Publisher’s Corner

I keep hearing and reading a lot of hullabaloo about the globalization of the economy and how it’s going to affect not only our business – but everybody. It seems to be the newest buzz jargon to make people think you’re hip to what’s going on. Golly, even I’ve written scripts for people to use when conversing with CEOs to demonstrate how “worldly” they are by talking about “globalization.”
One of my readers called to ask me my opinion about all this globalization rhetoric. I was briefly tempted to try to sound smart and sophisticated but somewhere during that period when the brain connects with the mouth my true feelings about the subject made me blurt, “Who cares?”

I remember having a delightful dinner a couple of decades ago with Gardner Heidrick, one of the true legends in the retained search business. Even back then, he was lamenting all the pseudo-stylish chatter he was hearing from the other biggies in search over the global marketplace and how to tap it. At that time, just a few of these blue-chippers had offices overseas. A few had established connections with like-minded colleagues in other countries but communication was a major impediment and much more costly than it was worth just to be able to tell people that your practice was ‘international.’

Nowadays, the Internet makes it as simple to communicate with someone in Krakow as it is to call Keokuk. Even so, I still say, “Who cares?”
If you look at the business in the ‘macro’ context, I suppose it’s OK for the cocktail circuit partygoers to think of you as an intercontinental sophisticate but, in reality, we are in a ‘micro’ business. As Gardner said, “Why would you bother going after annoyingly time consuming business overseas when you can’t handle all the domestic business that exists?” Gardner has passed on, but his words still ring in my mind.

The Japanese car you drive was probably made in America and the American car you drive might have been made in Mexico or Canada. If you think that placing an engineer with a Japanese firm that operates a manufacturing plant in Keokuk is intercontinental, so be it, but I don’t view that as an international transaction. It’s part of the one-by-each transactions in which we all participate on a ‘micro’ level. If that same Japanese company asked you to find an engineer for one of their plants in Osaka, the task becomes exponentially tougher and one where your time and effort would lead most practical practitioners to say, “No way!”

I have been accused of being a bit provincial. Perhaps, but as a four-plus decade observer of this business, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I’ve talked with thousands of ‘big talkers’ who never made it to their second year. And I’ve also talked with thousands of successful searchers and placers who realized that a successful long-term career was dependent upon making a continual string of placements. In a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business,’ your pipeline of ‘possibilities’ must remain constant. In the hierarchy of ‘possibilities,’ the local placement reigns supreme. If your niche won’t support that modality, your next choices are regional or national. It’s a much bigger leap to think international and it’s a major misconception to believe that every step up the geographic ladder won’t diminish your chances of collecting a fee when weighed against the effectiveness of a local effort.

I know that very few niches will support a strictly local practice, but if you weigh the rewards against the temptations of the global marketplace, it should be a no-brainer.

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for delays in mailing retainer checks but when one of our readers waited a month and a half for the first installment, he asked the hiring manager to check it out. He came back with, “Corporate tells me the delay is because of Sarbanes-Oxley.” I guess the new trend for maintaining the ‘float’ is the SOX excuse. Hoo boy!

Interesting article on Chutzpah in the hiring process from Business Week. Look for it at: http://www.businessweek.com/careers/content/jan2006/ca20060106_436599.htm.

We’ll are surveying our readership for the Annual Consultant Earnings issue. I realize it may impose on some of your time but the more responses we receive, the more accurate the results and, since you have probably just compiled the information for your taxes, I appreciate your cooperation and participation. Thanks in advance. The form is on the inside back cover of this issue. Anonymity is assured.

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A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Managers said that over 53% of all job applicants lie to some extent on their resumes. Over 70% of all college students said they would lie on their resume to get a job. Others have placed the figure even higher. But do these people need help and encouragement in fabricating their life story? Evidently they do according to Derek Johnson, a former executive recruiter and author of The Fake Resume Guide (www.fakeresume.com). What’s next? How to beat old folks out of their life savings?

Interesting question for our readers regarding commission plans. A reader wrote: “We are having a debate in my company over how commission should be paid out at the beginning of the year on production from 2005.  My recruiters are on a tier plan so by the end of the year their commission % goes up from 40% to 55% on cash in, based on their ending production. We base production on start dates.   Example: Production is confirmed with a start date in December, but the cash comes in January, I pay out at the 55% rate because it is part of 2005 production totals.   My company interprets differently and feels that if the cash comes in 2006, you go back to the 40% starting tier on that cash in, even though it is counted in their production for 2005 (for things like President’s Club honors, awards, plaques, etc.). What are your thoughts on this?

Should consultants be paid their commissions or bonuses based upon billing, production, start date or cash in? Let us hear from you, with or without attribution..

Last month. We asked if any readers had any experience with or comments on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Most reported that they are happy with their new systems. After a few initial installation glitches which were easily corrected, they are enjoying all of the features of their more traditional phones systems (Call waiting, caller ID, voice mail, etc.) plus a number of other features which give them more flexibility with a much lower cost. One said their firm was saving $3,000 a month. If you want more information on this technology, I recommend that you get a copy of the January 2006 issue of Consumer Reports which dissects Internet phoning to a fare thee well.

Retention is the name of the game these days for companies, especially since surveys are now indicating that about 75% of all employees are thinking seriously about changing jobs. Firms are requiring employees to sign restrictive agreements, onerous non-competes and requiring them to inform their employers of any contacts by outside recruiters. Attorney Jeff Allen wrote about this trend a few years ago but it is getting worse so we are reprising his thoughts in this month’s Placements & 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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