Apr 1, 2008

Q. I enjoy your frank style of answering questions and need your insight into an issue I’m facing as an owner. I have three recruiters who are actually costing me money. They represent five of our largest, most established clients and have been successful for several years. I can’t figure out why they are having such problems, when we have record numbers of job orders flowing into our office. How do I turn them around? Richard G., Memphis, TN

A. You are in business to make a profit, not provide jobs for people. You stated three of your recruiters are “costing you money.” You cannot afford to keep individuals who have a negative impact on your bottom line, unless you want to install an awning over their desk that reads “non-profit!”

I found it interesting that you also stated that these individuals represent your five largest, most established clients. They are obviously not your five “most profitable!” I would set up a client visit to call on those clients to see why they are not currently hiring from your firm. I would also immediately assign a back-up contact for each of these clients.

The most dangerous employee is one that “quits and stays” which is what may be happening in your office. You need to put these three individuals on probation, provide them with minimum daily “results” standards that must be met and discuss specific expectations.

Don’t underestimate the possibility that these three recruiters may have plans to leave your organization, and are just buying time. They are probably wondering why you are not holding them accountable.

Another important point to consider is the negative impact this is having on the recruiters who ARE profitable. They are wondering why you are not taking any type of action. You owe it to yourself, your company and your other employees to handle this issue immediately.

q. We would have had a record month in February if it wasn’t for the five, yes you heard me right, FIVE counter-offers and offer turndowns in one month. My recruiters are still in shock! Talk about a morale buster. I don’t know what we could have done any different. I would greatly appreciate your input. Peter H., Sarasota, FL

A. I think it’s important to understand the REASONS for counter-offers and offer turndowns, and then I will provide you with FIVE SOLUTIONS for each area that I know will turn this around for your office.


– Employers are caught off guard and don’t want to lose a good employee and they know the “hot buttons” of their employee
– Employers don’t appreciate the value of their employees until they threaten to leave
– The Employer attempted to find a replacement, and was NOT successful
– The Employer HIRED a replacement who is not working out
– Employers are back in “control” when they extend a counter-offer


– Candidates are receiving multiple offers
– Companies are offering higher salaries, signing bonuses and other perks to attract top talent
– Candidates know they are in the “Driver’s Seat”
– Often we don’t know the REAL REASON candidates will go through the “trauma of a change.”
– Candidate interviews are often conducted with a specific job opportunity in mind
– There are those candidates who use a job offer to go back and obtain a counter-offer from their current employer

The following are solutions which will drastically reduce these gut wrenching issues:


When you are interviewing a candidate and want to uncover their REAL REASON for talking to you….ask them the following question: “If you were your boss, give me FIVE CHANGES you would make.” This question uncovers the REAL REASON they are contemplating a career move. If the only changes they list are “money and advancement” – they WILL ACCEPT A COUNTER OFFER. You need to suggest they meet with their employer and attempt to obtain their next raise and promotion. If they don’t get the raise and promotion, you have a viable candidate.


Cover the topic of Counter Offer in your initial interview. You will be amazed how many candidates will admit they would accept a counter-offer if one was extended. You need to walk away and surface another candidate. Do not waste your valuable time on a candidate you will never place!


If the candidate insists they will NOT accept a Counter-Offer if one was extended, ask them to give you the reason why – in THEIR WORDS. Draw a square on your application form and write down verbatim what they say. When a Counter-Offer IS extended, you read them their own words. This brings them back to the OTHER reasons they were contemplating a change, which can not be solved by a promotion and raise.


Make sure you have articles off the Internet and possibly from SHRM or other Associations on this topic. Always discuss the “lack of trust” issue. They might forgive the fact that you were out interviewing with other companies, but they NEVER forget. When another opportunity becomes available in the company will they offer it to you or someone they know has been 100% loyal to them?


Follow-up, Follow-up and Follow-up. Your job begins AFTER the candidate accepts your offer. Walk them through their resignation, give them samples of resignation letters and have them fill out tax papers or benefit papers before their start date to align them to your company. If at all possible have their new boss take them to lunch prior to their start date.

The new trend in COUNTER-OFFERS is not an immediate counter-offer but one that happens on day 13 of a two week resignation or thirty days after the person starts their new job. We have seen counter-offers being extended six months after a person leaves, because they have not found a replacement! You must mentor and guide this new employee through their first YEAR with your company. You have to become their “trusted advisor” so you can uncover any problem areas.


Conduct a GENERAL INTERVIEW not aimed at one specific opportunity with your company. Only then will you uncover the hot buttons of this candidate and what will motivate them to make a career move.


You need to stress the importance to everyone involved in the interviewing process of the following:

– They need to SELL your company
– They need to SELL the specific opportunity
– They have to LISTEN twice as much as they talk
– They need to SELL advancement potential
– They need to SHARE your retention statistics
– They need to KEEP the interview process moving



It is important that you have detailed information, on the other opportunities this individual is considering. It is impossible to compete if you don’t know who your competition is and what they are offering. You also need to inquire “where they are” in the interviewing process.

Candidates are usually pretty “open” about their other interviews because they know it can “increase their value” to your company. If you have conducted a GENERAL INTERVIEW, you know what is most important to this candidate – which does give you a competitive edge.


Remember to re-interview your candidate throughout the process. The answers you received in your initial interview were the best answers this candidate would give to a “complete stranger.” As your rapport with this candidate improves, they will give you more honest, candid answers which again helps you know where you must focus if you want to attract this person to your company.


We often have “selective hearing” when red flags start to appear during the interviewing process. Make sure you check references and CUT SOMEONE OUT early in the process if red flags are obvious. If they rigorously sell themselves back in, you may decided to keep them in the process. Don’t waste your time on candidates that you KNOW will not accept ANY offer you extend.

If you implement any of these ten suggestions….you WILL dramatically reduce your counter-offers and offer-turndowns….. GUARANTEED.

Q. I came out of the ranks of Corporate Recruiting and made the switch to work in the Search Profession because of the income potential. I didn’t realize this is basically a “sales” profession. I never had to worry about client development because our Department Heads provided us with more opened positions than we were able to handle. I find it impossible to work both sides of the process. I don’t know how I can establish myself quick enough to make the level of income I had envisioned. Frank T., Ft. Wayne, IN

A. Corporate Recruiting does prepare you for the candidate side of our Profession, but not the Client Development side. I’m going to give you my best five tips to get from where you are now…to where you want to go.

TIP #1 – Review where your office has made placements in the last 18 months and try to mirror those job orders. More than likely there are candidates in the database that surfaced “after” the placement was made.

TIP #2 – Work on the hottest orders currently in your office. As you are trying to establish your own clients, work on the orders that are written with established clients. Your co-workers have established strong rapport with these clients which will give you the greatest chance of success.

TIP #3 – Ask every candidate you interview to list the five companies they would most like to work for…and market a candidate DAILY. This is extremely effective in the current candidate-driven marketplace. You call would sound something like this: “I would normally be calling my best clients, because I just interviewed an individual who (list sizzle that will get their attention) and my top clients always appreciate knowing when this high level of talent hits the job market. However, when I asked this candidate where they would most like to work – they named your company as their top choice. I know if I can place a person at a company they have targeted, that is where they will flourish. What would it take to get the two of you together?”

This presentation can go many ways and you need to be prepared to overcome any objections, reiterating that this person is a “sampling” of the type of talent you represent. If you have a SAM’S CLUB or COSTCO near you, think of how often you have made a purchase, because you were allowed to “taste” a sample. It is the same concept when you market a candidate. Often this results in obtaining a job order for this candidate, obtaining another job order or at least getting your name in front of prospects you have targeted.

TIP #4 – Remember, it takes 6 contacts to gain name recognition. Develop a marketing plan that gets your name in front of your contact 6 times in 9 weeks. Now your prospects at least know who you are and what solutions you can provide.

TIP #5 – Utilize Go to your existing clients and prospect’s job listings. Copy the URL and send it to watch that page. You will get an email FREE every time the job listings are updated. You then review the new listing to see if it is the type of position you fill and call in marketing a candidate. This will help you know instantly what positions are being listed not only at your current clients, but at anyone you target.

TIP #6 – Use non-cold calling methods i.e. reference checks to establish new clients. After a reference check merely state “You see how thorough I am and I’m not going to ask the obvious question: “How does your company identify top talent?” “What steps would I need to take to become a resource?” “Who is the person I should speak with?” Have them transfer your call which will come through as an “internal call” and now you can use that person’s name as the individual who referred you to them. Reference checks are one of the easiest ways to land new clients.

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 US as well as abroad. Anyone schedule 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.

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