Ask Barb: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Dear Barb:

I’m thinking about going off on my own and just working from my home. I have three small children and day care is expensive. Right now my owner pays me 40% of my commission and I do all the work and he gets the other 60%. I could produce less and still make more money if I just worked from home. Do you have any advice for someone like me? I have four years of experience and I produce a little over $300,000 in permanent placements. I’m not signing my name for obvious reasons.


Dear Anonymous:

It may appear that your owner is getting the majority of the fees you are generating, but the profits that end up being generated are significantly less. Your owner is paying the overhead, insurances, tools they provide for you (Applicant Tracking Systems, Research Tools, Job Boards, etc) not to mention matching taxes, benefits, etc. You would be surprised to see how low the percentage of profit is on your placements. There are times where there isn’t a profit, but you still receive your 40%.

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It’s also important to remember, you can’t take your clients with you – those belong to your company’s owner. You also won’t have the benefit of splitting deals with your co-workers or getting the support, training and financial investment being made by your owner.

You mentioned three small children and the cost of day care. If you don’t intend to keep your children in day care, how will you be able to make your calls? Most recruiters produce less when they are on their own and if you drastically reduce your hours to nap times, etc., what impact will that have on your ability to produce? Before you make your decision, list the pros and cons on a sheet of paper. This forces you to take emotion out of your decision making process. The results may surprise you!

Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS

Would you like to Ask Barb a question? Email her at Each month in The Fordyce Letter print edition, Barbara Bruno answers questions from individuals in the Recruiting Profession. We will bring you some of these Q&A responses from Barb each week on

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email


10 Comments on “Ask Barb: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

  1. I would encourage you to do it on your own. At the end of the day, the only person who is going to look out for you, is you, not your boss.

    If you produce $300k+ now, take that with you and run. I`ve never heard of not being able to sign on clients you were working with previously, that is BS, no one owns a company per se. Why be a slave to an owner who doesn`t have your own interests at heart? Life`s too short to be miserable and give someone 60% or more of the effort you put in to this game.

    Go on your own is my advice!

    1. I did and the $500K I would have given to my a-hole boss is going to my bank, not his! Took off 4 years ago and have never looked back FYI.

      1. anonymous
        Amen to not giving the past boss your hard earned money. I do agree that you do have some expenses but it is well worth it to be “financially” free and make your own decisions how you will spend your days! I say if you have at least 10 years in the biz working for an agency, get out now if you can and enjoy your time at home being your own boss.

  2. I am all for going on your own however I also know the constraints and issues of working from home. You will not be as productive. You will have to find moments before your family’s daily routine and after to plan, source and do administrative work. You will need every free hour to make and answer calls and be diligent about telling people that inbound calls will be answered between 11-3 for example. They will still call before and after. Also, there may be insurances you need to carry like liability and workman’s ( I know stupid as we don’t often have work related injuries in recruiting but some states require it). It is definitely harder to stay focused. I made the jump and though I love the flexibility, I miss my office and that structure.

  3. I went on my own and make far more money than I did working for my previous firm as a “pacesetter: I honored my 12 month non-compete and when it expired my client list doubled because all of my old clients came back to me. My wife is able to carry the benefits through her employer. In the end I have tripled my income, work less and am able to make being a dad and husband priority number one. I love this business. And BTW, the best ATS systems for a single user ar $100 per month or less.

  4. Nowhere in this discussion do I see any mention of whether the person works the market solo or is currently part of a team. There is real value to sharing job orders with co-workers who have that client’s trust and a history of a past working relationship. It also makes it a lot easier to guarantee results for your best clients if there are a number of recruiters working on the job. Joining some sort of lead sharing co-op does not give you the same sort of quality control. It’s not as clear cut as just getting a “bigger piece of the pie”. Often a smaller piece of a bigger pie is more rewarding, not to mention mentally stimulating.

  5. I certainly agree with what Barb is saying and I have 2 small children but they go to preschool and kindergarten. My son is home 1 day per week and I work 4 days. I’ve been at this for 3 years (after 12 years in sw sales) in the sales specialty and bill about $300k working part-time (e.g. 30 ish hours per week). You cannot do the job with kids at home but the flexibility is amazing and you can make a lot more. You really need to have some core focus hours where you are not interupted. My expenses (job board, ats, insurance) are $15k- $20k a year but you can also contribute a lot more to a SEP IRA vs. 401k, so benefits there as well. You do have to be disciplined but when you are 100% commission you make it happen or you fail. Good luck! Go for it! Best thing I ever did.

  6. I could not agree with Barb more! I was billing 300K as well with a very reputable firm and went out on my own thinking I would rather have that in my pocket… The resources that an established firm provides is irreplaceable… Three kids at home??? Are you kidding me? I have a dog and cat that distract me! Everything at home aside from chldren can distract. I miss the resources an splits and energy. I love my home based business but it’s difficult to be your own cheerleader, motivator, teacher, etc. More people fail on their own than with firms that provides all the tools and support for success. Good luck with your decision.


    1. I would say thats completely up to the individual. Some people are entrepreneurial, and, others are better to work in a corporation or corporate environment.
      A winner will make things happen, a loser will always complain and find some “excuse” why she or he can`t succeed regardless of if you do this independently or at a company.

  7. I have done both, worked for another person and now own my own growing little firm. If you don’t want to hire other people and really grow something special then don’t try to do it on your own. It is risky and stressful. I don’t have three kid, I have two…at 2K a month in childcare for my two, trust me…I understand what it feels like to have your draw not even cover your child care costs. But here is the real deal…it’s not about the money. So is here is the real deal, this writer has other complaints (my boss hassles me, doesn’t support me, my co-workers are back stabbing gossipers, or other issues)…and then finishes the thought with “and keeps 60% of my billings. I should just go on my own). So, if you can’t resolve the issues then find a firm where things are different…but thinking going on your own is the solution is naive. You simply can’t do it without E&O, EPLI, and all the other resources you currently have…plus you have to manage it all! Right now, even if you don’t like the environment you work in, you simply show up and do your job. So, instead of trying to manage it on your own, either fix your current environment or go find a new one.

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