Converting Cadaver Candidates Into Cash

These days, it’s like every recruiter on the placement planet is tripping over cadaver candidates. Some recruit is pitched to some employer and somehow ends up working there.

Why? When? How? Good questions, gory answers. Don’t expect much help from your cadaver candidate. They have every motivation to stay stinkin’ stiff.

It doesn’t matter what the story is — the Internet, an employer database, the newspaper, a trade publication, a convention, an internal referral, another recruiter, a related company, etc. What matters is that you referred them and they’re there.

The situation has become quite serious due to the proliferation of computerized candidate posting and tracking (okay, it’s mainly Monster). Many employers also hire refugee recruiters who how to avoid contingency fees.

But wait! What’s that sound? Grumbling in the graveyard? Signs of life? C-c-can it be? Can we revive them? Can we get paid?

Call me “Dr. Frankenstein” and let’s try to raise the dead. Kicking the cadaver is so simple it’s scary. There’s only one way to:


Most recruiters have a fee schedule (or letter). Around half get a signature from the employer, or some written acknowledgement of acceptance. Without that, it’s difficult to even get past the graveyard gate. This is because all the words like “Your acceptance of our referrals constitutes your acceptance of our terms” are just spooky.

How can you bind someone to terms it never knew? And as sure as Dracula smiles the employer will say, “What fee schedule?” Real world rigor mortis.

But let’s assume you have some acknowledgement of the fee schedule. Email is fine. Now you have to prove that your referral caused the hire. By a “preponderance of the evidence.” Not just graveyard guessing.

It can drive you batty, but it can be done. Have a desk calendar in front of you so you can write in the chronology.

Then make a cadaver call to the candidate. Don’t ask them if they can talk. You don’t care. You want to nail them before they’ve had a chance to think about it and call their boss. Your first conversation will be your last, so make it good.

The cadaver call goes like this:

  • “Hi, this is (your name) with (name of your business). I was just updating our files and noticed that you’re over at (name of employer).
  • When did you start at (name of employer)?
  • What is your title now?
  • How much do you earn annually?

NOTE: If you sniff a stiff, just hang up gracefully. Your only other hope is an ex-employee who was involved in the hire.

  • Any other compensation? What kind? How much?
  • Any perks? What kind? How much are they worth?
  • Did (name of employer) contact you or did you contact it?
  • Was it by phone?
  • (If yes) Who did you speak to first (name and title)?
  • What did he/she say?
  • Was an interview arranged?
  • When was the interview (exact date)?
  • Where was the interview?
  • Who did you interview with (name and title)?
  • Did you mention (name of your business)?
  • Did you complete an employment application?
  • What did you write on that line that reads: “How were you referred to (name of employer)?”
  • Did you interview again?
  • When was the interview (exact date)?
  • Who did you interview with (name and title)?
  • Did you mention (name of your business)?
  • Did you receive an offer letter?

NOTE: If you haven’t heard a dial tone yet, proceed as follows:

  • Do you have a copy of your employment application?
  • (If yes) Would you send it to me?
  • Do you have a copy of your offer letter?
  • (If yes) Would you send it to me?
  • Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.
  • Oh, could you send me an Email for our files briefly explaining what happened? My Email address is (your Email address).

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Dr. Frankenstein’s crazy!”

Article Continues Below

Trust me. I’m a doctor. Didn’t you see the movie? The monster talked, didn’t he?

Just try here. You’d be amazed at the Emails we receive. Email is so easy that cadaver candidates write all kinds of emotional outbursts.

We get copies of Emails like: “Don’t ever call me again. My lawyer will be in touch. I told them when I hired in that you were no longer representing me!”

We have a file drawer filled with letters like that. It’s called “CADAVER CANDIDATE CORRESPONDENCE.” It could be called “CADAVER CASH.”

Then again, you could just skip through the graveyard shortcut to the bank whistling if you


Here are the words:

Client shall pay a placement fee to (name of your business) if client hires or otherwise engages the service of any candidate referred by (name of your business) in any position within one year from the date of the last communication from (name of your business) concerning said candidate. This shall also include direct or indirect referrals by Client of said candidate to any other person or entity within one year. Said fee shall be paid by Client regardless of the claim of or obligation to any other party regarding a placement fee for said candidate.

The fee schedule is a contract that ‘trumps’ the common (judge-made) law of causation. For over a century, courts in real estate case of strict liability like that have consistently upheld referral periods. The broker does not have to ’cause’ the sale in order to recover. Shainwald, Buckbee & Co. v. Cady (1891) 92 Cal. 83, 28 p. 101, Baumgartner v. Meek (1954) 126 Cal.App.2d 505, 272 P.2d 552, Leonard v. Fallas (1959) 51 Cal.2d 647, 335 p.2d 665, Carlsen v. Zane (1968) 261 Cal.App.2d 399, 67 Cal.Rptr. 747. (These are California cases. Your state has similar ones.)

Then you simply have to show receipt (not just “submission”) of the candidate within one year. Proof. In writing. Of receipt.

For more on converting cadaver candidates into cash, get The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide ( There’s page after page of cadaver candidate collection strategies developed from my four decades of experience.

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *