Last week, I wrote an article about how much recruiters in Singapore bill. This week, I’ll be sharing our findings on how much recruiters in Hong Kong bill.
The numbers reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career in an executive recruitment consultancy (mid to senior level recruitment) during normal market conditions. They were gathered after working in the recruitment to recruitment industry in Hong Kong for over 4 years.
Naturally, recruiters develop at different speeds and certain factors such as the practice a recruiter is covering, how many people a recruiter is managing or the type of agency they work for, create diverse results and a large range. We try to explain the variation in each section.
We also talk about how the 2019/2020 Hong Kong protests and COVID-19 has affected individual revenue at the end of the article.
Recruitment consultant with 0 – 1 years of experience
HKD $800,000 – 1,400,000
The first year in recruitment is focussed on learning the job, your niche market and building a network within it. This is arguably the make-or-break period; building a solid foundation that you can leverage to increase your revenue in the years to come is crucial.
If you’ve achieved the numbers above, you’re in a good position to build a positive trajectory for the future.
Recruitment consultant with 1 – 3 years of experience
HKD $1,200,000 – 1,800,000
Now that you have a good understanding of agency recruitment, a growing network and a track record of success, you can leverage your relationships and referrals to increase the quality and volume of your leads.
Senior recruitment consultant with 2 – 4 years of experience
HKD $1,400,000 – 2,400,000
You’ve been in the industry for a few years now and you’ve developed strong relationships with clients who come back to you for repeat business. Your candidates have had a positive experience and are referring their colleagues or friends to you. You’re getting better at matching candidates and clients and conversion rates are increasing.
Principal recruitment consultant or manager with 3 – 6 years of experience
HKD $1,800,000 – 3,600,000
A few of the clients that come back to you for repeat business are now impressed with your consistency. They release senior roles and some on an exclusive or retained basis. Your access to senior roles and the elimination of competition puts you in a good position to continue improving your numbers.
You’re also at a stage in your career where you have proven yourself as a highly capable individual contributor (IC). It’s now your decision if you want to continue your path as an IC, increasing your billings year on year, or move into a manager position.
By choosing the IC route, every day is dedicated to billing and you can get up to the higher end of the range, achieving numbers between $2,200,000 – 3,600,000.
Taking up the manager route requires more time for training and management, but by using the foundation you’ve built over the past few years, you can continue to bill between $1,800,000 to 3,000,000 whilst managing a small team of 1 – 3 recruiters.
Associate director or director with 5 – 10 + years of experience
HKD $1,200,000 – 5,000,000
As an individual contributor, provided you’re continuing to build relationships and deliver a superior service, your billings will grow. You are however getting to the point where you are operating at absolute efficiency; you have no more minutes in the day and your revenue will eventually start to plateau. You’re one of the most well-known recruiters in your niche and everyone knows your name. These numbers can be between $3,200,000 to 5,000,000.
As a people manager, you’re taking on more responsibilities and your team could be up to 5 to 10 consultants, or more. Your focus may shift from closing deals to bringing on board new clients and delegating roles to your team. You’re so busy ensuring the profitability of your team that you have much less time to close roles yourself. You could be billing between $1,200,000 to $3,200,000. Of course, the more consultants you’re managing, the less time you’ll have to bill.
The next step in your career could see you moving away from billing completely and into pure people management, although these roles are becoming less common as firms become more lean.
The numbers above reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. There will certainly be outliers on both sides of the range for one reason or another.
Some recruiters develop extremely quickly. The highest annual billing figure we know of in the contingent agency recruitment market in Hong Kong is HKD $10 million.
Other recruiters may be working on a slower desk, market conditions might be adverse and the agency may not have a strong enough platform to achieve desired numbers.
The last two years have been challenging for the recruitment industry in Hong Kong to say the least.
We observed a 10 to 20% decrease in billings throughout 2019 compared to the previous year. 2019 H2 was more challenging than H1, and Q4 saw the biggest hit of all quarters in the year.
2020 started positively compared to the end of 2019, until COVID-19 started. Recruiters in Hong Kong were hit twice in the period of a year. Markets such as Technology and Insurance remain stable whilst Retail, hit twice from the 19/20 HK protests and COVID-19, have been majorly affected to the point where some Retail recruitment specialists have gone out of business.
It’s near impossible to provide an accurate figure of how much billings have declined during COVID-19 compared to 2018 given how different practices are affected more than others and the effects of the third wave have yet to be recorded, but we believe it’s somewhere between 20 – 60%.
Hong Kong vs Singapore results
One thing we noticed in the Hong Kong market is that the range tends to be more diverse than the Singapore market. We also noticed that billings tend to be slightly higher than Singapore, perhaps due to higher salary ranges or the fact that Singapore is a more saturated recruitment market.
Whilst a major contributor to the success of a recruiter is down to their motivation and drive to be successful, your numbers can be affected by the agency you’re working with. If your agency operates a model with lower fees and higher volume, you may not be able to hit the revenue figures that a recruiter is achieving in a higher fee, middle volume model.
A recruiter that has accumulated a number of years of experience will learn this along the way and will then make a decision if they need to join a new agency to get to where they want to be.
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