Another Little Survey: Service Level Agreements and Contracted Performance

As those of you who read my columns regularly know, once in a while I like to pose a question to all of you, collect the feedback, and write a column summarizing the results so that we can all learn by sharing. This time I would like to outline how you are negotiating and contracting with the hiring managers you serve. Most recruiting managers are befuddled when they are asked how many people a recruiter can recruit in a month, quarter, or year. The answer is always… “it depends.” It depends on the type of position, the level, the marketplace, and the efficiency and quality of the recruiter. It may also depend on the quality of the candidates, as weak candidates may come in quantity while great ones are scarce. Some of my clients have developed very business-focused approaches to dealing with this. They get the recruiters themselves to determine how many they can source, interview, close, etc. They then write up “contracts” spelling this out that are tied to the recruiter’s pay. Most of these are not real commission structures, but they do try to make it profitable for a recruiter to work hard. Some companies are developing so-called “service level agreements” (SLAs) with hiring managers. These are documents that are negotiated between a recruiter and a hiring manager as to the minimum number and type of candidates that will be sourced and placed over a specific period of time. There may be financial incentives tied to these, but more often than not the incentive is customer satisfaction. I am curious as to what any of you are doing around these areas. Here are a few questions that will help me to frame a column for next week on what is happening in this area of recruiting. If you would be willing to spend 15 minutes on the phone with me to discuss these issues, I would be happy to call at your convenience. I promise the conversation will be short and to the point. Just send me an email with your phone number and a good time to call. You can reach me at Here are the questions:

  1. Do the recruiters in your organization receive incentive or bonus pay based on how many people they source?

    (YES / NO)

  2. Do the recruiters in your organization receive incentive or bonus pay based on how many people they interview?

    (YES / NO)

  3. Do the recruiters in your organization receive incentive or bonus pay based on how many people they close?

    (YES / NO)

  4. How do you establish the number they can source, interview or close?
  5. Is this negotiated? If so, between whom?
  6. Do you have service level agreements (SLAs) with hiring managers or department heads?
  7. How are they negotiated? By whom?
  8. Do you provide any incentive to the recruiter for achieving the goal? Any punishment if the goal is not achieved?
  9. Would you be willing to provide me with a copy of an agreement (without identifying information, of course)? If so, please attach or fax to me at (510) 659-0189.
  10. Would you be willing for me to call you and talk about your process for 15 minutes? If so, please include your phone number and a good time to call.

Thanks for your help. I will summarize and report the results next week. Please send all responses to me by email at or by fax at (510) 659-0189.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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