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


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.

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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.

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