Ask Barb

Q. I subscribe to many Internet Job Boards like Monster, Dice and others that cost me thousands of dollars a year. It seems my recruiters spend all their time reviewing resumes submitted, complain that many of the candidates they surface have already found employment and I’m wondering if these are a wise investment? Charles G, Sarasota, FL

A. Job Boards are only one source your recruiters should be utilizing. It is easier to review resumes on line than it is to pick up the phone and make a recruiting call. I have found that, many times, it is more effective to use the candidates who have their resumes posted as “referral sources.” Many of them have found jobs, but can lead you to top talent. You can also look at their past places of employment to get leads on companies where you can surface this type of talent. It is a candidatedriven marketplace and the more creative you become in identifying multiple sources for candidates, the more successful you will be. It is the Recruiter with the Candidate who WINS … and winning means higher production and higher income!

I would suggest you have your entire sales team track exactly where they are surfacing their best talent. Go back over the past 18 months of placements and determine the source for those candidates. Have your front desk person ask every callin, how they heard of your firm. Once you do this type of research, you will determine which sources you should continue investing in and which ones are not effective. Challenge your recruiting team to come up with ONE new source each month for surfacing top talent and bonus the person who identifies the most new sources each quarter. It is amazing how many FREE sites there are on the Internet to surface top talent. Have your recruiters also ask every candidate they interview what sources they are personally using in their job search. Some of the most effective sources my office utilizes have been identified by our candidates!

When you hear of a new source to identify candidates, you owe it to yourself to conduct a trial run, possibly try this new source for 120 days and then review your results. You never know which one could turn into a candidate gold mind for you!

Q. I know this is probably a loaded question, but I get solicited for so many products and services on a daily basis. What publications do you feel will help me stay ahead of trends and yet also provide solid information on how my firm can stay competitive? Bob P, Toronto

A. Obviously, I believe The Fordyce Letter is one of the best publications, which is why I write my ASK BARB column for them. In order to stay ahead of trends and remain competitive I would also advise you to read the publications your clients and candidates are reading that are your “area of specialization” publications. You want to stay informed and sound like an insider. You should also join the trade associations affiliated with your specialization as well as your own trade association.

It is no secret that I am a past Chairman of the Board of NAPS and believe in participating in my trade association. Whether it’s NAPS, another National Association or your State Association, the networking that occurs between members, the education provided and the opportunity to meet your peers is a great return on your membership investment. Publications written by these associations are also worth your time to read!

Q. What do you suggest I do when my clients send me their contract to sign for my services? I have some established clients who now are insisting I sign a new agreement that has clauses in it that are just not acceptable, but I don’t want to lose this business. Ellen H, Austin, TX

A. All of us have faced this dilemma and the most important thing I’ve learned is you can often “alter” their contract. You said two very important things in your question to me “clauses in it that are just not acceptable” and “I don’t want to lose this business.”

My suggestion would be to cross out the unacceptable clauses and initial your changes, then submit the revised contract to your client. If these sections are truly “unacceptable” and your clients will not agree to your changes, you may have to make the decision to walk away from this client and find new business that will truly partner with you.

I find it really interesting that our clients are attempting to tell us how to conduct our business. If the tables were turned, I’m sure they would not appreciate us telling them how to run their business!

Also don’t forget this is a candidatedriven market. Finding and retaining top talent is the number one challenge for all companies and we have to represent those who truly understand the value in the service we provide.

Q. I have never found it too difficult to find recruiters for my firm. I have more searches than I’ve had in years, my clients trust me to find them top talent and yet I don’t seem to be able to get that done in my own office. I have never had a turnover problem before but I am currently facing three empty desks. I’ve hired experienced recruiters and they came with so many bad habits, they didn’t work out. I’ve hired inexperienced, and they just didn’t seem to “get” what we do fast enough. When I think of the money sitting on the desks in my office, it makes me sick! Tony T, Harrisburg, PA

A. You’ve just used a term that is so common in our profession, but one that I’ve never understood. I find it amazing that we talk about “empty desks.” I think too often as owners, we can’t stand to have an empty desk so we just “fill it.” Isn’t it interesting that you are obviously very successful in finding top talent for your clients, yet you are not successful in hiring for your own business?

What is your hiring process? Do you have a process? How detailed is your job description? Do you even have a job description?

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It is important that you write down a job description, list expectations for this individual and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of our profession. Recruiting is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding. My best suggestion in your hiring process is to bring the person in your office for 3 to 4 hours to “observe” your current sales team. There are several benefits here:

1. Your current team raises the bar on their performance because they are being observed.
2. After they have observed your current team for one hour, bring this prospective hire into your office, give them a script, role play a recruiting presentation with them. Give them a recruiting sheet containing the names and phone numbers of companies you’ve completed for them and tell them to make recruiting calls for the next hour.
3. Have someone from your current team observe them. You want to see how long it takes this person to pick up the phone. Do they have phone fear? Are they too analytical? How much down time is there between calls? How many questions do they ask the people around them? How confident do they sound? Are they able to overcome any objections? Doing the job vs. observing is a totally different experience.
4. Inform them that if they surface a candidate during this trial run, you will pay them $500 if the person subsequently comes in to your office and gets placed in a position, even if they do not get hired. This will give them incentive and show them the WIIFM.

Other tips I can give you about hiring successful future top producers:

1. Only hire individuals with a successful proven track record of accomplishments
2. Hire individuals who have prior sales experience
3. Check their references
4. Look at the most money they’ve ever earned and their current goals
5. Look at their past track record. It is an accurate indicator of what you can expect in the future.
6. Don’t take shortcuts in your hiring process.
7. Don’t ever just fill a desk! It is too costly.

You need to always be interviewing for your office, even if you don’t have a current position available. You should bonus your current recruiters for bringing a new hire to your firm. Bonus them when the person is hired, again at six months and the last bonus after one year. This system provides you with an instant mentor! Your employee has a “vested interest” in this person’s success.

Once you have hired someone, take the time to train them. You can’t just put them through a one day or five day program and expect them to flourish. Of course, I have to mention my Top Producer Tutor which will walk this new hire through their first 80 days of employment! If not my tutor, a program written by you or another trainer that will teach them the basics and fundamentals they need to succeed. The new Trump Tower in Chicago is being built across the river from my office. It seemed to take months for them to get started, because they were building the foundation. Once the foundation was in place the building seems to be shooting up overnight. You need to take the time to build a strong foundation of knowledge with your new hires! Then you can watch their production shoot up!

Most of the top producers in my office either came from the Hospitality industry or outside sales. I love to hire individuals who work in the Sales Office of a Hotel. They have to sell the event and then work the event. They are degreed, have gone through extensive sales training programs and work 365 days a year. They are also usually very well networked and have great communication skills. I also let it be known that I want to buy computers, a copier, printer etc. and then I let the sales people call on me. What they don’t realize is that I am conducting an interview to determine if they would prefer an inside sales job to an outside sales job. My current top producer was a top producer for a copier company!

Lastly, give the search for your own employees the same thoroughness and attention that you provide your clients. Don’t “fill a desk,” hire your next top producer. I don’t believe any of us “create” top producers – WE HIRE THEM!

Barbara Bruno, CPC is one of the leading Recruiting/HR Training Professionals today with thirty years of experience in the “trenches.” She is the author of the Top Producer Tutor, the first step by step online training program that would take training OFF YOUR DESK forever. Visit You can still purchase an UNLIMITED LICENSE for the life of your company. Soon licenses will have limits!! If you’d like to receive a training article from Barb each week, sign up for her popular NO BS Newsletter at

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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