Don’t Let Them Use a Different Job Title to Avoid the Fee

Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse that you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. A few years ago he began documenting them in a weekly collections column. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed. The complete collection is here.

What Client Says:

We hired the candidate in a lower classification.

How Client Pays:

A lower classification allows the client two ways to attempt avoiding the fee:

  1. The job title is different from the one on the job order; and
  2. The lower starting salary automatically translates into a lower fee.

It doesn’t take much to change the job duties to appear different from the JO. Statistically, this happens over half the time anyway. An employer doesn’t really know what the job will be until it hires someone.

If the candidate’s ego will be bruised by a lower title, a different one can always be used.  The client just says you weren’t engaged to perform a search for that job.

Article Continues Below

Additionally, lowering the starting salary is a corporate shell game that is only stopped by fear. The candidate is likely to cooperate in concealing the promise to defer the other compensation – or even the salary itself.

What can you do? Exclude anything in your fee schedule that ties you to a title, and instantly review the actual job order at the actual annualized compensation with your employed, but still active candidate.

The client will know you’ve done this, and invariably “clarifies” the “misunderstanding” with the candidate.

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 *