Ask Barb

Q. Do you have any ideas how to retain top producers? I can’t keep increasing their commission because then I don’t make any profit. I’ve promoted my big billers into management, and it’s really not working out well. They are great producers but not very good at training or mentoring other recruiters. I’ve lost three top producers in the last two years and really need to know how others are keeping their top people. Stephan G., Los Angeles

A. It’s important to know what motivates your various big billers. I know owners who have offered more flexibility, the ability to work virtual one or two days a week, or even a private office as added perks.

I faced this exact scenario several years ago and decided to build a team around my big billers, enabling them to become even greater superstars. Once they reach $350,000, I assign a candidate specialist who only recruits on the orders of this big biller. As a result, the big biller reaches an even higher level of production. Once this team of two is producing $500,000 in sales, I add an additional candidate specialist who again only works the candidate side of the placement process for this big biller. When this team of three reaches $750,000, I assign a researcher who helps mine names for the candidate specialists and does any research needed by the big biller.

The production of these teams continues to increase as the candidate specialists fine-tune their recruiting and matching skills. There are several benefits to this type of arrangement:

– You retain your big billers. It would be difficult for them to re-create their team.
– This enables more than one person to know and understand the needs of top clients.
– The candidate specialists do very well and learn how to become successful and earn a great income by working closely with these big billers.
– The big billers do not have supervisory responsibilities. The candidate specialists answer to their manager, who obtains feedback from the big billers.

If you’re wondering about compensation, the candidate specialist is handled the same way you would handle splits in your office. I probably should knock on wood before I make this statement, but I haven’t lost a big biller since I developed these “fearless foursomes.”

As an owner, you always need to ensure that all business is profitable. That is why you are in business. Remember, each big biller is different, and it is important that you identify exactly what individually motivates the individual. You can’t motivate these people; they will do things for their reasons, not yours! They quickly realize the many benefits of the “fearless foursome” arrangement, which enables them to focus on the 20% of what they do that gives them 80% of their results. They delegate the other tasks to their team members!

Q. I’m beginning to realize that one of my greatest problems is I don’t remember the candidates I meet. I have copies of their résumés and my notes attached to each application. I am, however, forgetting huge chunks of who they are. Do you have any thoughts? Suggestions? I need help. Thanks.
George M., Kansas City, MO

A. First of all, I have all my candidates complete my paperwork BEFORE my interview with them. This includes my profile form and inventory sheet. It allows me to gain a true picture of not only who they were and are (which is on their résumé) but just as important, who they “want to be”!

When you obtain more DETAILS, it helps you remember them. During your interview, you are writing down their definitions of words used on the form, e.g., growth, challenge, advancement, etc. This would make it impossible for you to forget “huge chunks” of who they are because you have everything in writing.

I also try to write down something that it is legal to note that will remind me of them. For example: Daughter plays soccer, big mustache, amazing smile, great dresser, or something unusual that they shared that will jog your memory.

To prevent the acceptance of counteroffers, I always draw a box on my profile form and ask what I have to say to them WHEN they get a counteroffer to bring them back to this moment in time. They will go on and on about why they would NOT accept a counteroffer. This information is very different from candidate to candidate, so it will help you remember them!

Here are some of the questions on my profile form that help me remember who candidates are (to request a FREE copy of my profile form, send an email to

– Five accomplishments and how they impacted your employer
– Five things you’d change about your current company if you were your boss
– Why you have made changes in the past and what MUST be there for you to make a change NOW
– Strengths
– Areas in which you would like to receive training
– Why someone should hire you over someone else with similar credentials
– Five adjectives that best describe you

The inventory sheet lists the various skills needed in your area of specialization and should indicate the number of years of experience in each area. This truly helps you with matching. In this fast-paced candidate-driven marketplace, it is critical that you remember your candidates, especially your MPCs (most placeable candidates)! You might also want to create a separate folder on your computer and in your desk where you keep the profile forms of the MPCs you interview – so they are always at your fingertips.

Lastly, there are various memory courses you can take that will enhance your ability to remember.

Q. How long should you keep a new hire? When should a recruiter make their first placement? I hate to let someone go right before they might help me get the money back that I’ve invested in them.
Stanley N., Youngstown, OH

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A. I don’t think you should focus on HOW LONG you should keep a recruiter. You need to review your budget and know how MUCH you are willing to invest in a new hire. My number is $8,000! That includes salary, benefits, and bonuses. By the time I’ve spent that amount on a new hire, I expect to see results.

There is no set “time frame” for a first placement, but we do all we can to ensure that our new hire enjoys a placement in their first month. Time frame for a first placement depends on several issues:

1.Your area of specialization. (If you’re placing physicians, the process is very long!)
2. Whether you have a new hire start on the recruiting side of the placement process or work both sides.

a. My new hires work the candidate side of the process, working on the hot orders of established accounts – which gives them the best chance of quick success!

b. They must have three months of attaining their production goals on the candidate side of the business before they work the client side.

c. We find many candidate specialists who remain on the candidate side of the placement process.

3. Whether you have an ESTABLISHED client base or have your new hire start an entirely NEW area – which will take much longer to get up and productive.

4. Your training program had a great impact on new hires. I have the advantage of putting my new hires on my Top Producer Tutor, which jump-starts new hires to quick production.

You can wait forever for that deal that is pending to close and lose lots of money in the process. Set a budget for new hires and stick to it. Remember, you are in business for one reason – to make a PROFIT!

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the leading international speakers for the recruiting profession today. Sign up for Barb’s FREE NO BS Newsletter and receive notices on the two FREE teleconferences she conducts each month – one for owners, one for recruiters. Go to If you would like to purchase a copy of the 24 proprietary forms Barb uses in her own search firm, go to NOVEMBER BONUSES: Complete a FREE DEMO of Barb’s Top Producer Tutor and receive a copy of her book “Mastering the Balancing Act of the Working Manager” FREE – a $99 value! Call (219)663-9609 today and ask for Beth to set up the demo.

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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