Firing Your Client – When Will They Learn?

A dozen or so years ago, an organization was created by a few influential industry bigwigs whose goal was perception enhancement – attempting to persuade the hiring community that the recruiting and search businesses were really the employer community’s best friends. It was called recognition refurbishment, and the task to be accomplished was thought disorder revision. These highfalutin terms were the brainchildren of TFL editor Paul Hawkinson and were offered as tongue-in-cheek terminology introduced in a speech to the organization’s first national meeting to set the group’s agenda.

Some of the less cynical members of the confab actually thought that the optimistically proposed dynamic between employers and the recruiting-for-a-fee population could become like a community campfire where everyone would join hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

The organization, as well intentioned as it was, disintegrated at about the same speed as the periodic peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Buyers and sellers – customers and vendors – will always have an adversarial relationship. Much has been written about how ours is a relationship-driven business, and for many it really is – for a while. The biggest mistake made by the defunct organization was that there were no employer bigwigs present nor were any invited to the meeting. Sort of like one hand clapping.

Developing meaningful relationships with employers is akin to getting married, with the exception that the divorce rate is much higher. So many temptations on employers to stray – other recruiters, internal pressures, job boards, and the innate element of human nature that causes people to continue to look for a better deal.

Additionally, in most firms, the HR department is near the bottom of the corporate pecking order. In most cases, they aren’t very good at recruiting, so if your contact point is HR, your odds of mutual fidelity are abysmal at best. Because they aren’t viewed as profit producers by the C-level executives, their only opportunity to shine is to save money on something, and often your fees are their target. Not many profiles in courage among this bunch.

Can’t blame them – after all, people are still trying to sell their own houses to avoid a Realtor commission; stock trading has become a do-it-yourself effort; the Internet has almost shut out the travel agent business; and you can all think of many other examples.

Even knowing these realities, our profession wastes untold millions of hours anticipating, with fingers firmly crossed, an outcome that will probably never happen.

Most big billers recognize these stumbling blocks and speed bumps early in these relationships and bow out. In fact, most don’t get involved in the first place. When they do, they don’t hesitate to fire their clients and move on to more rational profit opportunities. TFL columnist Terry Petra put it this way:

Truth be known, most clients who end up being fired should never have been engaged by the recruiter in the first place. Too often, practitioners make exceptions or allow themselves to be compromised by the client while writing the business. Frequently this comes back to haunt them during the search process.

Since 1984, we have accepted only exclusive searches with signed agreements. No exceptions. Even with this approach, we end up turning down more than 60% of the searches presented to us by potential and existing clients. The reason is simple – either the searches do not match our areas of expertise or the client is unwilling or unable to commit to an agreed-upon process for conducting the search.

When declining a search, after discussing our recommended search process, we basically state that:

The most important lesson we have learned from our many years in this business is that we perform best when the agreed-upon search process allows us to fully engage our total resources in a timely and decisive manner. Since that does not appear to be possible in this particular situation, we recommend you select a different search firm. To work with you under conditions that do not allow us to do our best would not be fair to you and would be a poor business decision for us.

Nevertheless, on occasion, we have found ourselves in the middle of a search where the client begins to stray from the commitments they made regarding the search process. When this occurs, we stop everything (this potential stoppage was agreed upon as an important part of our working relationship) and confront the problem(s). If a satisfactory resolution is not possible, we step away from the search in accordance with the terms of our agreement. We reference the discussion we had with the client prior to accepting the search and once again emphasize “that to work under any conditions that do not allow us to fully apply our resources and expertise in a timely and decisive manner would be a disservice to everyone involved.”

That’s how we handle situations of this nature, and in most instances, we are able to solve the problem(s) and complete the search. In those rare instances where this is not possible, we exit the search process with our integrity intact while helping our client understand the “error” of their ways.

We asked readers about their experiences in firing clients, and some of their comments follow. We appreciate the contributions of those published here and those that weren’t.

“We have been in the recruiting industry since 1978 and with that much exposure we have had some tough experiences with companies that are a real pain in the neck. It is amazing that when talking with the hiring authority or manager, things go quite well, but as we are forced to work with the HR department, things generally go downhill.

It appears there must be an HR school that gives classes on how to be obnoxious, talk down to recruiters, and put as many obstacles as possible in the way to making a placement a smooth, pleasant experience.

They follow predictable paths and are all things that put a recruiter into a ‘vendor’ status:
– Fee negotiation
– Guarantee issues
РWorking with r̩sum̩s
– Portraying that we are one in a herd of 10 to 15 other recruiters working on their positions

To some degree, our industry deserves that kind of treatment. We have done little to present ourselves as professionals, gain and maintain respect, and sell the “added value” of using a professional recruiter. Unfortunately, the course of least resistance for most recruiters is to lower their fees and send résumés. This is how they compete. They reinforce the “vendor” image.

Since most recruiters work on a contingent basis, the normal way to fire a client is just to stop working on their position and go on to a more ‘recruitable’ or more ‘fillable’ assignment. This also adds to the poor image our industry has.

We try to operate on a very frank, candid basis. If we have a problem, we try to bring it to the client’s attention and see if we can get it resolved. Our experience has shown that we have very little success at achieving a solution by trying to work with HR in this endeavor. HR is generally the problem and really doesn’t have much interest in fixing it.

If you want to try to get the problem solved, you have to go to the person who can control the HR function. This is extremely difficult as HR becomes more and more entrenched in more and more organizations.

Taking a firm stand and demanding respect is the best way to handle the issue. Terry Petra best describes ‘client control.’ It starts on the first contact and develops from there. The first time you lose that control (respect), you need to stop and regain it. If not, advise the client you are no longer working on their behalf.

In training and mentoring recruiters, we characterize HR as follows:
– Their role is to rule people ‘out.’
– They cannot ‘hire’ anyone except in the HR area.
– They ‘match’ based on a formal job description and skill set, not whether the candidate can do the job.
– They do not have the ability to consider ‘transferable skills.’
– They do not have the urgency to fill the position (HR leaves at 5; the hiring authority or manager is putting in long hours to keep the work up-to-date – the urgency for the hiring authority is greater).
– They must justify the HR existence since they are ‘staff,’ i.e., ‘overhead.’
– Most HR personnel are not well paid and resent the ‘fees’ we charge and the money we make.
– Most HR people have no loyalty to any recruiter.

We feel strongly that we must have ‘mutual respect’ and cooperation. This sounds idealistic, but without it we are greatly handicapped in doing a very difficult job and it takes the fun out of it. We have ‘fired’ clients in these situations:

– When the HR department or an interviewer mistreated or was rude to our candidate, we have called the hiring authority and withdrawn from the search.
– On one occasion we would not honor a request from an employer to replace a candidate that didn’t work out (an option in our guarantee policy). We refunded the fee and withdrew.

HR could care less. They shrug their shoulders and go to the other 10 to 15 recruiters that are calling on them. Most managers are shocked but still feel they are the customer and can act any way they want. We do advise them that we will be recruiting from them in the future.”
-Gary S. Fawkes, CPC

“Increasingly, we’ve had to make the decision to cease and desist our efforts on an account and basically fire the client. As the labor market continues to tighten, it’s become a little easier to justify this action.

However, ultimately, in good times or bad, one of the keys to success in any sales-oriented role like recruiting is the ability to say no. It’s about qualifying your opportunities and prioritizing your time. Successful project management comes down to setting clear objectives, getting all parties to agree with those objectives, and then holding everyone accountable. But of course, accountability is meaningless without consequences.

The first time we fired a client was excruciatingly difficult and downright terrifying. This type of behavior is very counterintuitive, as it flies in the face of our basic human survival instinct to hold on to everything of value in order to flourish and thrive. In order to see things clearly, and understand the bigger picture, it was critical for us to recondition ourselves and realign our thinking. If you have a client who keeps putting up roadblocks and hinders your ability to help solve their problem rather than cooperatively supporting them, then you essentially have nothing of value in the first place. Put simply, if you have nothing to begin with, then you lose nothing by letting go.

It’s hard and painful for all of us to face reality sometimes, but the rewards are always worthwhile. Have you ever noticed how the hardest thing to do and the right thing to do are usually one and the same? As recruiters, we all have an obligation to secure the highest and best return on our scarcest resource, our time. If your client is less motivated to solve their problem than you are, then it’s time to find another client.”
-Cameron Hawley, President and Managing Director – Taligent Corporation, Intelligent Talent

“I have terminated more searches in the last six months than I have in the past 10 years. The roadblocks, stalls, not returning calls or giving feedback in a reasonable fashion are the reasons. HR people are the main roadblocks, but also some hiring authorities. There is a perception that they are still in a buyer’s market.”

“Yes, I have had to fire an employer more than once. The biggest disappointment that comes to mind occurred about five or six years ago. I had maintained a relationship with a larger healthcare company that had several hundred branch locations around the United States. I had approximately three to four years of professional search experience under my belt and had good experience in knowing that the HR department is a potential trap and encumbrance for most third-party recruiters. Nonetheless, I had made several placements with this company over the previous three years and continued to work with them when I started the Manning Search Group six years ago. This national company broke itself into four regions of the United States and had an HR manager in charge of the hiring process for the region.

The HR manager for the Midwest was very territorial and was threatened by any attempt that I would make to talk to “her” managers. In this case, I would be speaking with division or regional VPs and never got told that I shouldn’t be talking to them by the managers themselves. They were always open to conversation. However, every time the HR manager found out about it, she would call me and get upset, saying that ‘all communication must come through me.’

I made several attempts to educate her on why it was necessary for me to develop a relationship with hiring managers who were ‘feeling the pain’ of the openings so to better target my efforts to their needs. I even took her out to lunch one day to have a heart-to-heart discussion and get affirmation as to its importance. She seemed to agree to my points but still tried to control me.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back – I had an incident where I had a finalist for a regional VP of operations interviewing and was at the last step of meeting the president. One day the candidate called me in a panic to say that his cover had been blown. One of his sales representatives was having lunch with one of the client employer’s sales representatives, and the client rep said to his rep, ‘I understand that John is coming to work for us?!’ My VP candidate said that his rep started the gossip and he was hauled into his boss’s office for answers.

I approached the HR manager about how it was very risky, unethical, and irresponsible for their manager to discuss candidates with others within the company or by sharing names for informal references and what were we going to do about it. Her response was, ‘Roger, if you think that this will get John in front of our president any sooner, you’re wrong. He is not available for a couple weeks.’ I was shocked that she would take the approach that it was about me getting the placement rather than owning up to a breach of security within their company and acknowledging that their management should be counseled on the correctness of confidentially interviewing candidates, especially those who have jobs that they are leaving.

Another incident was when a regional VP never showed up for an interview that we had set up in Little Rock, Arkansas. When I challenged her about calling the manager, she took a back seat, as if she was afraid to approach the manager, but yet I was told that it wasn’t my responsibility to call the manager.

So, long story short, I told her that I could not work with her and the organization. Did you ever hear the story of two buckets? Employers fall within two buckets. One bucket is very shallow but is filled with high-quality client employers that I work for and help build up with strong employees. The other bucket is overflowing with companies that I recruit from. I guess the bucket that you are in is very full.”
-Roger Manning
President/Healthcare Search Consultant – Manning Search Group

“First of all, we ALWAYS begin by stating that it is best for them for us to speak with and work directly with the hiring authority – and there are so many opportunities out there that we can work on, we can get away with that. If we have to work with HR, the opportunity immediately becomes a lower priority. We may try to refer a few folks, but if the employer doesn’t move really fast, we simply stop working the deal. We may call them and follow the procedure below.

I have never been that blunt as to say, ‘You are fired.’ If we find we are being stymied by the HR department, we will do our best to call the hiring authority and say, ‘Look, this isn’t working very well. We get you good candidates and they don’t get interviewed quickly. This market is hot. We are getting our candidates interviews, and they are getting them on their own. This process is too slow and not effective for any of us. So, when hiring someone becomes a high priority, let me (us) know. We will need to work with you directly at that time. Thanks for your understanding. Let us know when we can work together.’

Then leave it alone. Maybe call back a week or two later to see if they want to work together, and that’s it.

Our attitude is that these clients either have pain or they don’t. If the pain is great enough, they will work a process that is good for all of us (i.e., our way). If the pain isn’t that great, they may not . . . but that can change on any day and I see no reason to “fire” them . . . just gracefully don’t work it.

It is my responsibility to have so many opportunities to work that I don’t need to get wrapped around the axle over people’s lack of response . . . and the market is getting that way, big time!”
-Anthony W. Beshara
Ph.D., President – Babich & Associates

“It is a growing problem. We have fired clients for demanding low fees. Verbal agreements, signed off on and then after the fact, the client wants to lower the fee. We have been given a take it or leave it, even when we have done a terrific job reaching passive candidates. We do business with our clients on a temporary basis (separate firm, same group) and on occasion have caved to those demands to not risk losing the temporary business, too. Needless to say, we then commence looking for a replacement client!

Time lines have become intolerable. Three months for searches at lower-level, $50-$60K-range jobs. One huge logistics firm demands 20% fees and then doesn’t pay for 90 days. We simply walk away typically, without making a huge scene, especially if it might impact our temporary divisions.”

“We have fired clients. In fact, we just did so. In this case, it was because of a continued lack of communication, and respect for our time. This firm had been a good client for two years. We are the only recruiter they use, although they have a very young internal recruiter who has just taken on the position, never having done this kind of work before. We dealt directly with the CEO and the director of marketing. They have grown considerably during the period (from 7 offices to 18), and in doing so have become less and less conscientious with us and with candidates. We had seven open orders with the firm. We made every attempt to get them to improve (over about six months), but the issue continued, making us look bad with candidates, wasting our time, and incidentally, not doing a lot for their reputation in the marketplace. We completed the last search for which we had a retainer, and then told them we were through. They were not totally taken by surprise, since we had discussed the matter on a number of occasions. They of course promised to improve, but we are not convinced and, frankly, cannot afford to take any additional time with them. Their CEO is ambivalent. Their COO (half-owner), whom I have been close to for 30 years, is furious with the CEO, and it was only out of respect for him that we did not cut the cord some months back. It was a difficult decision because of my friend and because they were a lucrative account, but I felt we had lost control and had become commoditized, as opposed to being treated as a partner.

In 10 years, we have never fired a firm for this issue, as we work hard to keep communication open and serve our clients in the best way possible. We have fired clients in the past for misrepresenting the facts (we have walked away from several for this) or if we decided the person a candidate would report to was someone we could not honestly say we would want to work for. Since we work with investment management firms, there are a great number of mergers and acquisitions. We have pulled out of assignments if we found that a merger which would affect the position was in the offing. We are affecting lives, as you know, and cannot put someone into that type of situation. At 53, I do not sleep as much as I used to, so I want it to be restful, undisturbed by guilt.”
Casey M. Corrie, President
– The Moisson Group, Inc.

“We’ve been in business for about six years and have over that time probably terminated three or four clients. With the advice of a colleague, we did it very quietly, just stopped sending them candidates. In one case I had lunch with the president of a client firm and told him it was just not possible to keep pace with the changes they kept making in their structure and priorities. He agreed, and although we don’t do any business, we have lunch a couple of times a year in case things change. They are large enough that I want to stay in touch. We did this in cases where the client just took too much of a toll on our resources, kept changing their requirements, or seemed to be in extreme turmoil.

Maybe we were just chicken, but we felt it was better to do it this way even though we missed the satisfaction of saying, ‘You’re fired.’ In at least one case, the person we dealt with recommended an excellent candidate to us. That might not have happened if we had been more strident.”
Ed Welch, President
– Emkay Associates, Ltd.

“Yes, we’ve fired clients. More often than not, we don’t take the time to articulate our reasons to the client, but rather, we simply walk away. However, when we do communicate our decision to terminate the relationship, we get a variety of reactions – disappointment, anger, sympathy, etc. Rarely does the contact take ownership of the problem; rather, they claim their hands are tied.

We recently canceled a retained search shortly after the client engaged us. We didn’t even invoice the client for the first installment before we came to the conclusion. In this instance, we discovered that the client had misrepresented its position in the marketplace and the viability of accomplishing its turnaround. Essentially, the client had unreasonable expectations, and we knew that we would be unable to recalibrate them (our primary contact was the CEO).”

“We terminated a contract with a Fortune 50 company. An experienced recruiter had left us and the company wanted to continue the relationship with us. The hiring process was long and involved, their contract had a provision that we could not recruit out of any division of the company, and they were regularly having hiring freezes that delayed the process and had resulted in the loss of several candidates.

The HR manager was shocked that anyone would not beg to do business with them. They were just so wonderful and high profile. I don’t think it cost us a dime, and I know it saved us a lot of aggravation.”

“Fire who? Fire a customer? That’s crazy. Why burn bridges?”
John Wilbur – Wilbur Staffing LLC

“Firing a client is somewhat like doing a take-away with a candidate; if you don’t get any ‘push-back,’ you are already doing it too late. Here are a couple of my stories.

A recent client offered up a unique service-fee agreement in which they would pay approximately one half of the fee up front and the other half at the end of the year. The attractive thing was that the final payment would be based on total earnings (this was a heavily driven commission position) vs. up-front guaranteed compensation. Therefore, there was a lot to gain. With my past track record, longevity was not a concern until I learned that people were leaving this profit center like rats leaving a sinking ship. I emailed the managing director and asked how we could resolve some of his specific internal problems and told him that due to the problems, we would need to reconsider the contract. When he was unwilling to make any changes, I told him that we should stay in contact, and if things changed, I might reconsider the search. No push-back. (I am now in the process of placing his top salesperson, where the fee will be above $50K.)

In another case, the HA described the sales position in which the prospective clients would have sales revenue of $20 million to $100 million. While I was debriefing three of the four candidates whom I submitted, each one indicated that there must have been a mistake; the HA wanted a salesperson to have experience selling to clients that had $1 BILLION in revenue. By comparison, it’s only the largest worldwide brokers that handle those accounts, with a whole team of professionals, and this was to be a ONE-person operation. When I was debriefing the HA, he was not satisfied with the candidates and verified the need to have a salesperson who could sell to the $1 billion clients. At that point, I explained that this was an impossible task and that I could not help him any further on this project. This occurred about two years ago, and the position is still open. Not surprised. No push-back, but I have placed other candidates with this HA in other locations.

Maybe I’m getting too cynical in my old age, but if the situation is too difficult or impossible to work with, call it like it is. If things can’t or won’t change, everyone is better off by communicating properly and parting in a friendly or, at least, a professional manner.”
Brad Barick, President
– Platinum Search Group, Inc.

“Since the market has heated up, we have fired several of our clients and put one long-term client on ‘probation.’

The problem is generally not with HR, but with managers who are unable/unwilling to stay on top of changing budgets and changing project requirements. Then the delays and long hiring/decision processes make the probability of making a hire in a tight market so low that it is not worth the time and effort to keep pushing managers who can’t/won’t help themselves by interviewing and hiring.”

“We are in a unique niche – we provide consultants in the telephone industry. Because all of our consultants are subject-matter experts with a minimum of 15 years’ experience, we use traditional executive-search methods to identify and screen these professionals. My recruiting team consists entirely of search professionals.

We fired the largest telco in the country this year. We were one of their preferred vendors (real cachet for a small firm!), but their system of defining a need and managing candidates was not acceptable to us.

We had no direct contact with the end client, which meant we were shooting in the dark to identify the right people. They did not provide feedback – either for candidates submitted or after interviews – so we had no concept of what was going well or not going well. The HR process wiped our identifiers off our submissions so that our clients, who were really satisfied with our process, never knew if they were reviewing our candidate. The HR team also decided that the consultants were demanding too much money. They wanted to define both the pay rates and our billing rates.

Altogether, this was made into an untenable situation for us. It was better to fire our best client than to try to continue to bend to their needs.

The termination of this client helped us to focus on the companies that actually need our services and are willing to work in genuine partnership with us.

I feel strongly that our industry must focus on being partners with our clients instead of vendors to our clients. This change, while a nuance to some, will continue to elevate the respect for our processes as well as the benefit our broad expertise offers.”
Moira Higgins, CEO/President – TSRI

“An interesting topic. In fact, we were discussing this exact option this week. We have clients who fail to take ownership of their end of the process and by not doing so drastically impede our chances of success! As to how we incorporate a clause to this effect into our initial agreement, I am not sure, but would be pleased to hear other ideas on how, if the client does not perform, we can cancel the search.”
-Chris Stafford

“Firing the client is an interesting subject, and I will look forward to your article. I have fired the human resources person (right after he failed to keep a third phone interview with our candidate) and I have fired a number of hiring managers (usually for inability to obtain candidate critique), but have never fired the client. I always try to leave the door open.”
-Tom Udulutch, Professional Recruiter – Markent Personnel

“Am fairly new to the business but have quickly been able to develop that sixth sense that tells me when it is time for a client to go. I generally go directly to hiring managers to line up assignments but often get diverted to HR for the dreaded paperwork. Here is where it can all fall apart. Unless the hiring manager has a strong-enough constitution to stand up to the often insane demands of the HR group, I now quickly realize that the effort just will not be worth it. My tale of woe:

I made a cold call to an operations manager and ended up with a voice message, as he was not available. Surprisingly, he called me back a couple of days later and asked for my assistance. He was in dire need of a plant engineer, actually two of them. He directed me to their hiring manager and we quickly came up with the job specs and other parameters needed to make this all happen. Things went swimmingly until I sent along my fee agreement for signature. The hiring manager told me that he saw no issues with the document but that he had to pass the information through the HR department. Fair enough, I said, but there would be no presentation of candidates to him until the agreement was processed.

Here comes the rub. There were daily follow-up calls for a week, when finally I got an email from their HR guy with an attachment. Yep, it was THEIR agreement, which would supersede my agreement. I got the standard lecture in the body of the email that ‘we never pay more than X%, so you will have to reduce your fee.’ Also, the attachment was nothing more than a very formal way of saying, ‘Do it my way or hit the highway.’ They demanded that I extend my guarantee to 90 days from my standard 30 days, reduce my fees from 30% to 20% of first-year compensation, and be open to a return of all fees to them for an additional 30 days after payment (total of 120 days from hire) if they felt that the individual was not performing up to par. They also required that I not solicit the individual I placed for other positions (I never do that anyway), but then the kicker – and not place ANYONE from their company for a period of two years even if it was they who came to me for employment assistance.

Needless to say, I contacted the hiring manager and the operations manager and told them that I would be unable to work with their company and that I could not help them meet their needs. The fact that I never heard back from them told me that placing someone there would have been a mistake anyway. Just for the record, this is a very successful international conglomerate with dozens of plants around the world. You never find this kind of attitude at smaller companies. Unfortunately, there probably was some firm out there willing to work under those conditions. Allowing the predatory practices of large companies to continue, and encouraging them by ‘giving in,’ makes it worse for the real recruiting professionals.

I am sure that my story is not unique, but it sure does go to show that as owner/managers of professional recruiting firms, it is critical that we take steps to ensure that clients do not take advantage of us. Only by educating them on the value we add to the recruiting process will these practices ever stop.”
Gene Centauro, Managing Partner
– GRN Boston West

“Just this month I fired a client. They are a huge, well-known international firm. The corporate HR manager was very interested in my securing a person for a position that was very difficult for one of their facilities to fill. We quickly inked a fair agreement, and she said all future contact should be made with the HR functionary at the facility where the vacancy exists.

The HR functionary was going to send me a job description. I told him not to bother because I needed to speak at length with the hiring manager. No problem. I called the VP hiring manager. He told me when to call back for our discussion. He was not there at that meeting time, and he did not return my call. After two and a half weeks I got hold of him. He wanted his underling to talk to me who was at a manager’s level. I called him and he did the same thing, which was not being available at the agreed time, not returning calls, and thus no sense of urgency or dependability.

When I did reach him and reminded him that his boss and the HR department wanted me to get the information needed to do the search for him, he said he’d call me back in 30 minutes. Not surprisingly, there was no call back. By then I was convinced that had we spoken, I never would have gotten fast, cogent responses on any potential candidates that I surfaced. I made note that this is a perfect firm to cherry-pick for disgruntled employees and will not recruit for them. I count myself lucky that I discovered early in the process their ineptitude and disinterest in filling their opening. I now know why they have a tough assignment going unfilled.”
-Norman Lieberman

“In contingency search I don’t fire them, I just stop calling them. It would be my luck that if I fired one, they would turn up at my best client the next year – and with a chip on their shoulder because I fired them.

I can’t imagine anything productive coming from firing a client. The ones that make me the craziest year after year are the same ones that need me the most and are fairly easy to make money with because of the very incompetence that makes me crazy. How’s that for circular reasoning?”
-Ash DeVane, CPC – Century Search, Inc.

“Yes, I have terminated contracts and relationships with a number of companies over the years. Since I’ve switched over to engaged and retained work, it happens far less often because I don’t take on searches that I know I can’t complete or those where I know I don’t have the right chemistry.

It is never received well: amazement, shock, anger, and indignation are the usual first reactions. I won’t waste my time when a company has unreasonable expectations and an unwillingness to be flexible in their hiring demands in a market where they have nothing to offer to a potential candidate. In the past I have terminated contingency contracts with companies that have lost multiple candidates because of their inability to make a decision in a fair amount of time, those that dragged out the hiring process to months when it could and should have taken weeks. I have also chosen to not take new contracts from those I previously placed people with, and that is always shocking to them as well. I had one extremely arrogant and obnoxious company president scream at me, “You’re a f%^&ing recruiter. Recruiters never turn down a chance to rip me off!” No need to explain my reasons on that one. Terminating recruiting relationships is the right thing to do when you have an account that becomes more trouble than benefit. Why waste valuable time when you could be working with a company that is a better client?”
Leslie Wilcox Hughes, CRPC
President and Recruiter
– Corporate Moves, Inc.

“While I have been sorely tempted to fire a client on occasion, I have done so only once in 10 years. In the middle of a search for a national bank that had been recently acquired, I received a 19-page contract that voided and replaced my existing agreement. The terms were so onerous that even the local HR manager agreed she wouldn’t sign it in my position. When the national HR contact adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach, I chose to quit the search and formally advise them I was withdrawing as a provider.

While that situation was probably unavoidable, I learned that the keys to a good search are to have total agreement on fees and a clear understanding by both parties of expectations, including timely communication and action. Developing and maintaining close relationships with HR goes a long way in preventing frustration. Once HR gets comfortable, and knows they will be kept in the loop, problems rarely develop when I tell them I will be dealing with the hiring manager.”
Dave Reid
-David H. Reid & Associates, LLC

“I was working with a technology company in Dallas that had hired two programmers from me, and they were in need of several more with the same specific skills. I had sourced a candidate in Chicago, and they had a phone interview with this particular person upon receiving his résumé. They liked him so much that they made him the offer on the spot to move to Dallas.

This person had a family of five small children and was desperate for work, and he was going to go to Dallas himself for several months and then bring the family down later. Well, I knew that wasn’t going to work, and I told my client that there were too many personal issues with this person and they were better off not moving forward with him. Not only did they think that was stupid of me, but they told him they would give him a $5,000 sign-on bonus to come there and they would put him up in a hotel until he found a rental flat and, of course, gave him a return ticket.

In the meantime, I am still waiting to be paid for the last programmer they hired from me, and I’m telling you, I once again tried to talk them out of bringing this gentleman to Dallas. I called him the day he was leaving, and I could hear his wife screaming and crying in the background about how she could manage with all the kids by herself. I told him he should absolutely rethink this situation, as it was putting too much pressure on his wife.

Fortunately, I had corresponded with my client through email as to my concerns about this person and said that they shouldn’t hire him. He showed up for work on a Monday and they cut his bonus check for him that same afternoon. By 5 p.m. he wasn’t to be seen or heard from again. He took the return flight that same day with their money in his pocket.

Of course, it was now all my fault, and they wanted me to pay them back the $5,000 and they were also not going to pay me for the other programmer because of the wasted time and money that they had already spent on this person. I did not speak again to the hiring manager but went directly to the CEO and shared with him the whole recruiting/interview process and the fact that none of this was my fault. He decided to back up his manager and not me.

Well, they were fired as a client, as I told them that if these were their tactics and they needed to use me as their whipping boy, I wasn’t going to stand for that. After a long-drawn-out several months of back and forth, I did receive my check for the programmer, which had nothing to do with this situation to begin with!

Everything I read in The Fordyce Letter continues to tell us to take notes, make notes, get signed contracts, keep files, etc., so that when something like this happens, we have all our documentation to back it up. Never did hear from the programmer again, nor did they ever get their $5,000 back.”
Monica Thomson
-Thomson & Associates

“As the market has continued to flourish, I have had no choice as a solo recruiter but to simply walk away from SEVERAL searches and clients this year. My time is too valuable to waste on clients that have unrealistic demands, processes so slow that by the time they are prepared to move, the candidate is long off the market (and yet they expect the person to still be available), and more hoops than a hula convention. Life is too short! If I have a good client who moves quickly, sees my people and communicates well, and can turn around a search in 30 days or less, then that is the company that I am going to work with (even for a slightly lower fee). Why spend countless hours working searches when even your best efforts cannot overcome all the obstacles the client has put in place?

While other recruiters are doing that, I have already closed three deals with a GOOD CLIENT! I never outright tell the clients they are fired, as I do not want to burn any bridges for the future. They usually get it after they stop receiving résumés or correspondence from me. I just pull away (the old pull-back made famous by Steve Finkel, but instead of pulling back a candidate, I pull myself back) – that is, until they come crawling back to me. In the immortal words of Michael Corleone, ‘Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!'”
Adam Fitzer, CPC
– Prime Objective Recruitment

“I had an HR manager tell me today that the recruiter who she initially gave the assignment to resigned. She seemed shocked. The position is a ‘search your database only’ type assignment, as the client cannot/will not give out much information due to secrecy. They will not sign a fee agreement unless you send a résumé first. She’s not sure why recruiters have to send résumés first. Go figure???”
Cynthia Simpson
-J.T. Nelson & Associates, Inc.

“For the most part, our clients have been really great. They are sensitive to the tightening talent market. However, we have terminated a few clients of various sizes in the last few years, mostly companies with the wrong mentality. We found them to be unproductive as compared to other clients, and they did not work well with our high-touch model.

One was a midsize network equipment manufacturing company where they worked with 12+ recruitment firms, which created a cattle-call, line-em-up mentality. No thanks!

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Another was a large telecom equipment manufacturing company with a lengthy procedure for becoming one of their ‘preferred vendors.’ Once becoming a vendor, we were ordered to cease contact with our clients that valued us enough to sponsor and push us through the process, and to work ‘only’ with and through their HR talent acquisition people. Turned out that these people were all contractors who competed with us. We submitted well-qualified résumés who had given their specific okay to be submitted, and in many cases, we would get no response. Then when calling for follow-up we were stalled, and in one case, we were told the résumé was already in their database but not to worry because they weren’t interested anyway. We found out shortly thereafter that our candidate was called and interviewed. No thanks!
Life’s too short! We learn something new every day. These lessons help us to do a better job interviewing our clients for fit to us. We really try to work with people who value the service and expertise that we bring to their table.”
Matthew N. Reaves, CPC, Managing Director – Executive Search Consultant
– Common Agenda, LLP

“I think I have fired more in the last 12 months than I have in the previous six years. Some of this is due to the HR people getting in the way, but I think a lot of it has to do with me getting smarter about who I’m working for. I should also tell you that I’ve enjoyed the last couple of years more, and made more money as well.

The two main trends I’ve been seeing lately are 1) the use of internal recruiters (and contract recruiters) to ‘manage’ the process and do initial candidate screening, and 2) hiring managers that either are too busy to interview candidates in a timely manner for the positions they have open, or don’t understand how strong the competition is for the people they are looking for.

My first example of a situation has to do with the problem of working with internal recruiters and the unethical practices some of them use. About a year ago I fired a new client that I had worked for a few months to get. They are a very large medical device company that is always hiring.

Once I got the agreement in place, they started calling me a couple of times a day to have me search for a new position for them. After a couple of days I started getting some résumés in to them, expecting to get some interviews set up. Instead I got calls from the internal recruiter saying they already had the résumé for that candidate in their database, but please keep sending more candidates.

I immediately contacted my candidates, ready to yell at them for not telling me in our initial interview that they had sent their résumé to this client. I make it a practice to ask candidates where they have sent their résumés in the last 12 months, which companies they are particularly interested in, and which ones they want to avoid, so I was a little surprised to find out that my client had the résumé. When I contacted my candidate, he informed me that he had sent them a résumé two and a half years earlier, and that he had never heard anything back from them.

This same scenario happened with the next three candidates I submitted, and then the first candidate called to tell me that my client’s internal recruiter had called him to come in for an interview. I immediately contacted the director of recruitment for my client to tell him this had to stop, to which he replied that if they ended up hiring that candidate, I would get full credit.

The internal recruiters continued to tell me they already had most of my candidates, and would offend the ones they decided to have a “preliminary” interview with by trying to talk them into positions that were well below their current levels. They also asked questions that showed a complete lack of understanding about what my candidates did for a living.

When I spoke to the hiring managers, they would tell me they were very frustrated by the lack of qualified candidates that were being forwarded to them, and also that they had not seen the résumés of ANY of my candidates. When I explained to them what had been going on with their recruiters, they told me they didn’t like the system either, but that it was a corporate policy and they couldn’t really do anything about it.

After two weeks of this, I decided I couldn’t continue wasting my time, or my candidates’, by reminding the client of who was lost in their ‘system.’ I sent a letter to the director of recruitment outlining my reasons for canceling my agreement with them, and never received a response.

However, the internal recruiters kept calling me to have me search for new candidates. They finally stopped after about a month of my telling them I no longer did searches for them.

Since then I have fired several other clients, but not for the same reason. I no longer will sign a contract with a company that tells me I can only talk with HR. It’s just not worth the headaches, and I don’t have the time to teach them what my candidate does and how that relates to what they are looking for. Most of them don’t even know the buzzwords.

Most of my most recent firings have been because hiring managers are too busy to interview, or have the attitude that they need to see 10 candidates and then they will decide who they will bring in. Unfortunately, most of the stronger candidates get other offers while waiting for this process and pull out of the running. By then the hiring managers decide they like the stronger candidates, but since they are no longer available, they want me to find more candidates to compare to. Even with my continuously reminding them of the difficulty of finding these people, and the competition for them, they refuse to speed up their process. At which time I have to tell them that I no longer can keep finding people for them until they are ready to cut this process down to no longer than two weeks.

I’ve had such a sense of relief from firing some of these clients that I don’t mind doing it at all. In fact, I’ve come to really enjoy being able to tell them I’m just too busy to work on their assignments, and that I have too many good clients that understand the value of my time, and the time of the candidates I present. Here’s to finally working smarter!”
Jeff King
Professional Placement
-Specialists, Inc.

“I fired a client four months ago. They started using their internal ‘corporate recruiter,’ who they thought was experienced and wonderful. Turns out the recruiter had three years of very flimsy experience and really did not understand the art of ‘passive recruiting.’

Simply put, they did not want to see my candidate because he felt that a person not looking would not be motivated and would only take a counter. Of course, I tried to educate this rookie and also tried to work with the manager. The manager was ready to see the candidate, and the VP of HR said if he did I would not get a fee. The inside recruiter then tried to get me to provide name/email to put into his database and possibly contact the candidate in future when he wasn’t a passive candidate.

I have been in this business since 1983 and respect quality HR and internal recruiters but do not tolerate any of this behavior. I marketed my candidate elsewhere and have an interview scheduled. I am now in the process of recruiting out their people. They don’t get it.”

“In over 19 years, I have never terminated a search, but we have turned down searches, after difficult times of changing specs, missed interviews, and unresponsive clients. Fortunately, we have not done this much in 19 years, but even though our clients pay our bills, our candidates are often our source of other candidates. A client’s lack of integrity can be perceived as our lack of integrity, and integrity is earned, slowly, consistently, and cannot be mended easily if torn. So, we have turned down searches from difficult clients, but couch it in terms of “no available resources at this time.” I have learned never to burn a bridge, as a client may have a new management team, with better values, in the near future.”
-Suzanne Fairlie, CPC

“I fired a bank client about two years ago when he claimed to have received my candidate from another recruiter, and while that appeared to be true, the client went direct to the candidate and cut out the third-party recruiter. Although this was a client that I had made a couple of placements with, the fact that the client was nearly incapable of making a timely decision, coupled with the incident, was enough to end the relationship. We have another client that fits the same general MO: routinely rejects top candidates in favor of hiring their own internally recruited candidates, although we have continued to make scattered placements with them. Our sense is that the HR recruiter doesn’t want to present more than a candidate or two for the positions once she’s found one, regardless of the quality of our candidates.

We’ve had two others in the last six months that professed desperation for candidates but never had the time to interview the ones they liked, and we simply quit working the job orders.”
-Barney Kramer – Dunhill

“I have fired clients a few times when doing diversity searches or research. The reasons in priority order:
1. They demonstrated that they were not serious about hiring diversity candidates, but just going through the motions to placate the law, PR, etc.
2. Lack of timely feedback.
3. The lack of respect they showed to candidates.”
Frank X. McCarthy
– Diverse Workplace Inc.

“I have done it more than once. One client treated my candidates poorly by making them wait in the waiting room for a long time after filling out an application (45 minutes once) and did it to all candidates that interviewed. Another client just was never going to hire anyone. I knew this and so I spoke with them and sent an email to follow up. Another just NEVER called back, ever, no emails, calls, nothing, so I terminated with an email. All these situations were with senior managers, controller or CFO, not HR, ironically enough.”

“No, I can’t say I ever fired a client. In the industry I am in, it is small and large all at one time. I work in the computer games industry. Therefore, it’s necessary to be gentle and, well, diplomatic when backing out of a recruiting relationship. You never know when you will meet up with one of the hiring managers or HR recruiters somewhere else. I severed a relationship with a studio in Maryland about eight years ago and refused to work for them as long as the then owner of the company was still there. Now someone new is running things finally, and I’m so out of the loop that I can’t get connected again. Oh, I will eventually, but if I’d handled things a bit better I would have at least kept my ear and eye on the keyhole.

Also I’ve learned that the seeming jerk in HR might not really be a jerk after all. It’s just the boss who is calling the shots. The person who yesterday was the pin in my side now comes to me to work a special assignment.”
Jill Zinner – Premier Search, Inc.

“I fired a client about 18 months ago. The client was a regional bank and she was the HR director but had had substantial experience as a recruiter with a well-known recruiting firm. I had a good 30% fee agreement in place to find six-figure senior managers for this bank. Multiple openings. The HR director was very easy to deal with, responded promptly to my calls, provided tons of information, etc. A great assignment!

My well-qualified candidate was flown in for face-to-face interviews at the highest level following a successful telephone interview. All was coming together – or so I thought!

At the last minute, I was told that the candidate was not acceptable. When I asked what the problem was, the HR manager gave me a vague response. I then stated that I needed to talk to the senior manager who objected to my candidate, abruptly realizing that all contact thus far had been through this very helpful HR director.

The HR manager said that all discussions must go through her personally. I emphasized that I needed to find out directly from the hiring manager what the problem was. The HR director said, ‘No way, EVERYTHING goes through me!’ I restated my need to truly understand why my well-qualified candidate was not being hired so I could ensure that the next candidate did not present the same problem. Again, the HR director denied access to her senior managers.

I then said that I was sorry but I would be unable to work with her any further without that access. I wished her well, hung up the phone, and never looked back – and never heard back! I have since been very, very careful to ensure access to all hiring managers! Lesson well learned!”
Chuck Griffin, President
– Global Recruiters of Alexandria

“To this day, I wonder if I did the right thing – but it’s done.

There was a key client that I could count on for two or three placements per year, through good times or bad. As my specialty is information technology, I’d placed nearly everyone within the department, from operations to director level.

Blood is thicker than water. A little over a year ago, the older cousin of the VP of finance lost his IT infrastructure job at a key financial institution in NYC. Things started with the cousin doing on-site consulting three days a week and gradually rolled into a full-time second IT director’s position over infrastructure/communications. A case for his hiring could have been made if he had exceptional, current technology skills. He doesn’t. A case for his hiring could have been made if he had great managerial, visionary skills. He doesn’t. Consequently, because of the technical ineptitude, browbeatings, overt sexist/racist comments, several of my people left and one was let go.

A gracious, detailed phone conversation took place with the VP of finance about my concerns. The last straw occurred when one of the brightest infrastructure guys I’d ever worked with – and had placed with the client six months earlier – could take it no longer and walked out. I had heard enough. Having contacted not only that individual but also each of the others who had left, the future was clear.

My philosophy has always been that I will not place an individual in a company that I personally could not work for. When I conveyed my concerns and regret for no longer being able to work in placing people for the cousin, feedback was less than gracious. Later, I conveyed the same message to the director. I let him know that for his group, I could potentially – in good conscience – provide talent. He indicated that to use my services would be suicide. Hmmm! Did I fire them, or did they fire me?”

“I can’t say that I have fired a client, but certainly have turned down complicated, hoop-jumping contracts. For some reason, this year in particular has become the year of the contract. Contracts are being driven by attorneys and not in the best interest of the private recruiter or candidates who are looking to be hired quickly and efficiently. Companies are asking for six-month and even one-year guarantee periods for middle management, reduced fees for multiple placements (by multiple, I mean two), and time-consuming résumé-submission procedures so résumés can filter through a maze of people before being passed to the hiring authority of any power or actual job-requirement knowledge, then asking for a large reduced fee if candidates don’t fit the job opening they were submitted for but were hired for another position.

Even more frustrating are the recruiters who continue to accept these arrangements, lower fees, and long guarantees.

It’s tough to turn down assignments, but in the long run, it will save headaches and credit and collection issues.”
Ellen Newman, President
-First Recruiting Services

“The majority of clients do not comprehend the extent of commitment, time, and knowledge we spend on their behalf even though we are making a point at the onset of any assignment to go through anything we need from them. This issue comes up again and again, and it even occurs on a retainer, and on an exclusive contingency with engagement fees. Apparently, there are still people who want to be professional résumé collectors. I think this issue could be a very good topic for The Fordyce Letter, and developing a systematic plan with all key points to educate the client and seek their commitment to work with us in the same spirit we do.

The aspect of building relationships as partners is at the core of our activities with any client. This is especially difficult with HR people, except for a few who see the value of what we do, and assist and enter into a true relationship with us. The majority, however, either resent dealing with search companies or have a guilt complex that this is the job they should do. They have difficulty understanding or comprehending that the due diligence we perform for clients would tie them up for days and days, not allowing them to attend to their other duties. A different set of educational key points may be useful before we actually accept an assignment to ensure a true partnership.

We do, gently and politely, turn down so-called opportunities if we do not feel a sense of urgency and commitment to work with us fluently. We are finding that the more we say no, many of them will come back anyway and work with us on our terms. For those who do not, we feel we have lost little.”
-Bernd K. Wosgien, CHA, President and CEO – Executive Search International

“I haven’t fired any clients yet, but am very close. I’ve stopped conducting active searches for them and only send them candidates whom I have found via other searches, and those candidates are fully informed of the opportunity. I don’t fluff up anything, and let them know it’s risky.

Reasons why I’d fire them: Very bad reputation for churn and burn. Products have seriously decreased. Micromanagement, or management is very young and inexperienced. Many of the VPs I’ve placed there are no longer there, and that ultimately means I look bad when they call in six or twelve months and say they were fired.

Why I haven’t fired them: They send me all their needs, so I have a laundry list to choose from when things are slow. They pay on time. They were my first client and gave me my start, so I have some loyalty.

I’m not sure what I’d do. What if they turn around in a few years, and I’m already in the door? Difficult situation!

I have not so much fired as walked away from many of my largest clients for this very reason. Their job orders simply get moved to the bottom of the stack. I am surprised by how few companies even follow up to see why they are not receiving candidates. If they do, I explain to them how these roadblocks negatively impact their chances of a successful hire. Rarely do they listen. I find it more productive to focus on finding new clients that understand how to work successfully with recruiters.”
Michael Scott, President
– Search Consultants, Inc.

“There have been many occasions where we have had to fire clients. Many times it is because our clients make agreements in the beginning about how we will work together and they don’t hold up their end of the agreement. If a client will not return phone calls in a timely manner (within 24 hours), especially with the candidate market as hot as it is now, they lose. A lot of times we lose as well because the candidate finds a job on his/her own by the time the client responds.

I know of an instance in particular where we had direct contact with the hiring manager. He extended an offer; the candidate accepted. Because HR was too slow in drawing up the offer letter (over 10 days), our candidate had to withdraw from the offer and accept another offer from a company that extended the offer letter on the day they offered the job. In this case, we didn’t fire the client, but we did alter the process and, in essence, fire HR from future interference. The hiring manager was so upset at the loss of the ideal candidate that he refused to have human resources in the hiring process at all for future searches.”
Melissa Yarbrough, CPC, CTS
-Direct Hire Program Manager EmployBridge Direct Hire Division

“I have been jerked around by a few companies lately, and I now take their people if they call me. I already have one placement under my belt and another is imminent. In future, I will not work with these companies without an engagement fee. Why tip these companies off with a termination letter unless you are working on a paid search? They do not deserve it. If companies have a certain amount of fear that we can take people out as well as place them, then they will be less likely to treat us without respect.”

“I have fired and terminated clients. The reality is that I don’t do it often enough and occasionally get caught up in the desperate recruiter mentality and follow clients when I should be leading them. Fact is, every time I have actually terminated a search/client, the client wants me on it even more.

Case in point: a $1 billion dollar company paid me $2.5 million in fees over six years. Then the president left as well as every key contact in the company that I had worked with. The new leadership came in and experienced our success together, when all of a sudden they wanted to change how they worked with me. They wanted all communication through one contact, and that contact would not allow communication beyond her with any managers and me.

Tried it their way, but we had several missed interviews and even more missed expectations. When we tried to discuss the shortcomings, it was like talking with a wall. This went on for four months, until I finally had to terminate the relationship for the lack of ability to deliver solutions under their process. I made it plain and simple that it was my issue and not theirs. They needed a discount recruiter that needed their business and was willing to spend time working on projects that were not urgent to the actual hiring manager.

Funny part of this story was that continuously over the next 15 months, this one person kept calling me, wanting my services. I continued to turn down the opportunities until a VP recently called and requested my attention and said he would deal with me directly. We are now working with that company again.

This is not new or original in thought: WORK WITH PEOPLE THAT WANT TO WORK WITH YOU! Those people will partner up with you to solve their needs.”
-Vince Holt – MR Mercer Island

“We recently terminated a few clients; first time I seriously did it in 30 years of recruiting, 25 in my own business. We looked at review fee agreements that we didn’t like, fee percentages that were not up to par, clients that had HR issues, and evaluated if we would make more money putting people in or taking them out. We notified the clients, and some called back bewildered, but we explained our position, and since they weren’t willing to budge on their side, we politely and professionally ended the relationship.

The main example is as follows. We found that we were making only one placement every year or two at a particular big-four accounting firm, were having difficulties running things through HR, and had many clients wanting people out of big-four firms. We followed the rules of their contract, and notified them in writing. They had a clause not to recruit their people for one year after termination, and we were ready to abide by that.

Afterwards, we realized they never sent us a fully signed, executed contract. We then requested a copy of a fully signed contract, which they could not produce. So, after giving them a time frame to produce it, and their not being able to, we promptly turned them back into a source!”
Dave Glaser, President
– ECG Resources, Inc.

“Yes, we have fired clients. Number one reason is not following through with the commitments we had previously agreed upon. Once we understand clearly what is a “hire,” the hiring process (especially if it is a contingency search) is everything. What has helped in evaluating searches that equate to no money is sending a confirmation letter of the specifications, hiring process, and follow-up commitments. Then we share with the client that the reason we are going to put forth the effort is his/her agreed-upon hiring process and urgency to make an offer in a specific number of days from the first contact with the candidate(s). When we want to fill the position more than they do is when we have pain. We stop the search and share with them why.

They did not honor their part of the agreement, whereas we did. If they are willing to correct their lack of follow-up/urgency, then we will re-evaluate. Since the agreements were in writing and agreed upon, we have experienced either clients apologizing, in which case we can hopefully correct the situation, or they can’t and we then know we have saved a lot of aggravation and effort. We should consider ourselves the “doctors of employment” in our profession, and if clients in this marketplace will not allow us to use “our tools,” we have to terminate the client or suffer malpractice.”
-Bill Lins, CPC – Personalized Management Associates, Inc.

“As the market becomes hotter and is candidate-driven, picking our clients has become more critical. We have done an activity and process review of all existing clients and determined that several have ratios out of line with the rest of our clients and the market.

These ratios are job orders to fills, sendouts to placements, and people presented to sendouts. This means that we are investing more time in servicing them with less return than our other clients. We have addressed this with them and if we are not able to bring them back in line, we move on to lower-hanging fruit. One specific client is in the financial services industry; we have had contractors there for years at lower margins and have not been able to build off that base. We worked on multiple job orders but were unsuccessful in adding to our base.

As with most assignments, if you are not wired to the decision makers, it is difficult to make progress. When the contracts came up for renewal, we decided to move our people to more profitable accounts that had greater potential. It is a difficult decision because we all like to keep what we have, but we also realize that we have only so much time to invest. Also we need to keep in mind that you need sources as well as clients.”
-James Del Monte, CPC, President JDA Professional Services, Inc.

“Just recently terminated a client for delaying the interview process. Would phone-interview a top-level candidate, then waited over one week to return my calls to then tell me they hadn’t spoken with the VP about the candidate yet and needed more time. After we explained the market conditions, the client commented, ‘If they can’t wait for us, then we aren’t interested in them.’ With that attitude, we decided to no longer service them. They decided they could recruit without using an outside recruiter. They gave the ‘you can’t fire me, I quit’ reaction. Their position is still open today.

Seems many companies are trying to hedge their bets by bringing on multiple recruiters for their open positions. I’ve chosen not to join in goose chases and will no longer work with a client that has more than one other recruiter working a search – unless the company is paying me a retainer.”
-Gary W. Perman, CRPC – Talent Acquisition Solution Provider

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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