Jeff on Call: Where Is the Leverage in My Fees?

Aug 26, 2009


Q: I read one of your articles on “Does Arranging Interview = Placement Fee?” I’m reading the book SEARCH AND PLACEMENT by Larry Nobles. He talks about the marketing cold call in which we present a qualified candidate to a company when we don’t know if they have openings. I understand the whole point is to get a search assignment, but if they like the candidate I’m presenting and want to interview that person, when should I mention the fee? After I suggest we set up an interview or before? Should I say something like, “Great, I’ll fax over our client agreement and you can give me a couple of good interview dates”? The book talks about closing on a search assignment but says nothing about what to say besides “Let’s set up an interview,” when they happen to want to meet the person I’m calling about.

Thank you,
Kenneth Stallworth

Dear Ken,

I’m honored to answer this question because it mentions Larry Nobles.

Larry died a decade ago from inoperable brain cancer. I remember talking with Fordyce Founding Father Paul Hawkinson after Larry visited him in St. Louis, knowing it would be for the last time. A few hours after dropping him off at the airport, Paul received the call.

Larry was among the few extraordinary people who keep our industry placing. His techniques, his delivery, and his “desk-up” knowledge were superb. He was a great guy, as unpretentious as he was wise. Larry still lives through his work that he shared so generously during his life. You can still buy his classic books at

So speaking for this angel on high, here’s my reply:

Your greatest leverage exists at one point, and one point only. It’s just after you present — and just before you identify — a candidate the client thinks she wants to hire.

Note there are two phases to the referral:

1. Present, and
2. Identify.

If you haven’t fully cleared your fee in writing prior to identifying the candidate, you’ve lost your leverage — and given away your stock in trade.

Best wishes for collecting your well-earned fees. Clearing and documenting them before the sendout is the key!


To participate in future Q&As, email Keep in mind you should always consult with your own attorney. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice. It is for your information only.

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