Recruitment Costs

Recruitment Costs – The Mystery of HR Recruitment Agency Pricing

The Mystery of HR Recruitment Agency Pricing

Have you ever wondered why many HR recruitment agencies don’t publish recruitment costs on their websites or promotional materials? It’s not uncommon for employers to struggle to find out how much it would cost to use a recruitment agency for their needs.

So why do HR recruitment agencies keep their pricing a secret. Is it a strategy to allow flexibility on price dependent on the client, or is it due to the fear of being undercut by competitors? Or is it just how it’s always been done?

At PEEQ, we embrace transparent pricing because we understand how frustrating it is when you can’t find out how much something costs, quickly.

However, we appreciate that this is by far from the ‘done thing’.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why some HR recruitment agencies might not publish their recruitment costs and what impact this has on businesses who are looking to make a hire.

Reasons Why HR Recruitment Agencies Keep Their Recruitment Costs Hidden

Greater Flexibility on Price

One reason why HR recruitment agencies may not publish their recruitment costs is because they can quote a different fee to customers depending on a series of key factors.

For instance, whether the business is a NFP, how challenging the role is to fill, the availability of talent, the current bandwidth of their team, the time of year, whether there’s an existing relationship with the customer, and in all honesty, what they think the hiring business might be able to pay…

A Fear of Being Undercut by Competitors

One of the main reasons that HR recruitment agencies don’t disclose their fees is because they’re worried that their competitors will see what they charge. The fear is that their competitors might swoop in and offer their client an advantageous price. However, most businesses already have a sense of what their competitors are charging and if a customer is driven solely by price, then they’re perhaps not the right customer for a business that strives to deliver a quality recruitment service.

A Fear of Customers Thinking They’re Too Expensive

Many HR Recruitment Agencies worry that by openly stating their prices, prospective customers might think they’re too expensive and choose not to work with them. From our perspective, being up front with recruitment costs and allowing customers to deselect before anyone’s time is wasted is a good thing! Consumers today expect information as and when they need it. No one likes having their time wasted.

Impact on Employers 

Difficulty in Comparing and Choosing Recruitment Agencies

When HR recruitment agencies don’t publish their recruitment costs, it can be difficult for employers to compare and choose the right agency for their needs. Without knowing the pricing, it’s impossible to determine if the agency is within their budget or offers competitive pricing. This lack of transparency can lead to frustration and confusion, ultimately resulting in lost business for the recruitment agency.

Unexpected Costs and Lack of Transparency

When HR recruitment agencies don’t disclose their recruitment costs, it can also lead to unexpected costs. Clients may be surprised by hidden fees or charges, leading to a lack of trust and transparency. This can ultimately damage the reputation of the recruitment agency and lead to negative reviews or word-of-mouth.


Why don’t HR recruitment agencies publish their recruitment costs?

HR recruitment agencies may not publish their recruitment costs for several reasons, such as the desire to charge different fees to different businesses, the fear of competitors seeing their pricing, and due to concerns that customers will think they’re too expensive. However, this lack of transparency can make it difficult for employers and job seekers to compare and choose the right agency for their needs, potentially leading to unexpected costs and a lack of trust.

Can I negotiate the pricing with a HR recruitment agency if they don’t publish their rates?

It’s always worth asking if an HR recruitment agency is open to negotiation on pricing. However, keep in mind that some agencies may have a set pricing structure and may not be willing to negotiate. It’s also important to clarify upfront what services are included in the pricing and whether there are any hidden fees or charges.

How can I ensure transparency and fairness when working with a HR recruitment agency that doesn’t publish their pricing?

To ensure transparency and fairness, it’s important to ask upfront about the agency’s pricing structure, what services are included, and whether there are any additional fees or charges. You can also ask for references from previous clients and check online reviews to get a sense of the agency’s reputation. Finally, be sure to get a written agreement that outlines all the terms and conditions, including pricing, before engaging the agency’s services.


In conclusion, the mystery of why many HR recruitment agencies don’t publish their recruitment costs can be attributed to various reasons. However, this lack of transparency can have a negative impact on employers and job seekers, leading to difficulty in comparing and choosing the right agency, unexpected costs, and a lack of trust.

How much do recruitment agencies charge on average?

Recruitment agency fees can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the location, industry, and the type of positions being filled. However, on average for permanent hires, recruitment agencies charge between 15% to 30% of the candidate’s first-year salary as their fee for successfully placing a candidate with a client.

If you’re asking why a recruitment agency charges a percentage of salary – it’s a great question which we answer later on in this article.

What does PEEQ charge for making a permanent HR hire?

PEEQ has three distinctive permanent recruitment packages that range from 20%-28% of a candidate’s first-year salary.

We’ve outlined our pricing guide below to give full transparency of the benefits and services offered at each level. 

Option 1 – IDENTIFY – 20% Fee

2 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 2 months

  • Protected by specialist Recruitment Insurance
  • In person or video job briefing
  • Advertise on leading job boards
  • Access to reputable CV databases
  • Access to Peeq’s HR talent pool
  • Up to 25 LinkedIn headhunting approaches
  • 100% of candidates fed back to
  • Dedicated and specialist HR recruiter.
Option 2 – ENHANCE – 22.5% Fee

3 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 3 months

Everything from IDENTIFY plus…

  • Job Description consultation and design
  • Candidate video shortlist submission
  • Advertising on additional specialist job boards
  • Up to 50 LinkedIn headhunting approaches
  • Out of hours point of contact.
Option 3 – ELEVATE – 28% Fee

6 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 6 months

Everything from ENHANCE plus…

  • Custom webpage creation to promote your role and attract the best talent
  • Unlimited LinkedIn headhunting approaches
  • Weekly progress report
  • Psychometric testing and insight reports
  • x2 Exec Coaching sessions with an accredited business coach for your new hire
  • ‘Priority Pass’ – skip to the front of the queue!

Additionally, we have created a simple price calculator that allows you to input your hire’s annual salary, in order to generate an accurate price for each of our services.

Give it a try using the button above! 

Does PEEQ ever discount recruitment fees?

Yes, we offer discounts depending on a number of factors.

Firstly, we provide a 10% discount for any client who engages us on a retained basis for any of our packages.

What does this mean?

It means that instead of paying the full fee at the point your hire commences employment, you pay part of the fee to engage our services at the start of the process (⅓ of the total fee).

The final ⅔ of the fee (the balance) is due when that person joins your business.

Before we explore why you might choose to do that, let’s look at the numbers… 

If you were hiring an HR Manager on a £60,000 basic annual salary and had chosen our IDENTIFY package. The standard fee would be £12,000 +VAT for making this hire. 

However, if you retained us, and therefore received our 10% discount, we would reduce your total fee to £10,800 +VAT (broken down as follows…)

  • £3,600 +VAT up front
  • £7,200 +VAT when your hire starts 

That’s a £1,200 +VAT saving 

You can try this for yourself by visiting our Pricing Page and using our fee-calculator to see our prices and the associated discounts.

So, other than the obvious discount we reference above, what are the additional benefits of retaining us to make your hire?  

What would motivate you to pay an upfront fee to engage our services? 

Well, put simply, we literally own the problem and will therefore move heaven and earth to find you someone fantastic for your business. 

It becomes our TOP priority and massively stacks the odds in your favour. Investing in this partnership approach means we are VERY committed to getting a successful outcome. 

If you’re really serious about making this hire, then why wouldn’t you give yourself the best shot of finding ‘the one’?

So aside from retaining us, are there any other circumstances where a discount might be applicable?

Yes, there are. 

For instance, we offer preferential rates to our clients who want to make multiple hires, and for businesses who want a bespoke package that includes some of our listed services, and not others.

These fees are best discussed on a case by case basis as there’s a number of factors which contribute to a reasonable price:

  • Number of potential hires
  • Size of the hiring company
  • Complexity of the role(s) being recruited
  • Availability of talent
  • Services you want us to include in a bespoke package vs. the ones you don’t need.

Do I get my money back if the person leaves?

Traditionally, most recruitment agencies offer a ‘rebate period’ to outline what happens in the event that a candidate you’ve hired through them leaves your business.   

This rebate period details specific timeframes during which you, the client, may be entitled to a partial or full refund on recruitment fees paid to the agency. 

Typically, the length of the rebate period may vary depending on the agency and the terms of the contract. Generally, rebate periods range from 30 to 90 days on a sliding scale basis, but they can be longer or shorter depending on the agreement between the agency and the client. 

When working with PEEQ, we use slightly different terminology to describe our approach to rebates / refunds. We refer to our guarantees for the different recruitment packages we offer. 

Option 1 – IDENTIFY 

2 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 2 months

Option 2 – ENHANCE 

3 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 3 months

Option 3 – ELEVATE 

6 MONTH GUARANTEE – 100% refund if your hire leaves within 6 months.

You’ll notice from the options above that the package you choose impacts the length of the guarantee we offer. All of our guarantees are for 100% of the fee for the respective time frame outlined above. Unlike other recruitment agencies, we do not expect you to accept a partial refund in the unlikely event of a ‘mis-hire’.

With our Elevate package, we offer a 100% refund if your hire leaves within six months. This is because it’s our most comprehensive recruitment package and therefore the likelihood of a ‘mis-hire’ occurring is significantly reduced.

For instance the post-placement Executive Coaching offered as part of this package makes a fundamental difference to your hire’s ability to ‘bed-in’ effectively, thus reducing the risk of that person leaving prematurely. 

Are PEEQ's fees different when making a contract hire?

Yes. Unlike permanent HR recruitment where an agency’s fees are calculated as a percentage of the candidate’s annual salary, the fee for hiring a contractor is calculated as a percentage of the candidate’s hourly / daily rate, OR as an agreed fixed fee per hour / day.

At PEEQ, we only work with HR candidates on a day-rate basis, so we agree on a total daily budget with our client before committing to recruit.

To illustrate how much this might cost, let’s look at the scenario below:

Client.Co expresses the need to hire a day-rate contractor for a three month period. 

The first thing we need to understand is Client.Co’s budget for hiring this contractor. We start by looking at this budget on a per day basis, which includes the contractor’s pay and our fee – known as the ‘total charge’ rate.

Let’s say that Client.Co had a £450 daily budget, here’s how the fees might be broken down…

PEEQ’s fee = £50* per day +VAT
Contractor’s pay = £400 per day +VAT
Total cost / charge rate for Client.Co = £450 +VAT

* NB: This fee sits at the lower end of our pricing spectrum, and in a real scenario would take into consideration the seniority of the hire and level of difficulty with sourcing the candidate.

Assuming that the contractor works for 20 days a month, for the duration of the three month assignment, you could expect to pay £9,000 +VAT per month to secure the contractor (£27,000 +VAT for the full assignment).

That’s the total cost to Client.Co. No hidden fees or add-ons.

Billing for these services happens a month in arrears to allow the contractor to submit the days they actually worked the previous month. An invoice is then generated and sent to the client based upon the total number of days worked.

What value do I get from paying your fee?

PEEQ’s fee covers the cost of sourcing the contractor, relevant insurances, an IR35 compliance check, administrating the paperwork and legals, and managing the contractor’s payroll for the duration of the assignment.

Selecting the right recruitment agency for you 

There’s over 39,000 recruitment agencies in the UK, so it’s important you choose the one that best fits your needs. Ultimately, like any buying decision, it comes down to who you feel comfortable trusting with making that key hire for your business.

This decision will be impacted by whether it’s a specialist hire (e.g. HR vs Marketing vs Finance vs Sales), how senior it is, how competitive the candidate market is and where the job is based.

Although the latter is arguably less relevant in today’s hybrid work world – much of our recruitment activities are conducted virtually, so an agency’s location isn’t as important as it once was.

But, what’s clear is there’s plenty of choice. So we recommend you do your research before making a decision.

Some recruitment agencies will be cheaper than us and some will be more expensive. 

But at least you now have a solid understanding of what you could expect to pay when hiring a permanent HR professional through a specialist agency. And, what you’d actually get for your money.

To help you weigh up your options around choosing a recruitment agency, we’ve prepared a guide that should make this decision easier.

And if you have any questions or want to speak to us in the meantime, please drop us a note via the contact form below.

Get in Touch with PEEQ HR Recruitment

We are here to help you. If you have any questions, queries or would like to discuss a potential hire, a job application, or require clarification on anything detailed on our website, then we would love to hear from you.

Please feel free to call, email or complete the form provided and we will assist you.

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