According to AllBusiness.com, contingency and retained headhunters charge approximately 20 to 35 percent of the candidate’s first year salary, whereas contract headhunters charge from $75 to $150 per hour. This may be less in locations where salaries are not as high, possibly as low as $25 an hour.
Contingency headhunters are paid to get results and don't receive their fees until a candidate they represent is hired. Since retained headhunters are compensated for their efforts, they are usually paid in installments. They represent the jobs they are hired to fill, not the candidates, and often receive a third of their fees to begin a search, another third upon reaching a certain benchmark and the final third when or before a hire is made.