Jeff’s On Call!: MIA Sourcing Partner

Sep 29, 2010

This post’s inquiry comes from Michael Sayles:

“Dear Jeff,

As a longtime subscriber of The Fordyce Letter and great fan of your Placements and The Law column, I thought I would ask for your opinion on an issue that I am experiencing. As other search firms may have had this same problem, I was hoping you might provide your thoughts on “Jeff On Call!” Here’s the issue:

I was referred to a sourcing organization through a friend whose opinion I value. The contract was signed, the fee paid and two resumes (off target) were received. That was the extent of my contact with this firm. Many unanswered e-mails and calls later I am beginning to think that I need a new approach. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Again, thank you for your trusted and valued writing.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for writing and your most gracious comments about TFL and the PTL column!  It’s so gratifying to hear that we’ve been helping to keep you ahead of the curve.  That’s our job.

The problem with the sourcing arrangement you mentioned is the same problem that exists anywhere in the placement process where compensation is tied to effort rather than results.  Successful deals vary from split fees (usually 50-50 between a candidate recruiter and a client recruiter anywhere in cyberspace) to a small incentive for lead generation by a part-time researcher.  But the common denominator is money in exchange for production.

The sourcing services out there such asyou encountered typically charge a fixed fee for identifying qualified candidates.  So the two basic problems are that:

  1. The up-front fee arrangement with no accountability defies human nature, and
  2. You have neither the expertise of a networking associate nor the ability to oversee a researcher.

As a result, these folks have an abysmal track record.

If anyone out there decides to use a service like this, please learn from Mike’s experience.  Be sure to:

  1. Tie compensation to results
  2. Carefully define what constitutes “results” in writing, and
  3. Don’t agree to pay for anything beyond expense reimbursement until you are satisfied with the results.  That means qualified candidates who match the specs yyou requested.

Again, thanks for the great question and for — well — Fordycing!

Best always,


If you have a legal question you’d like to have Jeff answer here on The Fordyce Letter, check out Jeff’s On Call! and submit your question.

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