Don’t Send Contact Info Until You Get Your ‘Client Clincher’

Dear Jeff 

I find your column to be extremely helpful and have benefited from your advice on several occasions. I’m a recruiter with 21 years of experience currently working in a very candidate driven market. I have been fortunate to be recognized in the top producer category of the various personnel associations in our industry.

Since my rookie year, I’ve always been taught that sending a resume blind has inherent risks because if someone sends the same resume with identification, the blind resume loses. That’s why I’m submitting the following scenario which I just encountered.

One recruiter submits a blind resume without candidate knowledge or permission,  but the client does nothing with it. The description on the resume doesn’t really fit the job description.  Several weeks later another recruiter submits the same resume with contact information, and a presentation to the hiring authority explaining some pertinent details about the candidate, which applies to their job description,  thus resulting in interest in the candidate.

The resume is forwarded to HR by the hiring manager, and HR is able to match the named resume to the blind resume because of Army Ranger service, which stood out. HR then says the recruiting firm which submitted the blind resume gets credit even though that firm knew nothing of the position and had not contacted the candidate in weeks. Nor had they spoken with the client. 

The named resume was submitted with permission by the hiring manager, but no contract was in place. Who gets credit? 

Thanks so much for providing such sage advice over the years!

Linda A. Lanier
The Albert Partners
Houston, TX

 Jeff Says: Present, Response, Identify

ask-jeffHi Linda,

We’re glad to hear from you! Thanks so much for letting us know that you’re following and benefiting from the JOC columns.

The JOC’s are as interactive as we can be. Questions like yours help us hit the hottest topics as they arise. Thanks for that too!

If rushing out a resume alone could get you paid, I’d still be working a desk. I would have spent those 38 placement lawyer years perfecting the ultimate electronic resume delivery system.

There is no “First in time, first in right” law when it comes to candidate referrals (including through resumes). However, it can be created by contract when the parties agree. This usually happens either through an employer’s PSA (placement service agreement) or by some communication from the employer placing the recruiter on notice of a resume “first in” policy. (Signing the PSA is an expressed acceptance, referring when on notice is an implied acceptance.)

Apparently there was neither a PSA nor a notice from the employer here.

So general causation principles apply. Did you cause the hire? If the only defense is an undisclosed “first in” policy, it sounds like the employer acted on your referral — the resume. You’ll need to be absolutely sure. Once you are, your lawyer can determine whether the employer is contractually liable.

You’re in Texas, so be sure your lawyer researches the probability of recovering attorney’s fees (Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem Code, Sec. 38.001) as well as court costs if you file a lawsuit in the Texas District Court.

As you pointed out, sending a “blind” resume (with no identifying information) invites fee avoidance.

Runaway Resumes

Now, let’s discuss the problem of “runaway resumes” that have recruiters giving away their candidate inventory.

Chronologically, the typical sendout process looks like this:

  1. Take job order
  2. Send fee schedule
  3. Recruit candidate
  4. Present candidate
  5. Identify candidate
  6. Get client response

That’s why so many recruiters don’t get their well-earned fees. They (5) “Identify Candidate” before they (6) “Get Client Response.” It’s “Ready, Fire, Aim,” so they shoot their five-figure fee foot.

Correct: Present, Response, Identify

By simply reversing items 5 and 6, “Present Candidate” is followed by “Get Client Response” (always positive, or you never get to) “Identify Candidate.”

Paid recruiters use the client clincher as a wedge when they have the highest leverage. That is after you have a positive response but before you’ve identified a candidate. You obtain interest and then write (by email or fax) the client clincher. More on this after we set up the sendout process properly.

Referral By Resume

Your question concerns a referral by resume. Legally, it’s the same as calling the client. In either case, it’s a presentation. Fine. But you absolutely do not identify the candidate at that time.

Let’s do each type of presentation the right way:

E-Mailing A Resume: You always send a “blind” resume by email, fax or regular mail. That means on every resume, you delete the name, address, phone, fax and email address of the candidate. You also delete the current employer and any other identifying items on the resume. Then code the resume with a reference number.

Include the following statement at the top of the resume:

This candidate is being presented by (name of your business) for a suitable job opening with your company. Please contact (your name) at (your phone numbers) or (your email address) should you wish to discuss the candidate further or arrange an interview. Thank you.

Then when the client calls back, the conversation goes like this:

Hirem: Hi, Linda! What’s the name of candidate CR-2304?

Linda: Hi, Hirem! I’m going to e-mail you his name along with his contact information as soon as we’re through discussing his background.

Hirem: Okay, but what if we’re already considering him?

Linda: If you are, he doesn’t know it. But why don’t we agree that you’ll email me the date of any prior contact, and with whom within one business day from receipt of the resume? Fair enough?

Hirem: Don’t you trust me?

Article Continues Below

Linda: Absolutely! That’s why I’ll reveal the identity and contact information so you can verify he’s not in the pipeline.

Hirem: Fine. What’s his background?

When you’re presenting a candidate by phone, the conversation is almost the same.

Calling A Client

Linda: Hi, Hirem! I’d like to discuss the background of a candidate we just recruited for the (name of position) opening.

Hirem: Hi, Linda! Great – what’s his name?

Linda: I’m going to email you his name along with his contact information on his resume as soon as we’ve established mutual interest.

Hirem: Okay, but what if we’re already considering him?

Linda: If you are, he doesn’t know it. But why don’t we agree that you’ll email me the date of any prior contact and with whom within one business day from receipt of the resume? Fair enough?

Hirem: Don’t you trust me?

Linda: Absolutely! That’s why I’ll reveal the identity and contact information so you can verify he’s not in the pipeline.

Hirem: Fine. What’s his background?

Then you send the “open” resume as an e-mail (or fax) attachment. In the body of the email (or fax cover sheet), you include the client clincher:

As we agreed by phone today, the attached resume is being sent to you with the understanding that you will notify me by a return email within one business day from today if (name of candidate) has already been contacted by name of client about the (name of position) opening. This will include the date of any prior contact, and the name and title of the (name of client) employee who contacted him.

If I don’t receive the notification, a placement fee will be due to (name of your business) in the event (name of client) hires (name of candidate) within one year from the date of our last communication regarding him.

I know this sounds tough, but truly you’re not dealing with a “client.” You’re dealing with a complete stranger – particularly if you’re “running with an MPC” (cold-calling with a most placeable candidate). If it’s an employer that you trust, you can soften the wording.

The important thing is that you don’t reveal identity and contact information on a candidate until you have the prior contact promise in writing. That will be fulfilling your promise to yourself:

            No more runaway resumes!

Just to be sure you get all of this:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the Placement Fee Collection Quiz button in the middle of the bottom row.
  3. Take the PFCQ.
  4. Click the Placement Law Language Quiz button next on the bottom row.
  5. Take the PLLQ.
  6. Click the Answers to Placement Law Quizzes button at the end of the bottom row.
  7. Grade yourself on the PFCQ and PLLQ.

May you client clinch every candidate referral that causes a hire!

Best always,


More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at