Sidehustle: headhunting

If you read my previous posts, you know that I’m a big fan of sidehustles. Little projects beside your 9to5 jobs can quickly turn into income generating machines and help you reach financial independence a lot quicker than you might think.

Personal finance blogges write a lot about their savings rate and it even turned into a competition: who can save more from his salary?

While saving as much as you can, being frugal and spending your money wisely are generally very good ideas and also important for the general mindset that helps you reach FI, I think it’s more important to look for ways to increase your income.

If you manage to increase your income and, at the same time decrease your spending, you can only win this game and say bye-bye to your boss. Very soon. Forever.

While there are only limited ways to cut your spending, there are virtually unlimited ways how you can make more money.

In this post, I’d like to draw your attention on headhunting.

Have you ever wondered how much a headhunter charges your boss to find a new employee?

I was curious. So a few years ago I googled “heathunter” in my city, took the phone and called them. I told them my (virtual) company is looking for an IT guy. I geve him some mor details about the job (which I made up of course) and asked him how much he would charge to find somebody. His answer was 20%. Well. I was confused, since I had no Idea what he means with that. So I asked: “20% of what?” :). He replied: “20% of the first year gross salary.

Now…this was one of the biggest eye-opener moments of my life. I stood there speechless for a few moments while I ran the numbers in my head:

A programmer earns about, let’s say 40.000€ a year (good ones earn twice as much, at least, I know). 20% of that ist 8000€ that the emplyer pays the headhunter as a one-off price for the services. Wow.

Then I wrapped up the call quickly, hang up and just sat there in my chair for minutes thinking about what do I have to do to make my new sidehustle idea actually work.

To keep a very long story short: I figured out whether and how am I legally allowed to do this, it took some time, I did all the paperwork, it took hundreds of calls to find customers, write some job postings etc…It worked. I acually started bringing job seekers and companies together. All that beside my 9to5job!

I only charged 10%. Was enough and I was a lot cheaper than established companies. Plus I did more: I also helped with paperwork and finding appartments for the people.

I made nice money with it, but more importantly I learn a hell of a lot through the whole process.

What was my investment?

At the beginning: absolutely nothing. Nothing apart from my free time. Later I tried to facilitate things by buying train and plane tickets for job seekers to come to the interviews. That’s all. Whenever I hear that you need money to start a business I have to smile. You don’t! But you need time! And the time you sit watching TV or playing some stupid video games night by night is enough to start such a sidehustle…

Why did I stop it?

While most of the times everything went well, sometimes I had to make first hand experience with really unreliable jobseekers. Some experiences were simply disappointing and I lost the passion to keep going. The 2009-2010 recession helped that process since companies became very picky or didn’t employ at all. During that time I’ve found passion in other things so this sidehustle came to an end.

Can YOU do it?

That question you have to answer, but what I can tell you is that, despite many major headhunters out there, individuals have enough room in the market and can make nice money here. Of course, you have to like it. It’s not for everybody.

If you want to try, ask around what you need to do in order to start this business. If you’re allready self employed, you probably only need to change your company registration (Gewerbeummeldung). I don’t knwow the rules now. These things might change and they of course change from country to country.

Who should you headhunt?

There’s a big chance you allready have a profession, a university degree in something or a job. Look around. What sort of jobs do you know about. If you have to write a job description, what position would that be for? Do an area you allready know about.

The other way would be to look around and see what sort of people are needed in the job market?

In Germany tens of thousands of people are needed in these areas (just to mention few): carering (Pfleger), doctors, nurses, metal industry, constructions, drivers, programming and generally IT, engineers and many more.

YOU have to go down the road

There is nobody out there who will implant knowledge, experiences or degrees in your mind. You have to do the research, you have to implement the ideas.

What you do in your free time is a hell of a lot more likely to make you financially free. Not your 9to5 job…

So what do YOU do every night? Don’t tell me you’re tired 🙂

  • amber tree

    Kudos that you take the action to start a sidehustle in headhunting. You must have learned a lot from that!
    My evenings go to blogging – does not make any money. And some time goes to option trading. I will take a long time before I make lets say 4000/month (the fee you would get from hiring an IT candidate)

    Personally, I find it hard to come up with a good side hustle. I guess I need a view from another angle.

    • Hello to Belgium! 🙂
      Just because blogging doesn’t make any Money (yet) for you, it can be something very rewarding from many others perspectives. Plus, if you can build a Blog, you can just as well build Websites for small businesses around you. It’s a good skill to have. The next step to take with this skill, is to build an online business, a community about a specific topic. Something you know about or like. Even just reading Blogs about sidehustle ideas can light up some bulbs in your head…
      Also, when I learn about new things, stuff that I think is complicated, I quickly Drift to unknown territory, leave my confort Zone and that is exactly when learning processes start. Love the feeling…

      • amber tree

        Agreed that blogging rewards in a non money sense…
        When the time is right, the hustle will come

  • I can see you are an entrepreneur through and through Mr W 🙂 you are perfectly right there’s a major skills shortage in certain professions in Europe. So to benefit from it one should either position himself in one of the fields where people are in high demand and earn a great salary 😉 OR benefit from bringing together job seekers and employers OR offer training to help people move from a career in a low demand sector to a high demand sector.

    • yeap, no university degree needed, just internet connection to look things up. Endless possibilities.
      What sort of area are you in as an entrepreneur?

      • Digital – web application development, eMarketing, etc

        • wow, I’m on a very similar path. Nice to see that!


    Great post! I’m always looking for ideas to side hustle. If all works out my husband might have a new side hustle doing illustrations for a children book. It doesnt get better turning his hobby into money.

    • that’s the ideal case where you turn your hobby into sidehustle. Looking forward to updates on this!

  • Having the free time is important, but what is more important (imo) is having a free mind. When I first encountered your blog, I thought OMG, this guy (and woman – hi Mrs. W!), are such free-thinking trail blazers. I was impressed, still am. But it wasn’t something I could internalize for myself because my mindset was pretty much married to being an employee. Thinking out of the box just wasn’t something I was used to doing. It wasn’t until I quit my job and spent a few months not being an employee, that things started clicking more and now I feel so much more empowered. If I want something to be an option for me, then I’ll make it an option. Versus thinking that someone (my employer/boss) should be the one to present me with opportunities. It’s kinda nuts but that’s how years of working for corporations trains you to think, unless you actively fight against this time of programming.

    • it’s nice to just go wherever you want, whenever you want without asking for permission from your boss isn’t it? I don’t see you becoming an employee anytime soon… 🙂