Good Questions to Ask Yourself

Nov 1, 2007

I’m writing to you on the plane returning from the Pinnacle Society meeting in New Orleans, which was generously sponsored by and your friends at The Fordyce Letter.

While there I had a very interesting conversation with executive search veteran Ralph Prostik, senior partner and founder of Boston Search Group. Ralph was MRI’s National Rookie of the Year in 1994, a Top 20 biller nationally in 1994, 1995, and 1996, and MR Boston Account Executive of the Year in 1995 and 1996.

He asked me:

– Do you feel you are good at what you do?
– Do you feel you are worth the fees that you charge?
– Do you feel you are among the best in the business, that the client is extremely well served in working with you? And that in working with you, they are actually working with one of the best recruiters in the business?
– Do you feel that your candidates benefit from a relationship with you?
– Do you get thank-you notes?
– Does it matter?

Worth thinking about, aren’t they?

There were a few other good questions, but I didn’t have a pen handy. Earl Nightingale said you should always have a pen handy. He said, “Ideas are like slippery fish; they need to be speared with the point of a pen when they surface, lest they slip back into the vast recesses of our mind, perhaps never to show their heads again.”

Let’s take a closer look at Ralph’s questions. Grab a pen in case any keepers swim to the surface while you read this.


Do you feel you are good at what you do?

I saw where someone had quoted me from a recent speaking engagement as saying: “80% of people THINK they are in the top 20%” ~ Joe Pelayo.

What I actually said, or meant to say, was “80 percent of people SAY they are in the top 20%.” While people will SAY that, it’s my belief that most people, me and you included, are actually fearful and that they woefully overestimate their competitors in their own minds.

We all have a tendency to overestimate the competition. I’ll tell you how I discovered this. One day during the dot-com bust, I grew tired of hearing my team talk about how tough it was out there and how strong the competition was. I listed the names of our competitors on the whiteboard in the conference room. Then I asked my team to estimate the team-size of each of our competitors and we wrote down the number. Then I called the competition and found out exactly how many recruiters they really had. What we discovered was that we had been overestimating the competition in our minds by over 40%!

The more you meet your competition, the stronger you will feel about your position in the market. Please understand – I’m not knocking your competition. What I am knocking is the imagination inside all of us that tends to overestimate our opposition! If you are human, it is likely you are overestimating your competition. Stop giving them so much credit, and give yourself more. Go to meetings where you can meet the competition, or schedule periodic coffees with them.

Do you feel you are worth the fees that you charge?

I remember one time when I was first starting out in the business, and Frank, a top producer in the office, told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “Always remember, Joe, your client company’s energy bill is not the same as your energy bill. Your fee might be $10,000 or even $100,000, and that might seem like an awful lot of money to you. But to a $10 million dollar or a $100 million dollar company, it’s a lot less.

Think about the value your recruit will bring to the company and the corporate cost if they cannot attract the talent you will help them lure in. Let’s take Google, for example. Including stock, the fee paid to Heidrick & Struggles for recruiting Eric Schmidt, the CEO at Google, was estimated at $128 million. As much money as that is, you’d have to be an idiot to say they didn’t get their money’s worth. What if they hadn’t been able to attract anyone who could generate Wall Street confidence at that precise moment in time? We’d all still be singing Yeaaaaahooooooooooooooooo!

Google got more than they paid for, and the fact is that most of the time when you place someone, your client gets more than they pay for, believe me. You just have to see it through your client’s eyes and not yours.

Do you feel you are among the best in the business, that the client is extremely well served in working with you? And that in working with you they are actually working with one of the best recruiters in the business?

The market deserves our passionate resolve to unleash the imprisoned splendor within us, leaving behind the past and striving forward to the mark to be the great recruiter now building within you. The fact that you are reading this article and subscribing to this newsletter shows you have a commitment to be among the best in the business. Take a moment now of quiet reflection with a pen and paper and jot down three actions you can take today that will make you a better recruiter. I’ll help you out with the first one: #1 Invest in 21 Ways to Increase Your Billings training program for recruiters, from Joe Pelayo at

Do you feel your candidates benefit from a relationship with you?

I think any candidate who talks to you is extremely fortunate to have the rare opportunity to hear a few of your sage words. Listen, if you’ve been in the business 30 days, you have a better handle on opportunities than they have. And if you have been in the business 20 or 30 years, you can offer them priceless advice and wisdom that few others can.

Do you get thank-you notes?

Yes, and keep them. I’ve got mine dating back to 1986. Some days, you’ll need them. Les Brown says, “In the good times you put it in your pocket; in the tough times, you’ll put it in your heart!”

Does it matter?

Yes. It matters. You will influence more lives, careers, and companies than in almost any other field. You’re a headhunter.

Man, I love being a headhunter! Thanks, Ralph.

Joe Pelayo is a true self-made man. He began in the recruiting business in 1986 at the ripe old age of 17, when he says he “found every way to fail in the recruiting business.” After finally finding success with two recruiting firms, he started his own in 1990. As CEO of Joseph Michaels, Inc., Joe works an active desk recruiting CFOs and related financial and accounting executives. He is a longtime member of the Pinnacle Society, an organization consisting of 75 of the top recruiters in the United States.

Joe is also author of the new book “Work Your Network!” which has received excellent reviews from Les Brown, Brian Tracy, and industry leaders, speakers, and trainers including Terry Petra, Bill Radin, Paul Hawkinson, and others. He writes a monthly free newsletter called “The Network,” sent to 50,000 recruiters and executives, and is the author of several motivational DVD training programs, including the brand-new training system for recruiters: 21 Ways to Increase Your Billings!

Joe is available for speaking and training recruiters worldwide. His website is