Publisher’s Corner

Many will remember the October issue where a reader scolded me for pulling a candidate from a company that first agreed to pay a fee, then reneged telling me that the sales manager for whom he would have been working already knew about the guy. I was admonished as unprofessional and compared to someone standing on a street corner in a trench coat selling trinkets for my tawdry treatment of the fee avoider. I asked if any other readers had any comments on my behavior and received several. Here are a couple of them:

Long tenured and highly successful practitioner Ash DeVane, CPC and President of CENTURY Search, Inc. wrote: “I must be old fashioned, or worse, naïve, but back in the 80’s, during the first ten years I was in this business, we rarely sent contingency fee agreements unless it was requested by the client. For some reason, that didn’t seem to occur nearly as frequently as it does today. We found it was easier to bill what we deemed appropriate after we filled that tough position for our client than to debate it up front. The few times a client balked when they saw the bill, we advised them they might better have discussed their expectations up front with us since we made a practice of not negotiating after the fact, and that was usually the end of it … believe it or not. So much for happy memories.

I will say that in our current market, with all the residual “low-fee HR mindset” left over from the 2002-2003 period, I admit that it is best for all parties to be clear on what we will charge. It is still my position however, that when a company representative who has apparent fee authority tells me that they agree to something, at least by Email, I expect them to live up to it. I haven’t been disappointed yet. Perhaps my day is coming.

I still believe that most people want to do the right thing given the opportunity (with other people’s money, at least), even if we have to remind them of what the “right thing” is. To that end, my requirement for them to sign a legal document before I will lift a finger for them seems in my mind to suggest that I absolutely don’t trust them. Of course, being in the southeast region, our “Andy of Mayberry” style of relationship building may play more readily than in other geographic areas. In my own experience, it is still possible to shame people into doing the right thing, just like our mamas did all those years ago (and still do today for some of us).

In conclusion, I have heard a few tales over the years that are not unlike your recent experience but I have personally experienced it myself only a time or two … and still got paid. My personal choice is to not let those scarce few “client scofflaws” dictate how I will treat everyone else who I do business with. Regards from the formerly small town of Cary , NC.”

Super-biller Anthony Beshara, Ph.D., President of Babich & Associates – Texas’ Oldest Placement and Recruitment Firm responded: “I tell people here at my firm that if you don’t get a “fee avoider/deadbeat/crazy/cheat” who tries to avoid our fee once in a while … you aren’t doing your job. We have always sold the idea of “see my candidate” and the earning of the fee will follow if you hire them … and it works most of the time

We have never gotten a “signed contract” (unless they send it to me and force me to do it) in my 33 years. We get a verbal agreement and then send them a letter confirming it and, yes, they sometimes say they never got it … right! … and we have about 1% of our volume in contention or in litigation. So what! Maybe we are just very unprofessional … but, I don’t care. Neither does my mortgage company, the two expensive universities to which I pay tuition to for my last two kids, my retirement fund, American Express, etc.

NOBODY gives a damn about my “professionalism.” They want what I can get them – either a job or a good candidate. That’s it! If I do a good job – I’m “professional.” If I don’t, they still don’t care. I can hang out in my tux or my trench coat and they still don’t give a damn. If I cheat, lie and “do” something “to” people instead of “for” them, they stop doing business with me. And, if you try to cheat me, I’ll tell my candidate that you are a cheat, and anyone else that will listen. I’ll tell my candidate not to go to work there and I’ll try to recruit your people, figuring that if you’d try to cheat me, you are cheating your employees … and that has been proven time and time again. I act like “a person selling trinkets out in my trench coat on a street corner” if you try to cheat me ’cause I don’t really care what you think if you try to cheat me…

My “professionalism” is the last candidate I placed. I had an employer get mad at me two or three years ago, calling me “unprofessional” because my candidate had a heart attack and died after being on the job for six months. He thought it was “unprofessional” that I didn’t know the guy was in bad health. He was just venting.

If I’m “professional” I stay in business ’cause I’m placing people with companies that pay me. If I’m not “professional” I go broke.

Paul…I’ll take that faux Rolex near your vest pocket…”

I appreciate all who sent their pay plans for review. We are still tabulating results which will appear next month – a good time to make modification on compensation.

Article Continues Below

Almost three two decades ago, I took the helm of The Fordyce Letter. It has been quite a voyage. I’ve seen the industry go through feast and famine; recessions and recoveries; good years and bad; but through it all I’ve enjoyed nothing but satisfaction from an industry that has been the focal point of my existence from the time I left law school until today.

I’ve watched the industry change in many technological ways while most of the basics have remained as sacrosanct as they’ve always been.

I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of knowing most of the industry’s movers and shakers as well as the thousands of righteous practitioners with whom I’ve spoken over the years. Many have become close friends, not only professionally, but personally.

The Fordyce Letter has become the gold standard among the scores of information providers serving the industry and I’m proud to have been the standard bearer. But the success of The Fordyce Letter rests not on my shoulders. It happened because of the many contributors who put their heart and soul and blood and sweat into putting their wisdom into words for our readers – knowledge, perception and insights gained from their own decades in the trenches.

Late last month, The Kimberly Organization as well as The Fordyce Letter was acquired by ERE Media, Inc., (staging.ere.net) a New York-based media company which has developed a very large presence and a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the communications field within our industry. Their menu of products, services and offerings for the recruiting industry far surpasses that which we can ever hope to provide for our readership. Many of you are already familiar with them through ERExchange.com. This is not a swan song but a journey forward for The Fordyce Letter and for me. TFL is merely moving to a bigger stage. The advantages offered by and through ERE Media are substantial and will do nothing but enhance the benefits for TFL readers.

To put your minds at ease, The Fordyce Letter will continue to provide the readership with the monthly publication you’ve grown used to. It is our fervent hope that all of the contributors will continue to add to the industry’s body of knowledge knowing that their words of wisdom will get far greater exposure through ERE than they could ever receive through The Fordyce Letter.

I have entertained a number of offers for The Fordyce Letter over the years but, until ERE Media, none have passed my muster nor have they offered the synergism I required for our valued subscribers. ERE Media more than meets my requirements.

You’re not getting rid of me. I’ll still be around to take your calls, answer your Email inquiries and requests and consult on the content of The Fordyce Letter. Only the back office operations will be made more efficient through ERE Media so your renewals, etc. will come from New York instead of St. Louis.

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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