MRI Founder and Recruiting Pioneer Alan Schonberg Dies

Alan Schonberg, founder of MRI and an innovator in search, died this morning, losing his battle with lung cancer. He was 85.

The much admired recruiting pioneer was surrounded by his family when he passed away. The family requests no phone calls or visits now, as they mourn. A celebration of his life will be held in the future.

Schonberg led MRI for 35 years as CEO leaving the post in 2000 when he became chairman, and, three years later, chairman emeritus. During his tenure, Schonberg built MRI from a collection of small employment agencies into the largest search firm franchise in the world.

That alone would qualify Schonberg as an industry leader. But nearly single-handedly, he converted the traditional recruiting practice where the applicant paid for the placement to the employer paid model we have today. He introduced contingent search and formal training to the industry, leveraging the various media as it became available.

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He also co-authored two books, and, became involved in numerous philanthropic activities. So highly regarded was he that when his illness began to be known, cards and letters flowed into the Schonberg home.

His son-in-law’s tribute, published on Fordyce last summer, touched many. In recent weeks, Troed Larson, an MRI recruiter in Scandinavia launched a Facebook page  — “Thank You Alan Schonberg” — where memorials to Schonberg and condolences to his family are being posted.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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3 Comments on “MRI Founder and Recruiting Pioneer Alan Schonberg Dies

  1. I first spoke with Alan Schonberg thirty years ago when he personally called and invited me to conduct a three-hour program for the entire conference at the MRI annual convention. l last spoke with Alan perhaps a month ago; out of nowhere, the phone rang and it was Alan, calling to compliment me on a new product I had sent to him. I cannot say how touched I was that with his grave health problems, he took the time to do so. I will remember that last call forever.

    We spoke and met many times. He was always kind, supportive, helpful and generous with good advice and valued friendship. I will not forget either, and I will certainly miss him.

    Condolences to his family… and to all of us who knew him.

    1. I worked closely with Alan, both as a lawyer and a friend, over many years when the employment agency industry was converting from an applicant fee based business to one where the employer was charged a fee and during the era when franchises were being established all over the country. He was a part of an organized group that included Bob Half, Bill Cass, John Fanning, Bob Snelling, Bill Murphy, Bob Kushell and others who helped recreate and professionalize the employment agency industry to what it is today. He was an innovator and a forward thinker and all those who engage in staffing today owe a debt to Alan for his contribution. My deepest sympathy to his family.
      A. Bernard Frechtman, Esq.

  2. I first spoke with Alan Schonberg thirty years ago when he personally called and invited me to conduct a three-hour program for the entire conference at the MRI annual convention. l last spoke with Alan perhaps a month ago; out of nowhere, the phone rang and it was Alan, calling to compliment me on a new product I had sent to him. I cannot say how touched I was that with his grave health problems, he took the time to do so. I will remember that last call forever.

    We spoke and met many times. He was always kind, supportive, helpful and generous with good advice and valued friendship. I will not forget either and I will certainly miss him.

    Condolences to his family… and to all of us who knew him.

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