a connector – Build genuine, collaborative relationships with candidates you already know and reap the benefits of their referrals.
  • Be a researcher – Understand incoming technological trends and how they can potentially impact your job now and in the future.
  • Be a learner – Because the moment you stop when you’re ahead can easily become the moment you return to average.

Most of the problems people associate with recruiters revolve around being average. The recruiting profession is not for everyone… but that doesn’t mean that it’s not for you. If you’re a leader in your organization, you can address these issues by:

  • Setting realistic expectations for new hires – It’s a 3-5 year journey that requires grit, continuous learning, humility, and the ability to handle delayed gratification.
  • Stop promoting recruiters to senior in 2 years – Or, at least have the conversation around what a senior recruiter means to your organization. Obviously, you’ll want to reward people who make it past the initial humps of the job, but don’t let them think that they’ve arrived.
  • Condense the time it takes to achieve mastery by offering resources that allow your employees to continuously learn.

Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States