Ask Barb

Q. We are losing deals left and right. My firm has never written more job orders, but they are closing right around us. I feel like my recruiters have lost focus and they tell me there are not enough hours in the day to cover all the orders we have. We did not hit our January goals so I’m demanding more calls. My manager now informed me we have a morale issue here because my recruiters think I’m asking for an unreasonable amount of calls. Do you think a minimum of 50 calls a day is unreasonable? We used to make 100 calls every day! Fred R — Cincinnati, OH

A. There are several issues here that I want to address. First of all, I don’t think your production will necessarily increase by mandating more calls. If you want to mandate anything, encourage minimum “result” standards vs. number of calls. For instance, every recruiter has to conduct THREE INTERVIEWS per day and write two to three job orders each week with interviewing times. If you really want to know where to focus attention, it’s the send-out numbers. Our job is to get candidates in front of decision makers. When everyone in your office is focused on booking sendouts daily, production will increase.

You also need to teach your recruiters to work the HOTTEST job orders, not ALL the job orders pouring in your office. Rather than ask, “When do you want to fill this position?” ask for a TARGET DATE to fill this position. Otherwise, you will always get the same three answers: ASAP, IMMEDIATE, or YESTERDAY, which is not an accurate answer. The target date helps you prioritize which order to work. Have your recruiters request THREE INTERVIEW TIMES when they take an order. This ensures you have a commitment from the client to interview and you are making a commitment to surface talent for this client —GUARANTEEING SENDOUTS!

Now let’s talk about the challenge of improving the morale in your office. Whether your recruiter thinks they CAN achieve something or they CAN’T achieve something — THEY ARE RIGHT! Attitude can make or break anyone in the recruiting profession. You need to throw out some contests that provide INSTANT GRATIFICATION (possibly for sendouts), get your team excited and focused on results, which will help make the environment in your office enjoyable again. It’s a proven fact: recruiters either LOVE what they are doing when they are having a great month, or they think recruiting SUCKS! If your recruiters get proficient at identifying hot orders, focus on sendouts and monitor their daily RESULTS — they will LOVE RECRUITING and you will love the production numbers they will put on the board!

The question here is “Should you fire clients?” Here is the scenario that was submitted to The Fordyce Letter:

I’ve read periodic articles on saying No to potential clients or “firing” current clients and never thought I’d have such a problem, but I recently had a client go into total slow motion on me. I had a partial retainer ($10,416) signed by the hiring manager for an important #2 job in the $125-130,000 range. My fee was negotiated at 25% and the partial retainer was paid before I started my recruiting efforts. Everything went well for the first week until a new HR manager was hired and decided that all communications had to go through her. Frustrated Recruiter


It seemed to be a black hole for me. Four hirable candidates presented; none interviewed; no phone calls or emails returned; and dopey me continuing to spin my wheels. Enough! Since none of the insiders had the backbone to confront the CEO on his HR hiring mistake (which I later learned was a distant relative), I wrote the following letter to the CEO:

“As a professional search professional, I have done business with your firm for almost a decade. It has been a pleasant and rewarding relationship for your firm and mine. Unfortunately, please accept this letter as my termination of the agreement executed with Mr. Xxxx on 1/16/07. The new policies put into place by Ms. Xxxx, your new HR director, have made it impossible for me to perform as agreed upon.

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Instead of streamlining the hiring process, she has done everything she can to hinder and obstruct it, not only for me and my ability to satisfy her unreasonable whims and nonsensical reasons for turning down well-qualified and interested high-impact candidates, her actions have demoralized a significant number of your front-line executives in their quest to adequately staff their departments.

Please don’t take this as a tattle from a disenchanted service provider but, since she commandeered the critical professional hiring activities, several of your disgruntled key executives who have asked for her help have expressed their frustration to me and a desire to move on — something that could exact a crippling blow to a fine firm like yours. As a long-time admirer of your company, I would be remiss in not alerting you to a small problem before it becomes a big one. I wish you and your company a bright future.”

Dear Frustrated Recruiter:

It is extremely important, that we place our efforts where we have the best chance of getting “RESULTS!” Normally this refers to Direct vs. Retained Search, but this is a perfect scenario, where it was in your best interest to walk away from the business. I have discontinued doing business with clients who don’t provide me with results, but I have never “FIRED” one.

I would however like to comment on the letter you sent to the CEO. I might not have used the words “unreasonable whims” and “nonsensical reasons” since this is a relative of the CEO. You might have been able to share some solid feedback with the CEO and still maintained your relationship with the company, if he addressed these issues with the new HR director. Whenever I inform a top executive of issues, I always give that person a chance to make changes before I write off a client.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email


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