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The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession

Deborah J. Millhouse

Debby Millhouse is the Owner and President of CEO Inc. Founded in Charlotte, NC in 1994, CEO Inc. is a full service recruiting firm providing direct hire placement, temp staffing and human capital services for clients nationwide. Millhouse has been honored as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women by The Mecklenburg Times, inducted into the Business Leader Hall of Fame as one of the top entrepreneurs in the Charlotte area, and given the Women in Business Achievement Award winner by the Charlotte Business Journal. CEO Inc. has also been honored with the Charlotte Ethics in Business Award, Charlotte Best Places to Work Award, and recognized as one of the top 50 diversity-owned businesses in the state of North Carolina. She is a Certified Staffing Professional (CSP) as designated by the American Staffing Association, Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and Certified Temporary Staffing Specialist (CTS) as designated by the National Association of Personnel Services. She can be reached at 704-372-4701 or visit CEOHR.com for more information.

Articles by Deborah J. Millhouse


Time to Consider If You Really Love Recruiting

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Every boss wants employees who are excited and passionate about what they are doing. Without employees who are committed, focused and personally invested in the big picture a company has very little chance for true success. As we think about mid-year assessments and reviews it’s a good time to make sure we are in the right place with the right job and that we are committed to making ourselves and our companies enormously successful.

Are you genuinely happy to be where you are and doing what you’re doing? It’s something all of us need to stop and consider from time to time. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this what you really wanted or thought it would be? If

Your Culture Is Your Brand. Is Yours the Right One?


Even though so much has been written about brand building and the connection between a brand and business success, there’s one important aspect of branding that is often overlooked: Your culture is a major part of your brand.

Fifty years ago this was virtually unheard of. Back then a few Madison Avenue types would create a brand, and then use advertising to tell their audience what it was. I’m convinced some of today’s most iconic brands came about simply because decades ago those companies had the means to buy their way into building the brand they wanted.

Today it’s very different. The Internet and technology continue to make the

For Managers, Motivation

Does Your Office Have A Scorecard?

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So it’s tax time again. While I don’t have much to offer in the area of taxes (I’ll leave that to the accountants), I will tell you this: While none of us likes paying taxes, in a weird convoluted way, I’m much happier when I pay a lot in taxes. It means I’m making a lot of money. When you think about it, what we pay in taxes becomes the ultimate scorecard for how we’re doing  —  and that’s a subject worth talking about.

True champions have one basic quality in common — they love competition and they love keeping score. Personally, I love horse races. The thrill of watching the thoroughbreds cross the finish line is exhilarating. True racing fans tingle through the entire process — the starting gun, jockeying for position, the push to cross the line, and of course the smell of roses at the end isn’t bad either.

It’s no different in our business. We want measurable results and we want to know how our results rank against our peers and the rest of the field. Of course there are those who become obsessed with winning at all costs and cross the lines of good judgment and ethics. I’m not talking about those people. But at the end of the day, a good healthy dose of competitive drive

For Managers, The Business of Recruiting

Here’s How to Turn Performance Reviews From a Negative to a Positive

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Performance reviews. Are there any two other words in the English language that cause more anxiety and resentment on the part of employees, and more fear and loathing on the part of managers?

I admit it; I hate performance reviews mostly because they tend to take place only when there are performance issues. That casts the manager as the bad guy who’s delivering bad news.

One of the biggest traps we fall into in the recruiting industry is that the immediate always takes precedence. We react quickly, because it is in our nature, and a part of our business; a hot new job order, a great new lead. Gotta close the deal now, now, now! But that can lead to now, now, POW, if we manage reviews the same way. If we are to be effective managers and owners, we must revisit the entire concept of performance reviews, understand their value, and recast these otherwise unpleasant formalities as an opportunity for growth and improvement.


Email Ruling You? Here’s How to Fight Back

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Email illustration - freeAll the technology in the world will not help you if you cannot manage your time or tasks. Recruiting is a complex sale, but the process is not rocket science. More than anything it requires organization and focus. Keeping the process as simple as possible means you’ll produce more, better and faster.

Without question, the top culprit for stealing your time is email. Even in this age of tweets and texts, in the business world, email is still king and it’s easy to find statistics that show the average American office worker wastes as much as 40% of their day lost in email. So you have to ask yourself: Is email running your life or your company?

Learning to rein in and control the email beast is crucial for our employees and for us. Don’t assume recruiters and support staff automatically know how to efficiently organize their email or their time. While nobody wants to feel micro-managed, at least put some suggested policies in place to teach your people the value and advantages to well-managed email and time organization. Below are some ideas I have discovered and implemented over the years.


3 Tips to a More Successful Full-Fee Negotiation

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Negotiation cartoon-freeEverything begins with a sale. Be it a product, service or idea, we are all selling something. But even the greatest salesperson has nothing if the sale is without profit.

A common pitfall in today’s business climate is for sales professionals to become too enamored with the sale itself, and then lose the deal through poor negotiation. This is an unfortunate outcome our firm has worked hard to avoid and, through mastering negotiations, our team is realizing some of their highest commissions and profits in 20 years. Not bad at a time when I still see so many blaming circumstances and playing the slow economy card.

External factors are rarely the problem. Instead look inside, be honest, and focus on the internal issues — issues you actually have control over. You can achieve the same results once you understand and implement some simple strategies of power negotiating and stop giving yourself and your company away.


Don’t Let the Client Bulldoze You Into Making the Offer

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Under pressure - freeYou’ve worked hard and spent weeks assessing the client’s needs and interviewing potential candidates. Finally the perfect match has been found and the client is anxious to have your candidate come onboard. As recruiters it is our moment of shining glory. The stars have aligned and we stand at the apex of everything we are about and work for. Then the client puts the entire process into a tailspin by doing the unthinkable— insisting that they make the job offer to the applicant.

STOP! Do not let this happen. Nothing could be worse for the client, the candidate or for you!


Your 2014 Recruiting Resolutions: How Are You Doing?

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2014 calendar resolutions-freeThe New Year has come and gone and already so have many of our resolutions. This was the year we were going to get more organized, start a regular workout schedule, network more frequently, lose weight, and, of course, make more money.

But statistically speaking, by the end of January’s first week 25% of us already gave up and dropped our resolutions. By the end of June, only 30% of us will still be at it, and by year’s end that number drops to 14%.

Why is this? Why do so few have the resolve to stick with it and achieve their goals? Perhaps we over think the process and make things harder than they should be. True success begins when we resolve to keep it simple. Block out all the noise and don’t get lost in the technology, social media, past failures or successes. The key to winning the recruiting game is simple and can be reduced to three basic components: Activity, Quality and our Target Market.

How-To, Viewpoint

There Is Not a Meeting In the Ladies Room

Business women

Business womenWhen my friends at The Fordyce Letter suggested that I write an article about specific issues facing women business owners in the recruiting industry, my first thought was, “Okay — I’m a woman. Glad they noticed.” It’s also true that I have owned a successful recruiting firm for almost 20 years. Then I tried for a month to sit down and commit something to paper that fit the bill.

The difficulty for me is that I don’t think in those terms. I was raised in a fairly average middle-class family and we all worked. We were taught the value of establishing a good work ethic and that you could go as high as the next guy if you applied yourself, worked hard and worked smart. Understand, these values were not presented as some sugary “girls can do anything boys can do” philosophy. Gender was literally never factored in. All I ever heard was hard work equals success — period. So when first entering the workforce, it never really occurred to me that being a woman could somehow be a hindrance to achieving my goals.


Simplify Your Life To Reduce Stress and Bill More

stress compass illus

stress compass illusNot so long ago, the term “stress” was not part of our everyday language. Sure, we all had problems and challenges, but the prevailing wisdom and expectation of the day was to cowboy up and deal with it. Anything less was considered weak and whiney.

I am not sure why, but somewhere back in the 80’s we changed and bought into the philosophy that everybody gets to do everything. Suddenly football practice was accompanied by piano lessons, running for school president, church choir, horseback riding club and more. This do-more-all-the-time attitude soon spilled over into the business world and consequently we now find ourselves in multi-task overload with our lives and our brains overflowing with too much garbage. So, having now adopted an over-stuffed lifestyle that creates buckets of stress, we’ve got to cowboy up and deal with it.