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Why Is The US Treasury Recruitment Market So Different?

I spoke at the Chicago Treasurers Conference, my third US speaking session in recent years, talking about the US Treasury Recruitment market.

Since reopening our US office in 2012, I have discovered some major differences compared to the UK and European Treasury Recruitment market and I wanted to share these with the readers of my blogs.

In the UK there are generally three types of recruiters; there are ‘terrible recruiters’, there are ‘OK recruiters’ and there are also ‘great recruiters’.

The feedback I received in Chicago made me question whether there were even any ‘OK’ recruiters out there, let alone ‘great’ ones!

After talking with the conference delegates and some of whom were actually also candidates looking for jobs themselves and some were clients looking to hire their next Treasury professional the complaints I received stunned me!

Complaints about recruiters included;

  • they didn’t add any value to the process they just acted like ‘CV filters’
  • they were sending resumes without gaining the candidate’s permission – in the UK we call this the ‘spray and pray approach’
  • some were even lying to candidates and they were telling them they were representing clients on roles when they had simply seen positions advertised on LinkedIn and they were then making out that they were working with that client!

After my initial surprise I felt a bit shocked but then this finally became a feeling of disappointment…

Were there any recruiters who were exceptions to this?

Luckily it seemed there were! But they seemed to be “the exception and not the rule”.

It seemed to me that this highlighted what I have seen as a fundamental difference between the recruitment profession in Europe versus the US and in particular how US recruiters were being rewarded versus their European counterparts.

As a recruiter based in Europe you are usually paid a basic salary and in addition you receive a commission/bonus based upon your performance/success placing candidates into positions.

This means that you are incentivised and rewarded for doing a good job. You ride through the tough times when the market is quiet or outcomes don’t go your way, but the experienced recruiters amongst us know that if you keep at it and keep doing a good job, you will see the rewards.

Now over to the US Recruitment Market…

From what I have observed – and I am talking about recruiters NOT Executive Search Consultants – US recruiters are often being paid on a ‘commission-only’ basis where they are rewarded for the major part but upon results only.

Therefore, if you don’t place someone, you don’t get paid.

You receive a minimal level “draw” where you are paid a minimum wage that pays your rent / mortgage but not much more.

If you don’t place a candidate, then you may struggle to eat that month or pay rent!


This is why I think that US recruiters face a greater challenge to achieving success within their profession than we in the UK do.

The challenge they face is inherent within the recruitment industry itself and the way recruitment has evolved in the USA. This fundamentally needs to change if those ‘terrible recruiters’ are ever going to become ‘ok recruiters’ or those ok ones ever become ‘great’!

So where does that place The Treasury Recruitment Company as US recruiters?

We have a long term business proposition in place that helps our clients.

Whilst I was talking to a wide range of US clients at the Chicago Conference, I realised they had never met a dedicated Treasury Recruiter let alone an Executive Search Consultant who solely focused upon Treasury.

They said to me ‘Mike you’re not a recruiter!’

“No believe me I am” I replied…

No you are more an Executive Treasury Search Consultant – now this may sound all high and mighty but I don’t often give myself that as a label because whilst I have recruited positions that pay upwards of $300,000, I am happy to recruit at $60,000 level too!

I am not going to be hung up on working on senior roles because I feel that Treasury Analysts at $60,000 deserve the same level of respect as $400,000 Treasurers.

After all, one day hopefully they should be earning that much!

The simple fact is I want to help treasury professionals develop their treasury careers and find their next Treasury role.

So, where do we go from here?

The honest answer is we need your support!

We would love to help you recruit when you need USA based treasury professionals, we have them!

Are we only going to help you if you want a $400,000 person?


We are happy to help you recruit at the $60,000 level up to and maybe above the $400,000 level and anywhere in between.

If it’s treasury, it’s us, call us today, we can help!

If you decide if you do want to use our services, we are happy to work on a contingent basis where we only charge you a fee when we place someone.

We are happy to work on a dedicated retained search basis, if it’s a more senior position and the role requires that approach.

We give a great long term service – I have been recruiting in the corporate treasury market for over 25 years!

You may wish to follow up by reading one of my other articles that explains a bit more about us and our ethos.