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The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession

Articles tagged 'client management'


It’s Not A Job Order Until You Get These 7 Commitments


The Seven Commitments are important in gauging how “hot” a job order is. You need to verify the commitments in every conversation, using various different approaches. If you don’t have all the commitments, it does not mean you should not work the job order, it means you should figure out how to get the client commitment.

1. Hiring manager contact

Only the hiring manager has an emotional investment and feels a sense of urgency to get results. Second-hand information makes it impossible for you to impact the decision-maker and quality is compromised by inaccurate information. Providing a quality service and your ability to close depend on hiring manager contact.

Fees, Jeff's On Call!

Send Only ‘Blind’ Resumes Or You May See Your Fee Runaway


Mr. Allen,

Hello, it is good to be ‘speaking’ with you. I was told of your website when I first began in the executive search business many years ago, and I have benefited from visiting your site again, recently, by being able to read the scenarios that occur in our business.

In particular I appreciate your Q & A about referring resumes and doing so in a manner that protects us from losing a fee in the referral process. A recent experience has taught me I need to more closely follow your suggestions about masking a candidate’s identity, and so I shall.

I’ve been in recruiting for a few different industries since 1980: healthcare, insurance, manufacturing. and have done not only contingency but also retained searches.

Recently, after being away from the search business for a few years I’ve discovered something new to me. On many occasions I will contact an executive in a company, make a candidate presentation, and that executive will agree to receive and review the candidate’s resume. I also have on many occasions arranged for that executive’s ‘gatekeeper’ to receive a candidate’s resume (with the understanding I am in the search business and that a fee would apply upon hire of the referred candidate), and subsequently print it and put on that executive’s desk for review. (This has worked and gotten me a hire although I’m thinking you probably don’t approve.)

Business, Business Development, How-To

Fill Ratios Define You As A Recruiter


I had a lively e-mail exchange awhile ago with a seasoned recruiter on the subject of tracking job order/search assignment fill ratios. To date, this successful veteran has not tracked this particular ratio although he does track several others. When I asked “why” he did not find value in tracking this number he replied:

The reason I never track fill ratios is this: Let’s say that I write a JO and it’s last minute. They have three candidates coming in on Friday and I get one last person in on the same day. He doesn’t get the job.

Or I write an assignment and some internal ‘water walker’ shows up from Australia where he’s been at a different division for two years and gets the job.

Or I write an assignment and the position goes on hold due to bad 3rd quarter earnings. All real situations that I cannot control.

As far as fill ratios are concerned, I most certainly understand, and have lived through every example he provided, and, in some instances, many times during my early career. Those experiences notwithstanding, I have learned my lesson well and this has been further validated through my consulting and training work with thousands of recruiters over the years.

Fully Qualify the Assignment First

Lesson: Most job orders/search assignments go unfilled because they were poorly qualified by the recruiter at the beginning of the process.

  • The recruiter had not established a positive working relationship with the right decision maker.
  • The recruiter had not taken the time to fully understand their client, the client’s organization, and the outcomes that must be associated with successful performance in the position.
  • The recruiter had not established realistic, job related selection criteria.
  • The recruiter had not gained a commitment from the client to work within an interactive, adaptive process which mirrored mutual commitments.

All in all, the recruiters had not differentiated themselves to the point where a privileged working relationship could be established.

Sometimes, Just Say ‘No’

However, where all of these exist, you find nearly one-to-one fill ratios, exclusive working relationships, and many times, front-end money. Nevertheless, almost all of this can be accomplished on a pure contingency basis if the recruiter has the training, competence, and confidence to say “NO” to business that does not meet strict, but realistic standards.

Remember: You should know the criteria that must be met before you will accept a piece of business from a client. This sets the stage for everything that follows

This topic is a hot point for me. I have written volumes on the subject. Yet, in our industry today, most recruiters are still working the “low hanging fruit,” have fill ratios of 1 in 5 or higher, and are satisfied with mediocre income based on annual production of $250K or less, which typically reflects fewer than one filled order/assignment per month, which I consider to be an absolute MINIMUM for someone with more than one year in our business.

Have A “World Class” Ratio

Yes, I am sounding off a little bit. However, I have never met an achievement oriented person in any field of endeavor who didn’t keep their eye on the standard, whether self-imposed or an industry standard. In our industry, that standard is client satisfaction, i.e. how many of the openings they place with us do we actual fill successfully? This ratio, more than any other factor, will ultimately determine whether or not we retain the client long term, and under what circumstances that retention occurs.

If your goal is to build a reputation as a “world class recruiter”, you need to begin by defining “world class.” Against what standard will this definition be formulated? It better be a standard that defines “world class” to your clients and if it does, it most certainly will include your fill ratio. In essence, this ratio will ultimately define you as a recruiter.

As always, if you have questions or comments about this article or wish to receive my input on any other topic related to this business, just let me know. Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.

Ask Barb

Ask Barb: Showing Value to Your Clients

Ask Barb

Dear Barb:

I’m working on a direct hire marketing script and want to communicate the idea that we save employers money. I think it is important to show that in numbers. I keep running into data on the Internet that states the average cost to hire an RN (for example) is $2,500. That 20% fee on 70K does not appear to be a savings. Do you have any information on your site that speaks to this idea? Or, any advice in general? Thanks very much!

Victor D., Madison, WI

Ask Barb

Ask Barb: Speeding Up Client Decisions

Ask Barb

Dear Barb:

How do we get our clients to hire faster? They take their sweet old time and often my candidates lose interest. They don’t realize top talent is getting harder to find and seem to be waiting for the perfect candidate before they make their decision. Too often they delay me for weeks and then don’t extend an offer to my candidate. They need to realize they have to shorten the interview process. This problem seems to be getting worse since the first of the year.

Jake M., Minneapolis, MN


5 Candidate Cover Letter Strategies That Rock

image source: Bruno Covas

Creating a compelling cover letter that will highlight your candidate’s expertise and entice hiring managers to make contact for an interview is a skill that every good recruiter must have. I have several close colleagues who are recruiters; they continuously ask me for advice on how to create really compelling cover letters. I thought I would share some of the strategies that have proven most effective when crafting a compelling cover for candidate submittals.

Ask Barb

Ask Barb: My Clients Make Slow Decisions

Ask Barb

Dear Barb:

Is it me or are employers just unable to make hiring decisions? I have lost four candidates just this past month due to delays. My clients drag their feet and my candidates accept other offers. The clients are then angry when I tell them my candidates are off the market. It was their fault in the first place for not moving faster. When I try to get the process to move faster I’m accused of hard selling. I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place with my clients. How do I tell them it’s their fault and if they don’t move faster there is not one thing I can do about preventing these candidates from accepting other jobs?

Jason T., Kansas City, MO

Ask Barb

Ask Barb: Nailing Down a Fill Date

Ask Barb

Dear Barb:

Clients always say ASAP; they hardly ever give me a target date to fill an order. How do you respond when they say this? I can’t force them to give me a date and yet I understand why this is important information. Any advice?

Jennifer B., Atlanta, GA 

Jeff's On Call!

Jeff’s On Call!: Wrongly Classified as “Adverse”


This week’s inquiry comes from Mary Anderson:

Jeff, I have been an avid reader of The Fordyce Letter and your “Jeff’s On Call!” column for over 10 years. Reading your column has helped me to avoid a number of pitfalls that you never think will happen to you. Your insight and legal knowledge has been very helpful in running my business. I’ve run into a situation that I don’t recall having been addressed in your column before, but I know you’ll have the answer.

I’ve had a signed contract and have made placements with a firm since 2006. I have not made any placements with them for the last few years due to the economy, ever-changing HR personnel and hiring managers, etc.  However, I have always stayed in touch with them throughout these years and sent them candidates for positions that never went anywhere.

A couple years ago, this firm was bought by another firm, but remains a separate entity in name.

About six months ago, I started working very closely with two new HR people and several hiring managers in different locations. I sent them resumes, they interviewed my candidates, etc. etc. During this process, I was informed by one of the HR contacts that the new company had implemented a new HR system that requires all recruiting vendors to use this system for applicant tracking and client management. I was emailed an RFI to complete and return. The RFI was made up of questions only related to my company’s ethics program. Did I have a formal ethics program? Did we do an ethics audit once a year? Did we regularly train our employees on ethics issues. etc. I am a sole proprietor and do not have a formal ethics program, so I had to answer each of these questions “no.” However I added an addendum stating how long I had worked with the company, the names of the employees I placed with them, the hiring managers I worked with closely, and offered additional references.

I received a call from my HR contact and was told that they could no longer work with me because I was determined to be “adverse.” I asked what that meant and the HR person told me she was only the messenger and did not have any further information. I asked for the name of the person in compliance that made this decision and she wouldn’t give it to me. I told her I had an existing contract and reminded her that the firm has continued to accept and interview candidates from me. I told her my reputation was on the line and that it was very important to me to be able to discuss this further. She said she’d do what she could and call me back. She did call me back and said she was told by compliance that even if I talked to them directly, I would get the same answer. This time the HR person used the words “background check.” Well at that point I could hardly talk because I know for a fact that I have a completely clean background whether it be credit, criminal, or otherwise. She also said that the contract I had with them originally was no longer valid because the new firm was using this new system. I proceeded to tell her that the very last statement on the original contract is in regards to Termination Notice, and it states that either party can cancel the contract with prior written notice. I informed HR that I never received written notice.

At that point the HR person asked me to fax her a copy of the original contract and she would send it over to the compliance department. I did that, but have not heard anything back.

Jeff, can a company do this without informing me as to the reason WHY I have been found to be adverse? Although I don’t want to lose this company as a client, I am more concerned about my reputation. I have strong relationships with hiring managers in this company and I don’t know what I’ll have to tell them when they are ready to hire again. This could really damage my reputation. Also, if I knew for a fact that this was based on the RFI responses, I would research to see if there was some kind of ethics program for a sole proprietor, just so I could fulfill their requirements.

Please Help!



Recruiter Chronicles: Five Years, Five Mistakes — Part 5


To commemorate the fifth anniversary of my career in recruiting which recently passed, I have shared with you over the past several weeks the five biggest learning lessons I’ve experienced thus far during my time at the Aureus Group. Last week, I shared the story of how I forgot about the relationships that really matter, and how that cost me countless placements. This week, I bring you….

#1 – Story of Losing Faith in an Old Customer

It never fails. Every single time I talk to a prospective member of our esteemed recruitment team here at Aureus Group, I am asked the same question.

“What does it take to be successful at recruiting?”