Welcome to The Fordyce Letter:

The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession

Doug Beabout

Doug Beabout?s recruiting career spans 20 years of expertise in recruiting, personnel services firm ownership, and training. His tenure in recruiting includes building four highly successful recruiting businesses and establishing hundreds for others worldwide. He speaks to state, regional, and private recruiter associations. He is a consultant to many corporations and personnel firms. He is currently owner and president of the Douglas Howard Group, a professional recruiting firm, and conducts several online training programs for recruiters and researchers. He can be reached at 850/424-6933 or trainer@RecruiterElearning.com

Articles by Doug Beabout


The Most Profitable Search Is Here, Now!


Finding and hiring top recruiter talent is the toughest search assignment to work, yet it is also the most profitable.

You will receive a fee for a successful search assignment; however, a successful placement of a recruiter in your firm will create an ongoing annuity based on the increases in sales, client development, and an increased candidate database.

Further success will be realized in the internal momentum and synergy among your recruiters that comes with the addition of another productive recruiter.

Of primary importance is starting a recruiter hiring process based upon a solid understanding of the truths. Armed with knowledge of the realities, you can plan and execute a strategic hiring process with great success as a predictable outcome.

Reality #1: More will fail than succeed.

Good times, bad times; this is a challenging business fraught with pitfalls and variables.

An average individual will often fold under its weight. A proven prescription for the best individual formulation of characteristics and experience is paramount but not a guarantee against failures.


Increasing Candidate Shelf-Life (Part 2 of 2)


In part 1 of this article, I wrote about why it is so important to keep our candidate database current, really current!

You can increase your candidate shelf-life through email, in particular, bur remember to limit your efforts. After all, sending a message that says, in so many words, “I want to know how to reach you!” can backfire when interpreted by a candidate as a self-serving ploy by a recruiter.

We can include several things in the email messages that give the right impression and add value to the candidate who receives it:

  • Articles that offer career and interview advice.
  • A simple newsletter that provides advice on career moves such as getting a promotion or raise.
  • Lists of Internet sites and hyper-links to them of interest to professionals.
  • A questionnaire on what they would like to see in working with a recruiter.
  • Resume tune-up tips.

How we manage the results and secondary efforts can determine the larger part of our success in keeping current with candidates.

My experience shows that about 70% of a database is comprised of “lost sheep” candidates. Sending out one email will often prove this true.


Increasing Candidate Shelf-Life (Part 1 of 2)


The most neglected resource in the personnel services industry is our database of candidates. The database is also commonly considered the most valuable material asset we possess.

Most owners and practitioners would admit that they could do a much better job of keeping their candidate records current. Those same industry professionals believe that 70% of the candidates in their records are current. The reality is most databases are only 20%-39% current at best.

Many of us have extensive candidate databases containing thousands of records. The daunting task of calling them all and maintaining current information on the majority of them is often cause for doing nothing.

The incidental search through the database to seek a fit for a current search most often results in a lost candidate. He or she has moved on and left no forwarding address with us least of all, a current telephone number.

Occasionally, we get lucky. We find someone at a previous employer who can lead us to our “lost sheep.” Usually it is a dead end resulting in a deleted candidate.

We also lose many other valuable benefits of continuing current communication with candidates. First, we are not gaining the referrals they can provide.

TFL archives

Training Without Coaching Is Entertainment


It’s Monday morning, and our well-intentioned recruiter, dedicated to self-improvement and big billings, is back from a recruiting conference where she attended a training session. This session was touted as a must attend event where one could learn all one needed to become a big biller. People who had attended sessions delivered by this trainer raved about how great it was to be a part of one of them. They claimed that they learned a great deal and that this trainer was extremely good with the audience. Every effort and due diligence about this session seemed to point out that if you wanted to become more productive, improve your skills, create wealth, and invest your time wisely, this was a must-see event.

As is often the case, this session was available, among others, at a weekend conference offered by an organization that was well respected in the industry. Our recruiter, bent on getting the biggest bang for her buck, pored over the conference material, speaker bios, and session descriptions to cherry-pick those sessions that best addressed the areas where she felt she needed the greatest improvement to meet her goal of becoming a top-producing recruiter. After careful consideration and gathering the opinions of others, she opted to attend the session.

Since there were other sessions where she wanted to be in attendance, there was a conflict in scheduling. The one session she felt compelled to attend was concurrent with another she wanted to visit. The “conference-meisters” had wisely scheduled all speakers in back-to-back sessions, thus making it possible for people to attend the sessions where a scheduling conflict occurred. She wanted very much to attend the first of the two sessions offered by this coveted trainer, but so she could attend both sessions, she opted to attend the second one instead.

As soon as the first session she had chosen ended, she raced down the hall to assure herself of a good position at the doorway and a good seat during this crowded training session. This legendary trainer’s first session was running long. Our recruiter’s anxiety, brought about by waiting her turn, was eased by the incredible enthusiasm, laughter, kudos, and praises voiced by those departing the first session. Finally the room cleared out and she had her chance. She raced to the front of the room and grabbed a great seat.

The trainer stepped up to the platform and the entire audience was fixated on him as he delivered a step-by-step, proven process. Details concerning the circumstances, the conditions, and time-tested criteria were clearly explained. The speaker’s eloquent style and humorous nature struck a chord with every recruiter present. Insights in his offered anecdotes documented that this was a speaker who had real hands-on experience. The room burst into laughter every few minutes. Notes were taken furiously. Everyone swarmed the speaker with questions at the conclusion of the session. Training materials offered by the speaker were cleared off the table by eager recruiters. Our recruiter left the session knowing that her decision to make this a priority was a beneficial one.

The rest of the conference went very well. Other sessions attended by our recruiter were enlightening and entertaining, and brought a sense of real value to the overall conference experience and investment. At the dinners and luncheons, she overheard many positive comments by her peers who had attended this coveted session. The social gatherings, dinners and luncheons, and hallway dialogues were considered a great networking tool by our recruiter. She sought trading relationships with many peers in attendance. Her conference bag was stuffed with training handouts and business cards of those with whom she had networked.

On the flight home, she contemplated the extensive exposure to experiences and insights she had gained. She made a commitment to herself to apply all she had learned come Monday morning. Armed with new tools and deal-making techniques, she knew she was now well on her way to becoming a top-producing recruiter.

So here we are again. It’s Monday morning. It’s 8 a.m. and it’s time to apply all the secrets, techniques, and skills she acquired at the conference. As she reached for the phone, a rising sense of panic engulfed her. It now seemed that what she so clearly understood in the sessions had faded out of her consciousness. She put the phone down, reached for her conference bag, and furiously reviewed notes and handouts from the session. What had happened? Why wasn’t she, when it counted the most, able to apply what seemed to make so much sense in the session, and afterward?

She spent the next several hours grasping for every recollection from the session. The more she tried to apply the mastery and techniques presented, the more frustrated and disappointed she became. By lunch, she had all but given up on her dedication to improvement. While she ate her salad and drank iced tea in the balmy fall sunshine, she concluded that she was doing pretty well. After all, she didn’t live to work. Next time she’d take better notes.

Upon her return to the office, she realized she had several phone messages from clients and candidates. She raced back to her desk to return these calls quickly. As the heat of the desk increased and the rest of the day passed by, the session she had attended, the insights she had gained, and the commitment she had made faded into memory.

Our recruiter’s story is a common one. I have attended a long list of conferences in the past. I will likely be in attendance at many conferences to come. As a recruiting practitioner, I attend many training sessions, keynotes, and social networking events. During my formative years as a recruiter, I attended all the training sessions I could find. I took copious notes. I bought training materials. I devoured the material over and over again. From my experience and from the experience of many with whom I have worked as a consultant, there seems to be a major disconnect between what we hear in a training session and what we are able to apply in the aftermath. This challenge is not unique to recruiters. From professional development to self-improvement, opportunities abound to gain training. The Internet, multimedia, stand-up training, and other forums offer a variety of training and development.

As fall approaches, we are confronted with many opportunities to attend conferences and training seminars in our recruiting industry. Owners, managers, and sole practitioners are well advised to make the investment in participating in these conferences and seminars. In your due diligence and evaluation of these training and development experiences, I recommend that you apply your own map of needs for improvement when choosing which sessions to attend. Be very honest with yourself about where you need to improve. Conduct positive evaluation and analysis sessions with your staff members and recruiters. Openly discuss the training that you see offered and direct yourself and members of your office into those sessions that best address their needs.

If your motivation to attend training is to be entertained, there are a multitude of very energetic, humorous, and entertaining speakers, and many industry conferences and sessions. This is not a bad thing in any way; however, it is not the answer to development of professional skills mastered by top producers. The exposure to experienced recruiters is a tremendous foundation in developing recruiting mastery. What becomes equally critical to your success in becoming a top producer is the personal mentoring and coaching necessary to develop you as a unique individual and recruiting practitioner. As I conduct training seminars and deliver my messages, I am always encouraged when I see people taking notes and paying attention. Having spoken to thousands of recruiters in the past, I am equally aware that many of those notes end up in that year’s conference bag, never to be seen or referred to again.

Establishing a relationship with a skilled coach and mentor is a prerequisite to developing yourself as a top producer. Every big biller with whom I have had the pleasure and privilege to work formulated the foundation of their skills and abilities by interacting with someone who had been there and done that and possessed the unique ability to develop the skills in others.

There are countless valuable tools available to recruiters today. Each offers its own advantages, when applied wisely. Not one of these individual tools or systems can live up to its claims of productivity merely on the basis of reading directions or listening to an accompanying CD. Top producers wisely choose from among this myriad of offerings those tools that can best serve their unique needs. Of greatest importance, however, is that fact that they also seek practical advice and mentoring, achieving a balance between the use of these tools and personal/artful execution.

One of the barriers or obstacles many face in achieving a coaching relationship is the lack of available personnel within your office or enterprise. Owners and managers, often working their own desk as well, rarely have the time or disposition to function as a coach. Sole practitioners are, by definition, alone. Regardless of your circumstances, there are many folks in our industry who possess the skills to develop you.

Keep in mind, though, that the adage “Training without coaching is entertainment” can be either a motivation to seek competent coaching from industry experts and trainers or a cause for regret when you forget what you learned.

Doug Beabout, CPC, CSP, has 30 years of recruiting experience. He has a very active schedule of speaking and training at various forums worldwide. Additionally, Doug maintains his skills and hones his recruiting insights at his own search and recruiting desk. He currently serves a unique niche within the military/industrial complex. With the support of two highly skilled researchers, Doug continues to maintain his status as a top producer.

TFL archives

Successful Recruiter Hiring: Realities and Actions


Finding and hiring top recruiter talent is the toughest search assignment to work. It is also the most profitable. You will receive a fee for a successful search assignment; however, a successful placement of a recruiter in your firm will create an ongoing annuity based on the increases in sales, client development and an increased candidate database. Further success will be realized in the internal momentum and synergy among your recruiters that comes with the addition of another productive recruiter.

Of primary importance is starting a recruiter hiring process based upon a solid understanding of the truths. Armed with knowledge of the realities, you can plan and execute a strategic hiring process with great success as a predictable outcome.

More will fail than succeed. Good times, bad times; this is a challenging business fraught with pitfalls and variables. An average individual will often “fold” under its weight. A proven prescription for the best individual formulation of characteristics and experience is paramount but not a guarantee against failures. Employ recruiters in multiples and raise the odds of successful recruiter hire. Some of the dynamics of hiring two or more recruiters at once are:

- Peer pressure to perform. Each recruiter measures their daily successes against the others. The inherent competitive nature of top producers will manifest itself in the group dynamic created by the peer group.
- Efficient and wise investment of in-house training
- “Pledge class” camaraderie (most recruiters work well together when they started together).
- Letting a recruiter go does not put the staffing plan back to square one.

Hiring recruiters is inexpensive; it is not firing them that will be extremely expensive.

Recruiters are typically paid in a high end, incentive-based plan. Hesitating to fire a failing recruiter out of “sympathy” deprives the non-starter of the opportunity to find another job to which he or she may be better suited. It is human nature to give a break to a failing person. Keeping a failing or unmotivated recruiter brings an air of failure to those on your staff who are succeeding. Appraise each new recruiter consistently and react accordingly.

The old adage applies; “people do what you inspect, not what you expect.”

Recruiters are, by virtue of their work and if selected correctly, aggressive and dynamic people who make things happen. You may not like the best candidate for a recruiter role in your business. Hiring only people you like (as opposed to those who produce results) is the biggest mistake you can make when building a business. Your mentor, your staff and your own experience at the desk can lend assistance in screening for the “hunters.”

You need relationship builders seeking the big score, not telemarketing “order-takers” or others who may be looking for a “deal a day” transactional “fix.”

How to find recruiters

Nothing will have greater impact on increasing your profit like a good recruiter. To limit your search for recruiters to friends and personal contacts is a limiting way to build a business. Friendship is a welcome spin-off benefit of effective recruiter hiring; it is not the major criteria.

An empty desk is a drain on income. (You still have to pay expenses to maintain an empty desk and its resources.) However, it is not significant when compared to the cost caused by a failing recruiter at that desk. Here are some suggestions:

Successful recruiters are:
- Aggressive
- Willing to take calculated risks
- Can stand the stress of occasional big deals, as opposed to daily small deals ($18,000 a deal vs. a “DEAL” a day for $125)
- Handles rejection and opposition (give your potential recruiters a hurdle or two to cross)
- Deal-maker (“hunter” personality) seeks opportunities to create success and wealth and shares little concern over guaranteed income.
- Street-wise (“sixth sense” for what’s going down or as golfers will say, “they can read the green.”)
- Business-wise (aware of hidden agendas and corporate politics)
- Effective communicators and listeners with professional demeanor (how will your clients and candidates react to this person?)
- Tenacious and overcomes obstacles
- “Half-full” versus “half-empty” personality
- Focused; avoids distractions
- Record of past accomplishments

- The “people” person, who wants, more than anything else to help people
- Burned-out corporate casualties
- The financially desperate who cannot function under the stress of financial need
- Burn-outs from other recruiting firms
- “Gold-diggers from other recruiting firms who want a higher commission rate versus a more fruitful environment and resources that aid in creating wealth

Best sources for finding high-potential candidates:
- Successful sellers of other high-end services (real estate, brokerage, insurance, investments, high-end capital sales, etc.)
- Telemarketers wanting a step up, but not qualified to take it because they lack the characteristics and abilities of top billing recruiters)
- Parents with sales experience who have been out of the labor market for several years
- The retired professional who is not ready to fully retire but seeks an easier route to income than they have had before
- Those to whom $40K-60K is a serious and reachable goal (an average recruiter will create much more than that level of income

And what about advertising?

Advertising is not a first step, passive, or primary avenue to viable recruiters, however, advertising can provide additional recruiter candidates. Be sure to limit the contact information provided in the ad to your personnel services firm’s name and telephone number. This is a phone intensive business. Those who would hesitate to pick up the phone and “sell” themselves are not suited for this career. A suggested text and format for an effective ad on a website, blog or other venue would be:


Aggressive communicator needed to master an executive search practice. Corporate training and development provided. 2+ years of search or sales-oriented experience is desired but not paramount to success. A proven track record is a must. The desire to earn high income is essential.

Your inquiry will be treated with the highest confidentiality.

Call (your firm’s name) (telephone #)

Ads can provide too many non-qualified “lookers.” Limiting contact to a telephone for first interviews can help screen out those who do not qualify with a minimal time investment. An individual’s verbal skills and listening capability are critical qualifiers. Remember that most client and candidate relationships are developed by telephone conversations. Call strong possibilities after normal business hours.

Personal networks can add candidates. Let your contacts in on the fact that you are expanding your business and need talented people. Follow up on these networking calls (most people think of the right person later . . . and might not call you back on their own).

Days are often interrupted by salespeople who would like you to buy copiers, supplies, printing, etc. Keep their cards. Call them for referrals. Salespeople with higher sales skills often know one another. (Finally, remember salespeople willingly do favors for potential customers.)

Be careful about who you hire. The challenge of being a search recruiter requires 100% commitment and intense mental focus. The personal and financial investment you will make in the effort to develop billing recruiters is a major one. (Conservative estimates range from $8-12K per hire considering base income and expenses) Another consideration of mis-hiring is the loss of revenues while trying to develop a lost cause candidate.

Food for action, not thought
- The demand for our services is historically high.
- There is little reason to foresee it falling apart in the foreseeable future.
- The conditions and realities of the recruiting marketplace present us with the best of times to build our firms and increase our revenues, right now.

The well-advised owner knows that building a staff of highly productive recruiters is the only failsafe strategy to creating equity in your business. When it comes time to consider selling your enterprise, the buyer must see a going concern in your absence. Great tools and investments in technology pale in their potential to create wealth and equity when compared with what top producers bring to your business.

Doug Beabout, CPC, CSP is a veteran of recruiting since 1977, an industry guru, speaker, and trainer. As a working owner, Doug spends a large part of his time in the trenches of his own recruiting practice. His evolution as a recruiter has been the result of his adaptation to an ever-changing recruiting services marketplace. Doug speaks with hundreds of recruiters each month. He works with many successful recruiters and owners as a recruiting coach and in-house consultant and trainer. As an in-house consultant, Doug has worked with aggressive owners to build equity and success in the firms. Contact Doug on how he can bring you the leverage and advantage of his own success in building hundreds of recruiting firms. Call Doug Beabout: (850) 398-4302 or (850) 398-1688 www.DougBeabout.com

TFL archives

Nine Elements of a Great Search Agreement


The element that connects both client to consultant and service to fee is the professional agreement letter. Insuring a mutual understanding of the services to be provided to a client on a search is essential to gain business from the client. No agreement is more effective as a communication medium for the terms agreed upon and your service. It should only be provided to your client once you have gained total understanding and agreement by verbal means. What is written in your agreement should accurately reflect the services, terms and bilateral responsibilities you and your client have agreed to and are best for the level of service dictated by the search parameters and the problem(s) which will be solved by hiring the right person. A mutual understanding of your fee and terms is equally essential – and extremely beneficial for winning a collection case in court.

Several circumstances arise from time to time which require your firm’s consultants to modify the format of the professional agreement letter. Clients occasionally ask us to sign their version of a fee agreement. Whenever you decide to deviate from this type of agreement, consider the following important elements of an effective and fair agreement:

1. Insist on full (30-35%) fees for full service. Yeah, I know. Many of your clients balk at these rates. My suggestion to those who feel they are limited to acceptance of these low-ball fees is this: the 10-20% fees still existent today were imposed in the 2002-2003 era of slow activity. Many of the HR professionals behind this practice were bound by bad economics at the time or fairly inexperienced in search projects during the highly competitive era we have today. A top-producing desk requires only 10-12 grade A searches to maintain high output. This translates into the practical perspective that you can truly afford to say no to many of these low-ballers and better invest your time in identifying the more competitive firms who have had the awakening experience that dictates they must use skilled search practitioners who can identify the passive candidates generally out of the reach of other recruiters.

2. Guarantees, if necessary, should be to solve the client’s problem: filling the position. Promise your best efforts to locate and present a qualified replacement for the candidate who voluntarily leaves your client during initial employment (60 calendar days maximum). Your promise is to present a replacement candidate, not guarantee that he or she will be hired. Do not promise cash refunds and avoid use of such words as guarantee or unconditional guarantee. You have no control over the conditions and treatment of employees your client hires. They do and should assume responsibility for the outcome of the hire. They will make the choice of whom they hire. The client should assume the responsibility of this decision.

3. Prompt payment of your fee should be a required for replacing the candidate. Consider including this phrase, “Our presentation of a replacement candidate is conditional upon receipt of our fee and within ten working days of the initial candidate’s employment.” Your client will place you in the same pile of accounts payables that make payment to commodity suppliers. You are not, or at least should not be, a commodity supplier of search services. The best argument you possess for prompt payment of your fee is found within the higher level of services and added value you demonstrate in solving a critical problem on a situational basis for your client. Commodity vendors have embedded a delay in receivables from companies. Since they continue to supply their customers month after month, they can work with a sixty or ninety day delay in payment for their materials and services.

4. Put in writing that your fee will be computed on total taxable income offered and accepted by your placed candidate. In the event that a bonus is tough to calculate accurately in advance, give the client one of the following options: One, calculate that portion of your fee on average bonus projections or the last incumbent’s bonus; or two, invoice at year-end for actual bonus. Remember the fact that your client will compensate a person based upon what they perceive as a fair and reasonable amount of salary and bonus for the contribution made by your placed candidate. Your fee should be based upon a percentage of that total amount.

5. Regardless of how you conclude fee calculations, be sure to define the agreed terms in a fee agreement letter.

6. State that payment of the fee is due in its entirety the day the candidate starts work. Your fee is earned by the process you provide, not by the performance of your referred candidate. If you suspect that this is the perspective of a potential client, you are strongly urged to clarify the realities with this client. Many a recruiter has had a client terminate a candidate after a two or three month initial period after they gained the insights they sought. Although this is not common, you should make the realities of what you are paid for very clear. When the client demands extended terms and they are necessary to close the agreement, you should only offer terms against your full fee, not in addition to a discount fee.

7. Any agreement must clearly state the length of time, after initial bona fide referral of a given candidate, within which you will be paid your fee should that candidate be hired by the client or its divisions, for any position. One year is normally acceptable.

8. Insure that your client is not be surprised by any of the terms in your standard agreement letter by covering everything contained in it verbally. Then send the letter to confirm by signature.

9. Collection problems do not start when you close the deal – they start when taking the order. Clearly, state your terms up front to avoid collection problems.

Some of our clients push an agreement they use with “agencies.” After review of hundreds of these agreements, I can safely generalize that they are defensive in nature. Most contain elements that are designed to protect the company from damage or injury caused in the past by less than scrupulous recruiters. Where I understand the fact that I must face the stereotype created by bad behavior from some recruiters, I also try to educate my client from our first dialogue about our service and highest levels of professionalism. I also press my client to review my professional engagement letter which is, by its nature, bilateral and very fair to both us and our client without assuming that we would be hurt by a nefarious client.

We are in a strong recovery demanding the recruiting and hiring of highly talented people. These folks are essential to the company reaching its objectives. They will have a defined contribution to the profit-per-share of the company that hires them. We are essential to these companies in effective recruiting, qualifying and referring these people. We will earn our fee by the process we provide; not by the performance of our referred candidate. When a client insists on draconian terms unfair to the recruiter, walk away.

Doug Beabout, CPC, CSP is a veteran of recruiting since 1977. As a working owner, Doug spends a large part of his time in the trenches of his own recruiting practice. His evolution as a recruiter has been the result of his adaptation to an ever-changing recruiting services marketplace. Doug brings these competitive techniques and tactics to his training materials and presentations worldwide. Doug speaks with hundreds of recruiters each month and works with many as a recruiting coach and inhouse consultant and trainer.

TFL archives

The Brave New World of Our HR colleagues (and how it will dramatically affect us!)


This recruiter has seen four recessions and, fortunately, four recoveries. This last economic period was a major thumper! The recovery is, for our purposes, robust. The Dow is breaking records, the economists are dazzled and the optimisim of many is high. All the hot buttons, when pushed continually, compel our clients to grow, expand products and services, explore new markets within and across borders – are punching out historically high demand. Recent history cannot be forgotten or ignored as it now has placed major impact and influence on our strategic plans and daily direction.

A brief recall of the 1990s:

We were rockin’! It was a glorious time to flourish amid a great demand, candidate driven marketplace. Many industries were still in good health and optimistic. In these times of recruiting affluence, the vendor exhibit halls throughout our great land were populating the recruiting conferences from coast to coast. Their latest and greatest “Holy Grails” of recruiter tooling included very slick products capable of seining the world wide web and Internet for candidates, position openings, hiring companies – and they worked! Then the missing link was something that could organize and recall for distribution to hungry clients, the candidates mined from the myriad of technology-based watering holes in cyberspace. Thus we were presented with the next grand advantage, ATS and contact management tools, some of which would mix and match faster than a box stuffer at Whitman’s candy factory. This was very cool stuff and their proliferation throughout our industry was massive. Many a recruiter earned a respectable living and some actually created measurable wealth using these tools in the 90s. Many of us fell under the delusion, self-created or expressed by others, that only we, the recruiters, knew of their existence or possessed the ambition to master their ultimate potential as gold mines. But, future events and the actions of some would change all this.

After March of 2001

Our industry started suffering the largest attrition of practitioners I have ever witnessed since the advent of employer-paid fees. By my observation and personal collection of the opinions of many recruiters across this country, about 70% of recruiters gainfully in business in early 2001 were in alternative careers by mid 2002. For a period of the next three years, our industry attracted few new practitioners as either independents or franchise-based recruiters. The once rising movement of researcher implementation abated as well. Tough economic periods are often seen as cause for hunkering down. That is debatable by some but not in this forum.

A Tale from the Dark Side!

While we were engrossed in our efforts to endure the recession by making increased marketing calls, something dark and nefarious was underway. We dealt with an ever-disappointing number of “No’s” from clients that were paring down, not building up. These same companies’ HR professionals were often deeply concerned about being the next in the “queue” for departure. Just when it seemed that the handwriting was on the wall, a few dark angels came with glad tidings and a story of future recovery, tremendous demand and just the right tools to be ready for it all. This might breathe life into the job security sought by many of their new customers, our clients. The very same tools, processes, ancillary systems, ATS and matching systems were presented to our clients as the brave new way to “Poach” everyone in competitors into their treasure trove database for future recall as hiring reoccurred.

As much as it did not surprise me that certain recruiter confederates and some self-appointed “experts’ joined the fray, teaching our clients and HR professionals seminars on the “coveted secrets” of “e-cruiting,” it saddened me a bit. I saw these Placement Doctors weaving their nefarious and exploitative web. Thus I foresaw the decimation of many recruiters, who held on by a thread, awaiting the recovery. The professional demise of these recruiters came in the hands of HR contacts and contract recruiters who solicited their assistance in finding critically needed candidates. Once these well intended and naïve recruiters raced back from their own databases and, at times, direct recruiting efforts, to present their trophy candidates… they were met again and again with the bad news; “Sorry, but we have this person in our database, Thanks for qualifying him or her! This discouraged many. The more aggressive among us saw the light! “these folks still cannot do what we do best; surgical recruiting!”

Our Bright and Shining Future

This recruiter has made it his career quest to extinguish every bad practice and behavior that denigrates recruiters resulting in the “stereotype” of us we face everyday, every call. Our future could not be brighter. We are faced with the opportunity to forge ahead providing surgical, custom recruiting processes as the best solution to providing the people who make things happen in this frenetic economy. We, and only we, possess the artful skills and techniques to penetrate a source company. We gain the attention and cooperation of the industries’ thoroughbred talent. We present these solution saviors to cooperative clients who pay attention to our counsel and pay our full fees. Many retain us so we do not drift away from finding the answer to their urgent dilemma. Alas, the days of our option to surf the “Net” and seine in the applicants, then cast them by handfuls to a client who catches them from many others is now and likely forever gone.

The very practices that formulated our bad boy reputations have been mastered by our clients. I say, “let them go for it… and when they fail as their predecessors did at digging up the very best people who make things happen; we will be their prodigal recruiters, ready to come back and solve their greatest recruiting challenges.

Of Course, the Moral to this story…

Wise recruiters have again been presented an opportunity to master higher search practices, precision recruiting techniques and a process of service that will command the attention of those clients who have already seen the folly of this “poaching pandemic.” Exercise your very best ability to say no when confronted with those enticing opportunities to revert to the good old days. This evolution of recruiting is not a tale of things that may be, no; rather a fact of what is here today, and likely it is going to remain. I love it! It is time to cash in.

Special note to owners and practitioners:

Many recruiters are entering our profession and are eager to succeed. Veteran Recruiters have survived a tough period and deserve the best. This is the time to attract and employ added recruiting staff and research support personnel. The end game for us all is to be at the pinnacle of billing and profits. Those folks that seize the moment now, are the people who will reap the greatest rewards in this exciting recruiting industry recovery. I can be a valuable resource to the development and expansion of your business. Your staff must have a strong belief in the right criteria, process and techniques. I have trained thousands of very successful recruiters. Call me and we can discuss how I can be your mentor and a training resource to your new and experienced recruiters in the process and methods that work best in this dramatically evolving marketplace.

Call me and we can see that you exceed your dreams and goals.

Doug Beabout, CPC, CSP is now releasing the New “Complete Recruiting Process Training System 2006″ on Audio CD. You can see the detailed content on his website at: The Complete Recruiting Process Training System 2006 (click this link or cut and paste it in your browser) Remember: Recipients of this Newsletter receive a 25% discount off Doug’s Training Materials. If we may be of service in any manner; Just drop us a line at: Trainer@DougBeabout.com or call us directly at 850.398.4302.

TFL archives

Deep Sea Fishing in a Shallow Pool


The Dow is creeping up to record highs. The housing market is exploding much to the surprise of economic “experts.” Consumer confidence is great. The “Fed” is grumbling about inflation. Clients are hiring again. Okay, why then do so many recruiters complain about how tough things are today, particularly where recruiting candidates is concerned? The reasons are partly our own creation. Sometimes it’s not what we do, it’s what we fail to do that hurts us.
Recruiters have never faced conditions like we face today. Clients seek multi-dimensional candidates to fill roles that where created during those downsizing periods. There are many causes for the fairly new scenario. Several roles in a given organization were compressed into one paycheck. They could pull this off because those who survived the reductions and right-sizing campaigns of the late nineties and early 2000’s were happy to work harder to stay employed. Companies exploited this mindset, with “economic justifications.” From early 2001 until early 2005 this climate of position compression in terms of responsibilities persisted as companies “hunkered down” and awaited the now present recovery. As history has proven in the past, many companies saw this willingness to put 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag as a way to continue managing human resources after the recovery began. I suspect that this will abate as our economic recovery creates increased CEO confidence, a shift in perspective towards growth and new position creation. Until that time arrives, we are faced with the challenge of finding these people who possess the multi-faceted skills and experience sought by our clients. So what’s new? This has always been the foundation of our value; bringing in the “big ones,” the uniquely talented folks who can make great things happen for our clients.

During that lull in hiring, spanning the early few years of this century, our industry suffered a massive exodus of recruiters. Opinions vary, but I estimate that more than half of the practitioners fell prey to the rougher conditions of those years. Many of the casualties were those who embraced the purported fast track to riches based in the exploitation of technology tools to seine in the candidates, job orders and data from the various watering holes across the Internet. Job boards, monstrous candidate sites and a myriad of derivations of the same were hailed as the beacon to wealth by vendors of the associated technology tools sold as the holy grail of candidate sourcing. No question about it; a few made money and most did not. What is ultimately true is that another group of our fellow recruiters discovered too late that this beacon of success was little more than a flash in the pan for us.

What followed the onset of the recession sealed the fate of these transactional recruiters. The vendors of these candidate sourcing solutions turned towards its surviving market, the HR departments of many firms. While little hiring activity prevailed, the mantra of these vendors was illustrated by the “new wisdom.” This philosophy sold was that, once the recession concluded, every company who is prepared and well positioned at the gate would be winning the race for talent in the recovery to come. Several confederates of our profession jumped on the bandwagon selling the notion that “poaching” potential employees and stuffing a database was paramount to being well positioned.

This spelled a death knell for the aforementioned recruiters who thought they had secured a foothold in a technology-based recruiting process just to see that the cat was out of the bag and their potential clients had now mastered the alternatives to targeted professional recruiting. These recruiters were often disappointed by a client who, after the recruiter had hustled a candidate to their door, found that same candidate in their own database and refused to pay a fee for an ‘existing’ candidate.

The complex skills of these candidates in great demand today are generally in the hands of the folks who were survivors of the late nineties’ and early 2000’s cutbacks and reductions of the professional force. Simply put, they are now employed. They are working in competitors. They are well aware of their marketability today and quite responsive to the well-crafted call of the skilled and trained recruiter. This is not a new reality. It has always been the case that the best people typically work smart, work hard and do great things while keeping one ear open to the call of opportunity. The call we are best qualified to conduct as an extension of a grade “A” client. The cold truth is best stated as “The clients have eliminated our alternatives to highly effective recruiting processes and relationship focused service.” This is bad news for anyone seeking the “Holy Grail” down the paved path. It is great news for those who are dedicated to success through equity building efforts executed by trained and skilled people.

The candidate pool is no doubt a shallow one and perhaps as shallow as this recruiter has ever seen. One constant has held up through the last thirty years in my observation; clients have yet to master to essential and elusive skills. These are recruiting and closing; recruiting in the surgical manner practiced by the best of the business, and closing with the unique advantages inherent in the close and mutually respected relationship we have with these thoroughbred candidates. There is no “Omega Code” secretly held by a few innovative vendors of new tools that leads to wealth in recruiting. Success will come to those who seek out and master the techniques, tactics, criteria and value that the high end service recruiter has always provided to the deserving client.

Technology and the Internet will always offer tremendous paths to information and research. When wisely exploited, it brings even greater competitive advantage and service potential to us. While clients seek these predatory game fish, we represent the truly competitive pathway to talent and success for our clients.

DOUG BEABOUT, CPC – Owner and president of The Douglas Howard Group, Doug brings over 30 years of expertise in top billings, placement firm ownership and industry training. He has authored many search/placement industry-specific articles and is a well-known guest speaker at industry gatherings. He can be reached at (850) 398-1688 or through www.DougBeabout.com

TFL archives

Where Do You Belong In The Recruiting Food Chain


My first journey to the Emerald Coast beaches of the Florida panhandle began with a stern warning from the resident lifeguard. He imparted upon me his wisdom and the reality of this intended day of fun and SPF 30, “When you go into that water remember that there are two kinds of fish out there, predators and food. Guess where you stand in the food chain!” I approached the sand with a clearer and wiser perspective about wave riding!

Today’s recruiting landscape offers enormous opportunity that, if effectively exploited, can land you on the beach in early retirement at the top of the financial food chain.? You must face certain realities. The recession/depression/economic turndown (choose your favorite label) presented a long period where recruiters should have taken stock in what they were doing and what the challenges the recovery would put before them. Some seized this with clarity and ambition. They came out of the trenches armed with new tools and a commitment to both excellence and its inevitable reward, wealth and security.

Others held on to what they did before their markets collapsed, hunkered down and waited until enough smoke cleared to start doing it all over again. After all, they made a living before, “why not now?” Still others, mainly our friends in HR, seized the moment to scour the land and plunder its applicant watering holes. They stuffed everyone they could into nice neat records so that when the economy strengthened and their employer started hiring once again, they would be armed with a massive database of people. Let’s explore these three groups and evaluate the potential of their strategies and impact on us.

Let us begin with the ambitious visionary. We will refer to them as the predators. This group is comprised of both previous top producers and the enlightened people, all of whom recognize that quality of service and strict client criteria are quintessential to creating wealth in recruiting. They aggressively pursue clients seeking multi-dimensional talented candidates. Their clients must exhibit a willingness to embrace a process that, once effectively sold, is a compelling means to locate critically required people. Hiring managers among these clients are just as busy as their more transactional contemporaries. They are, however, aware of the importance of working with a professional recruiting consultant, who acting as an extension of their situation, must be partnered with a cooperative client. The extent of their cooperation goes beyond a few minutes and a couple of extra questions. These wiser hiring managers understand that the recruiter must interface directly with the individual in their company making the final hiring decision.

Finally, these clients subscribe to the importance of acquiring the very best qualified people through the skilled efforts of an ethical recruiting process and recruiter. Makes sense, right! Of course it does! The fact is, however, that clients like this represent the minority of employers. Take heart in the fact that it takes a small number of clients to exceed your billing ambitions. This group of recruiters has established strict criteria by which they choose their clients and search activity. They realize that these criteria must be reflective of the process they are ready to apply. This group is not defined exclusively by the terms by which they work, i.e., retained or contingency. These search consultants are best defined by the value-added, consultative service they apply to critical candidate requirements where urgency, cooperation and sizzle exists. They are not predatory in their actions but they choose their projects as wisely as a predator. They certainly have fewer blank deposit slips than most.

The next group we will refer to as scavengers. I do not mean to insensitively denigrate anyone by using this label. Rather, I mean to portray an accurate picture of how they are typically seen by those they seek to pay them fees. Scouring every source from the job boards to the web and beyond can produce countless names, titles and in some cases, resumes. Many highly successful, value-added firms avail themselves of this source of intelligence. The practice of cataloging these folks, running the job title duties and dollars of a published or offered job through a computerized matching or searching utility in order to send the “fits” to a company falls a great distance short of anything that resembles service.

These actions were practiced by many recruiters in the end days of the last period of affluence. This shallow approach was accepted by many firms in their desperate attempt to find people in a very shallow pool of talent. I believe that this conditioned reaction by clients was widely misperceived by recruiters as an accreditation to their methodology of “referral.” There is a news flash…. A whole lot of HR folks jumped on this easily replicated process, bought (or renewed) their own subscriptions to the job boards and search tools and are well prepared.

The best thing I have observed about being a full service, value-added search consultant is that in nearly thirty years of practicing this art I have yet to see a company replicate it. This brings us to the last group.

We will refer to the third and final group by their actual moniker, HR. Many client company folks were hunkered down from early 2001 until the Fall of 2004, trying to hang on until things got better. Many HR people saw an opportunity to develop an internal system by which, at least in theory, they could catalog everyone who they may have some future interest in as an applicant. Once the recovery started, they would be justified in the investments made by the obvious avoidance of the fees they expected to pay to recruiters. Many a recruiter has been “burned” when working in earnest to find a candidate just to be informed that the company had that person “in the database.” Of course, this nefarious practice is not performed but by a minority of people in HR.

The real dilemma that exists in the scavengers’ approach is that it is no more than a replication of what many companies are now capable of doing by their own means. Out of the recession comes good news! Many of the current hiring authorities are new to both their roles and the process of working with recruiters. The observation of their predecessors in hiring people taught them the valuable lesson that less is better than more in terms of interface time with recruiters. They also saw the many mishires as a result of a transactional referral process with recruiters. Now that they are in the seat of decision-making they are more open than ever to embracing the concept of having a lesser number of recruiters at their call. Spending more time in detail with fewer recruiters dramatically increases the odds of offering a critical position to a highly qualified individual. The complexity of the positions we seek to fill today cannot be serviced effectively by limited knowledge or interface with those other than hiring decision-makers.

The recovery, already well underway, offers enormous opportunity. Where do you want to be in the food chain? As a predator or scavenger? Making the choice also includes a commitment to a consultative, due-diligent process, tough client and search assignment criteria and ethical practices. Remember that the high road ends at the top.

TFL archives

Is Change An Option?


Recruiters everywhere are on the brink of a great period in our industry. The New Year is just a few weeks away and this recruiter is more excited about the business than ever before. I have seen several periods of economic recession and recovery in the last three decades. This one offers more opportunity to thrive and create wealth than previous periods. The markets are climbing, companies are starving for talent, and recruiters are hungry for success. The only element missing in most “desks” is the change essential to exploiting the circumstances. If you were highly successful in the last recruiting “boom,” you are now faced with the re-invention of your market, process and attitude. My exposure to thousands of recruiters has brought me to the belief that we love creating placements but despise change. This is a normal human condition, but a causative factor in the demise of many goods recruiters in the last eighteen months. The old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is commonly used when we are succeeding. It is a deadly rationale to avoid the difficulties of change when we are not as successful.I have spoken with many people who are fully aware that their markets are either dead or dying. They are understandably frustrated by a lack of results in these markets. They are also desperately seeking answers to the question, “how do I get more business when nobody is hiring?” The answer often does not exist because they ask the wrong question. The means to create wealth for these folks lies in answering the question, “What market should I develop today?” This requires change and the courage to do so.Healthy markets exist. Markets where clients are hiring, willing to pay full fees and seeking the aide of skilled recruiters. Do your due diligence to identify them. Seek out the easily available marketplace intelligence. This can be found at its most fundamental level in the current economic outlooks and research provided through the Federal Reserve banking system. It is also published in several accurate and easily obtainable documents from the GPO at www.gpo.gov.Starting with the knowledge that certain industries are rising in sales and projecting growth, call into those industries by acquiring the industrial intelligence (company listing and contact information). This intelligence is published by several commercial vendors. It is also available at your local library. You know that place – it is the one with all the books that smells funny and we hated to visit in college. The folks at these institutions will bend over backwards to help anyone sincerely interested in exploiting their resources.Once you are armed with company names and contact numbers in promising markets, get on the phone and do further diligence. You need not sell on the first calls. It is my practice to establish a sense of mutual understanding by asking questions rather than pitching candidates or broadcasting the ten top reasons why “you should work with me.” The insights you can gather from the collective contacts you make in these calls will also reinforce your belief in the fertility of the industry where the demand recruiting services should exist. If you discern that it does, after several dozen calls or more, then circle back to your initial contacts and further develop a relationship and identify where grade “A” recruiting opportunities exist. If your due diligence refutes the promises of you initial research, you should take another industry into consideration. I suggest you go back through the process I previously outlined.Another means of identifying a good market selection is to ask those people you already know from previously developed markets, where they are likely to look for more secure employment opportunities. The industries where they know their talents and skill are translatable and in demand. I have found that this is a great technique due to the accuracy of input. Their paychecks also depend on finding a better industry in which to work, pay their mortgages and feed their families. This approach also avails you of the advantages of a reasonably attractive database of existing candidates once you develop that alternative industry. It is not, however, a stand alone tactic and should be used in tandem with the more strategic process outlined above.It would be unfair to leave these suggestions with you and not address the greatest reason why this approach can fail. It is also often the reason why some recruiters are failing at present in reasonably healthy markets. Do you practice a professional recruiting process? Is it an integral element in your service? The economy we face is growing into a robust state, but it will nevertheless be totally unforgiving of the recruiter who focuses on the end game alone. Transactional practices such as “hawking” a super-duper candidate served the goals of many recruiters during the past period(s) of affluence. They are doubtlessly devastating today. The emerging decision-makers today seek effective trust bonds and value-added relationships with recruiters. It is no longer enough to be a preferred provider of great candidates. You must develop a solid base of clients who perceive you as a trusted advisor. This can not be based on transactional practices such as the one-breath presentations scripted by many recruiters. The answer to success in creating this prerequisite relationship starts with learning a detailed recruiting process. Mastering its subtleties and selling its advantages to client contacts on an insightful and value-added basis. This process begins far before the identification of a good job order and continues in solid continuity after the candidate starts work with your client. There is no longer a crack in the fabric of recruiting success that will allow any recruiter to escape the challenge of this change.The challenges we face today are many and can be daunting because they demand radical changes in markets, practices and perspectives. I like to rely on the wisdom of wiser people like Jack Welch, the icon of success at G.E. and elsewhere – “Change before you have to.” For some it is a game of “catch-up.” For others, this is the best time to commit to these non-negotiable changes and take immediate action! For everyone, this recruiter as well, change is not bad it is just essential.Just to document the fact that this recruiter practices what I preach; since the Spring of ’02, I have changed markets, sold a successful recruiting business to my staff and relocated recently to the sunny gulf side of Florida. I started another recruiting practices business in Florida. A lot of folks have asked me, “Why Florida?” Beyond the fact that I have always admired the recruiters in this state and the associations here, I also tell most folks that I want my salt in the water, not on the streets! I will be here for a long while and invoicing clients forever. Please let me know how I can be of service to you.