Send Only ‘Blind’ Resumes Or You May See Your Fee Runaway

Mr. Allen,

Hello, it is good to be ‘speaking’ with you. I was told of your website when I first began in the executive search business many years ago, and I have benefited from visiting your site again, recently, by being able to read the scenarios that occur in our business.

In particular I appreciate your Q & A about referring resumes and doing so in a manner that protects us from losing a fee in the referral process. A recent experience has taught me I need to more closely follow your suggestions about masking a candidate’s identity, and so I shall.

I’ve been in recruiting for a few different industries since 1980: healthcare, insurance, manufacturing. and have done not only contingency but also retained searches.

Recently, after being away from the search business for a few years I’ve discovered something new to me. On many occasions I will contact an executive in a company, make a candidate presentation, and that executive will agree to receive and review the candidate’s resume. I also have on many occasions arranged for that executive’s ‘gatekeeper’ to receive a candidate’s resume (with the understanding I am in the search business and that a fee would apply upon hire of the referred candidate), and subsequently print it and put on that executive’s desk for review. (This has worked and gotten me a hire although I’m thinking you probably don’t approve.)

Some of these same companies have it posted on their website they do not accept ‘unsolicited resumes’ and that resumes received by an external recruiter/third party recruiter, even if via a company executive/department head, will become the property of that company and that no fee will be paid if they subsequently contact and then hire that candidate.

Jeff, assuming I have (foolishly) not masked that candidate’s identity, can they do that? Especially if a company executive agrees to receive a candidate resume from me, knowing I am not on the company’s vendor list?

Upon having a resume rejected by HR, and being told they do not accept unsolicited resumes, I had suggested to them that the resume was not unsolicited; that I had permission from a company executive to send it, making it neither unsolicited nor solicited. This did not get me anything, and I guess I am not much of a barracks lawyer, but I was put off that HR has now created a new distinction by which they can apparently capture resumes without having to pay a fee.

Would you please clear this up for me?

Thank you for your time and consideration. As always, your take on this is highly appreciated.

Paul Forel

Paul Forel Executive Search

Jeff Respond

Hi Paul,

Welcome back to the business!

The technique you’re describing are called “running with an MPC” (cold-calling with a most placeable candidate). It’s risky, unless you know how to protect yourself. But it’s rewardy if you do. In fact, it’s how I became a high-biller when I was still a rookie.

Jeff's homepageFor more on this subject:

  • Go to
  • Click the red JEFF’S ON CALL! button.
  • Type “Reprint of Why Biller Article” in the subject field.
  • Click send.

I’ll send you the “Why High Billers Are Why Billers” article that originally appeared on the front page of the August 2011 issue of The Fordyce Letter. Since its publication, more copies have been requested and posted in offices worldwide than any other non-legal article I’ve ever written.

If sending a resume alone could get you paid, I’d still be working a desk. I would have spent my 38 placement lawyer years perfecting the ultimate electronic resume delivery system.

No More Runaways

As you pointed out, sending an “open” resume (with contact information) these days invites fee avoidance. Far too many recruiters send these “runaway resumes” that give away their candidate inventory. That should stop today.

In the situation you described, acting on unsolicited resumes can be an implied acceptance of liability for a placement fee. By ignoring its own non-solicitation policy, the employer can be deemed to waive (reliquish) its known right to accept this valuable gift from you.

But that usually means a feefight, and the outcome is far from certain. Who needs that when I’m about to show you how to avoid it?

Before I do, let’s get smart:

  • Go back to
  • Click the Placement Fee Collection Quiz button on the bottom row.
  • Take the PFCQ.
  • Click the “Placement Law Language Quiz” button on the bottom row.
  • Take the PLLQ.
  • Click the “Answers to Placement Law Quizzes” button on the bottom row.
  • Grade yourself on the PFCQ and PLLQ.

The Sendout Process

Chronologically, the typical sendout process looks like this:

Job on hook
  1. Take job order
  2. Send fee schedule
  3. Recruit candidate
  4. Present candidate
  5. Identify candidate
  6. Get client response

That’s why so many recruiters don’t get their well-earned fees. They “5. Identify candidate” before they “6. Get Client response”. It’s Ready, Fire, Aim, so they shoot their five-figure fee foot.

By simply reversing items 5 and 6, “Present candidate” is followed by “Get client response,” which must be positive, or you never get to “Identify candidate.”

Paid recruiters use our client clincher as a wedge when they have the highest leverage. That is, after you have a positive response, but before you’ve identified a candidate. You obtain interest and then write (by e-mail or fax) the client clincher. More on this after we set up the sendout process properly.

Your question concerns a referral by resume. Legally, it’s the same as calling the client. In either case, a presentation. Fine. But you absolutely do not identify the candidate at that time.

Let’s do each type of presentation the right way:

E-Mailing A Resume

By email, fax or regular mail, you always send only a “blind” resume. That means on every resume, you delete the name, address, phone, fax and e-mail address of the candidate. You also delete the current employer and any other identifying items on the resume. Then code the resume with a reference number.

Include the following statement at the top of the resume:

This candidate is being presented by (name of your business) for a suitable job opening with your company. Please contact (your name) at (your phone numbers) or (your e-mail address) should you wish to discuss the candidate further or arrange an interview. Thank you.

Then when the client calls back, the conversation goes like this:

Hirem: Hi, Paul! What’s the name of candidate CR-2304?

Paul: Hi, Hirem! I’m going to email you his name along with his contact information as soon as we’re through discussing his background.

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Hirem: Okay, but what if we’re already considering him?

Paul: If you are, he doesn’t know it. But why don’t we agree that you’ll email me the date of any prior contact and with whom within one business day from receipt of the resume? Fair enough?

Hirem: Don’t you trust me?

Paul: Absolutely! That’s why I’ll reveal the identity and contact information so you can verify he’s not in the pipeline.

Hirem: Fine. What’s his background?

When you’re presenting a candidate by phone, the conversation is almost the same:

Calling A Client:

Paul: Hi, Hirem! I’d like to discuss the background of a candidate we just recruited for the (name of position) opening.

Hirem: Hi, Paul! Great. What’s his name?

Paul: I’m going to email you his name along with his contact information on his resume as soon as we’ve established mutual interest.

Hirem: Okay, but what if we’re already considering him?

Paul: If you are, he doesn’t know it. But why don’t we agree that you’ll email me the date of any prior contact and with whom within one business day from receipt of the resume? Fair enough?

Hirem: Don’t you trust me?

Paul: Absolutely! That’s why I’ll reveal the identity and contact information so you can verify he’s not in the pipeline.

Hirem: Fine. What’s his background?

Then you send the “open” resume as an email (or fax) attachment. In the body of the email (or fax cover sheet), you include the client clincher:

As we agreed by phone today, the attached resume is being sent to you with the understanding that you will notify me by a return email within one business day from today if )name of candidate) has already been contacted by (name of client) about the (name of position) opening. This will include the date of any prior contact, and the name and title of the (name of client) employee who contacted him.

If I don’t receive the notification, a placement fee will be due to (name of your business) in the event (name of client) hires (name of candidate) within one year from the date of our last communication regarding him.

I know this sounds tough, but truly you’re not dealing with a “client.” You’re dealing with a complete stranger – particularly if you’re “running with an MPC.” If it’s an employer that you trust, you can soften the wording.

The important thing is that you don’t reveal identity and contact information on a candidate until you have the prior contact promise in writing. That will be fulfilling your promise to yourself:

No more runaway resumes.

Thanks again for this important inquiry, Paul.

May you client clinch every candidate presentation that results in a hire!

Best always,


Image: Stuart Miles /

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


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