I am working with a 3rd party Recruiter who tells me their client sets the rate I can be paid, is that true? I always thought it's the client that pays the recruiter, then recruiter sets the rate for the candidate. This is for a temp to hire, hourly contract.

  • 2
    They probably just take a set % so in a way your fee is set by the client.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 13, 2016 at 16:12
  • i can actually see that happening on a contract-to-perm. The employer may want to set a wage that's no higher than what he'd be paying you if you were to go permanent because he doesn't want the hassle of negotiating with someone who is already used to making a higher wage. I'm not saying I like it, but I can see it happening.
    – Chris E
    Jul 13, 2016 at 16:19
  • Most of the time these temp jobs never end up in a hire, so maybe this is a sign that they have a real intention of bringing me on full-time down the road?
    – John
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


In my experience in contract work, you negotiate with the recruiter for your pay, the recruiter then negotiates with their client over how much the client pays the recruiter for you. It may be different for "temp to hire", and it may be different for this specific recruiter with this specific client.

My advice, is to negotiate your pay with the recruiter regardless. If the client has a set a rate that they are going to pay the recruiter, it's not your problem. Do your research, figure out what your time is worth in a contract (20% - 30% more than salary), and negotiate for it.


So there are two parts to this. The recruiter is paying you, and the recruiter is being paid by the client. So this works like this:

  • The recruiter will have negotiated a rate with the client
  • The recruiter takes a percentage of this for their costs and profit (how much you may never know, but could be 10%, could be 50+%, it does happen)
  • The recruiter pays you.

So the recruiter knows how much of the rate paid is needed to cover their costs, and they want to make a profit (that's why they are in business).

If you want more money, well there is a finite amount here, a raise to you is pushing down the recruiter's cut, that's why they'll tell you it's been set by the client and they can do nothing.

A rise to you either cuts their margin, or requires them to renegotiate with the client. It can be common for them to require you to not reveal how much you actually get to the client (as this is something they can then use to squeeze the recruiter).

  • Thanks for answering. This is how I thought it worked, bothers me that recruiters lie about client setting the fee I can be paid, I call them out on this lie every time they use it.
    – John
    Aug 1, 2016 at 19:07
  • I've seen both the client give an absolute figure, as well as being negotiable (for example, they can get a slightly better or less experienced candidate).
    – MikeP
    Aug 3, 2016 at 20:08

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