A Sendout Per Day…

What’s the secret to success in our business? How come some people make money every month consistently, no matter what is going on in the world, while others are constantly on a rollercoaster?

Unless you are in the retained search business where you can get paid something even if you produce zero candidates for a client, making money in this business all boils down to putting human beings who are either looking for or are open to new employment in front of other human beings who have the power to hire them. Sendouts.

If you cannot generate sendouts, you cannot succeed in our business. It’s as simple as that. In fact, that applies also to the retained search people because (sensible) clients may pay a non-productive retained recruiter one time, but they will never pay him twice.

Adding It Up

We all know how “the numbers” can help us see how we are doing, and can predict with fair accuracy how our income is going to be in the near future. There are many ratios and “metrics” (I hate that term) for monitoring desk level activity, but I really only pay attention to two numbers: the number of presentations to a hiring authority a recruiter makes, and the number of first time sendouts which resulted.

Everything you need to know can be derived from those two numbers. I have managed offices of up to 12 (very) productive desks, and I train offices today which are very successful, but I have never really paid much attention to all that mathematical mumbo-jumbo that the industry “experts” say I need to carefully pay attention to as a manager. (One of the reasons I remain in this business is I am lousy in math.)

I simply know that if enough sendouts are arranged, hires result (even with incompetent recruiters). The surest way to predict a slump is seeing a drop in the number of first-time sendouts a recruiter produces.

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Many recruiters would be very happy to make two placements per month. Even with small fees of 12K-20K, most people can live fairly well on that kind of production. If you are even marginally skilled and desire two placements per month…guaranteed…generate just one first-time sendout per day. That’s right…just one…five per week…20 per month…and that applies no matter what the economy is doing.

How do I know that with such certainty? Because I have been doing this business for 25 years and have trained hundreds of recruiters to live by that “metric” (that word again), and all who generate one first-time sendout per day make two placements per month, and that applies also to today’s economy.

Getting On the Phone

How do you produce one sendout per day? Simple: get on the phone and make presentation calls. Plan for making 100 presentation calls per day and somewhere in those calls will be that one sendout, maybe two. (Who knows, if you are lucky, you may get that daily sendout before noon and then you can goof off the remainder of the day).

Unfortunately, presentation calls are the hard part that unsuccessful people won’t do, always looking for the sendouts, but without the cold calls. In my book, there’s nothing that will get those folks productive.


15 Comments on “A Sendout Per Day…

  1. Neil,

    Good post- I have a question for you- As a big biller when you are planning your marketing calls, you usually have a combination of outbound calls you make, what I mean is traditionally you will work job postings, existing job orders, existing contacts etc.. to reach your goals. In a down economy if you work an industry ie. construction and you place project managers, their may not be enough ads online or you may have worked your internal contacts pretty heavy, do you resort to straight industry cold calling of your niche? Meaning if your database is 100,000 industry contacts do you just go to town. In doing this I have found 100 calls doesn’t take you very far.

    Please advise



  2. Neil:

    Thank you for the article on 1 sendout a day. Having switched over to perm placement in the healthcare industry versus travel – it is nice to have a gauge of activity to produce results.

    I am looking forward to minimum of 5 placements a month and starting with 1 sendout a day will help build my confidence, ability, and my pocketbook.

    Maria Porter
    Placement Specialist
    UMS Healthcare (Unlimited Med Search)

  3. I would warn anyone thinking that 1 sendout a day is a gauge for productivity. This is a possibility in generalized recruiting firms or companies that recruit lower level positions. For those concentrating on executive search, you’re bound to send out some bad, underqualified candidates if you attempt to gauge productivity on such a scale. For specialized and highly visible, prominent positions, it will oftentimes take more than 2 days of legwork to ensure that references are quality, background checks are complete, the candidate has had multiple lengthy conversations regarding the position, and the candidate is absolutely serious about pursuing it. Candidates should not be presented unless this set of criteria is met, unless it is for lower level positions. So, this article should only serve as a resource for those recruiting low-level managers at best.

  4. Also, with the state of the economy, it can be seen as a tremendous waste of time to attempt to make 100+ calls a day, that is just not necessary, unless you want to be one of the many recruiters doing just that. In this economy, the key is differentiation, not more of the same. I would reference Margaret Graziano’s webinar on “A Keen Sense of Recruiting” in my assessment of this strategy. Margaret provides a number of reasons why 100+ calls a day is a somewhat flawed concept these days, and she also provides many more ways for recruiters to spend their precious time.

  5. Chris’ comments are well taken…but I will tell you this…it is a heckuva lot easier taking an MPC to market and placing him/her in ten days than it is to perform an executive search and fill the job over five weeks. I was a highly successful search consultant up until I realized in the late eighties that search is a means to an end: placement. Placement may not be as sexy, but it produces placements faster and more consistently. And…it works just as well for senior level as junior. When you tell the right person about someone who will change that company for the better…they interview…and hire.
    Finally, 100 calls per day for a sendout is a rookiee’s number…an experienced pro can get that sendout in a few calls, maybe ten.

  6. I like your ideas Neil, but a sendout a day is nuts in MY market. I completely agree with Chris’ comments on that subject.
    Also, in 22 years I don’t know if I ever made 100 calls once. I just never did it that way. Early in my career I always figured Danny Cahill and the others were just plain liars. I learned later they are not and that his people (many of whom are good friends now) actually do that many calls.
    I probably average 20 or 30 calls and if I can average 120 to 150 minutes a day on the phone I am perfectly happy…
    Finally even a Sendout a week at 30k average fee gets 375k revenue at a fairly loose 4 to 1 SO to Placement ratio.

  7. If it takes just five calls to get a sendout, that’s great. 100 calls is what a rookie should plan for…experienced people should rarely need more than twenty calls to get a sendout. The whole point is if you arrange meetings between great candidates and hirers, you will make placements. One meeting per day, 20 per month, results in two placements for the month…always. (All who do not believe me…test it. Commit to making one sendout per day for one month). I wrote this article because I’m getting contacted regularly by people who are struggling. They all have one thing in common: “search”. In my world, contingency search is dead…too many people like myself out there who know how to drop in a great candidate out of nowhere and ruin the searcher’s popcorn. I would much rather make two 15k fees per month marketing MPCs than than one 30k fee “doing search”.

  8. Sorry if this feels like a battle. We are not THAT far apart in philosophy but here are my numbers. 6 yrs. 517 sendouts total. Most in 1 year 139. Average revenue for those years 425k. With those call amounts I already mentioned. Not saying this can’t coexist with other things…but it is what it is…that’s all…

  9. Dave, those are fantastic “staats”, but you are in the top one tenth of one percent of the entire search and placement planet. I have great respect for you. In your best year (139), you averaged three sendouts per week (139/50). If you are doing search work, three sendouts equals a placement for a star producer…which you are. No battle…just the two ways of doing this business (search, and placement).

  10. So much of this has to do with a recruiter’s marketplace. What is the area of specialization? What is the geographic footprint? What is the economic climate? If you focus on a vertical niche such as IT, Accounting, etc then this sort of strategy could work well. It’s very much what a lot of IT recruiters were doing in the late 90s until the bubble burst. Unfortunately, when it did they didn’t know how to work any other way and soon had to leave the business. Since you’re a recruiter who specializes in placing ex-military people that likely means vertical specializations in Logistics, Accounting, and perhaps IT. This sort of strategy could work very well in that type of space.

    If you focus is a horizontal industry specialization, then it will likely (but not necessarily) work out differently. If I were to make 20-30 MPC calls per day for a week; I wouldn’t have anyone to call the following week, at least in a geographic area that the candidate would agree to. Within a month I would have the entire industry covered on a nationwide basis. Maybe for your industry it would be 3 weeks…or 6….but you get the idea.

    The same is true of sendouts. I would love to make a sendout per day but in my area of specialization that is not going to happen. You’ll just have to trust me, but those who know me, know that I am not inexperienced, lazy or unmotivated. In my little pond, companies are not going to hire or even want to spend time interviewing someone unless they absolutely screamingly need them. That is even more the case today. Most companies currently have fewer people bail the boat. Nobody has time to interview more bailers. If they could afford more bailers – they wouldn’t have thrown “Fred” to the sharks. I’ve been pitching “upgrade your staff” for nearly 28 years and almost every senior executive I speak to finds it “an interesting idea” but almost none of them actually do it. For my area of specialization, it’s all about filling holes. I’ve gotten very good at that.

    The point is that there is no single magic key. There are lots of ways up the mountain and they are very dependent on their area of specialization, geographic footprint, the economic climate AND indeed what mountain it is that you are trying to go up.
    Lot’s of “quality” activity will tend to lead to lots of success across the board, but “quality” is an integral part of the equation and success is in no way guaranteed. Adhering to a dogma that there is only one way to tackle what can be very different situations is….less helpful. Life (and certainly the recruiting business) is more complex than that. Different tools for different jobs. If your way works for you – that’s fantastic but it is oversimplified to say it will work for everyone.

    Tom Keoughan

  11. Had I known I was going to stir up the pot this much, I would have had second thoughts about writing the article. I did not write there is only one way to do this business, I wrote there is only one way to make placements: sendouts. (If someone figures out how to make placements without people talking to each other, they need to keep it to themselves or we are out of business). I also stand by my statement that a sendout per day equals at least two placements per month, and I do not care what the specialty is. I have supervised or worked almost every kind of desk there is. If one’s pond is too small for a sendout per day, then I would fish in a bigger pond.

  12. Neil, when you wrote: Dave, those are fantastic “staats”, but you are in the top one tenth of one percent of the entire search and placement planet. Is that true? I’ve been billing between $660,000 and $730,000 the past three years. I’d like to accurately know what percentile that would rank me in the recruiting industry. Do any of you guys know what that would accurately be? I want to advertise that percentage to prospective new clients as well as existing ones!

    Neil, I absolutely love your thinking! For years we would track our send outs in a book that contained 21 send outs per sheet of paper over 15 years with two exceptions we would highlight 2-8 of those sendups as placements. Fill out a sheet each month and you have to placements!!! I like your philosophy!!!

    It’s been encouraging to read what you all have to say!!!

    Thank you,


    Next time I’ll proofread before sent it! I used DragonDictate!!!

  13. Craig,
    You and Dave are both in the stratosphere for production. If you take a sample of 1,000 search and placement professionals (at least five years of tenure) 900 of them cash in between 200k and 350k annually; 50 of them cash in between 300-500k, less than 30 cash in between 500-700k, and less than twenty cash in one million annually. Now, when you consider that of the thousands of people in our industry, 1/30th of them have five or more years of tenure…that frames your position as a superstar in this business. (Note: I realize many will ask “where do you get your figures??” My answer: “unscientific SWAG based on 25 years in the business”. Have a great week!

  14. Bottom Line – in some specialties a recruiter will not be able to make a sendout per day no matter how skilled he is or how hard he tries. I could argue that it’s not even desirable to do so but that’s a different discussion for a different day. Since you state that you would walk away from that sort of situation; I offer myself as an example of the type of business that you have dismissed out of hand.

    My average billings are around $600k. Often, I bill a little less but sometimes I bill a whole lot more. I average 2.6 – 2.7 placements per month but I certainly don’t make a sendout per day. If you were unable to make a sendout per day you state that “then you would fish in a bigger pond”. Well, okay – feel free to do it your way. Are more sendouts better than less sendouts? Generally, if they are high quality sendouts but that’s not any great revelation, that’s just basic math. As for me, I’m far more interested in final results (total cash in) than in any intermediate metric.

    I am certainly far, far from being the biggest, baddest recruiter out there and I know personally a dozen or so recruiters who bill more than I do on a regular basis. Also, I have not “supervised or worked almost every kind of desk there is”. I have been too successful in my niche for the last 28 years to have any interest in switching around all the time. One thing I have learned is that different areas of specialization, different geographic footprints, different economic climates and different situations often call for different strategies. It is helpful to have a large and varied tool chest. Not every tool will work equally as well on every job.

    Your program sounds a little too rigid and a little too narrowly focused. Some might chalk that up to your military background but you and I know better. The Marines allow for differences in the capabilities of their opponents, different terrain, different weather, and different political considerations as well as for fluidity on the ground. Although they may adapt different strategies and tactics from their toolkit to the situation at hand, they create different battle plans for different battles and also create contingency plans for when things go wrong (as they often do). I’m sure that you couldn’t be trying to argue that the same strategy will work equally well in all specialties and in all circumstances.

    I would like to apologize in advance; I am offline and in the real world at a trade show for the next few days and so will be unable to respond until late in the week. It’s unlikely that I will make any sendouts while I’m away but I suspect it will be quite positive for my business to be meeting with senior executives from current or potential clients despite not meeting “the daily metric”.

    Tom Keoughan

  15. Tom,
    I think you have completely misunderstood all I have written. I have never “dismissed out of hand” anything. I said just two things: (1) sendouts are the basis of placements (one cannot make placements without them) and, (2) no matter what one’s specialty is, if they get one sendout per day, they will make at least two placements per month. Where did I write that if someone gets less than a sendout per day, they cannot make two placements per month?? Re: my working all kinds of desks: as a manager, I have trained all types of desks, and then had to take over the desk of anyone who left. I had to work that desk until a replacement recruiter was trained; not “switching specialties all the time”. Finally…I salute you for 600k cash in. That’s outstanding, so what works for you is great.

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