Feb 1, 2008

Q. In one of your recent teleconference calls, you suggested that we send a list giving candidates a sampling of the job orders we have in house. What would prevent them from contacting the firm directly? I don’t see how this would increase candidate referrals. Steve F., Laredo, TX

A. The sampling list you will email out is a “blind list.” You do not provide the company name. The list would indicate the following: Job Title, City and State, Size of Company, Sizzle (not too specific – just enough to pique interest), Competitive Salary, Great Benefits, and then list the minimum skills and education required.

How many individuals have you interacted with during your recruiting calls in the past 12 months? Imagine how your referrals would increase if you had their email addresses. You then send them an article of “interest” with the topic of the article in the subject line every other month with your updated sampling list of opportunities.

You would be amazed at the lateral marketing that takes place. Just think of how many individuals forward you emails they have received! This process helps you build your candidate database, keeps your name in front of hundreds of individuals, and will provide you with more referrals.

When you offer to send the list, ask for the individual’s home email vs. work. Explain that you don’t want to jeopardize their current position, or have anyone think they are in an active job search.

Try this process and share your results with me six months from now!

Q. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and again we hear the dreaded word recession. I don’t know that my business can survive another hit like we took in 2001 – 2003. My recruiters are already feeling the pinch. Raymond S., Memphis, TN

A. There is one major factor in our job market that a recession can’t prevent. The baby boomers will still continue to retire, and there is still a tremendous shortage of top talent.

You are the first person who has shared that you are feeling a “pinch” with the current job market. Remember, your sales team takes their direction from you. If they sense that you are starting to worry, they will follow your lead.

When I interviewed hundreds of owners who had lost their businesses during the last recession, they shared the following reasons:

1. They retained nonprofitable employees way too long.
2. They had stopped marketing to new clients and had only a handful of clients who kept them in business.
3. They did not develop sources of passive income by unbundling their current services.
4. They kept trying to figure out what their clients wanted vs. surveying them to determine their needs.
5. The niche they specialized in was very limited.

Survey your current clients ASAP and ask them the following:

1. What are your projected hiring needs in 2008?
2. What is your most difficult job to fill?
3. Are there other services you would like us to offer?
4. Any workforce/workplace issues we could assist you with?

You now have a good idea if the projected job order flow is sufficient to hit your sales goals for 2008. Marketing candidates is very effective in a candidate-driven marketplace and will help you land new clients.

Ask every candidate you interview where they want to work so you can identify the “hot companies” you want to target. If you are worried about your niche, spend 10-15% of your time developing a new niche in one of the hot markets (like accounting).

Never forget, some companies had their greatest years from 2001 to 2003. Anticipate trends, become very proactive, and never let your team sense for a minute that you have concerns. Set minimum result standards that must be met on a daily basis, and your business will continue to grow.

Q. I’m so sick of offer turndowns. I only represent candidates I’ve recruited. These people were not in an active search, but it seems that out of the clear blue sky they have multiple offers come down, just as my client makes a decision to hire them. I’m sick of hearing how good the market is because I had a terrible 2007 and I’ve had three offer turndowns in January. I feel the candidates have no loyalty to us whatsoever. It’s certainly not like it used to be! I’m really tired of working for nothing. Your advice is much needed and greatly appreciated. Louise N., Charlotte, NC

A. There are several issues I want to address. Let’s start with the issue of loyalty. Individuals are most concerned about WIIFM – what’s in it for me. You are a stranger who contacted them “unsolicited” out of the blue. They often don’t know or necessarily trust you because they know you earn a fee if you place them in a job. Often they feel that we represent the clients, not them.

Then there is the issue of multiple offers. They may not have been interviewing when you recruited them, but then they do start an active job search. It is rare that a person who is currently working will interview with only one company and make a decision. People like choices!

Unless you are working retained search, the minute you book an interview for one of your candidates, you want to market their skills to other clients. I remember a formula I was taught very early in my career: 3 + 3 = 3. If you send your candidates on three different interviews and you have three candidates in final interviews for each client, you will make three placements.

You need to listen to them very carefully when you are conducting your interview to determine their “hot buttons.” Often you interview with a specific search in mind, and don’t really listen to what is important to this candidate. Always ask the five things they’d change about their current job because that is the real reason they are talking to you.

Ask what offers they have received and turned down. Ask them specifically why they turned those offers down. If you get them a similar offer, they will turn yours down as well.

People are creatures of habit. Ask them why they have made job changes in the past and what must be there for them to accept a new opportunity today. Too often, we are so focused on “matching” that we forget to really identify why this person will go through the trauma of a job change. The third page of my Profile Form provides you with questions you should ask, and I’d be glad to share a copy with you. Email my office at and put FORDYCE LETTER – Profile Form in the subject line.

You also must realize that a first interview is like a first date. Your candidate is only as honest as they can be with a total stranger they don’t trust. Continue asking pertinent questions throughout the entire process and show your candidate the WIIFM to keep you informed of their other interviews, i.e., it helps you fine-tune your search process for them. If you follow these suggestions, you will drastically reduce your offer turndowns.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, offers a weekly FREE training article – go to If you’d like to hire Barb to mentor and train your new hires as well as elevate your experienced recruiters to new levels of production, you OWE IT TO YOURSELF to call her office today at (219) 663-9609 and request a demo of her Top Producer Tutor, which is revolutionizing the way training is being offered in recruiting firms in the United States as well as abroad. Anyone who schedules a demo during the month of February will receive a free PDF copy of Barb’s book “Attract, Hire, Train and Retain Top Producers,” which outlines Barb’s hiring process. This Web-based program is a Lifetime Training Tool that will become the way your company delivers consistent training. You can download your current training materials into the tutor.