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The recruitment industry is an easy and constant
target for the cynics and critics of our sector. ‘Body shop merchants’,
‘charlatans’ and ‘rip off artists’ are probably some of the more
printable labels hung on us. Why does this happen? Unmet or mismanaged
customer expectations would be a reasonable summary of the many
complaints some people make about recruiters.


I can also think of another reason. If you were a
client, consider how you might view the services of your trusted
recruitment consultant if you received the second invoice rather than
the first one, as shown below.


Placement Invoice – Version 1  


Try Hard

100 Dead End

Failingfast  Valley
VIC 3333

Terry Tough


Clientland Industries

32 Hard Place

Never Satisfied VIC 3333

Placement of Bill Gates (Director of IT),
start date 6 July 2009
Plus GST
Terms 14 days


Placement Invoice – Version 2  


High Achievers

1000 Placement

Successors Hill
VIC 3333

Terry Tough


Clientland Industries

32 Hard Place

Never Satisfied VIC 3333  
Taking assignment brief from client and
providing consulting advice re job responsibilities, market
salary and selection criteria
1 hour
Writing assignment brief
30 minutes
Writing and posting internet/print media job
1 hour
Writing specific competency-based interview
1 hour
Searching internal candidate database
2 hours
Screening inbound ad response
4 hours
Preliminary telephone interviews (17
3 hours
Outbound candidate sourcing calls to personal
referral network
2 hours
Face-to-face interviews of 8 internal
short-listed candidates
10 hours
Preliminary reference checks for 3 client
short-listed candidates
1 hour
Arranging 1st round interviews
30 minutes
Pre-briefing short-listed candidates before
client interview
1 hour
Candidate and client debriefing after 1st
round interviews
1 hour
Arranging 2nd round interviews
30 minutes
Candidate and client debriefing after 2nd
round interviews
1 hour
Arranging and debriefing from 3rd/final
30 minutes
Final reference checks (x 3)
2 hours
Managing and negotiating offer with client
and candidate
1 hour
Feedback to all unsuccessful candidates who
were interviewed
1 hour
Feedback to unsuccessful candidates who were
not interviewed
2 hours
Communication with client and candidate prior
to start date
1 hour
Inclusive of placement services yet to be
provided (time estimated): Communication with candidate and
client throughout Probation Period, including one on-site visit
2 hours
Total hours of recruitment services
39 hours  
Not included in the above are tasks completed
(or hours worked) by administration and other support staff
Total for your Investment  
Plus GST 
$  2,250
Amount Due  

Terms:   14 days from date of invoice  


Please note  

If payment is received after 14 days from
date of invoice, the 3 month replacement guarantee becomes null
and void. If the client chooses not to provide formal written
feedback to the candidate about the candidate’s performance
during the probation period, together with an opportunity for
the candidate to respond to any noted shortcomings or concerns,
the replacement guarantee becomes null and void.


How are your invoices helping your clients understand
the value of using a skilled, professional external recruiter?


How can a client truly understand all the things you
do, professionally, thoroughly and behind the scenes to arrange the
‘happy marriage’ between themselves and the ideal candidate, unless you
communicate your service delivery explicitly?


Lawyers have invoiced their clients like this since
the beginning of time – why haven’t recruiters caught up yet?

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Paul Simms

Excellent article Ross, and so true…. Recruitment is one of the few sectors that does the majority of its work for FREE and we are only paid upon success (save for the elusive retainers)…. its an interesting idea to break down invoices in such a manner, perhaps it may be wise to take it a step further and quote in our ToB the percentage charge allocated to each part of the process with a total for the full service.
Would make it much harder for hiring manager to ask for the expected a discount…. "Ok Mr Client, which part of the process would you like me to skip?"

Mason Parker

Hi Ross, I agree that transparency and visibility is critical.
I also believe that if the invoice above also complimented awesome reporting and informative updates it'll be well received whether its brief or the more expansive format.
What I feel is missing from your invoice is demonstrating the REAL VALUE all recruitment businesses have in managing existing talent pools, adding value to clients employment brands and things like successfully relaunching failed campaigns. As an industry how do we price/value intuition, gut feel, networks, market knowledge?
Reading your expanded sample invoice a client may still read "2 hours of database checking" and not see the countless hours, days and years of effort that has gone into being talent managers in our markets. I think its worth MUCH MUCH MORE than that.
I think this has potential to encourages employers to multi-list with recruiters and recruiters to race against each other as they gamble on being the successful recruiter. Usually after the "just calling to see if you have anyone on your books" call.
I don't feel any recruiters should gamble with getting paid or, as you suggest, struggle to get fairly paid.
I believe partnering with clients, tailoring solutions, agreeing the parameters up front and then delivering (or over-delivering) is the key to getting paid respectfully every time.
Great blog Ross.


Will clients not get the calculator out and see that services provided work out at $634.61 per hour? Annualised this is $1.3M. That would buy in a decent internal recruiter. Anything that is difficult to quantify is easier to charge more for. I am more for the above in terms of a verbal explanation as opposed to such a detailed invoice.

Mitch Sullivan

Ross, could you explain how this might work in more practical terms, when there are 2 or 3 agencies all working on the same vacancy?



$600+ per hour for a 20 year old recruiter who stumbles across a good CV via a SEEK ad, compared to $300 to post the same ad ourselves and a few hours work to get the job done and promote our own brand better – you're kidding yourself Ross and if this invoice was sent to us it would be the last assignment you would ever work. A certain degree of reality needs to be taken into consideration with how much agencies want to charge clients and no wonder more clients just choose to do it ourselves.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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