Editor’s Corner

A reader sent the following scenario and it has a familiar ring to it, as others have written on the same subject. This one, however, has a bizarre twist.

Recruiter has an exceptional MPC (Most Placeable Candidate), and he calls the hiring manager of a company with whom he has previously done a lot of business. Hiring Manager (HM) requests an immediate interview since he just lost a similar person and wants to fill the position as soon as possible. He hasn’t even written a requisition to send to the brand-new HR guy yet. HM loves the guy, makes an offer, thanks the recruiter, and asks for the invoice to be sent directly to him for approval. There was a previous open-ended signed contract with the HM and he is deeply grateful for this coincidental stroke of luck.

Shortly after sending the invoice, the recruiter receives a call from the new HR Manager saying that no fee will be paid for the following reasons:

1. There was no authorized requisition for the opening.
2. The HM had no authority to bind the company to a fee.
3. The recruiter was not on the new approved vendor list.
4. The recruiter had not signed an agreement with HR (nor had he been invited to do so) even though he had a long-standing relationship with the company and signed agreements with this and several other HMs.
5. The company had found the hired candidate’s résumé on their database from a couple of years before and probably would have contacted him on their own.

We’re hearing more and more stories like this where a new HR guy or gal says, “There’s a new sheriff in town, and everything you’ve come to expect has been turned topsy-turvy.”

Of course, The Fordyce Letter has addressed almost all of these objections many times in the past, but frankly, even though the rebuttals sound awfully good in print, they rarely get the required positive response when bounced off the eardrums of the HR person you’re trying to persuade.

So, I was surprised when this practitioner took a road less traveled. Not necessarily one I would have suggested or supported, but one that worked in the final analysis. He asked a number of his industry friends about this new guy and learned some disturbing things about him, both professionally and personally.

Rather than walk away from a $35K fee or give a large percentage to a lawyer, he called a friend who also happened to be a private eye and requested what he described as a “deluxe” investigation.

What he received was evidence of prior fraudulent dealings involving splitting of fees with pet recruiters while with two previous employers. He claimed a degree he did not have, which had been missed by previous employers who never checked his academic credentials. Two DUI convictions popped up, and he’d had several romantic affairs in the several cities where he had previously worked. There was even a videotape of this guy in the back seat of a car with a female coworker, and it was obvious they were not discussing business.

So what did this practitioner do? He called the HR guy and invited him to lunch – something the HR guy didn’t want to do but was persuaded that it was in his best interest to do so.

At lunch, he told the HR guy, “Whether you know it yet or not, I am now your new best friend, and I will expect my check within 48 hours if you want to keep your job. Not only am I now #1 on your preferred provider list, but I will have complete access to those hiring managers with whom I have very successfully made placements in the past. I will not sign your agreement. You will sign mine. I expect to have first crack at all your openings within my niche or I will have no choice but to reveal your tawdry background to your boss and your boss’s boss.”

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He told me the HR guy’s attitude went from arrogant and obnoxious to respectful and humble. Since our practitioner had his contract with him, he had it signed on the spot.

I do not know how the relationship has developed, since it happened only a few weeks ago. I do know that the check arrived on time, as did copies of a number of critical openings the company had.

Would I have done this? Nope! I don’t like extortion, and I like to sleep at night. Knowing the company for which the HR guy works, I suspect that his back-ground will surface on its own. One reader, with tongue in cheek, suggested it should be included in the next version of Closing on Objections and labeled as the “Blackmail Rebuttal.” Right!

For more information on these topics, see the “Gotcha” article later in this issue.

Highly successful practitioner Tim Richards sent along the following tip/script to use on employers who try to squeeze you on fees:

“If you want to pay less than our 30% fee we will be happy to oblige you. Please understand that this is an economically driven business and our best candidates go to the employers who pay our rate. That being said, once again, we will be happy to send you their rejects if you want to pay less than the 30%. Given the current market conditions, there are way more employers needing people than there are solid, successful, qualified candidates. So, Ms. Client, I’m sure you understand this business model.”

Many readers ask for “different” ways to charge fees, a topic that Jeff Allen addressed several years ago. Because of the many requests, we are reprising his suggestions in the following Placements and The Law column.

Paul Hawkinson is the editor of The Fordyce Letter, a publication for third-party recruiters that's part of ERE Media. He entered the personnel consulting industry in the late 1950's and began publishing for the industry in the 1970's. During his tenure as a practitioner, he personally billed over $5 million in both contingency and retainer assignments. He formed the Kimberly Organization and purchased The Fordyce Letter in 1980.

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