Welcome to The Fordyce Letter:

The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession

Kathy Breitenbucher

Kathy Breitenbucher is a managing partner at The Pedestal Group (www.thepedestalgroup.com) in Medina, Ohio. The Pedestal Group provides consulting and training services in marketing, planning, recruiting, and technology to small recruiting firms across the country. For more information, contact her at kathy@thepedestalgroup.com.

Articles by Kathy Breitenbucher


Help Your Clients Frame a Quality Offer Letter


Clients who lose their funding, change their minds, or don’t fully understand what it will take to get a person into their positions abound. So what can you do about it?

Many trainers will tell you to “take control” of the situation, but with the news proclaiming higher and higher unemployment numbers, that has become easier said than done. And with searches becoming scarce, walking away is harder and harder.

Instead, turn your process over and gain control, help your client understand what’s involved, and identify the challenges up front.

To quote Stephen R. Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.”

Start the process with an eye to the offer letter. What are the main components of a good offer letter? A nice “Welcome to the team” message, a high-level overview of the position, some basic expectations, salary and benefit information including relocation, and an expected start date.

Let’s look at each one of these:

The “Welcome Aboard” message. Typically this is a boilerplate message at the top of an offer letter, but companies should be using this as a beginning of their onboarding process. Making a real statement about why the company wants someone in this position can make a real difference. As you take the search information, keep an ear open for the things you can include in that opening paragraph.

High-level overview of the position. Getting this down early in the process can help avoid a multitude of problems. As a benefit to the recruiter, saying this back to the person giving you the search can show you were listening well enough to summarize, give you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding, and clarify any other issues. Once you have it confirmed by the client, you have your explanation of the position for candidates. Because it was discussed upfront and agreed to by the client, there is a clear understanding of the type of candidate you are finding. If there is a change later, all parties should recognize it was a change from the original discussion. Look at this from another angle. You’ve taken a search from a client but the job description is all over the place. You are trying to do the high-level overview but you are having problems. So you ask the client to summarize. If the client can’t successfully summarize, there is a problem with the search. At that point, ask to include others in the discussion, ask additional questions, or redirect the conversation back to the most important aspects and rank them. If the client does give you a summary, you can then see what you missed in the information or what contradicts their summary and have additional discussion. Either way, you know you understand the search as it is defined in that moment.

Expectations. We all know how important it is to make sure candidate and client expectations match. But which expectations are important enough they should be in writing? Having this at the beginning of the search can dramatically change your focus when sourcing candidates. Also, the discussion identifying these is a great time to clarify details about the search.

Salary, benefits, and relocation information. We’re all probably good at asking for this upfront so this is nothing new, but think about how to use it in the sales process. How can you word the compensation in the offer letter so the candidate is excited about it? What unique benefits does the company offer that a candidate may get excited about? And of course, be completely clear on relocation. Understanding exactly what is covered and how it is managed can make all the difference as you work on the search.

Anticipated start date. An expected start date is a great tool to use in framing the search. Although a start date isn’t set in stone, discussing this when you take the search helps establish a timeline and it is easy to back up from that date to determine when interviews need to happen and more. Clients who think the process takes too long get a real education when discussing the potential start date as they realize it isn’t the recruiter holding up the process. Discussing this at the beginning of the search also shows the recruiter’s commitment.

It is highly likely that the client already has a standard format for an offer letter, and therefore, won’t want to use your form letter.

That’s fine, but you may be able to give them some unique ideas. Once you complete the search-taking process, sending over a sample offer letter with these components, demonstrating a true understanding of the position and the needs, confirming the big expectations, and targeting a specific start date sets you apart from the competition.

Which, as you can see, really is beginning with the end in mind.


Creating Your Perfect Client, Part 2


In the first part of this article, I talked about identifying your perfect customer. Now it’s time to think about the types of searches you work.

Many recruiters shy away from technology or finance searches. Are there fields or functions you don’t want to recruit? Are there titles that are too high or too low for you to take on? Are there fields, titles, and functions that would be an automatic split because you know the right person to fill the search?

This is where you really have to think about what problems there are with searches — how reporting structures work, co-workers, responsibilities, etc.

One challenge presented to recruiters today comes from the consolidation of responsibilities. It used to be a person did one job with one job description but today, it is often the case that two positions have been combined because someone had the skills and the company had the need at the time. The challenge is now that the person has left, the company has forgotten it used to be two separate positions and want one person to do both jobs. Are there positions like this you won’t fill?

Now let’s go back to our example of our perfect client. What made Jackie great? She was easy to communicate with, scheduled interviews quickly, and provided feedback.

So what is unacceptable in the communication and feedback area? Be as specific as possible — “candidate feedback cannot be conveyed in more than three days” or “interviews cannot be scheduled more than one week after phone screen.”

Using the Information

So now you have vented out all the things you won’t do. Not only is this therapeutic, you have a picture of what is left and want to work on. How do you USE this information?

First, use it to find targeted clients. You have better information to find those companies that are right for you. As you research companies to target, you have a solid list of keywords, information, and answers to use in searching. You are able to identify what markets these companies serve, who else may be players, and the right companies for you.

Since you fully understand the kind of culture you want, review company websites to get a better idea if the company will be a good fit; look and see if they have the types of positions you want to fill.

From the culture and position identification you did above, you can formulate thought-provoking questions that show you are serious about getting to know your new client. When you approach the client, you aren’t coming at them as a generalist, but someone who is trying to determine whether there is a good fit for your services — because not every company is. There is a lot of power in that message!

Right upfront as you take the search, you can lay out your expectations. Telling a client, “We find searches to be the most successful when….” sends all the right messages — you have experience filling searches like this so you were a good choice; you know what needs to be done to make it work; if the client doesn’t do it the way you say it will be their fault if the search doesn’t go well, etc.

You’ve taken the unacceptable communication and feedback structures identified above and turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy on the positive side by laying out those details at the beginning. And when it works, the client knows it is because you said it would, right from the beginning.

Approaching client identification this way alleviates the worry that you are missing business that would have been good but wasn’t in your definition by helping you zone in on it through what is unacceptable. Then using what you learned about the unacceptable, you can craft a process that moves clients into handling the search the way it needs to be done to be successful.

So you do not only identify the perfect clients, you help create them!


Creating Your Perfect Client, Part 1


Lots of people tell you to identify your perfect customer — sit down and write out what that customer looks like and then make that your target.

It stands to reason that you will be the most excited when you talk to these people, they will totally get you, and the fills will come more easily. Beautiful.

But let’s be honest. You sit down at your desk, look at the blank paper or computer screen, and where do you start? You think about Jackie at XYZ Company. She’s great to work with — always gives you timely feedback on candidates, gets interviews scheduled quickly, etc.

You would love to have more clients like her.

But the last two searches were cancelled, and they stopped offering relocation last year so those searches would have been a bear to fill. And really, isn’t that description more about Jackie than her company? Now what?

Rather than try to find something “perfect,” start instead with what you don’t do. Start with as broad a category as you can to eliminate those companies that you wouldn’t work with. Does it matter to you if the company is a product or service company? What about global versus domestic? Do you prefer public companies or private — or does that even matter?

Look at the locations as well. There are places that are harder to recruit than others, but are there geographic areas that you wouldn’t want to relocate people?

Next, how do you describe the culture of the companies you don’t like? What level of turnover is unacceptable? If a company had 30% turnover but had a good reason, maybe that is ok. But what if the turnover is 30% due to management?

What benefits convey the right culture? How does the company represent themselves to the world on their website? Do they back it up in their interactions with you? Take a look at their location structure. Can you tell from their website what functions are in which location?

If not, try looking at LinkedIn or other sites for people who work for the company. You can learn a lot about what activities go on at what location.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, Kathy will discuss new ways of thinking about the types of searches you work.


While You Are At It, Focus On Your Candidates


Everyone is looking for that new way to market and stand out in the crowd. One way is to really focus on your candidates and the candidate experience you offer.

Every good recruiter has maintained contact with some, if not all their placed candidates. Good things happen from those relationships.

If you haven’t, now is the time to renew those contacts. These calls are warm — the candidates know who you are — and you have their contact information. Reach out and ask for a time you could talk about what is new with them. A “win” in these calls is any piece of information you didn’t have before.

Find out something about your current clients? Wonderful! What about some new change in the industry? That’s great to know, too!

Learn that your candidate was laid off? You know this individual’s strengths and any concerns that came up during the hiring process. You’ve already checked his or her references, and have any background checks done that were required. What a great person to take to the market and help your marketing efforts!