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Military Recruiting Myth: Working with a Recruiter Will Lower Your Salary

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I talked with a transitioning Officer recently and he told me that he had been advised to steer clear of working with a military recruiter. The reason? Because “recruiters are paid a commission that reduces the salary being received by the service member. Working with a Recruiter leads to a lower starting salary.” While I can’t guarantee that this has never happened in the history of recruiting, I think this concern comes from a lack of understanding about how things generally work in the recruiting industry.

There are two main points that should be understood:

  1. Companies have established salary ranges they are willing to pay for each position.
  2. Talent Acquisition expenses are a part of doing business. If a company engages with a recruiting firm, they are willing to pay the fee for that service, and it’s coming from a different budget than payroll/salary.

In most companies, each permanent position has a specified range for the base salary. Within that range, where a particular candidate falls is based on a number of factors, including:

   - Experience level and strength of the candidate
   - How well the candidate interviewed and presented themselves
   - How well the candidate can negotiate their value

A recruiting firm's fee does not impact a potential salary with a prospective company. So, why is a company willing to pay the fee of a recruiting firm? It’s widely accepted that a company’s people are its most valuable asset, and there’s a premium placed on finding the right people to join the team.

Some companies have robust internal recruiting teams and they rely on those teams to find the talent they need. These recruiting teams cost money in salary, benefits, and other overhead costs related to employment. Other companies may have a small HR team but choose to outsource recruiting to a large staffing or RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) firm—which comes with a significant price tag. Most companies have some level of HR and internal recruiting capability, but they also rely on recruiting firms to help them find talent when they need it. Military recruiting firms fit into a unique niche because whether a company has a large internal team or it outsources recruiting entirely, they likely rely on a military recruiting firm to help fill key positions.

As long as a military recruiting firm doesn’t require a candidate to promise exclusivity when working with their firm, there’s no risk in engaging with a military recruiter. The recruiter will seek to understand your background and your preferences and then try to match you with opportunities that align with both. The role of a military recruiter is to present candidates who are qualified, briefed and interested in the opportunity, creating a win-win solution for the job seeker and the company.


Brian Henry served for 11 years as an Infantry Officer in the Marine Corps, during which time he served as a Company Commander, and Battalion Operations Officer and graduated from the Army’s Ranger and Airborne Schools and the Amphibious Warfare School. He joined Orion Talent in 1998 as an Account Executive before becoming an Officer Recruiter. Brian has served in a number of roles and is currently the Senior Vice President, Operations, where he is responsible for the officer recruiting teams in Orion’s five offices.


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