Ask Barb

Q. I am in an expansion mode currently, and I am moving my office in the next six months. I am weighing the pros and cons of private offices vs. a bullpen. I would appreciate your thoughts. Steve H., S. Bend, IN

A. I believe in a bullpen because of the synergy it provides among your sales team. There is a certain level of “noise” and activity that can motivate other team members. I do not have four desks butted up against each other, though. I find if the desks are too close, there are just too many distractions.

Not sure what you are placing. If you specialize in high-level executives and face-to-face interview your candidates who would prefer getting interviewed in a private office, you might have your recruiters do their interviews in private interview rooms vs. at their desk.

If you are doing a build-out, it is often much more cost-effective NOT to build out private offices.

One more tip I would like to make. If at all feasible, consider investing in an office condo or building for your business. In 2006, I realized I’ve paid out over $1m in rent. I convinced myself that my office had to be located in downtown Chicago and never considered investing in a building. There are amazing commercial real estate deals right now. You might consider an income-revenue-generating property where you would form an LLC and become your own landlord.

Write down the pros and cons of a bullpen vs. private office and renting vs. owning and then make an informed decision that is in your best interest.

Q. Two of my salespeople want to cold call all the time. I realize the importance of a cold call, however I feel like we have so many leads that we aren’t following up on them. Are we in the field wasting time gathering new leads, only to have them slip through the cracks if we don’t have success on the first follow-up call?

My two salespeople are new to the company but very seasoned in the industry, and I don’t want to de-motivate them. I have asked them both what they did differently in their last position that made them successful, and both of them have said they did the exact same thing.

Any guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated. E.G., Boise, ID

A. I agree with YOU. Calling should be a mix of three things:

1. Conversations with current clients/candidates
2. Calls following up on leads
3. Cold calls

They might not have a system developed for tracking leads. I find that recruiters appreciate having easy systems to follow and appreciate understanding your expectations. Provide them with a system, show them how it will increase their production, and they should be motivated to mix up their calls.

Ask your recruiters if they were thrilled with their 2007 W-2? If the answer is no and they would like to earn more, show them how following your system will help them achieve their income goal.

Recruiting is RELATIONSHIP BASED, and you can’t establish long-standing relationships if you are only making cold calls! Our clients want us to become “trusted advisers,” and our candidates want a “lifetime agent.” In order to achieve these goals, great follow-up is a must.

Show your experienced team the “what’s in it for them” and they will adjust the way they do business, which will benefit both them and you!

Q. We have so many job orders called in that I have no time to make marketing calls. It’s hard enough to keep up with the job order flow in the office, and yet we are expected to make marketing calls. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’d like to know why we should make marketing calls when we’re only filling 20% of the job orders that are called into our office? Frustrated in Tampa, FL


First, as I presume relates to all agencies, we have been attempting to influence our recruiters to make at least 10 “solid” marketing calls per day. Of course, we meet with resistance in the form of “I am so busy filling orders, I do not have time to market.” I note in your teleconferences statements to the effect of “working closest to the money” and from this perspective, they are correct. However, we cannot allow a situation where no marketing is done. Do you have any suggestions? A.S., Marietta, GA

A. My recruiters market a candidate DAILY, which ensures that marketing calls are being made. Too often, the job orders that are “called in” are not high-margin, full-fee business. They may also be with companies that do not represent your “best business” or the “hot companies” in your area of specialization.

Marketing candidates is extremely effective in a candidate-driven marketplace! Think about this for just a minute. When you market a candidate, you have much less competition and often you have no competition.

It’s also a simple call to make: “Normally, I would be contacting my top clients because they like me to keep them aware of top talent. However, this person mentioned your company as their #1 choice and I’ve learned that if you can place an individual in one of their targeted companies, that is where they excel. They wanted to work for your company because __________. (State the reasons the candidate gave you during your interview.) I didn’t want the fact that you and I don’t currently do business together to prevent you from having access to this person. When would it be convenient for you to meet?”

You will be amazed how often you book an interview in this job market for your candidate. If they do not have a position that matches your candidate’s credentials, ask the following: “What is the position that is your hardest to fill?” If I have someone with those credentials, would you like to hear from me? Are there any current positions you are working on that I might be able to assist you with?”

You want to send your candidates on more than one interview (unless you work retained search) or they will interview on their own. It’s rare that they will go on only one interview and make a decision.

You also need to conduct revenue modeling to determine your best business. Review all placements your office has made for the past 18 months. Determine industry, job title, salary, location, and fee percentage and then direct 80% of your marketing efforts to mirror where your firm has had success. If you write similar JOs, more than likely there are candidates in your database that surfaced after the job was filled. This is one of the most effective ways to increase production and income.

You don’t want your future and your income based solely on the people who call you. You need to target who you want to represent in 2008, and actively target and market to those clients.

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Q. I’m having a great month, then a flat month. It seems impossible to get my production consistent. I’m averaging two placements one month and none the next. Our average fee is $21,000, so all I have to do is make one sale a month. I’ve been a recruiter for four years, and this pattern is preventing me from hitting my goals. I often blank two months in a row. I’m tired of hearing what a great market we’re in because I’m not having the luck everyone else seems to be having. Scott R., Tempe, AZ

A. First things first . . . The reason you are getting the same results, is you are doing things the same way. Many recruiters are almost on automatic pilot. You arrive at work and do things the exact same way day after day, without even giving it much thought! This could also be referred to as your comfort zone. If you want to stop having slumps, you need to change your work habits.

Often a low-production month follows a high-production month. When things are going your way, you are spending most of your time prepping, debriefing, closing, and celebrating. You forget that you have to commit to a certain level of “results” each and every day you’re at work.

What those results are is based on your individual ratios. Go back to your blank months and count how many send-outs you booked. Chances are the answer is not enough. Even when you are on top of the world, you still need to commit the daily results. I’m not talking about a certain number of calls every day; I’m talking about results, i.e.:

a. How many new candidates did you recruit?
b. How many new job orders did you write?
c. How many send-outs did you book!

Stop looking at the amount of your fees and instead look at the number of sales you make each month. If your send-out-to-placement ratio is 6 to 1, all you have to do is book six more send-outs each month to double your sales! When you say, “All I have to do is make one placement,” I’m asking you why?

Just think of how your life would change if you made two placements each month – or $42,000 in production. What price are the people you love paying for you not becoming the best you can be at this amazing profession?

Most people don’t get where they want to go because they don’t have a clear picture of where that is! Write down exactly where you want to be in five years, and realize that committing to daily RESULTS each day will get you there. Slumps will become a thing of the past!

Q. I had an office in 2001 with three recruiters but, due to the economy, had to close it after less than a year. The reason I opened it at the time was exactly what you said this morning – I wanted a “real” business instead of “being” the business.

Since then I have been working alone and getting further behind every week, losing countless fees. I let the fear of the same thing happening again block me too long, plus I am a terrible teacher. With my new attitude and your Top Producer Tutor, I am ready to start over. I am now in a different market (Seattle vs. Los Angeles) and have no idea what the best “type” of candidate would be to recruit.

My question is in two parts. First, would your advice be to stick to seasoned recruiters, or have you had better luck with sharp “rookies” who have the benefit of your training? Also, what do you find is the best way to advertise the job? Almost “Sleepless in Seattle”

A. I would never advertise for a recruiter; you only get the best person reading the ads vs. the best person you could hire. I never hire experience (too many bad habits to break). Also remember, in this hot market, owners are holding on to their high achievers any way they can!

I call in to hotels and ask to speak with the salesperson who sells events. This person is always a college grad, great communication skills, very used to selling over the phone. They are normally underpaid and overworked. They have to sell the event and then work the event. They work weekends, holidays, nights, etc. When they come to work for us, they think they died and went to heaven! Over 50% of my current sales team came from hotels.

I also put the word out that I want to purchase everything – copier, computers, office equipment, office supplies, etc., and let reps call on me. My current top producer was a rep for Minolta Copiers; they provide amazing training. When they are selling you, rate their selling skills, ask them if they like outside sales – many will say “not really,” and there is a potential recruiter!

You need to have a hiring process that identifies “overachievers.” Write a job description, set specific expectations for your new hire, and have them observe the job and make cold recruiting calls before they are hired. A person’s past experience is a window into their future achievements. You can’t hire a duck and expect it to become an eagle! You don’t make someone a top producer – you hire them.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, offers a weekly FREE training article – go to If you’d like to hire Barb to mentor and train your new hires as well as elevate your experienced recruiters to new levels of production, you owe it to yourself to call her office today at (219) 663-9609 and request a demo of her Top Producer Tutor, which is revolutionizing the way training is being offered in recruiting firms in the United States as well as abroad. Anyone who schedules a demo during the month of January will receive a free PDF copy of Barb’s book “Attract, Hire, Train and Retain Top Producers,” which outlines Barb’s hiring process. This Web-based program is a Lifetime Training Tool that will become the way your company delivers consistent training. You can download your current training materials into the tutor. CALL TODAY – pricing is increasing in January 2008, so this is the best time to invest.

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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