“The Phone Rang…” How to Qualify the Job Order

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Sep 9, 2011

A student of mine called the other day. He had spent all week conducting a concentrated marketing campaign and had written a few new Job Orders. He was now using my Job Order Matrix system (for more information about this technique see, TFL, July 2006, “The Job Order Matrix (with Kevin Franks),” pp. 1-4.), to qualify his JOs, but it was taking him what he thought was an inordinate amount of time. He asked if there was a shortcut in the JO qualification process. I asked if he had ever heard of the Qualifier Job Order approach and he had not. And so we began to talk about this Big Biller technique.

0-1 out of 15

If you recall in my presentation entitled, “Your Desk as a Manufacturing Plant,” when a top recruiter writes fifteen Job Orders, they will usually fall into three distinct categories:

  • 0-1 will be of “Search Assignment” quality;
  • 4-5 will be of the “Matching” type; and
  • About 10, or 2/3rds, will be of the “Can’t Help” variety.

The Qualifier Job Order

In general, recruiters seem to naturally possess a “positive mental attitude.” Because of this PMA, they think that every Job Order they write is of Search Assignment quality—that it’s supremely ‘fillable’. While it may be necessary to have a positive outlook, we need to temper it with a strong dose of reality.

Let’s use the example of Ricky Recruiter’s new marketing campaign. Ricky makes marketing call after marketing call with no positive results. Then, out of the blue, one of his phone calls reaches a Hiring Manager who actually seems to like Ricky and is willing to talk with him—and, surprise of surprises, is actually looking to fill a critical need and is open to giving Ricky some JO information. At this point, Ricky is so elated that he keeps the poor HM on the phone way too long. It’s only human nature.

But keep this in mind. This HM was not expecting Ricky’s call. Combine that with the fact that most Americans are nice people and you start getting a sense of the beginning of Ricky’s downfall. Blindly moving forward, Ricky takes his time and fills out all of the empty blocks on his Job Order form. When he finally hangs up, he runs to his manager and says, “See, everything I write is a Search Assignment.” Or, Ricky might tell his manager the ‘Big Lie.’ It goes something like this: “You know, Mr. Manager, you keep telling me to make a lot of marketing calls—and I am fine with that. But every JO I write is a true Search Assignment. I have more Job Orders on my desk now than I can possibly fill. What I need to do is recruit.” And that’s what he will do—to the exclusion, I might add, of any further marketing activity. His downfall is now complete!

The Big Lie

Now, why does our industry fall into the ‘Big Lie’ trap? Because the assembled, unqualified Job Orders on your desk are, for the most part, garbage. You are working in areas where you are not going to be paid and then, at the end of the day, you can’t understand why you have no/low production. You criticize the industry or your manager or anybody but yourself. But what has really taken place is that you haven’t properly qualified your Job Orders so that you can be assured of subsequent successful placements. What you have done is wasted time.

Think of the rest of the scenario. Think of what happens when the HM finishes his long initial call with Ricky. He turns to his secretary and says, “You know, it never dawned on me while I was talking to this guy, but he’s a Recruiter. He took a lot of my time asking me questions on our company that he could have found the answers to by doing a little Internet research. And he actually wants me to pay him a fee to find someone for us. Can you imagine that? I mean, we can run ads; our personnel people can find that kind of person. I tell you what, the next time he calls, tell him we moved to Peru. Or better yet, I’m in a meeting and can’t be disturbed. I don’t want to talk to him anymore. He’s already wasted my time and I’m just not that interested.”

So, you see, you have two opposite points of view of the same situation. The Recruiter, who thinks he has a Search Assignment, is going to spend the next three weeks recruiting on it, while giving up his marketing campaign. And the HM has just given specific instructions to his secretary not to let this person in any more. Well, if that’s going to happen, let’s find out the first day before we have expended any more of our straight commission time on it.

The Qualifier JO

What you are going to do when writing a Job Order is get six pieces of information. After those six pieces of information are secured, you are going to look at your watch and say, “Gee, how time flies. I must leave for an appointment; however I need more information from you. Can I call you at 3pm this afternoon; or would 9am tomorrow be better? I’ll need about 20 minutes of your time.”

At this point you put the JO aside and continue making your marketing calls.

The Six Pieces of JO Information

1. Contact Information

Name of the company, address, name of the HM, title, secretary’s name, phone numbers—all of the regular pieces of ‘contact’ information.

2. Duties and Responsibilities

You need to know a day in the life, a week in the life, or a month in the life of the position. Or, what are the percentages of supervisory time, of technical time and of administrative (paper shuffling) time that equal 100% so that you can find the Candidates who match those percentages.

3. Salary and Fee

You’re going to need to know the low, medium and high salary range (we don’t discuss these amounts with our recruits—more on this next month when we talk about recruiting). Also, you’re going to need to discuss your service charge at this time and cover it in both dollars and percentages so that you can be sure that the HM understands what they will need to pay you.

4. The Hiring Process

Here is where you qualify for urgency. You are going to say, “When is the last day that you can keep this position open without something bad happening the next day if it is still open? In other words, what is your ‘drop dead’ date?”

You don’t ask the question, “When would you like this person on board?”  That question doesn’t define urgency. What you want to know is the last day. If they say to you, “Well, we’re not going to hire until we find the right person,” what you have just determined is that this is probably a “can’t help” situation. Because that means they can go indefinitely with the position open. Or if they say, “Well, it’s a new position. We just don’t have any time constraints on it.”—again, probably a “can’t help” JO. What you want to do is get a specific date to establish urgency.

You also want to ask about the length of their hiring process, who else interviews, how many interviews are required, and when the decision will be made. What you are doing here is nailing down the hiring process timeline so that you will be able to determine later if the process goes off plan. You are setting the parameters.

5. The Recruitment Column

You want to find out who they want, what three or four companies, or competitors, they respect and want someone from, or what industry they want people from. You can then go out and ‘Rifle Shot’ recruit—extract people precisely for this position in the least amount of time.

When you ask, “Who do you want for this position?” if they missed that you are a Recruiter going in, they are now going to know that you are a Headhunter because you are actually asking for a ‘head to hunt.’

Sometimes Recruiters say to me, “But Bob, if they knew who they wanted, they could go out and get that person themselves.” But what those Recruiters don’t understand is that there are a lot of reasons why HMs can’t, or won’t, recruit on their own. They can’t do it because they don’t have the talent to do it. They put themselves in jeopardy by trying to take someone from a competitor because they could start an employee poaching war. Or they risk starting a salary escalation war. A lot of HMs don’t take people from their competitors because they don’t want to be rejected. They run the risk of getting into an interview situation (where proprietary information is given) and then being rejected. Now that information can be taken back to the original competitor, with disastrous effects. So, there are just a few reasons why our client companies will use Recruiters and give that Recruiter the exact name of the person they want to fill the position.

6. The Personality of the HM

What schools did that person attend? What are their interests or hobbies? Let’s say that the HM’s major hobby is fishing for sharks. He actually dives into the water and catches the sharks with his bare hands. (and a sharp knife!) I guarantee you that if you find a Candidate, not even a technical match, who jumps in the water and kills sharks by stabbing them with a knife, you are going to get a hire. In your introduction, you might say, “Mr. HM, I know you wanted an EE, but I’ve uncovered an Industrial Engineer that you will be interested to know not only is terrific at what he does, but also has the same hobby as yours.” Bottom-line is that you are going to get a hire and it wasn’t even for the position for which you were searching. So, always keep in mind the personality matches. They are absolutely critical. Too often, we work and work making the best technical matches in the history of Western Civilization, but we never find out the chemistry or the personalities of the two parties and we put people together who mix like oil and water. (i.e., they don’t!) And when we don’t get the placement, we wonder why? Sometimes it’s because we weren’t aware of what was going on behind the scenes. We didn’t think past the technical match.

The Call Back

You now have the six critical pieces of information—your skeleton JO. Now set the times for your call back, say goodbye, and hang up the phone. Continue with your daily plan. At the agreed upon time (be exact here), call the HM back. If he answers your call, that is the first qualifier that this is a good JO. Please note that you have done nothing on this JO up to this point. You don’t want to waste your time on an unprofitable venture. The “Call Back,” and having the HM actually talking to you on the phone again, now allow you to determine more clearly if this is a fillable JO.

Now, there are three ways to call back:

  1. Call back that afternoon, or the next day, to write the complete JO. You should allow only a short time to elapse before you call the HM back.
  2. There are Recruiters who, when they call back, present a “File Search Candidate.” This will be a close match—not an ideal one—who they pulled from their files. The purpose here is not to get the person placed or even set up an interview. What they want to determine is how the HM reacts when a Candidate is presented. Again, to determine urgency and to determine the integrity behind the HM working with the Recruiter.
  3. Some Recruiters are so current on the talent that they have previously recruited, that they can actually make presentations to the HM while they are taking the Qualifier JO. This is more unique, but it is a way to “test the waters” and find out how the HM reacts when Candidates are presented. This is very prevalent in the Sales specialty areas.

So there you have it—a quick way to start the JO qualification process. And another technique from the Big Billers.

Now that we know which JOs to work, let’s start doing a little recruiting. The next article in “The Phone Rang…” series will cover “Recruiting the Candidate.” Until then, good hunting…

“The Phone Rang…” by Bob Marshall is a series that defines what we, as recruiters, do for a living. This article series ran in The Fordyce Letter over the past year and we are proud to bring you the series online. To subscribe to the print edition of The Fordyce Letter, click here.

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