The Best Practices of the Most Aggressive Recruiting Department

This is a case study profiling the benchmark best practices and strategies at FirstMerit Bank. After a six-month study, I have found it to be the best and most aggressive recruiting function anywhere in the world. Having advised more than 200 companies in over 23 countries, this is not a statement I make lightly. The only other organization that has come close to accomplishing what the FirstMerit team has was the Cisco Systems “recruiting machine” established by Michael McNeal in the late 1990s. In addition to my assessment, their efforts were also recognized by a panel of recruiting industry thought leaders when they received the prestigious 2005 ERE Excellence Award for the Most Innovative and Effective Recruiting Process. FirstMerit earns these distinctions because their strategy and approaches are so aggressive that most corporate recruiters would shy away from even trying them ó and would most likely argue that they stretch the so-called limits of ethics in recruiting. The differences between the FirstMerit approach and that of most organizations comes down to the complete integration of two key recruiting concepts into every thing they do. The two key concepts that guide recruiting at FirstMerit:

  1. It’s a war. While corporate recruiters occasionally use the term “war for talent,” most act as if everything is business as usual, continuing to implement archaic recruiting tools and processes. In war speak, most corporate recruiters are walking into a jungle filled with the most advanced guerilla fighters using the latest weapons ó but they’re armed with homemade bows and arrows. FirstMerit, on the other hand, actually acts like they are in a real war, complete with both strategic and tactical battle plans (I’m sure, at least in part, that this is because their leader spent some time at the famed military academy, West Point).
  2. Competitive advantage. Most corporate recruiting functions do what they do in isolation. They view their job as hiring good people almost irrespective of what’s happening at other firms around them. In direct contrast, the FirstMerit team acts like recruiting is an intense “zero sum” competition between their company and all of the other companies competing for similar talent. It exhibits its awareness of what the competitors are doing by proactively “attacking” a competitor’s workforce whenever that company has a disruptive event such as a merger or layoff. Because the plan calls for victory in each and every skirmish, the recruiters at FirstMerit consistently change their recruiting approach to counter any new initiatives or safeguards implemented by a competitor. FirstMerit views recruiting a lot like an Olympic competition: Even though you win the gold medal this year, you need to realize that everyone will learn from your victory and raise the bar, such that the same performance at the next Olympics won’t even get you an invitation to attend.

In this case study, I will highlight both FirstMerit’s talent acquisition strategy as well as its many best practices in recruiting. The Company FirstMerit Bank is a regional bank headquartered in Akron, Ohio, with over $10 billion in assets and more than 3,000 employees. It is important to note that one of the things that make their benchmark practices even more spectacular is the fact that these practices were developed and implemented in banking, one of the most conservative industries. In addition, they were developed in Ohio, which in general isn’t recognized for companies developing or implementing outrageous or aggressive HR strategies and practices. The courage and foresight of senior management to undertake such a leading-edge approach should make shareholders, stock analysts and employees proud. The Recruiting Strategy The FirstMerit recruiting strategy is the most business-like and aggressive strategy I have ever encountered. Through my research, I’ve been able to identify 10 key elements of the FirstMerit recruiting strategy:

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  1. “Top line” orientation. Their recruiting strategy is based on the fundamental principle that all recruiting activity should have a demonstrable dollar impact on business results. They view talent acquisition as a revenue-generating activity.
  2. A recruiting culture. Rather than relying primarily on recruiting professionals, their strategy is designed to develop a company-wide “recruiting culture,” where literally every employee, former employee, and supplier is made aware of their responsibility to be continually trolling for talent.
  3. Warlike tactics. The FirstMerit strategy is based on the premise that there is now ó and will be for the foreseeable future ó a war for talent. As a result, everything they do is designed to be aggressive and superior to the competition. They track the giveaway/takeaway ratio, a metric similar to the turnover ratio in football, which compares how many employees FirstMerit takes away from a competitor versus how many of their employees they give away (lose) to the same competitor. The results for 2004 were staggering, with 107 takeaways versus only 51 giveaways. Year to date, 2005 is looking similar ó with 58 employees recruited and only 29 lost.
  4. A competitive advantage. The FirstMerit approach focuses on making sure that every recruiting process, strategy, and tool is superior to those utilized by their talent competitors.
  5. A leadership strategy. Another foundation of the FirstMerit strategy is that talent acquisition should not merely be aligned with corporate objectives. Instead, recruiting capabilities should actually partially drive them. They view talent acquisition as a mechanism to provide the company with a competitive advantage by increasing its business capabilities through recruiting.
  6. Talent relationship management. FirstMerit emphasizes an old school, high-touch relationship recruiting approach using a customer relationship management (CRM) model. They use the terminology of talent relationship management (TRM) because they believe (rightly so) that you should want to have relationships with talent, not just candidates. Although they certainly utilize technology, clearly the emphasis is on building relationships with targeted candidates.
  7. Continual “before need” recruiting. Rather than using the traditional reactive process to fill an open job, FirstMerit instead has implemented a “before need” hiring strategy that continuously identifies and builds relationships with prospects before requisitions open up.
  8. A poaching emphasis. FirstMerit’s talent acquisition strategy is primarily a “poaching” strategy. They focus 100% of their recruiting efforts on currently employed, already trained talent (the so-called passive candidates).
  9. Referral emphasis. Because referrals help build FirstMerit’s external employment brand while simultaneously involving all employees, referrals are a key element of their recruiting strategy.
  10. In-house recruiting. Because recruiting is viewed as a primary corporate competitive advantage, outsourcing executive search or other parts of recruiting is not part of FirstMerit’s strategy.

Recruiting Leadership Throughout my 25+ years in recruiting, I have met and worked with literally hundreds of recruiting managers. Other than Michael McNeal when he was at Cisco in the late ’90s, there is no one currently in corporate recruiting management like FirstMerit’s director of talent acquisition, Michael Homula. Perhaps it is his training at West Point that enables him to take the concept of “war for talent” and actually manage it as if acquiring talent away from other firms is a war, where the goal is to help your own firm and to hurt the enemy. If Michael were a cyclist, he would make Lance Armstrong look like an also-ran. His aggressive, business-like approach is a breath of fresh air and is the benchmark standard for others to learn from. Best Practices The second goal of this case study is to highlight some of the exceptional (and yes, even outrageous) recruiting practices that have been practiced at FirstMerit. Some of them sound so outrageous that you might not at first believe that they actually happened, but I assure you that they have. I hope you will use this list of innovative practices to energize your own efforts. But don’t wait too long, because the FirstMerit team has plans for the future that are simply breathtaking. Best sourcing-related practices:

  1. Send cookies when prospects are rethinking their life. By far the most creative, yet effective, sourcing tool FirstMerit uses is sending top prospects baked cookies and cards on their birthday and on New Year’s Day. The premise is brilliant. Identify the days when people are rethinking their lives and their careers (i.e. their birthday and New Year’s) and do it with the soft sell. They have found that if you contact these successful people on any regular day, you’ll get either no response or a negative one. With the properly timed cookie, however, almost everyone responds positively with a phone call! Their strategy and approach follow a typical customer relationship management (CRM) model. They gather all kinds of data on candidates, including decision-making criteria, spouse and family names, birthdays, and anniversaries. They are even developing a database system to make better use of this “one size fits one,” personalized approach to recruiting.
  2. Recruiting on their turf. Some members of the recruiting team wandered through a competitor’s offsite seminar wearing the competitor’s lapel buttons. In addition to a goal of getting a hire (they succeeded), the primary goal was also to build morale and energize the recruiting team. It also sent a buzz throughout the industry and their firm that? this team is serious about recruiting.
  3. Buy your own offer letter. This process requires some finalist candidates to provide three names of top talent at their current firm (with phone numbers and an introduction “to us from you”) as a “price” for their offer letter. The introductions must be made before the offer letter is given. The premise is to let everyone know, before they even start at FirstMerit, that everyone is expected to be recruiting 24/7. Even a candidate’s references are considered fair game as hiring targets.
  4. Recruiting an entire team. The talent acquisition team set as a goal to “get them all” at a competitor’s branch. With some cold calling, referrals, and relationship building, they managed to recruit an entire teller team away within a two-week period.
  5. Raiding during a traumatic event. Although their primary sourcing strategy is always premised on poaching away well-trained talent from other organizations, the recruiting team goes into high gear when a talent competitor is undergoing a disruptive event like a merger, acquisition, layoffs, a change in an incentive plan, or just a business downturn. The team holds phone-in parties to inundate the firm with calls to identify who is unhappy with the uncertainty or who is just frustrated with the merger or traumatic event. The team is supplemented during these critical periods with additional external name sourcers.
  6. Most-wanted “interviewless” hires. The recruiting team developed a “most wanted” list of the five best proven performers at their competitors. Then they developed some competitive intelligence about each of them and had a conversation with these “most wanted” candidates in order to verify that they were highly desirable. The team then sent each of them, without warning or an interview, an offer letter and a cover letter that stated that they could start in two weeks! (They were essentially given a free pass into FirstMerit). All prospects called back asking if the offer to start was for real, and they were told that it was. Each one of them independently asked whether it was true that they didn’t need to even interview, and in each case the recruiter responded by asking them if they wanted to interview. Not surprisingly, each said that they should if they were going to seriously consider a change (the precise response that FirstMerit expected). The recruiter then asked the prospects who they wanted to interview with and when (I have found that this is an excellent question for any top candidate). The net result of the strategy was that the process pushed passive, high-performing talent (who normally respond with a resounding no when asked if they would like to interview for a new job) into asking FirstMerit for an interview. Although the process is brand new, it has already resulted in at least one hire that they never would have gotten using standard recruiting approaches.
  7. Competitive intelligence mixed with recruiting. The director created a recruiting roundtable with the announced intent of learning and sharing. However, the quarterly roundtables had other purposes: competitive intelligence gathering (understanding the strategies and best practices of their competitors) and identifying, impressing, and eventually hiring the best recruiters in the region. They succeeded in all of these goals.
  8. Identifying the best sources. The recruiting team regularly uses metrics to assess the effectiveness of different sources. The team has found that candidate referrals, traditional networking, and identifying and building relationships with centers of influence (powerful and influential people within companies whom they have built a long-term relationship with) have higher on-the-job performance than even the traditional best source, employee referrals. For example, although the use of newspaper ads is quite common in FirstMerit’s industry, the company has almost stopped using them entirely. “Ads are the worst source,” according to Homula. “I would rather fish with a depth finder than cast a wide net. Using recruitment advertising is like casting a net into the Hudson River for fish: You might catch a few, but you’re likely to get all kinds of garbage.” Other successful “high touch” sources that FirstMerit has found to be effective include cold calling, taking talent prospects to lunch once a quarter using the soft-sell lunch, and getting key senior managers involved in the sell.
  9. Shopping in the mall for recruits. FirstMerit’s sourcing strategy for retail positions is based on the premise that you can’t hide great performers in customer-facing positions. In order to identify and assess these individuals, FirstMerit routinely utilizes a “mystery shopper” approach to recruiting. They send recruiters out to all retail stores and watch who services the customer the best. Recruiters purchase merchandise and then look for salespeople who can effectively upsell more clothes. Next, they return the merchandise they bought to see how the targeted individuals handle it. They do a lot of hiring from the retail industry because they have found that many retail establishments overwork and underpay good talent and that the sales and service focus plays well in banking. They have also had good success because the hours in retail are pretty bad.
  10. Shopping in other banks for recruits. FirstMerit also sends recruiters to bank competitors, where they sit with the new account person to open a bank account. They then note when the person says they will follow up with a call and wait to see if they do. They also check tellers for cross selling after they open a checking account.
  11. Job boards versus the phone. FirstMerit uses job boards in an interesting way. They look at job boards as an indirect way to reach their target candidates. For example, if they are trying to hire commercial lenders, instead of placing an ad for a commercial lender, they take the indirect approach and place one for a lending assistant (a lending assistant works directly for a commercial lender). Over time, they have learned that even though there is very low turnover in the lending assistant job (and thus even though they really try, there is a very low chance of getting a hire), lending assistants typically love to talk. So they use these job board responses to ask who the best lender is in the assistant’s bank. They then take the best lending assistants to lunch and ask them to identify the very best commercial lenders they’ve ever worked for. Even though it’s an indirect approach, they find it produces vastly superior results over using large job boards, because experience has shown them that the very best commercial lenders just don’t post resumes on job boards. As Homula states, “You can throw all the technology and job boards you want at the recruiting profession, but I am convinced the best weapon in the war for talent is the recruiter. Their best tool is their own creativity and innovation ó as well as the phone and their networking skills. I tell them to get off the Internet, stop doing Google searches, and start calling.”

Next week, in Part 2 of the FirstMerit case study, I’ll share of the company’s best practices, metrics used, future plans, and results.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



112 Comments on “The Best Practices of the Most Aggressive Recruiting Department

  1. War Fighter or Spy?Different Job, Skills, Risks

    I?d agree with Dr. Sullivan that a lot can be learned from military strategy, tactics and operational principles. That said, even those in the military recognize the importance of the Geneva Conventions. ?Recruiting on their turf?, wearing the competitors lapel buttons is the military equivalent to being out of uniform on the battlefield, an infraction in past wars or present conflicts that makes you the functional equivalent of a spy and subject to being shot forthwith; or in today?s ?war on terror? masquerading in this way would earn you a ticket straight to Gitmo for an indeterminate term (or worse?depending on who captures you).

    What?s The Issue?

    Ethics, business standards and professional practices are not the issue. As to who should be doing the recruiting, I?m confused. Dr. Sullivan?s in this missive as well as the one on ?Recruiting, Culture and Ethics? seems to be suggesting that: (1) administrators can be trained-up to be sales people. Third party recruiting has about an 85 to 90 percent (plus) turn over?must be a tough business. Or is he simply admonishing organizations to hire top recruiters [sales people]. The first argument would have flawed assumptions about peoples ability to adapt to things they?re uncomfortable with doing (fitness for duty); and the second presumes that every organization can afford to attract, train and retain these highly skilled predators of the asphalt jungle, these recruiters that the market place calls headhunters.

    Gray Is No Substitute For Black or White?We All Know When We Break The Rules

    In Dr. Sullivan?s article ?Recruiting, Culture and Ethics?, he states that ?ethics and culture? are used as ?excuses for not acting in the best interests of the organization?. But that?s not the real problem. He identified the real problem when he noted, ?No matter what you want to do, someone in HR will find a reason why it is unethical. If these people were ?salesman? and not ?administrators?, those excuses would be gone. They?d be gone not because people in sales are unethical or more willing to break the rules, they just understand the rules differently (I?d argue better).

    I also agree with Dr. Sullivan that it is ?asinine not to do everything in your power to attract new top talent?, just be careful of inducing trade secret or contract violations or other things that do matter legally. Competition isn?t a bad thing?sales people thrive on it! Honest sales people, regardless of industry, will abide by their specific industries business practices and professional standards of behavior. Although annoying, inconvenient or putting a source company at a competitive disadvantage, offering a competitor?s employees opportunities to enhance their personal careers doesn?t violate anyone?s code. Recruiters call this sales and find nothing in it objectionable or unethical. But just remember that war fighters are different than spies, they take on a whole different level of risk where rules don?t matter. Just don?t lose sight of the fact that ?fighting? for talent, as Dr. Sullivan insists, is necessary; but, is very different than espionage?an act punishable by death.

    Personality Profile and Temperament Matter?We?re Not All War Fighter!

    Dr. Sullivan?s comment that ?companies themselves may be different, the issues they face are not? put in another way points to a basic/fundamental truth that some people are just not meant to do certain things. Organizations face every day the need to assess what qualifications are best suited to each and every position/job in their organization. A good example is in the area of technical sales. Does an organization seek an engineer whom they then teach to sell or do they seek top sales talent with the capability to sell technology. One can say that it depends, but the reality is that few individuals that enter the profession of engineering will ever grasp how to sell.

    The fact is we all have basic strengths and weaknesses or comfort zones that no amount of training or wishful thinking will overcome. The same analogy is true for those ?administrative types? that populate HR?they?re not in sales for a reason, or put differently, they?re in an administrative support role for a reason (however you want to look at it). And that?s where Sullivan?s reasoning falls apart if he somehow thinks they can be trained to recruit/sell if in fact they were selected to administer to the troops?. Most people with an administrative (socialists) profile are not going to go out and sell?ever! They?ll never have ?the right stuff? or the stomach for sales (capitalist exploitation). In fact there?s excellent evidence that people who try to do things that don?t fit their skill set AND temperament will likely end up taking time off for an emotionally related disability.

    It sounds to me as though FirstMerit has hired sales people to conduct their recruiting. If that?s true, then this functional arm of their HR department is not so different then a search firm?other than probably their income potential. If those things are true and I were Michael Homula, I?d be concerned that this ace team might just defect to a search firm where they could probably make a lot more money (unless they?re paid differently than administrators), form their own research firm (again potentially more money), or be actively recruited by a FirstMerit competitor that wants to reverse or at least even out the ?giveaway/takeaway ratio.?

    Human Resources Consultant or Recruiter?What?s In A Name?

    In the final analysis, Dr. Sullivan is right on when he observes that ?securing top talent isn’t easy, it requires great tools and great practices?, and that ?sales organizations have been perfecting the art of acquisition and retention for hundreds of years, so their tactics and approaches have stood the test of time.? Sounds like a third party recruiter to me. Recruiters are, like Dr. Sullivan, specialize management consultants who understand what Dr. Sullivan and uniformed mercenaries do?that you must have the right people in the right jobs to compete or fight. And like small countries who engage uniformed mercenaries because they can?t afford a standing army, most small and even medium sized businesses can?t afford the services of well trained, highly paid, fulltime recruiters on staff. And finally, it?s important to play by the rules, or you might be shot (figuratively of course). I?m looking forward to part II.

  2. I am the Director of Recruitment for a Commercial Bank and really appreciate an article about our industry.

    I would probably have a hard time convincing the conservative forces at play to adopt such an aggressive approach.

  3. James,

    Without question doing anything innovative in a commercial bank can be a significant challenge.

    You might be surprised by what you might be able to accomplish without needing senior management or executive permission or blessing.

    Feel free to reach out and email me through ERExchange and I can give you my phone number so we can chat.


  4. I don’t know about others however I kind of felt ‘creepy’ reading this gushing review of a company’s gorilla tactics. Clearly most everyone will agree that recruiting needs to undergo a major facelift at most companies, but I did not find a whole lot to admire about the tactics First Merit is using. Innovative ways to contact or stay in touch are one thing, wasting another companies employees time by pretending to conduct business with them borders on the unethical in my book. Sure a phone call from a recruiter waste a bit of time but opening an account or buying merchansise only to cancel or return the merchanize is another. How does this ‘failed’ sale look to the prospect’s current employer? How about the time and money it cost the propsect employer to process the sale and return? Black mailing new hires by requiring the names of 3 people is really rank. Surely Frist Merit would not appreciate any of these tactics if played on them. Many companies have very good and innovative approaches to hiring without having to resort to deception and gimmicks. Perhaps in the new world, this is what
    recruiting will become a nasty, cut-throat, winner take all war. In the
    end it’s not how you played the game, but only that you win and let the chips fall where they may…..In closing I will probably be the only one who feels this way..but I had to say it…

  5. For this exercise, please match the reviewer to the quote. You have 1 minute. Please begin:

    ‘Go ahead and do it, it is easier to apologize than to get permission.’
    — Admiral Grace Hopper

    ‘If you can’t learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly.’
    — Ashleigh Brilliant

    ‘Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.’
    — John Galsworthy

  6. ‘No matter how cynical I get, I can?t keep up.’ Lily Tomlin

    My previous post regarding Dr. Sullivan?s two papers on culture, ethics and aggressive recruiting offered a simple chain of consciousness regarding my thoughts on the issues discussed. After reading both of the articles and their respective comments, two things are clear to me: (1) many third party recruiters seem to think that Dr. Sullivan has very little regard for the value of third party recruiters, and (2) people, regardless of their academic or professional standing are generally confused about the concept of ethics.

    First I?m going to make a few comments on Michael Homula?s 7/19 response; and second, since quoting others seems to be the order of the day (based on other responses), I thought I?d mix some of my personal thoughts with quotes from people I consider either amusing or experts on the topics of ethics; and the value of or impact of third party recruiters:

    I found Michael?s response to be direct and courageous, giving context that I think everyone could or at least should respect, regardless of whether one likes his tactics? he appears to be a good war fighter. He not only noted a couple of my comments, but those of other respondents and he addressed them quite well. I?m glad he cleared up the issue of blackmail and that he hasn?t and won?t use the lapel pins again?it would be sad to see him go to jail or be treated as a spy?the Geneva Conventions matter in war, just as ethics, business standards and professional practices matter in business. Dr. Sullivan might want to clear up his thinking and opinions on this issue.

    As for creating strong relationships with candidates and identifying talent that doesn?t come to you, that?s what really good TPR?s do?or they aren?t good and aren?t around long. And even though some of Michael?s recruiters don’t come from sales and TPR he?s not going to hire someone without those competencies and the ability to learn and apply recruiting concepts and practices?the right stuff. And he rightly acknowledges that it?s unlikely he?ll ever hire a top recruiter who?s effective at and enjoys both order acquisition and order fulfillment?they?ll simply be out of his price range. Even so, size matters, not every organization has the resources of a financial institution and many financial institutions will never ?get it?; which means that TPR?s will be a viable recruiting resource/option for many TPR client firms in perpetuity?there is no threat to TPR?s.

    Dr. Sullivan would be well advise to acknowledge the fact that TPR?s are a valuable resource to firms that engage them as they get the services they need on an ad hoc basis for a fraction of what it costs to staff the kind of dream team that FirstMerit has put together. Such an acknowledgement would go a long way to mitigate the observations that he is condescending to and hostile to TPR?s?unless he really is.

    I don?t think the TPR responses were arrogant. Confidence can often come a crossed as arrogance. Dr. Sullivan?s paper on FirstMerit is an example of that. Michael along with his approach isn?t arrogant?it?s confident. Good TPR?s rather than being threatened are now aware of a firm, FirstMerit, where they are likely to find really good talent the next time they have an assignment in that industry?it?s good that Michael?s equation and approach takes that into account.

    Now for some more really good Quotes and observations ethics and TPR?s

    Moral Order

    The tendency to ?reduce the moral order to a question of merely personal preference?, making ?values? interchangeable with ?virtues?, has had serious consequences: Iain Benson, Executive Director for the ?Centre for Cultural Renewal?

    Shades of Gray

    As Jon Huntsman (entrepreneur, philanthropist, billionaire) writes in his recently acclaimed book: Winners Never Cheat, ?We are not always required by law to do what is right and proper. Decency and generosity, for instance, carry no legal mandate?Most ethical dilemmas boil down to the color gray.? But he cautions, ?Shades of gray are almost always outside the bounds of propriety.?

    Character Counts

    Michael Josephson is a noted attorney, academic, scholar, ethicist, philanthropist and social commentator on character. I found the Lily Tomlin quote in one of his recent ?Character Counts? commentaries (

    Josephson says that the only way to combat despair and cynicism in the growing wake of corporate and political scandal?the ?steady parade of bad news about our moral ozone? is ?to realize that you are the instrument of reform, that your courage, compassion and creativity in your own sphere of influence can set into motion a ripple effect of healing actions and attitudes to make a better world.?

    ?Making ethical decisions requires the ability to make distinctions between competing choices?It’s not naive or wrong to say it all starts with you.?

    Chaos Always Breeds Chaos

    Bill O?Reilly in Who?s Looking Out for You?, says the ?solution to toxic people is simple but difficult. You must divert yourself away from them?The ?looking out for number one? philosophy usually involves screwing somebody over. The ?looking out for yourself? philosophy makes you a more effective person, better able to help others and contribute to this world. And trying to make the world a better place is, of course, why you are here in the first place despite what the ?greed is good? crowd will tell you. They are a craven, decadent bunch.

    Avoid them and prosper. Embrace them and suffer.?

    Competencies Count?One Size Doesn?t Fit All

    If one considers staffing in terms of an industry and/or profession, there are a lot of stakeholders, including executives, managers, suppliers, employees, regulators, shareholders, the media, and of course a myriad of occupational classifications?professionals having distinctly unique job duties and responsibilities.

    Each discipline has it?s own agenda, perspectives and the competencies of individuals (education/training, personality/assertiveness, abilities, skills and work history, etc.) varies widely both a crossed and within disciplines.

    Consider third party recruiters as an example. Research from a multi-year study culminated in the 200 page book: Headhunters, Matchmaking in the Labor Market (2002), by Finlay and Coverdill. The two Professors of Sociology, describes ?third party recruiters? as complex, high-level front-line service workers who occupy a dual role in an unusual sales process; and characterizes ?headhunters? as the ?visible hands of the labor market? that have a ?significant impact? on conducting business, managing relationships and in making decisions that are ?extraordinarily consequential? to ?economic and organizational sociology?. WOW !

    In the final analysis, both competencies and character matter in the workplace and performance of a job. Be very careful about who you have recruiting (or doing anything) for you.

    Making Sense of Ethics

    The Josephson Institute offers a great resource on the topic of ?MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS?. The section ?Making Sense of Ethics? defines ethics in terms of principles that define behavior, the ‘moral’ relativity of action, and how ?ethics and ‘values’ are not interchangeable; and discusses ethical decisions in terms of: (1) competing moral claims and the ability to predict the likely consequences of choices (2) the importance of Universality (3) colliding values and (4) the connecting relationships between values, principles, ethics and action.

    Anyone interested in reviewing the entire publication can view it for free at or can purchase copies from a link MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS, available for purchase here.

  7. Well put Ted and Ted.

    When I read this latest article from Dr Sullivan about how FirstMerit operate, it sent a chill down my spine. If you care about this Industry and your reputation you too should be concerned. Remember, we all get tarred with the same brush.

    ?The second goal of this case study is to highlight some of the exceptional (and yes, even outrageous) recruiting practices that have been practiced at FirstMerit. Some of them sound so outrageous that you might not at first believe that they actually happened, but I assure you that they have.?

    As quoted by Dr John Sullivan.

    Definitions of outrageous

    Grossly offensive to decency or morality.
    Being well beyond the bounds of good taste
    Having no regard for morality.
    Violent or unrestrained in temperament or behaviour.

    Disgracefully and grossly offensive
    Beyond all reason

    Legal Dictionary:
    Going beyond standards of decency.
    Utterly intolerable in a civilized society (outrageous conduct)

    Clearly the only accurate thing about this article is the word ?outrageous.?

    And to think they are proud of this and believe they are being innovative and effective. Wow.

    I wonder if we will still see part 2?

  8. WOW…what an amazing response to this article!

    I am grateful to all of you for responding to Dr. Sullivan’s article. As I have read many other articles, blogs and discussion on ERE I was beginning to think that the entire recruiting space was full of apathetic people. Your posts prove otherwise.

    I will not apologize for getting substantially better results than our competition or most corporate recruiting organizations. I realize our tactics are different but different is not unethical. It’s just different.

    While I totally agree our tactics are controversial and outrageous NOTHING we do is unethical or out of bounds. I agree the lapel pin tactic was a very grey area and something we only did ONCE. It is not a repeatable tactic of ours and I look back upon it 4 years later and wish I could have that one back. It is important to know that we NEVER represented ourselves as employee’s of that organization and, in fact, introduced ourselves to everyone there as recruiters from FirstMerit. The dialogue that ensued with the people there was dynamic and many of the comments we heard from them were ‘how innovative’, ‘that is courageous’, ‘I wish our HR people would think this way’ etc.

    We didn’t ‘pretend’ to conduct business, we DID conduct business. Most of the merchandise we purchased and returned was later purchased from the company because we liked and needed what we were buying. Not every transaction conducted was returned. Companies actually hire mystery shoppers all the time to do the exact same thing. Are the mystery shoppers wasting the companies time? If being smart, actually conducting real life job observation to determine actual performance and behaviors, is wrong than I don’t want to be right. The cost of returns in retail is the cost of doing business. They know this and build it into their business plans.

    We don’t ‘blackmail’ new hires into giving us referrals we simply engage in some friendly banter with them. Because we have strong relationships with our candidates we are in a position to ask for referrals in exchange for an offer in a way that is not threatening or ‘rank’ as someone called it. It is amazing that this point was lost on several TPR’s. NEVER has ANYONE been offered a position at FirstMerit and not received it because they didn’t give us referrals. The point to the tactic is to reinforce the behavior of referrals in our new FMER partners. We simply subscribe to the theory that ‘you don’t get what you don’t ask for’ and asking at the point of offer is just good recruiting.

    Would I appreciate any of these tactics being used on us? In fact, I WOULD appreciate it. I would respect it and probably try to recruit the person doing it to come and work for me. It would mean that HR people finally have figured out that getting great talent is not a process and that great talent does not come to you. You must go get them and you must differentiate yourself from your competition.

    In the end, no one joins FirstMerit solely because of the tactics we use to get their attention. They start talking to us because of our innovative approach. They actually engage with us and take jobs because we offer them a better opportunity than their current position/company. There is nothing unethical about offering someone a better opportunity. They don’t have to return our calls, respond to our tactics or even consider FirstMerit. The fact that they do and we are getting infinitely better results says that there is more to our recruiting strategy than just the up front sizzle. Not ‘deception’. We are NEVER dishonest or deceptive…just innovative and creative.

    Someone here said it well. Essentially they pointed out that HR types are more administrative and process driven which makes for really bad recruiting. They don’t have the skills and competencies to really be great at recruiting. At FirstMerit I have hired sales people and former third party recruiters (compensated them as such, not as HR admins), starting with me, to conduct our recruiting and give us competitive advantage. I have also taken the time to coach, develop and train some of my team to be world class recruiters. If you hire for the right competencies and behaviors you can teach the rest and have world class recruiters getting great results. They don’t have to have come from sales and third party.

    Sure they could leave and probably make a bit more money. They don’t because they feel they are a part of something revolutionary. The idea that they are actually adding value to the bottom line of a corporation instead of eating up money like most in HR do. Some of them don’t leave because they love the thrill of the hunt, the actual recruiting, but dislike the business development side of most third party agencies.

    Perhaps what has everyone so worked up is the vastly superior results we are getting. I think many in TPR, present company possibly excluded, are threatened by what we do. The fear is that somehow we have tapped into their wealth stream and we are doing things that require such a specialized skill that ONLY they can do it. To believe and espouse that these recruiting skills, competencies and tactics can only be used by TPR’s is downright arrogant.

    Feel free to reach out and let’s discuss this over the phone at 330-849-8976. I think once you have an opportunity to hear a bit more about what we do, the comments and thoughts that what we do is unethical will likely go away. Maybe not. At least we will get into some great dialogue about recruiting and the future of our industry which, in my humble opinion, is really what we are all after.

    I hope to hear from you soon!

  9. Wish there were more corp recruiters responding, unfortunately they are not.

    There is a disagreement as to what is considered ethical versus unscrupulous and it is probably logical to determine that if it helps one sleep better at night it is easier to excuse away some behaviour.

    There are more than grey lines being crossed. Posting an advertisement for a position that does not exist is crossing more than an ethical line, besides the obvious lie since it was misleading and false, it is considered Fraud and bait and switch, and it is totally frowned upon by the FTC and the IFCC

    Okay so companies have mystery shoppers, sure they do, but THEY are paying for THEIR loss, (taxes also cover it as it is a part of business) they are the ones hiring the individuals to do so and THEY make the choice, but every product returned to a company is now considered refurbished. That now creates an expense to the company since they have to re box, reship and resell at a lower cost, even if the package was unopened.

    Raiding and pillaging the same company is out of bounds especially if it done over and over. Recruiting from a company is okay once or twice a year but to do so to cause harm, well there is another string regarding the Laws (it goes beyond ethics here) about that. And Recruiting an entire team well there is definitely proof that there is intent.

    Does First Merit offer positions to Candidates who have none disclosure issues where they are not allowed to disclose or give the new company the names of the employees of their former company. If they do, do they advise them that they can be held liable? Do you even check? Call it what you want, but to tell someone that they don?t get an offer letter unless they give names.. well.. Did not realize that giving names was part of a job description? Gee I don?t get a job unless I give names, something is wrong there

    There are a lot of deceptive behaviour portrayed in this article. I do believe completely that this job can be done well without ever having to be deceitful, or with lying. A company can hire the best by maintaining their integrity.

    Yes other companies may wish they could do the same, gee, I wish I had the guts to rob a bank and get away with 10 million dollars to, but I don?t because it is wrong. Does that mean the companies that stay within their legal means will not succeed, of course they do, as long as they do the job well

  10. After a number of years in this business, particularly after being a part of recruiting tiers within corporate HR organizations, I drew the conclusion that if HR (administrators) were effective at recruiting, they would be doing it. They do what they do, recruiters do what they do. As long as the candidates feel they are being informed by the recruiter in an honest way about the opportunity, why they were approached, how this opp might be a the next most logical step on their career path, etc., no one gets hurt. And, Karen, companies do indeed have the legal and ethical right to advertise for skill sets and abilities they think they need in their organization, whether or not a specific ‘job order’ currently has been processed or is posted. If they find the person with all the right stuff, they will create a job for them. This is the same principle you hope your potential client will think about when you call them to market an exceptional candidate. You don’t know if a job order exists, nor should you be concerned with that. Instead, you ask the potential client HOW they may be able to use a candidate with such outstanding characteristics for the industry, etc.

  11. Where would we be as a civilization without pioneers who pushed the bounds of acceptability? Certainly, in the practice of recruiting where status quo is considered by so many as inviolate, pushing the bounds is no longer a threat to that status quo, it is a market-driven neccessity.

    Those who are seem content to preserve that status quo, must be finding their challenge in the creation new excuses for failure to meet the company’s talent needs.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, as this kind of dialog is quite healthy, but reality needs to be considered at some point. The law of supply and demand is inviolate.

  12. Great article. I can see there are not a lot of the corporate ‘bot’ THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX recruiters replying. Dr. Sullivan has great articles week in and the weak out. Bambi or warrior, one of the better articles I have read in the industry. Being aggressive and pulling from companies is not cruel or unusual. I remember listening to Dr. Sullivan in 2001 talk in Reston, VA at a recruiter summit and he talked of recruiters sabotaging building sites dumping waste on the site and calling the EPA to report them. He mentioned the tactics of Cisco and it made 100’s of recruiters shift in there seats

  13. I have to agree almost 100% with the author of this article,and I certainly do not agree with Dr. Sullivan very often.However,I feel that the tactics and methods that Mr Homula and his team are using are not illegal nor are they unethical.Okay,the lapel pin was a bit much but hey we all get carried away sometimes.When your insurance agent sold you a policy did he ask for a referral?If not,he’s an idiot.Does your hair stylist ask you for referrals?Does your political favorite ask you to tell a friend about them?Do you ask your prospects for referrals?One young lady who is very anti-Homula has stated many times that she receives new business by word of mouth.I don’t see the difference.Illegal?I want to see the statute that prohibits recruiting from a competitor.Or recruiting more than one person from a competitor.It’s called free enterprise for a reason.Can’t pay as well?It’s cool,we’ll make it illegal to respond to a better offer.FTC? What law is being violated here?Fraud?Don’t see it. Bait and switch?Don’t see it either.If you are talking about the recruiting of people in order to get info on their bosses,it wasn’t stated (I don’t think)that they did not ever hire any of these people but that the research showed that they very seldom saw turnover at that level.My bet is that if Team Homula found a great candidate that was ready to move,they made an offer.There is nothing that they have done that makes me think this is a group of scoundrels out to pillage and plunder an industry.I just found a copy of a fairly recent book that most everybody in this industry was ga-ga about just a couple of years ago.It is ‘The War for Talent’.Having gotten more than one laugh out of this book (Enron is a heavily profiled company) I will say that there are some good things in there.Dr. Sullivan is quoted (p.78) and the three co-authors lay out a great set of programs for succeeding in the War for Talent.One of the biggies is …referrals…..ta-da.From your competitors employees.From internet resumes.From everywhere.Basically what this comes down to is choice.You can choose to sit back and mine the internet.That’s cool if that’s what you want to do and it works for you.You can wait for the tired,the sick,the downtrodden,the unemployed to come to you,and then you can get on the phone or the net and try to find somebody who desperately needs the services of the tired,sick,downtrodden and unemployed so that you can save the day.Raiding a department? Sears hired 25 software engineers from US Bank in Boise, Idaho.The entire department.Where was the FTC and the laws that I keep hearing exist against such a thing?It is not enough to succeed by working with people looking for a job,you better be reaching for the ones who are not looking for a job.There are a great great great many very able and talented people who are not looking to change jobs…at least they are not looking until that better offer comes along.
    Aggression is not bad and I can’t fault a thing that these guys have done(okay,like I said, the lapel pin was a bit much) and there certainly doesn’t seem to be anything illegal or unethical in filling a pipeline with candidates or sources for referrals. I am gonna side with Dr. Sullivanm on this one and express my admiration for the aggressive stance that these guys are taking.No matter how good some people may feel by denying that there is a ‘war’ for talent,it’s a fact.There will be those who moan,those who decry the term’war for talent’,there will be displaced employees(Oh woe is me,my job is overseas),there will be underpaid,overperforming employees who continue to plod along….and then there will be the aggressive attack force that fills positions before they become open with superstar performers who have the opportunity to shine.If we called this a Football Game for Talent,would we all sit around and wait for the other guys to let us score?Or we could do Baseball Game for Talent.Using the attitude of some ,we wouldn’t send a pitcher.Too aggressive.Chess?Monopoly?How about Life?It’s all a kind of game and the object is winning,within the guidelines of the rules and frankly I don’t see where any rules are being violated.I see a hardball playing group that has a strategy to win in their industry.More power to them and the results they seem to get.

  14. I enjoyed reading about the tactics FirstMerit was using because they sounded right in line with what I was taught when I sold temporary help. I shopped every competitor in town, with the only exception being a day labor firm. Did I waste my competition’s time? Yep. Was it a valuable learning experience for me both as a salesperson and as a member of the local employment industry? Yep. Did their new salespeople shop my firm – you bet they did! As a matter of fact I’m willing to bet they sent every new employee in to us to get a handle on everything we did and how it changed from month to month or from year to year.

    I charged right through the back door of more than one manufacturer or bindery (within the limits of safety) – just like I owned the place. And when I read here the tactics the sourcers use, I am familiar with almost every single one due to the training I had as a temp salesperson. I never felt unethical or grossly offensive. As a matter of fact, the motto I learned then serves me to this day: ‘To be pleasantly persistent without being overly obnoxious’ and I think that is something behind FirstMerit’s strategies. And when I recruited for a fund raising company and they wanted me to cross the line, I quit. It’s not as though people don’t know the difference between doing the job boldly and doing the job unethically.

    Moreover, I read the article expecting to learn something. I didn’t read the article expecting to criticize or be criticized. I didn’t feel jealous (well, maybe a little!) or threatened. As Michael said, you cannot strong arm people into taking jobs and giving referrals. And as a freelance journalist, I can verify that there is more than a little bit of the writer in the way anything is written. You cannot really understand the truth of anything through one article.

    I’m a fan of Michael’s group’s successes: The cream always rises to the top.

  15. Wow,
    Fraud, Lies, Deceit, business sabotage, malevolence, unethical and criminal behaviour, business damage, and yet it is interesting to see many of the responses here that support and condone and have portrayed many of these activities. Yet we wonder why we in this industry have such an unsavory reputation. Hard to figure huh?

    Regarding posting an Advertisment that is not a real position, well if individuals were to look at their employee booklet that they received once a year, they may learn something indeed.
    Note that Monster, and all of the Major and not so Major Job Boards do have in their Policy Fine print that all positions posted must be legit, actual and real.

    Michael my questions re your hires were not rhetorical and I am curious of the answer ? ?Does First Merit offer positions to Candidates who have none disclosure issues where they are not allowed to disclose or give the new company the names of the employees of their former company. If they do, do they advise them that they can be held liable for breach of contract? Do you even check?? One other question, does a candidate who Does NOT produce names get hired, even if they have the qualifications and skills?

    NO I don?t wish to be able to recruit this way, not in one bit jealous or envious?. Besides the fact that I do enjoy the pleasure of clients appreciating my ethics, just don?t want to be hit by a big lawsuit, like the several that Cisco has faced on their unethical business practices. Sure my insurance company would not appreciate it as well.

    Regarding being threatened? Well Yes, you bet and darn straight I am threatened, the water is dirty and tainted ? my industry which I do love (at times especially recently, even more with this post) has become infected, and it seems to be contagious, unfortunately just by association.

    There are definitely a lot of YETTT?s out there in regards to lawsuits based upon the tactics we have seen portrayed on this discussion.

    Think I will continue to keep my nose clean, continue to grow my company through the Maintenance of integrity, veracity and ethics which will continue to provide me and my company credibility and a mark of distinction to future and existing candidates and clients alike

    Always heard -never do something that you may have to say sorry about tomorrow…. Think I will keep that as my mantra.

  16. Hi All,

    I am a newbie in the private recruiting sector so I tend to take things in and haven?t chimed in till now. My background in recruiting was a Marine recruiter for 3 years and a marine for 7 years before that. I learned there to listen twice as much as you talk and it has served me well since. However, with that being said, I have been following this topic and there are some very good points all around. I was browsing my news sources today and came across this article about Google vs. Microsoft in a legal battle over non-compete:

    I noticed it had direct bearing to some of the points mentioned. I thought the inclusion of this little tidbit would make for an interesting take on the topic. Always interesting to see how topical and on point the discussions here at ERE can be. I really must say that this is a tremendous resource and I have been learning at a fairly rapid clip.

    Happy hunting!

  17. Doesn’t it make you proud to be in this profession with so many ‘pioneers’.

    All I can say is this.

    We work in an environment where our behaviour and action needs to be 100% professional at all times.

    We represent clients, shareholders and candidates and each other. We have a major impact on peoples careers and lives. In other words, people put their trust in us.

    To try and raise your own profile at the cost of your own companies reputation, innocent candidates jobs and your fellow peers professional reputation is selfish at best, narcissistic at worst.

    If your only way of competing is to be unscrupulous, unethical, unprofessional and it seems in some cases, illegal, there really is no place for you in this profession. Clearly you do not understand or appreciate the business we are in and the service we are meant to provide. Ultimately you will fail again.

    We all know what the difference is between right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, professional and unprofessional, legal and illegal. Are we now learning the difference between most TPRs and some Corporate Recruiters? I hope not.

  18. The bottom line in today’s world is and always will be results, no matter what the costs or boundaries that are broached. Today almost any behaviour, ethical, legal or otherwise, is acceptable to one group or another and the saying, ‘results justfiy the means’ [or do I have that backwards] has never been more evident.

  19. Michael,

    I think that your first response ?WOW…what an amazing response to this article!? was on target. There certainly were some responses that tended toward questioning FirstMerit?s integrity, character and practices; but I think that was a minority response and to some extent justified, at least at first. A plaque hanging on the wall of a consultant I once engaged said ?CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING?.

    Paul Harvey?s ?The Rest Of The Story? points to the importance of context too, as does giving the accused a fair trial instead of lynching them first. Terms like outrageous, without ethical context leave ample room legitimate skepticism toward pronouncements that question ?evil of intentions and the most rogue thinking and practices.? in this time of escalating private and public sector scandal, the ?steady parade of bad news about our moral ozone?. At least you made it to the courthouse.

    In my opinion at least, after trying the facts on the integrity and character issues, I think FirstMerit and you have been exonerated, found not guilty on those ?2 or 3 items? that could be easily interpreted either way without knowing first what was ?under the covers??context.

    Three other quick points:

    First, you might wish to reconsider your question about there being ?no mention of the things we do at FirstMerit that are exactly what you do in TPR?? I sighted: Headhunters, Matchmaking in the Labor Market, by Finlay and Coverdill, (200 pages that cover just about everything recruiters do, including the good, bad and perceived ugly). I also acknowledged along with a number of TPR?s that much of what you do is very much like what TPR?s do. And I think that there is concurrence that neither you nor the TPR?s are much concerned about any threat, from or to FirstMerit; where, in the grand scheme of things your approach will remain an anomaly in the broad market place of corporate HR/recruiting for the foreseeable future. And even if it doesn?t, there?s a whole small business and middle market place of firms that will never have the resource to develop the type of operation that you?ve put together.

    Second, a number of TPR?s, including me; seem to be confused as to Dr. Sullivan?s views or opinions on TPR?s (not just from this article but from others). It might just be my ignorance, in that I haven?t read all of his papers and have missed it?if not it might prove to be a great topic for him to dispel bad information or incite another round of discussion in search for context.

    Third, to offer some context, I?m currently publishing a series of articles in The Fordyce Letter (TFL), that I intend to publish in ERE as well, on ethics, business standards, and professional practices in the recruiting industry with a particular focus on associations that represent TPR?s.

    Happy Hunting,


  20. ‘When you start thinking about something like this,’ she explains, ‘you can’t be in the order box. You have to be wild and think in ways that haven’t been organized.?

    Interesting article from Fast Company on a company?s philosophy about moving into the future. It applies to this conversation we?re having and reminds me of something one of our esteemed members says when he challenges us to think outside of the box:

    ?Outrageous sourcing? Let’s just have a contest on the ERE- what would you really like to do to source and recruit candidates that you never tried because you (a) were too fraidy scared, (b) you were married to an attorney, or (c) no one ever gave you permission to think outside the box? Essentially, what would you like to do even if it were illegal, immoral or fattening? I’m serious- part of the creativity process is putting to rest one’s superego and just winging out ideas, what if’s, etc. Guaranteed we’ll uncover things that will become part of recruiting lore.?

    THAT?S what this forum has the potential to benefit from – getting all the ?outrageous (some would say ?scandalous?) stuff up here and having fun with the discussions. This is the real end to the means ? the learning that comes out of all this. So rather than condemn, insinuate, accuse or judge each other, and cause those on the sidelines watching these discussions to shrink from participation for fear of the same, let?s all hold our waters and practice our tolerance habits. It?s not until we see how the full Universe thinks about a subject can we hope to deliver any kind of assistance. Patience, please. You might just be surprised by what you see evolve in this incubator.

  21. After a 6 month study, Dr. Sullivan has found FirstMerit to be the best and most aggressive recruiting function anywhere in the world. Having advised more than 200 companies in over 23 countries, this is not a statement he makes lightly. Or is it?

    Apparently there are 750 Banks in the same state as FirstMerit alone. I wonder how many companies there are in total in that one state? To my knowledge, there are at least 192 Countries. How can this statement have any credibility?

    After this 6 month study and these wild statements, we learn from FirstMerit that Dr. Sullivan’s case study provides LITTLE detail on SOME of the strategies and tactics they use. It would be impossible for Dr. Sullivan to give every little detail of how they conduct business in Talent Acquisition at FirstMerit and yet he can make the ?best in the world?statement.

    There seems to be a U turn occurring and some distancing from the article is taking place. Dr Sullivan himself seems very quiet on this as well. Damage limitation?

    It says a lot about a company and their leaders when they have to check their activity to make sure they are not violating the law.

    They are a bank. Therefore it is just plain common sense to recruit people who work or have worked at a bank, so they say.

    Yet the original article bragged about how they poach shop assistants to work in the bank by apparently buying goods with no intention of keeping them and taking them back to see how good the shop assistant would be in a Bank. Hmmmmm

    Oh yes and then they purchase the goods back again because they liked and needed what they were buying in the first place after all. Who are they kidding??

    What is it with ex TPR?s ? If they were that good, they would still be one and working in a much more professional and ethical manner.

    Keep digging the hole.

  22. I think what is most amazing is that so many automatically assume the most evil of intentions and the most rogue thinking and practices.

    My parting comment to this discussion is that you must look under the covers to get the rest of the story. Everything we do is carefully planned and reviewed with counsel. The details you are missing here are how we do it without being illegal and what the intentions of our hearts are. I will be happy to define that for you if you wish to call me at 330-849-8976.

    Dr. Sullivan’s case study provides LITTLE detail on SOME of the strategies and tactics we use. It would be impossible for Dr. Sullivan to give every little detail of how we conduct business in Talent Acquisition at FirstMerit. To do so would take up weeks of ERE space.

    The list is equally as long of those things he did not mention. We do not engage in all of these practices daily. Each of the more ‘outrageous’ tactics have been employed occassionaly and largely to draw attention to FirstMerit as an innovative and competitive place to have a great career.

    The focus of so many detractors here has been narrowed to only 2 or 3 items. Why no mention of the things we do at FirstMerit that are exactly what you do in TPR? Competitive intelligence gathering, referral network development, center of influence development, high touch relationship management, cold calling, social engineering (not lying and decetitful rusing) around a gate keeper, asking open ended questions to get more information, regular communication, career counseling, discussing how competitive a prospects salary is to market etc. All the very same tactics many employ in TPR. I know, I sat in your desk and did what you do.

    No, it is much easier to pick off one or two more controversial items and raise a challenge, without all the facts, than to look at the bigger picture and realize that all we are doing in FirstMerit Talent Acquisition is giving corporate recruiting the facelift it has so desperately needed for decades!

    Again, I can’t help but wonder if the intense gut reaction to what we do is out of fear. Fear of the fact that someone in corporate recruiting has finally decided to try and add value to their corporation rather than sit idly by while their company get’s hammered by a lack of proven high performing talent. The skilled labor shortage and corporate HR’s ineptitude at recruiting will ensure that TPR will be in business forever. They just won’t make much money on FirstMerit.

    The times they are a changin’ said Bob Dylan…yes they are!

    I will be commenting on all this controversy in my new ERE Blog called, It’s the Recruiting, Stupid! Stop over and check it out if you wish I hope to hear from some of you via phone soon!

  23. Keep it legal, keep it professional, keep it ethical.

    The wheel is round. Why are some people trying to reinvent a square one?

    Karen, it’s a pointless argument because ignorance is bliss. Remember the comment:

    ‘The skilled labor shortage and corporate HR’s ineptitude at recruiting will ensure that TPR will be in business forever.’

    HR’s ineptitude?

    To all professional TPRs, make sure you use this article as an example why your clients and candidates should be using you rather than going direct. Otherwise they could all end up as Bankers!!! whatever they do.

  24. It has been interesting to sit back and watch all the furor generated by this article this week.

    Funny that Dr. John has been preaching most of this for some time. I guess most of the readers simply dismissed his previous articles as hyperbole and went on their merry way thinking ‘it’ll never happen’.

    Well here we are. It is in fact happening.

    I’ve commented on this a few times and always got some interesting feedback from people on both sides of the fence that seemd to be in line with what most people are saying on here.

    Seems to me that anytime change confronts people who fear change they react the same way. They try and dismiss it as a fad or a temporary blip that will soon sort itself out and go away.

    They come from every walk of life, not just staffing. While working as a TPR (I prefer the term headhunter because that’s what I was doing most of the time) back in the early 90’s I distinctly remember people poo pooing the fax server as a way to track resumes.
    They much preferred their 3×5 cards and rolodex linked to dozens of filing cabinets.

    They also resisted a phone system with email and connection to a network and computer system with a website attached to it. I finally got it pushed through and it still remains today as their backbone for doing business. It hasn’t been updated since 1996 but that’s no suprise to me. I’m not there anymore for a reason!

    Working for an ATS(TMS)vendor in the late 90’s early 00’s was an eye opener. Sales staff who came from the old school ERP world brushed off the idea of product training or industry knowledge because ‘They dont’ buy from me because I know product…they buy from me because I am …well, I am me!! (yes the proverbial old boys network was still alive and well even then).

    Today as an analyst it is interesting to see all of the players and their approach to change.
    Those who embrace it and evolve figure out how to answer the need to improve their value proposition to the market they serve.
    Those who fear change and resist it tend to lash out and try to discredit innovation in some misguided attempt to preserve their own sense of value to the market they serve.

    The message here is a simple one. Things change.Markets evolve and those who adapt and innovate should be applauded. Not for their actual innovations but more for the spirit of the attempt.

    Reality dictates that the status quo just won’t cut it anymore. Just because one company has figured out how they’d like to meet that challenge head on doesn’t mean that everyone should follow suit.They should however certainly stand up and take notice and commit to developing their own version of innovation and develop some creativity in doing so.

    To stand back and criticize and summarily dismiss how others react to the need for change is unimaginative at best and down right self destructive and protectionist at worst.

    So what if you don’t agree with FM and their approach to the ‘talent wars’? Kudos to them for trying to solve the problem and taking a risk to meet a challenge.

    Sitting back and accepting what may in fact ultimately may be the key to your professional demise may make you feel righteously indignant of others attempts in the meantime. But in the end playing the victim to challenges beyond your current capability to solve will get you little more than some temporary, half hearted sympathy.

    ***Getting down off of soapbox now and tucking it away again until next time***

  25. I have to smile at all the ‘serious’ replies to this article.

    John Sullivan likes to create dialogue by using a taste of controversy. I honestly have no idea if Merit is the top Corporate Recruiting function, (it may be that many others just keep it under their vest) but they certainly seem to offer some interesting tactics.

    I was reading through the responses and had framed some thoughts when Michael H verbalized what I had been thinking…. ‘Again, I can’t help but wonder if the intense gut reaction to what we do is out of fear. Fear of the fact that someone in corporate recruiting has finally decided to try and add value to their corporation rather than sit idly by while their company gets hammered by a lack of proven high performing talent. The skilled labor shortage and corporate HR’s ineptitude at recruiting will ensure that TPR will be in business forever. They just won’t make much money on FirstMerit.’

    Michael has developed a set of aggressive recruiting tactics that are so far out of the box that they may be considered as never actually have been in there.

    How deceptive are his practices? Is wearing a competitors lapel pin more deceptive than having a fish bowl to gather business cards for a free lunch (without stating what the business cards will be used for), or calling in to a company to source names by saying your a ‘student’ or your trying to confirm a name, or asking for a sales managers name because you might be a potential customer (when you know your not)etc etc etc… some might consider this rusing…. FirstMerit seems to have a dynamic that few organizations have, or potentially can support. (Can you imagine the grins on his recruitment team when he told them they where going to go ‘undercover’ at a competitor?s office)…

    How many companies send their recruiters to the same hotels or resorts where they know that a (prospect / competitor) company is holding its sales presidents club, with the aim of getting to know who those (top) sales people are, maybe sitting down to chat or have a drink with them with the intention of potentially recruiting them away? This may be considered OOB but its not immoral or unethical; it?s just a different tactic.

    Michaels tactics are a little different than most because most of us do our recruiting from our office, either on the phone or through our computer, some will do networking events and job fairs etc.

    If you want to talk about honesty, ethics and shades of gray.. how many recruiters actually call into a company for the purpose of recruiting their talent, and (when asked by a gate keeper the reason for the call) say ‘I’m a recruiter and I’m trying to talk to one of your ‘name of expertise here’ about their interest in a great position I’m recruiting for at XYZ company (or similar honest answer)…..

    And Anthony, while I believe you and I are on the same page and I have nothing but respect for you and your business acumen, you forget the one dictionary definition of ?outrageous? that truly fits

    Extraordinary and Unconventional: extravagant or unconventional, and likely to shock people.

    This to Michael, and in keeping with quotes from extraordinary people.. as Stan Lee said ?Give the man a Kewpie- doll?

    Kudos to you Mike.

  26. Larry,
    re Sears and US Bank, there was more to that story than meets the eye – US Bank had merged with 1st Bank Systems, they were unable to fiand the 25 employees did not want to leave Boise, US Bank was unable to figure a deal to prevent these individuals from moving to Chicago, Sears became aware of the dilema, and they (Sears) literally moved their facility from Austin to Boise to Accomodate the ready made staff…

    Regarging lawsuits here is one regarding SEARS ‘A landmark case in 1997 established another circumstance in which a company might have legal recourse to stop its employees from being hired away. While retailer Montgomery Ward was in the throes of bankruptcy, rival Sears Roebuck set out to hire away its managers. That’s in accord with long-standing business practice. But when Ward sued, its attorneys uncovered in-ternal e-mail circulated among Sears employees plotting to ‘put them out of their misery’ by hiring away key Ward managers. The court ruled that one company may not hire away employees of another company with the intent of crippling that company.’

    To state that TPR’S do not also have to abide by many of these Laws, well that is ridiculous, we also are upheld to the same laws and ethics. We also cannot cause or be instrumental in injuring a company as well, we too must be aware of issues that can harm another company and the contracts they have in place to protect them. We must be aware of the NLRB and EEOC and all the employmet Laws (DUH), we have not been immune to lawsuits… If many recruiters took their accredidation or certification they would be shocked as to what we REALLY are allowed to do and What we CAN’t do, and how the laws do affect us.

    Michael, this is not about YOU against US, it is about Business as a whole, business ethics, and business morale and in some aspects the law concerning ‘unfair business competion’ which is a legal term. Restatement Third of Torts Section 13, pp. 37-38. Also check the Lanham Act I am sure the banking Unions would also have some issues with this as well. They also have issues with competitive recruiting…

    If business is so bad, that someone has to improve it by behaving immoraly, unethically to the point of breaking the law, maybe they should find another line of work

  27. Don’t try to fix what ain’t broken or pretend you actually wrote Bridge over Troubled Water first.
    Someone else happened to beat you to it.

    I have been a headhunter for 12 years and the only thing thats different today compared to back then is the way we can communicate with information i.e. email and internet and the global reach we now have. You still need to pick up the phone and talk to people and be professional.

    I have recruited across 16+ countries in Europe, both East and West, in the US and the AsiaPac region. I have never needed to use dodgy tactics once or disguise them as innovative. Maybe it’s the only way for some to compete with TPRs.

    The whole argument here is not about change or innovation or new ideas. It’s about standards and the way you conduct yourself in business to achieve the end result.

    We can all act 21st century and try to be innovative, but not at the expense of everyone else to hit your own personal target. It is short term and it will fail because a bad reputation travels a lot faster than a good one.

    Thats the issue that some seem to be avoiding.

    I think most of us are aware of Dr Sullivans preaching but like with this article it becomes tedious. Will it all happen? Let’s hope its contained to FM. I can’t see too many TPRs adopting it and being around for long.

    Over to you Karen 🙂

  28. Thanks Anthony,
    have 4 responses actually –

    1 -the only difference between now and then is that the industry was regulated in America (believe it still is in England) and people had to know the industry, know the laws and ABIDE by them.. Do or lose – Thus Then one could hold your head high and without shame and disgust when you told people what you did for a living.

    2- one does not have to cross or even border any unethical or illegal lines to do this business. There are many successful companies on this network who can and will substantiate this

    3- Enron was an amazing company which won many awards, and people thought was the best place to work, till their busines CORRUPTION came to light. FYI, it is amazing that today individuals believe that their businesses are not being scrutinized.

    4- 3 old west indian phrases
    WhaT you do in the dark always come out in the light

    Thanks for the many e-mails and calls from the fellow ERE members who have responded to my posts. It is is nice to know that business ethics and values are still alive out there.

  29. Anthony, as usual, has hit the nail on its head. His sagacity and keen insight toward understanding this business is very refreshing.

    Having said that, I would take exception to the one statement, ‘We all know what the difference is between right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, professional and unprofessional, legal and illegal.’

    Unfortunately, in this day and age of situational ethics and an absence in the belief of absolute truths, we see more and more each doing whatever is right in their own minds.

    I apologize in advance if I have said this before but I interviewed with 15 different recruiting firms before deciding to start my own. Of the 15, I was absolutely appalled by some of what I witnessed and disappointed with all but three. I didn’t work for those three so I can’t say with certainty what I would’ve ultimately found there. I can say that the two Owners, at the two firms I did work for, believed that the end justified the means and they made no bones about worshipping at the throne of the Almighty Dollar. The bottom line at those companies was ‘Get the money in the door’ and not ‘Do the right thing.’

    There is a difference between most TPR’s and most Corporate Recruiters but I think those differences have more to do with skills, abilities, entreprenurial desire/drive, and need for security than it does ethics/integrity.

    So, unfortunately, until Society as a whole returns to the belief of absolute truths, and begins to teach them in earnest, we will continue to see more and more of each doing whatever is right in their own minds.

  30. Eamonn, sorry I can’t find that description of outrageous. Even my Collins Dictionary says this:

    1. Immoderate in behaviour 2. Grossly offensive to decency, morality or honour; shocking or unacceptable.

    One thing I would like to ask you though as a credible Corporate Recruiter about your business is this.

    Amongst the innovations, Dr Sullivan quoted the following statistics about FirstMerit.

    ?The results for 2004 were staggering, with 107 takeaways versus only 51 giveaways. Year to date, 2005 is looking similar ? with 58 employees recruited and only 29 lost.?

    Would your company be pleased with loosing 80 people to your competition in 18 months? That?s more than 1 every week. To consider this good is surely the only staggering thing. Maybe this is a clue as to why they have to recruit so aggressively.

    They need to employ lots of people just to stand still because they loose so many. We can only speculate as to the reasons why that might be.

    Perhaps they should be more concerned with innovations about retaining staff. But then again I don’t suppose its in their best interest to do so.

  31. In college I was taught to stay on topic.

    Any contention that ?The whole argument here is not about change or innovation or new ideas? doesn?t really stand up to scrutiny considering the fact that Dr. Sullivan wrote the article that he titled ?The Best Practices of the Most Aggressive Recruiting Department?.

    My mother, a fine church going lady was a moral absolutist who understood something else, ?Those who live in glass houses shouldn?t throw stones?.

    A careful review of this forums seventeen respondents (nine of them TPR?s) demonstrates that the harshest comments came from only four?all TPR?s. Unfortunately most of these hostile, pejorative condescending and judgmental comments relative to Dr. Sullivan?s thesis and Michaels practices were off topic.

    There is plenty of room for debate as to whether these are ?Best Practices?, but I doubt that anyone will debate that Michael?s approach to the practice of recruiting is aggressive.

    Moreover, there are significant differences ?between right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, professional and unprofessional, legal and illegal.? Be very careful about a return to ?absolute truth?. Whose ?absolute truth would you subscribe to?that of extremist Wahhabism (if so, Karen, better start (1) shopping for a new wardrobe as chadors more commonly known as burkas are standard fashion statements, and (2) be expected to know your place, it won?t be sitten down with the men?unless you want to lose your head)? [SEE MY FOOTNOTE AT THE END FOR MORE CONTEXT ON HISTORICAL ABSOLUTISM AND A DEFINITION OF WAHHABISM?or just watch the news]

    Getting back on topic?certainly ethics, business standards and professional behavior are fair game in a discussion about best practices, but you?d better know what you?re talking about when casting dispersions on someone else?s ethics or legal practices. For example the rant about FirstMerit?s advertising practices had little or nothing to do with ethics, but rather another companies policy?a contention even the author of the comment concedes, ?Major Job Boards?Policy Fine print?.

    Be very careful when throwing about opinions as to violations of ethical behavior, business standards and professional practices. Rather than casting dispersions about a participants character, integrity or honesty, it would be better to debate or pick apart (one-by-each) why any give practice isn?t best. Before casting stones relative to ethics, business standards or professional practices do two things: (1) make sure you understand what ethics are, and (2) justify an ethics stance by citing relevant industry standards. [SEE WEB LINKS AT THE END FOR MORE ON CURRENT WESTERN ETHICS]

    And if your going to suggest a practice is illegal, you might follow Michael?s example of getting a legal opinion that cites case law (after all you don?t want to be held civilly liable for slander). [SEE A GOOD LAWYER]

    In summary, having an opinion is fine, but it?s a ?best practice? to stay on topic and know what your talking about before commenting.

    PS: ERE staff doing its job. I?d encourage you to see my 7/20 posting addressed to Michael; which many of you may have missed as it was pulled from the line up, mistaken for an ?advertisement?, do to a reference that I made to a series of articles on Ethics I?m authoring; which are being published in The Fordyce Letter. I want to thank ERE for not only doing a good job of monitoring, but for both contacting me about removing the posting from the line up and returning it in tact after a brief phone conversation. THANKS.

    Some real good resources for any budding ethicist are:


    Making Ethical Decisions (primer):
    Ethics Resource Center:
    A Compete Guide to Ethics Management:
    Ethics Effectiveness Quick Test:


    Ethics by their very nature are situational, just look at the ethics statements of any association or business and you?ll see what I mean. As for ?absolute truths?, that?s an illusion. To test this statement just read: ?Non-State Threats and Future Wars?, by Dr. Robert Bunker, a noted historian and war theorist, who describes current events in Western civilization in terms of ?Epochal Change? (a millennium old process) and ?Fourth Epoch War theory.? He cites examples from the 4th to 8th and the 14th to 17th centuries and the period since 1648, marked by the ?Treaty of Westphalia?; which, started a ?cycle of increasing law and order?that led to prosperity for many Western nation-states, their public institutions, and their peoples?concluding that we may now be shifting away from stability toward chaos??chaos being the historical norm. And if any who still believe in moral absolutism need look no further than the lynching and witch-hunts conducted by good Christian folk in the USA.

    Wahhabism (definition): Name used outside Saudi Arabia to designate official interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The faith is a puritanical concept of unitarianism (the oneness of God) that was preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, whence his Muslim opponents derived the name.? You have two choices, believe or die.

  32. It appears that so many are just bound and determined to spin the words of everyone you disagree with into distorted meaning to suit your own needs.

    For the record, the study was exhaustive but no writer in their right mind, or of an quality, is able to relate ALL the details of a study. I have never kept our practices hidden and have remained very tranparent. I will personally make the details available to all of our detractors as a way to open up the conversation and talk about what is really most importan – how to make our profession better.

    In no way am I ‘distancing’ from the article. Again, NO APOLOGIES. I simply hoped to share some information that might give a little more detail. With the spin doctors of this group that is obviously a mistake.

    ‘What is it with ex TPR?s ? If they were that good, they would still be one…’ How arrogant is it to make comments such as this? Yet my contribution to the recruiting profession is in question by those that make these comments. Apparently some believe you must be a TPR to be a GREAT recruiter. What? No, some of us just want to make a difference and demonstrate that great recruiting CAN happen inside of a corporate recruiting function. Money is not the primary motivation of some people. In fact, I would argue that motivation by money has a tendency to distort priorities and focus on the most important things. Money is certainly not my prime motivation as I am focused on more eternal treasures.

    I have noticed that my voice mail is noticeably devoid of a message from any of our detractors. I believe we are all equally concerned about our profession yet we come at the issue from different angles and differing perspectives. To make the sweeping generalities and accusations some have made without having had conversations with the people you are making them about is, in my humble opinion, irresponsible.

    Again, please feel free to call me at 330-849-8976. At the very least it may be entertaining!


  33. Try the Oxford Dictionary or the Encarta Online Dictionary. 80 People as a percentage of what though?

    I know that Michael takes his retention as seriously as his recruiting……


  34. Royce,

    Thank you for the validation. I hold the same sentiments. I have also found my networking through the ERE to be be far more valuable than the ‘help’ I received from a recruiting agency that I worked for. There are moments when I doubt my ability to persevere and make a go of it on my own, but I keep holding to the basic premise that the reputation that I am building (one of integrity and substance) will carry me through to success over the longer haul.

    With kind regards,
    Diane Dale

  35. Once upon a time I managed staffing for the largest business unit of a Fortune 500 manufacturer.

    One of the first visitors to my office was an Engineering Manager who said, ‘I’ve had an opening for a Pro-Engineer CAD Designer for 4 months. Your department [HR] says they have no budget to pay an agency fee, but so far they’ve sent me garbage. Are you going to be this useless, too?’

    I asked, ‘Which 3 companies within 50 miles of where we’re sitting have the best Pro-E talent?’

    He responded, ‘Why do you want to know that?’

    I replied, ‘Because I’m going to get the names of all their Pro-E CAD Designers, call them all up, and try to recruit them for you.’

    He asked, ‘Is that legal?’

    I replied, ‘Do you care?’

    He said, ‘Hell no, of course not. That?s your problem. That opening’s MY problem. Do whatever you have to do to get me some decent candidates. Just keep me out of it from here on.’

    Four weeks later, the job was filled.

    The Division GM heard about this from his VP Ops and came to see me. He asked, ‘Is it true you poached [his exact term] Jane [we’ll call her] directly from Acme [a direct competitor in a small town down the road]?’

    ‘Yes. Is that a problem?? I responded, a bit nervously, I’ll admit.

    ‘A problem? Are you nuts? That’s what we hired you for.’

    I later heard that the CEO of Acme [we’ll call it] had called my employer’s CEO to complain that we had ‘stolen’ one of his best Designers.

    My CEO’s reply?

    ‘You and I spend millions trying to steal each other’s customers. What’s the difference? Have a nice day.’

    Please note that nobody asked:

    1) How did you get the names of the people you called?

    2) How did get them to talk to us?

    In fact, in over 25 years in this business, whether in a TPR or in-house role, no client has EVER asked me either question. Not once.

    Now, I repeat (I love quotations ? don?t you?):

    ‘Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.’
    — John Galsworthy

    And, after reading some of the other posts, I offer:

    ‘The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.’
    — Elizabeth Taylor

    Happy hunting.

  36. Watching these exchanges is like watching a train wreck ? both fascination and dread
    keep my eyes fixed upon them. I wince at the name calling and insinuations, I?m intrigued by the historical references and inferences Brandon brings to the table, I?m enthralled by the open-mindedness I see here but most of all I?m prompted to think about the other side of the coin. I am referring to the candidates ? the worker bee sitting at his desk doing the job for someone else you need him to be doing for you. Much of the most vociferous hurrah in here curiously seems to be in defense of the corporate mindset ? ?He?s mine and you can?t have him?. I?m curious as to why corporate thinks that way. I understand the investment issue, I understand the in-defense-of-our-secrets issue, I understand the ?it?s mine and you can?t have any? mentality. I also understand that indentured servitude was officially outlawed in this country in 1885.

    Some of the high-minded remarks in here appear to me to be in reference to what some contributors here would have us believe are murky and shady backwater ethics of some in the recruiting industry. Before we rush to judgment (always a risky practice!) let?s remember the other side of the coin; the labor force is many times the first to get jettisoned upon the distressing news of declining profits by corporate America. It doesn?t take much, sometimes only a few pennies downward in their stock prices, for the meat cleaver to fall:

    Posted 7/22/2005 10:44 AM Ford fires PR officials to trim white collar staff
    By Eric Mayne, The Detroit News Ford Motor (F) fired several senior public relations officials Thursday, a move signaling the automaker’s willingness to implement involuntary layoffs to achieve cost-cutting goals. The dismissals are part of the company’s goal to reduce its white collar workforce in North America. Ford cut 1,100 jobs this spring through buyouts and early retirements. And last month, Ford said it needed to trim an additional 1,750 salaried jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Ford could lay off up to 15,000 white collar workers in North America over the next few years, far more than had been expected.

    and then, less than one hour later…
    Friday July 22, 11:43 AM EDT DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co. (F), whose North American automotive operations lost $1.21 billion in the second quarter, said on Friday it is not ruling out deeper job cuts in its salaried work force to help return to sustained profits.

    Posted 7/22/2005 9:40 AM (MONEY) Kimberly-Clark to cut 6,000 jobs
    DALLAS (AP) ? Kimberly-Clark (KMB)…said Friday it plans to cut about 6,000 jobs and sell or close up to 20 manufacturing plants…announced the plans as it reported earnings for the second quarter fell slightly because of a tax expense…The multiyear restructuring plan will result in a net workforce reduction of about 10% and include closing or selling about 17% of its plants worldwide by the end of 2008…

    And finally, from the ?employee-friendly? company, and this one really gets interesting…
    Thursday, July 21, 2005. Hewlett-Packard Plans to Slash 14,500 Jobs
    By Matthew Fordahl The Associated Press SAN JOSE, California — Hewlett-Packard’s plan to cut 14,500 jobs and overhaul its retirement benefits not only chisels away at its high corporate costs, but also its reputation as one of Silicon Valley’s most employee-friendly firms. The computer and printer maker once known for treating employees like family said Tuesday it would save $1.9 billion a year as it trimmed its global work force of 151,000 by 10 percent over the next 18 months, a necessary step to stay competitive with efficient rivals, executives said. The company reasoned that it was expensive to keep workers employed at unnecessary or redundant tasks and offer generous retirement benefits when competitors do not. But other analysts — and HP executives — point out that a company with lofty goals and philosophies benefits no one if it is not making money. ‘We know that only by having a competitive cost structure can we compete aggressively in the marketplace, thereby growing the company for our employees, customers and shareholders,’ said CEO Mark Hurd, who has been on the job four months.

    Notice, the man said ?compete aggressively in the marketplace, thereby growing the company…?. Isn?t this what it?s all about? Isn?t this what we all should be doing?
    Competing aggressively. Hmmm….if we were to listen to the advice of some in here this statement would appear to be an oxymoron. We?re to compete, yes, but rein our actions in according to ?ethics and morality?. Whose? That?s the real question that?s being bandied about in here. The only way we can embrace a ?best practice? roundtable regarding ethics and mores is to give equal opportunity for all to express themselves and then, as Brandon indicates, discuss the pros and cons of each. Civilly, I might add.

    Like Brandon and a few others in here, I see danger in ?absolute truths?. Dogmatism threatens every organization, every society and the ordering of people everywhere. Insisting that things be labeled either black or white defies reality and leads to mistaken practices rather than enlightened ones. When they say ?Don?t do it?, why not ask why not? When they say ?It?s not right?, why not ask ?Says who?? If we don?t question authority we?re on a slippery slope indeed.

    But to get back on point about the other side. I wonder how those 6000 at risk at Kimberly Clark are feeling/I think about what those 14,500 at HP are experiencing/I marvel at the nimble veracity of Ford?s decision making process that could include the axing of up to 15,000 white collar workers over the next few years.

    How do they feel? Would they, considering the big picture, maybe benefit from someone calling into Ford, or KC or HP and ferreting out their names to be contacted by someone in the future about an opportunity that might could save them (and their families) the distress of unemployment? Does anyone else think about this? Has anyone seen the fear and shame and tears in the eyes of a fifty year old man who has been unceremoniously let go from a 25 year career in a company?s cost-cutting initiative? Somebody who can?t find another career late in life? Has anyone else seen the pain in a wife?s eyes as she watches this or the confusion and doubt cast in his children?s? Has anyone considered this cost of not doing our jobs aggressively? Does this compute for anyone? Why is this human carnage not a part of the considerations in these discussions? It?s high time it be considered and discussed as part of this subject.

    Rough? Sure, some tactics are rough. Battlegrounds are brutal. If you can?t stand the heat, you have no business stepping up to the plate.

  37. Hmmm, how words get so twisted to suite what others need.

    Regarding absolutes, such an interesting word that seems to be rolled here quite a bit.

    EVERYTHING in our lives is based upon absolutes EVERY DAY, We deal with them on a personal level, Money for the food we eat, we all need shelter, we all need to feel loved, but the most important one we ALL need to Feel Safe whether it be in personal or in business life. When we hurt someone we cause pain, with every action there is a reaction, and for every pro there is a con ? Even On this post some comments against absolute truths are also absolute comments, thus the word absolute becomes non absolute.

    – If there were no absolutes to provide a measurement for society, then society itself would become the absolute Without absolutes we weaken societies gauge and idea for tolerance

    We All know what is right from wrong and we are ALL born with this moral compass that allow us to determine the difference. We are taught much of these from an early age. A good classifier to determine ethics is Will my actions cause harm, can a repercussion come from this behaviour, will regret my decision tomorrow?. Ethics are determined by honesty, self-esteem, empathy, compassion, and a respect of individual rights ? it is making a appropriate choice after having thought over the possible consequences
    To sum it up -Any chosen action that purposely benefits the human organism or society is morally good and right. Any chosen action that purposely harms the human organism or society is morally bad and wrong. Thus Morality is not an Absolute.
    The is only grey line we as humans create Regarding ethics are the excuses and reasons we make to allow ourselves to feel more comfortable for any harm we do to another.
    This is proven in Psych 101 and Medical 101 – a bad conscience, and guilt despite the emotions at the time of the action will eventually lead to heart attacks, depression, anxiety, stress, nervousness, ulcers, and even cancer, anger, lower self esteem, frustration and resentment.

    If there are no absolutes in life, and if ethics and values are truly personal, then why do we teach our kids not to lie, steal or cheat? why do we continue to teach them the morals and values that were taught to us by our parents. Why do we even teach them the definition of what is appropriate from unsuitable? (wanted to use right or wrong here)

    Why DO we all understand the meaning of the words steal, lie, cheat, dishonor, obey, rules, regulation? and for that matter why do we even try to live by respecting many of them in our day to day lives?
    Why do we have police?
    Why are the Jails full?
    Why are there laws?
    Why do we have a court system?
    Why are we angry with Terrorism (they believe in their views)
    Why were we angry at Enron or TYCO to name a few?
    Why are there so many lawsuits in courts?

    Are these all only based upon respect of laws and fear of repercussion or because of the respect of the values we were taught, or is it to preserve our own personal character and self esteem, or even a combination of them all?

    When one suggests that what is morally right is determined by the culture or environment to which one belongs or should be considered personal, well Based upon those views then rape, murder, racism, abuse, victimization, assault and battery should also be automatically acceptable and embraced – NO? to say that they are illegal, would that not be an absolute?

    Remember Beliefs affect behavior. That is why in so many ways a belief system is so important and even absolutes are essential

    Maureen, regarding your analogy, why do we get angry if our house was broken in and they stole what was ‘yours’, what you worked so hard to maintain, and keep as your own. Why do we even need a right to privacy?
    Should we not have more empathy then at the poor guy who could not put food on his kids table and decided to rob you.. should we not be more understanding to his rationalization that it is easier to rob and steal and take what is Yours, than find another way, a better way… And then why don?t more people rob or steal?

    Look, what we are saying is that there is always a more positive way to do business or to be successful. There is no need to lower your standards as there are productive and creative but healthier and less harmful ways to do your task

    ?we cannot gauge the moral level of the human race unless there is a perfect standard outside it by which it can be measured.?

    ?If each person is a law alone, then civilization is already dead and those who remain are but its pallbearers. This observation also applies to unions, companies, and other organizations within the larger society that occasionally claim the absolute right to act in the self-interest of their owners or members without any regard for the rest of society. That is, they define good to be what advances their collective power or position, even at the expense of all others.?
    Rick Sutcliffe The Fourth Civilization– Technology Society and Ethics

  38. By the way Brandon your statement ‘absolute truths?, that?s an illusion – well you are making an absolute statement about Truths. In addition to its irony it is also contradicting itself

    What I find very interesting regarding this string is the irony that so many are protesting many of the views that they call judgemental by several of the posters (me included) yet they in turn will turn around and make either assumptions that either their views are the only truth or have the only support of evidence, that others are not either familiar to the comments they make, information cited, on top will reduce other’s opinions to the ridiculous, and in some cases will twist their words to support their opinions. (happens a lot on this board)

    One should not reem someone for being judgemental and for not having open mind if one does not have an open mind yourself.

    Please note when an author or subject allows themselves to be put under microscopic scrutiny there will be some repercussions, that I would hope they would have been prepared for. Michael has actually upheld himself professionally against the backlash, to which I commend him, whilst the author does seem to be lost in the ozone.

    I like others have made our personal opinions regarding an article that was posted for open debate. We made our opinions based upon our personal feelings of how we perceive the actions of the subject/topic. Our opinions are as real and valid to us as yours is to you.

    It may be a good idea to consider allowing individuals their opinions without being directly insulting, especially when one accuses the other of the same.

    One last thing, just because there were a limited number of individuals who have POSTED on the forum with a particular point of view that may differ from others, please do not assume that there are not others who share their point of view… Comments are made just as loudly off the open forum as well as on – in fact this subject was broached on another Article that Sullivan wrote, but there the responses were reversed based upon opinions.

  39. Maureen,

    Isn’t this fun? I so love to be flattered…keep it coming!


    PS: On a more serious note, I congratulate you as one of the more thoughtful reviewers in this dialogue (personal opinion).

    PSS: You see, I can be succinct, offering something short and snappy.

  40. The first thing I feel necessary to clarify is this ?staying on topic? comment. The original article is about aggressive practices in recruitment. Being aggressive in any form of sales actually means generating a lot of activity with focus, drive and determination to succeed and I hope we all compete aggressively.

    But that is not the point. We are discussing the quoted tactics and whether they should be considered professional or desperate. That is ?on topic.? The whole point being made I believe, is that you can have aggressive tactics that are worthy of our trade rather than those that continue to drag all of our names through the mud.

    This is as much ?on topic? as the point made about the victims in all this, the labor force. They are the ones that should be made aware of the practices at the centre of all this discussion. And yes because of these people, we should rein in our actions according to ethics and morality over ego and targets. Whose ethics and morality? Come on, we all know what?s basically right and wrong in business without the need for absolute truths.

    Does anyone believe it is right to post false jobs on a job board and lie to a candidate about a position that does not exist just to extort information out of them?

    Does anyone believe it is right to buy an item from a shop with the full intention to take it back just to see how someone handles it?

    People only adopt bad tactics because they don?t know how to adopt good ones or are not very good at them and then delude themselves that they are doing nothing wrong because they get results.

    Bernie Ebbers still believes he is innocent.

    I counted 11 practices. 4 of those, No?s 1,4,5 and 8 are nothing new, are certainly not groundbreaking and are not in dispute here. That leaves the other 7 that are in dispute, not 2 or 3.

    Recruiting on their turf.
    I would certainly consult a Lawyer on this one as I believe the injured party should.

    Buy your own offer letter.
    This should be a warning to any potential employer what type of Company they are considering working for. It?s also a way of doing the recruiting team?s job for them of course.
    Although there has been some backtracking on this point, the original article clearly states that providing three names is the required price for their offer letter and the introductions must be made before the offer letter is given. That is blackmail.

    Most-wanted ‘interviewless’ hires.
    The offer letter is a lie to get the candidate to attend an interview. Who would even consider sending out an offer letter to a candidate they have never interviewed.

    Competitive intelligence mixed with recruiting.
    Are any of the competitors members of ERE? Maybe we should ask them.

    Shopping in the mall for recruits.
    Is it legal to buy something with the sole intention of returning it and devaluing the goods to second hand items? Maybe we should ask some retailers for clarification.

    Shopping in other banks for recruits.
    Is this activity legal? Again, let?s ask the competitors in question if they are on ERE.

    Job boards versus the phone.
    Job boards have a bad enough reputation as it is because companies post artificial jobs to stimulate activity. This is what makes them so unreliable for candidates and genuine companies to use. Job board employee?s at ERE are very quiet on this one. I would be interested in their thoughts.

    To get legal opinion on your practices says one of two things. Either you are trying to see whether you can get away with something that is illegal, or you don?t understand the difference in the first place.

    So let me ask the following.

    I have listed above the 7 items I believe have no place in professional recruiting. The questions are.

    A.Which ones do you think are acceptable and why?
    B.Would you practice any of them?
    C.Would you train a new recruit in these ways?

  41. ‘Being a good follower doesn’t mean sitting passively and taking orders.’
    ?Robert E. Kelly, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

    ?That’s why organizational savvy is important. But how do you develop it? You start on your first day at an organization: You keep your eyes open. You pay attention. You get your boss’s view of what’s going on. You talk to some of the old-timers who have been around and get their views. You talk to star performers and get their sense of how things work. Chances are, you’ll get several different perspectives. It’s not important which perspective is right. What’s important is knowing that there are these different perspectives. Then, as you go about doing your work, you can take them into account.?

    To read the complete article, visit:

    Lots of ideas in here applicable to this and the everyday jobs we do.

  42. One of the things that I notice is that many refer to ‘posting jobs on the boards’.That’s not recruiting,that’s gathering names.Certainly not active recruiting as we used to know it and thought we still did.What happened to WDYK?Who do you know?As regards the Sears story that I mentioned previously,Karen did her research and had an answer.Research is basically what recruiters do.Who do you know that might be interested in a dynamic position with a growing firm?The malls story?Many retailers use a system that tells ALL their stores when somebody has a high return merchandise rate.And the legality of that is being questioned by the high and mighty who feel that’s ‘profiling’.Can I sue if my employer lays me off or if I am part of a RIF?A wise man once said ‘The law is a ass’.Those people at Monkey Ward who could not be ‘stolen’ by a competitor must feel good now huh?As they try to find jobs and draw unemployment.What about the law?Right to work laws?If you as a corporation can fire,lay off,reduce force,etc.,I believe that the laws generally state that I can fire myself and go elsewhere.Post on the boards,put ads in the news,or recruit.That’s kind of what it comes down to.Pick up the phone and start networking and recruiting.WDYK that would do that?

  43. A true believer in Theist Ehics/ethical is one who also believes in naturalism thus their motto becomes live and let live, if it feels good then do it. Their opinions are as rigid if not more so as the individuals who believe in absolute ethics, because for the individual to apply their beliefs they still have to create exceptions, tweak and revise their beliefs, even if they say they don’t – No matter what an absolute will enter their behaviour – if they say they are doing what they want because they want to and they have that right then that also becomes an absolute.

    Thus if naturalism is true and real then it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, abuse or crime as evil, nor can you say love, fairness, equality, ethics, principles or morality as good, you cannot if one were to truly believe that there is no one true right or wrong, good or evil, black or white. – thus then their opinions or beliefs are not effective or justifiable, because you have no true belief. Even if an individual were to have personal objective moral values and duties under naturalism, these beliefs become irrelevant because since there is no accountability for moral or ethical behaviour.

    Well that means that a true theist, a person who believes that ethics are personal, has put themselves in an awkward situation ? because they must then recognize and acknowledge that what they perceive as an unfair and unjust act towards them, their family, friends, business or such like, may not have been deemed as unethical by the other individual who performed the action as there were no personal implications based upon their actions, they were acting on amoral free will.

    Than means the true believer in Naturalism /objective ethics must consider living a life without contracts, truth, respect, honesty, equality, laws and justice – they must consider a life of thorough accepting (another absolute) of live and let live; my right, my truth, my values is mine, and yours is yours..

    Their opinions and criticism thus hold no value and are completely arbitrary as there is no criteria to decide what is black and white, right and wrong, or good or evil. (unless of course there are going to be personal repercussions which then again makes this ironic and hypocritical and of course non objective and of course absolute and infallible) Anyways you see where I am going?

    Goodness gracious what chaos would arise if we are unable to be allowed to maintain a societal value system, ?a text book of values and ethics? per se? Communism was based upon this belief. would that be our next step

    Without social order there would be total chaos, and even with the state of total chaos then a form of Social Hierarchy will emerge and develop and manifest itself eventually? even total chaos and has structure, lawlessness has order? It is the order of mankind that has been proven to exist even B.C. ?The Law of Human Nature, when clearly understood, extends to all life forms, not just humans, and being as such, it therefore IS universal selfishness, thus it is not a coincidence or accident but it is rather an unshakable and unmovable universal law of psychology. Thus laws of nature are absolute, so must morals and ethics be absolute

    Now here are CITES as REQUESTED.. (sorry for long post, just following suggestions)

    REGARDING EMPLOYEE RAIDING OR PREDATORY HIRING – a new term for many of you – can be found as with employment contract or tortious interference legal laws in America (Visit the Antitrust and Trade regulation Center ) anyways here is what Ca recently ruled –

    California Supreme Court Warns Against Predatory Recruiting August 18, 2004

    ‘The remaining issue before the court was whether an employer could bring an action for interference with its at-will employment relationships. In GAB Business Services, Inc. v. Lindsey & Newsom Claim Services, Inc., 83 Cal.App.4th 409 (2000), a court had held that California?s public policy favoring employee mobility required that only the employee could bring such an action. The California Supreme Court disagreed, affirming the jury verdict that plaintiffs were entitled to recover recruiting expenses ($20,000) attributable to mitigate damages. Recruiting employers will want to consider the legality and ethics of their behavior (as well as that of the recruited employees) in light of the Reeves decision.’

    Other interesting reference cases are
    and Universal Analytics, Inc. v. MacNeal-Schwendler Corp., 914 F.2d 1256 (9th Cir. 1990)

    Universal’s claim that MacNeal’s hiring of five of Universal’s six key technical employees in 1986 and 1987 was predatory in violation of S 2. This was the first reported case of a claimed S 2 violation as a result of alleged employee raiding or predatory hiring, interesting as it covers all of the following acts –

    (this last case is good to be aware of to better understand how the courts determine the proof on each count (not all counts were won by the plaintiff) –

    Sherman Antitrust ACT, Lanham Act claim (false Advertising in this case) , Clayton Act Business The Clayton Act regulates general practices that potentially may be detrimental to fair competition, and Professions Code claim -Unfair Business Practices ACT (this one covers CA, of course EACH state AND Country has their own provisions, as well as the feds, so for those unsure of standards of Ethics, please review Your state codes, as well as those of the state and country you are CALLING into, as the state with the most Stringent Law WILL take precedence (by the way Canada has a pretty strong act as well )

    Also be aware that Many Trade groups like Medical, Legal, Financial, Mortgage/Real Estate, Insurance, Engineers, also have acts that are governed by the Feds and these can Generally be found in their Associations. These Laws do affect individuals working for those associations, some can affect a TPR, and some of course do not, but will affect the behaviour of the Corp recruiter.

    One should also as a Corporate Recruiter Look at your state Labor Union Laws – This gets very interesting like in AZ interference with employment


    TPR’s should look as well – some states do regulate, license and register employment agency’s (some do define the differnce between company paid or candidate paid, some look at both aspects, ie CA, NY, PA and actually most states – where one must be licensed if you do contract recruiting, or enter into contractual aggreements, and NV which is straightforward you must be licensed if you do ANY recruiting in any form) – HMMMM would be interested to see how this may one day affect in house recruiting desk.. Think there are a lot of Yet’s to come from this one Yet, especially if a person has the name of Recruiting Manager…

    Anoother interesting Act that I suggest any business to review and be aware of the busines code is The RICO Act.

    Interesting Articles Regarding Ethics

    Holy Grail Found
    Absolute, definitive proof that responsible companies perform better financially
    By Marjorie Kelly

    It is the finding of two ‘meta-studies’ in recent months And even the statisticians are saying it’s conclusive. Social and environmental responsibility does go hand in hand with superior financial performance

    Ethical Behaviour Pays Off Financially!

  44. Deborah,
    Thanks so much for that question… there is an easy answer, and what I have been trying to say for so long… For about 3+ years now.

    The problem is that the more we are not careful, and act responsibibly the more we we set up EVERYONE in this industry for liability… Our actions ARE becoming more visable to the public and they are taking notice. As Individuals get affected by our behaviour there will be more laws, more rules more regulations..

    Why? because if ethics go out of the window, and self regulation does not work then the government has to come in to make people behave. Learn your industry and Laws so they would not have to make all these new ridiculous laws to protect the masses. Just think of how much damage ONE person can do to so many.. Unethical Behaviour does have a trickle down affect and can harm so many.

    Ok I ramble – Deborah Lawsuits can be avoided..

    so what does a company AND TPR need to do to protect themselves –

    1 Be aware of your Associations and Industry Laws – Some association do have extremely strict federal governing laws that can wreck havoc ie financial, real estate, insurance.. – one does NOT want the feds involved. (some of these laws are based upon privacy ie financial institutions, that can affect the recruiting process) Watch out for conflict of interest.

    2 If the Union affects your industry also be aware of the STATE laws affecting recruiting, MOST states have very similar laws noted in my last post.

    4- Know the Unfair Competion laws of your STATE or the state you are recruiting from, since that could be a hassle, try relying on common sense.

    3 ASK questions – Do you have a non compete, are you on a contract, non disclosure, or an anti raiding provision in your clause. Be aware of all Restrictive Convenants. You DO not want to be held liable for helping that individual breaking that contract. ‘Even though the employee has a right to work, they have a legal binding contract that a third party intentionally helped break and the possessor of a contract or other property right is entitled to pursue a claim against an intermeddler who adversely affects those property rights’

    4 – Do not at any time Launch a comapaign to RAID, POACH or act in a Way that may be considered Predatory – that is setting up red flags which now helps give your competitor a legal fighting chance in court. This ups his proof against you at your perceived intent. Be selective, be smart, raiding a whole department at ONE time, not smart. Recruit from more than one company over a period of time is probably smarter… Hiring an individual just to take him away from a competitor not smart, Hiring individuals to impede a business REally not smart. (Employee poaching law are also in effect in CA, Europe and England – common law maybe?)

    5 DO Not go after a company when they are hurting to ‘put them out of their misery’ Montgomery Ward V Sears The court ruled that one company may not hire away employees of another company with the intent of crippling that company. SAP V Siebel(settled out of court)

    (The government likes competition in business – it means more money for the economy and taxes for them… LOL)

    6 Stay honest and legal in your postings and interview, (this is also where the government agencies and EEOC, even private individuals can come after you..YES they have been known individuals respond to these posts and interview to test companies. see Molovinsky v. Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington)

    7- Be careful how you discuss your competitor at ALL Times.. It does get back..

    Anyways, it really does boil down to commonsense; there are many things we all need to look out for regarding recruiting. Knowing your information does and will protect you. Joining a group like SHRM or NAPS also keeps you up to date on the new legal changes.. They can happen quickly

    Definitely Talk to your lawyer (be honest about ALL your intended actions, or current).

    Also Read your Employer handbook..

    Remember one thing and I have said this before if it feels unethical, generally it could also be illgal (yes I know not the same) – remember our common laws are based upon ethics. So when in Doubt check it out..
    The information is out there for you to view, but most of check in with your lawyer time to time….

  45. Karen,
    I am wondering how, if innocently recruiting anyone, I might escape persecution of the ‘raiding’ laws you cite. Anyone could come back at me and say I intended to cause harm by recruiting anyone, even one person, from another company. Where is the line drawn in the sand? It’s like saying I intend to cause harm to cows by the act of buying their milk.

  46. Karen , reading through your suggestions prompted me to tighten up some of my contract:

    It is understood:

    Customer does not have a non-compete or any type of ?hands-off? arrangement with any of the target companies being conveyed to TechTrak as companies to source from. It is further understood some of these companies may be competitors of Customer. Customer warrants that it IS NOT Customer?s intention to hire a competitor?s employees with the intent to put the competitor out of business, to cripple a competitor or to damage the competitor?s ability to do business in the market place. Customer further warrants that it IS Customer?s intention to hire a competitor?s employees with the intention to gain good employees.

    Do any of you legal eagles out there see a problem with any of the above?

    Author?s note: This article/posting should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual situations.

  47. Michael Homula – we have had some great discussions on the same topics and all I can say is GREAT JOB!!!


  48. I was not going to post on this discussion but felt compelled to do when I read the very brief one from Keith.

    Keith I looked on your webpage and read with interest your own code of ethics that you publish that includes:

    * Professionalism: conduct their activities in a manner that reflects favorably on the profession.

    * Integrity: conduct their business activities with integrity and avoid conduct that is deceptive or misleading.

    * Accuracy: strive to be accurate in all communications with clients and candidates and encourage them to exchange relevant and accurate information.

    * Public Interest: conduct their activities with respect for the public interest.

    I am very interested to understand how you do not think that the activity of FirstMerit, the ones that you are congratulating, do not cross the line of your own and very valid code of ethics.

  49. I want to Say thank you to all the individuals who have contacted me off the Forum via e-mail and Phone..

    Wow, it has been amazing to see all the positive responses –

    Based upon some of the comments I received when I asked why don’t you post more on the forum it is surprising to hear that many people are nervous about sharing their comments. They are concerned about either appearance, they do not think that their opinion may matter, and most importantly negative feedback .

    To everyone, ERE should be a place we should ALL feel safe to post our opinions, even if they, actually ESPECIALLY if they do differ, that is really how we learn.

    Everyone does have something to share that would be considered of value to someone else. It is obvious we do not all agree, but it is important for us to share, for without sharing we gain insights, information, and knowledge that could not have been gained individually.

    ‘Dialogue is about what we value and how we define it. It is about discovering what our true values are, about Looking beyond the superficial and automatic answers to our questions. Dialogue is about expanding our capacity for attention, awareness and learning with and from each other. It is about exploring the frontiers of what it means to be human, in relationship to each other and our world.’
    Glenna Gerard, 1995

    ‘Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to the truth.’
    Thomas Jefferson

  50. Here’s one that might surprise you:

    The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

  51. If stealing employees (a cost)is somehow unethical or illegal… how come stealing their customers (a revenue source) is ok. My friends in sales would be LOL at this discussion.

    And if you hire a third party to steal employeees (as most do) that is somehow different and ok??

    In business you compete… in everyway, everday. Recruiting is not social work… it’s business

  52. Dr.Sullivan,

    1st please do NOT use this as a TPR vs a Corp thing…. No where did I say that a Corp recruiter cannot recruit NOR effectively Do their jobs, it like everything else comes down to common sense, and if one is not sure, well call a lawyer, and even yet the information IS out there. TPR’s also can be affected in some cases as well for performing illegal business conduct, we too have to be aware of unfair business practices as well..

    And let’s not get ridiculous – everyone knows that STEALING of anything is illegal as well.. Doing business and doing business well versus performing business with acts that the laws find questionable are two separate things

    All I request is that one educates individuals that there are specific behaviors that the Courts will not tolerate.

    I HAVE provided UNDENIABLE PROOF and examples to determine the legality… I could not even come close to presenting all the cases in the courts, the cases are not arbitrary, and they are not generalized. They are in the courts every day, but of course the Public ones the ones that make the News are due to the notoriety of the companies in question, thus we are not aware of the frequency or the numbers – unless one was doing the research of course.

    Thus many of those more famous cases quite frequently become the landmarks and set precedent for the smaller companies.

    If one performs actions with INTENTION to Harm which definitely can be proved – well obviously the Intent is what Makes it illegal, the PROOF wins the Cases. The courts do not believe in the destruction of ANY business because of eventual devastation to a community and the consumers…

    For EG – One individual can be instrumental for removing several key players in a company, which in turn will affect their customer base not just the ones the went with the individuals, but also remember that loss of personnel does affect consumer credibility and sometimes in a very large way, and it will also affect the level of work of their remaining employees.

    Loss of monies will ultimately lead to some dismissal of other employees because of lack of financial resources, which will also lead to more loss of business.

    The community itself may now have to take on a financial burden, the loss of monies to the damaged business will also affect the Vendor for that business, there will be issues of unemployment benefits, social security and such like to the employees who are let go… and Also if the business now ultimately files bankruptcy, it also affects the legal system, and of course the government… The BIG issue is also the PROTECTION of the CONSUMERS of the affected business.

    I find it interesting that individuals will continue to argue this point. How does One really justify and argue that the Courts will ALLOW Anyone to INTENTIONALLY Hurt and Harm Anyone including a Business, especially when it can affect so many..

    Why would anyone argue that the Courts and Government Would condone unfair business practices that THREATEN a COMPETITIVE business Economy…

    The legal terms I have mentioned for over 3 years are real, I have displayed actual court cases, so REALLY where is the actual factual argument – again just because you think it should be a particular way, DOES NOT make it a fact.

    Sir, we must educate, it is OUR civic Responsibility especially as these lawsuits Are becoming more and more prevalent, and the courts are listening. It is one thing to have an opinion of what one feels SHOULD be right for you to intentionally cause harm to others, well Sir, obviously the courts do disagree with that ideology.

  53. Karen, one cannot commit the act stealing unless one violates legal ownership. Companies do not own their employees. Thus, it is impossible to steal the employees of another company. Court cases and lawsuits are adjudicated every day, but not necessarily are they based upon logical laws. There are many laws out there on the books that should not be there, strictly from a logic standpoint. This does not mean that recruiters shouldn’t conduct themselves ethically by truthfully marketing for people who have skills and abilities that they can match to companies that need them.

  54. I guess a lack of part 2 as promised by the Author, speaks volumes about the conviction of this article.

    I was travelling back from a meeting in London today and was reading a magazine called ‘Scientific American Mind’. In it was a quote from Mark Twain I just had to share.

    ‘When a person cannot deceive himself, the chances are against him being able to deceive others.

    Self-Deception is advantageous because it helps us lie to others more convincingly. Concealing the truth from ourselves conceals it from others’


  55. Deborah,

    I am wondering where I am not making myself Clear. Gee this is Common Sense.. Yes Deborah you are right there are some laws that can be a pain and WE may not like them, whilst OTHERS are glad for the protection… (gee go figure)

    So To Make This SIMPLE- Recruiting good people to provide a better opt for the person, TO improve the structure business and provide fair competition to your company IS LEGAL

    BUT INTENT to do DAMAGE is ILLEGAL – INTENT to Harm is ILLEGAL – INTENT to have UNFAIR Competion ILLEGAL . Raiding, Predatory Recruiting/Hiring, Contractural interference, business interference, ARE ALL ILLEGAL If one has INTENT to perform Malice to DESTROY and cause Destruction or Problems for a company. INTENT to RECRUIT in such a way that causes UNFAIR COMPETITION ILLEGAL.. Even in CA, which have No non compete Laws regarding employees…

    PLEASE Notice operative word here IS INTENT….

    Well of course obviously actually re contractural interference one may not even have to have malice.. depends on wording of contract ie Non Compete, non disclosure agreements. And of course I am sure there will be other factors that can also create an issue without INTENT – ie look up Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine. So it is Always viable and important to check with an Attorney..

    Thus in closing and I quote

    ‘General Rule Regarding Raiding ? Improper Purposes and Improper Means

    Generally speaking, conflicting results have been reached as to whether a person may be held liable to an employer for inducing his employee to move to a competitor. The general rule appears to be that the mere inducement of an employee to move to a competitor is not in itself actionable where the employment is terminable at will, but that such inducement is actionable if the party offering the inducement either has an ‘unlawful or improper purpose’ or uses ‘unlawful or improper means.

    Among the theories which have been relied upon to sustain a defendant’s liability for inducing an employee to move to a competitor are the following: 1) that the defendant’s efforts to induce an employee to move to a competitor were integrally related either with a ‘breach of contract’ or with a violation of a restrictive covenant in the employment contract; 2) that an employee was induced to leave by a person who had a ‘fiduciary duty’ to the employer such as a director or officer of the former employer and such person’s conduct amounted to a breach of a fiduciary duty; 3) the defendant’s conduct in inducing employee to terminate an employer/employee relationship constitutes an unjustified’ interference with the employer’s business relations;’ 4) that the conduct of the employer’s competitor constituted ‘unfair competition’ or a ‘conspiracy in restraint of trade.’ ‘

    The information provided in this Message or other messages is not a substitute for obtaining legal counsel from an attorney specializing in Labor law as I have stated before.

  56. Because I?ve engaged in the study of and journalistic pursuit of publishing articles about recruiting association ethics, business standards and professional practices I believe that my observations and suggestions, whether supportive or critical, have been well founded and without malice. I hope that readers will consider my comments in the spirit they were offered. I welcome any challenge that is offered with relevant support.

    Karen is absolutely right of course about ?absolute truth. ?The statement is logically contradictory. If the statement ?there are no absolute truths? is in fact true; there is then an absolute. This kind of self-contradiction is called a ‘contingent truth’. I should have used something like ?relative truth?, but relative seems to be driving people nuts too. As for ethics issues, all the confusion or objections can be avoided by supporting critical responses with codified principles and standards of a recognized by professional group(s). It?s good to see some of that starting to happen, even so no two litigations are the same, so any ruling is only a reference point not proof. Moralizing is unproductive and being pejorative with words like ?ridiculous? is too.

    Karen, I think everyone gets your point about ?intent? it just seems a stretch. When it comes to ?Raiding during a traumatic event?, all that was suggested is ?to identify who is unhappy with the uncertainty or who is just frustrated with the merger or traumatic event.? No mention is made of causing harm?in fact the word harm isn?t used in the article. Obviously, everything doesn?t come down to common sense. One person?s common sense is another person?s nonsense?so I?ve heard.


    Strategy and Tactics are regularly confused. Strategy is an overall plan, whereas Tactics are the means to attain goals or objectives.

    A close review shows the article describes a case study profiling the ?Most Innovative and Effective Recruiting Process? as benchmark ?best practices and strategies?so aggressive that most corporate recruiters would shy away from even trying them. ?The word ?ethics? appears only once, and only as a caveat that most corporate recruiters would ?likely argue that they stretch the so-called limits of ethics in recruiting.?

    Although Anthony is sincere and passionate about his position the words ?desperate?, ?professional?, and ?victims? don?t appear in the article. Tactics was only mentioned once in one of ten foundational elements of the ?The Recruiting Strategy?, which was mentioned five times. ?New? was used in terms of strategy or practice three times. ?Aggressive? was used seven times: (1) in the title, (2) in terms of ?recruiting function? referring to FM recruiting department, (3) in referring to the ?prestigious 2005 ERE Excellence Award for the Most Innovative and Effective Recruiting Process? awarded by recruiting industry thought leaders, (4) to differentiate FirstMerit relative to its conservative industry and geographic underpinnings, (5) to introduce the 10 key elements aggressive and business-like recruiting strategy, (6) it?s ?war like tactics?, (7) relating Michael?s military experience to his ?business like approach.? In fact many of the early criticisms of the article pointed to the lack of specificity or detail in terms of the actual tactics.

    Although I would certainly agree that the discussion, for some, leaned toward ethics, it seems quite clear, at least to me, that ethics was not the cornerstone of the article. But that really wasn?t my point. My point has been that any argument incorporating ethics or whether aggressive tactics are worthy; should, again in my humble opinion, address each of the ten key foundational strategic elements of the article in terms of some established ethical code or standard. My mission was to press the fact that this just wasn?t being done.

    Based on the evidence presented I?ll continue to maintain [my opinion] that in addition to the ARTICLE being about ?the differences between the recruiting approach of FirstMerit and most organizations? in terms of their ?complete integration of two key recruiting concepts into every thing they do?: ?(1) It?s a war and (2) competitive advantage?; it?s also very much about change, innovation and new ideas. Where the DISCUSION threads lead is another issue entirely.


    I?ve been studying and am writing about codified rules that govern staffing associations including ethics, business standards and professional practices. You get no argument from me that society as whole or any subset, associations for example, benefits from common standards. I personally believe that laws and codes of ethics provide a sense of direction and order for individuals, businesses and society as a whole. The Declaration of Independence infers certain unalienable Rights to ?Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?. Happiness isn?t a right only its pursuit is. Even the Constitution doesn?t afford all the rights that some presuppose. For example, the Constitution is absolutely mute on the issue of privacy?there is no such constitutional right, yet people think there is. The seven Articles of the Constitution, site and guaranteed only one right: ?To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries?. And of course we have the Bill of Rights that insure certain liberties. Moreover, the Constitution isn?t static. As an example, women and eighteen year olds were excluded from voting until 1920 and 1971 respectively. As citizens we also have the obligation to die if called upon to do so. Like many of my generation, I couldn?t vote, and couldn?t legally consume alcohol, yet I was required to fight in war. Similarly, industry and professional association codes are each created with their own context to their unique concerns?no two are alike, not even for different associations in the same industry?something I personally believe is a real tragedy. And governing association codes need to be updated from time to time, in order to reflect changes?evolving industry, business and markets aren?t static!


    Although I appreciated the quote by Sutcliffe, context is important, because I believe ?The Fourth Civilization– Technology Society and Ethics?, is about cultural change and social issues in terms of the relationships and mutual influences that historical events, technology, and ethics have on one another [over time]. One of Sutcliffe?s conclusions is ?the next generation may not interpret or use a given piece of information in the same way, because values (including spiritual ones) are much harder to transmit than facts.? He concludes that the important lesson about conflicting views and interpretation is that ?all knowledge (including that of history), is filtered.? He even discussed the relative aspects of ethics between ?The First Civilization of Hunter-Gatherers? and our current generation, ?The Fourth Civilization–The Information Brokers.?


    Laws and ethics and values and virtues are entirely different things. Laws are civilly codified rules. Ethics establish conventions upon which to base business practices and professional standards. Industries and professions vary; therefore ethics codes, business practices and professional standards are situational. Although law?s and ethics are not the same thing, they serve a common purpose?to provide a common reference to govern the respective behavior of society or an association of individuals or businesses.

    To support this notion, Iain Benson, Executive Director for the ?Centre for Cultural Renewal? wrote, ?What has not yet been sufficiently noted is that this ‘values’ language has gradually overtaken the place previously occupied by the more robust framework of virtue and character education.? He explained further that the tendency to ?reduce the moral order to a question of merely personal preference?, making ?values? interchangeable with ?virtues?, has had serious consequences.

    I too conclude that values are not the same as virtues; and moralizing, without citing specific violations of civil laws and/or association codes seem unreasonable. Any criticism I?ve leveled wasn?t intended to be a personal assault, but rather to focus on conduct such as assuming moral superiority without supporting the argument.

    I?m encouraged to see arguments about legal and ethical issues now being supported with more than personal opinion.


    I use the following story to illustrate the issue. A person wrote a letter to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive taken during the Afghanistan war.


    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D.C.

    Dear Concerned Citizen:

    Thank you for your recent letter criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington. You’ll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like you, we are creating the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the ‘Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers’ program, or LARK for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care.

    Your detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation to your residence next Monday. Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of admonishment. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.

    Although Ahmed is sociopathic and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his ‘attitudinal problem’ will help him overcome this character flaw. Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences.

    Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless you feel that this might offend him.

    Ahmed will not wish to interact with your wife or daughters since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him. He has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the dress code that he considers appropriate, but I’m sure that over time they will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the bhurka. Just remind them that it is all part of respecting his culture and his religious beliefs.

    Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you inform us of the proper way to do our job. Take good care of Ahmed and good luck!

    Don Rumsfeld

    Do ?Beliefs affect behavior?? Anyone that doesn?t believe culture or environments aren?t primary influencers of morality should sign up for The LARK Program. See the following details:


    Like many of you I?m in favor of strong industry and professional standards. I simply believe when discussing the actions of someone else, observations and/or judgments should be supported by (citing) relevant, established doctrine or standards?I personally think beliefs, feelings and unsupported opinions aren?t enough.

    To that end, everyone of my missives was about ONE THING?know what you?re talking about?before criticizing individual?s or organizational behavior, by first referring to the rules that govern specific behavior(s) relative to established governing laws and/or ethics. Anthony has taken that first step of clearly identifying the practices he believes are in question?the only thing left is to evaluate each of them against specific standards like those established by SHRM or NAPS or AESC as examples.

    I make every effort not to engage in disparaging comments or in alleging criminal behavior. I believe it?s a dangerous practice?indulge at your own risk. It?s better to analyze and contrast a behavior or practice against specific laws and codes?it?s safer too.


    Online communication is notorious for its inability to provide the all-important subtle context of direct voice communication (expression and tone for example), which is why digital discussions often go off on incredible tangents. It may or may not be true that any comment made by one person about anther is ultimately some form of judgment; nevertheless, my intent has been to offer insight and content relevant to evaluating comments on ethics oriented matters (urging comparison of suggested strategies and practices to existing codes of ethics). While many have clearly understood my comments in the light they were offered, some have not.

    I cast no dispersions on the character or intent of anyone in this forum. Offering opinions and advice or even making critical observations isn?t the same as making accusations that someone is conducting illegal or fraudulent practices. Nowhere in this forum have I inferred that the actions or intent of any contributor was fraudulent or illegal. I just don?t do that. I do however reassert my caution that using such words could result in unwanted attention. Any advice/observation I make is offered only in the spirit of proper decorum and only within the context of highlighting when a response is merely opinion, unsupported by attribution to any established standard. To clarify any misunderstandings, I offer a summary statement of my comments in this forum at the end of this missive.

    I appreciate the recent legal citations, but, in my opinion, even those require context to any given situation. I look forward to a comparison of these strategies to a bona fide recruiting or human resources association standard.



    We are, of course, all entitled to our own opinions. A thorough review of my missives clearly demonstrates that I judged no one, as demonstrated by the following summary:

    My first response focused on: recognizing that even war has established rules and standards of behavior; whether an administrators could be an effective recruiter; that ethics are situational in that they need to be analyzed and compared against established standards; be careful not to violate or induce someone else (a candidate) to violate a contract; and that Dr. Sullivan would be well served if he were more deferential to TPR?s.

    My second response restated my comment about Dr. Sullivan?s apparent lack of regard for TPR?s; that the concept of ethics was not well understood (an observation reinforce throughout the ensuing discussion); personal, mostly complementary comments about Michael Homula (someone I?ve never met) appearing to be a standup guy; more comments on sophistication and value of TPR?s; debunking the notion that there is some threat to TPR?s as a business model; defending against Homula’s observation that TPR?s comments were arrogant (a notion I?ve reconsidered); and offering resources that responders could use to educate themselves on ethics, morality, and character oriented issues.

    My third response was on the importance of context to a discussion (or anything); a reference to Matchmaking in the Labor Market, by Finlay and Coverdill to again demonstrate the enormous influence of the TPR business model; and again, advice to Dr. Sullivan on making his position on TPR?s clearer.

    My fourth response included an observation on what Dr. Sullivan?s article was about (my opinion); an observation that moralizing without attribution to specific codified standards is a dangerous practice; a numerical evaluation (opinion) of judgmental conclusions (moralizing) without reference to formal standards (association codes of ethics, etc.)?now if I?m wrong and specific civil laws and association code (SHRM?s code of ethics for instance) were cited, I then stand corrected; a historical review, citing experts other than me, of the cultural impact on legal and ethical standards (historical relativism); more observations on the danger of casting legal and ethical judgments (just friendly advice); a substantial number of links on the study of ethics to help readers in addressing any ethics oriented comments; a historical footnote regarding the impact of culture on ethics/relativism.

    My fifth response: no real substance.

    In conclusion, as I stated earlier, a careful review of my comments will demonstrate that my intent has been to focus arguments about ethics onto the spotlight of established standards, rather than individual standards of propriety, some innate moral certainty, or some ‘natural law’ that every human is born with.

    Time to move on…

  57. ‘Everybody lies — every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his foes, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception — and purposely. ~ On The Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain

    To read the whole article:

  58. The sniping between Karen Mattonen and John Sullivan seems to have reached a new level, but perhaps both can step back and realize that they seem to be in agreement: stealing another company’s employees for the purpose of damaging that company is illegal, but stealing another company’s employees for the purpose of benefiting your company is legal. It seems to me that in almost all of the latter cases, you will do damage to the company from which you steal employees, but if that company is unable to prove that the reason you stole their employees was to do damage to them, then your conduct is not illegal.

    While I’m sure we can all think of one or two employees that we’ve had where it would have helped us to have had another company steal them, the reality is that when an employee leaves, your company suffers. Whether they leave because they were hired away by a competitor or because they’re retiring, their absence from your place of employment is damaging to your business. For a court to prohibit one company from hiring another company’s employees would be lunacy — unless the intent was simply to do damage to the other company.

  59. Brandon
    Excellent Point
    Re you are right ?common sense? is not common, but one could ask oneself a standard question ? what can my actions do to xyz, what can be the outcome, and what are the reasons I am doing it. ?

    In so many instances the way the Laws are written are indeed ambiguous especially in tort and contract law, sometimes interpretations may be considered personal, subjective and objective. (why so many lawsuits are in courts).

    How the law does provide protection from corruption of the ambiguity is to set General standards ? to win a case one must prove that an ACTION (past, present or future) could, will or has CAUSED past, present or future HARM, (loss, death, or injury) and PROOF of INTENT (Implied, Willful, Malicious, assumption of Risk OR Negligence), to be able to determine a presence of guilt.
    (they can also base an action on an assumption or implied assumption of risk, reasonable standards of behaviour, professional or personal negligence and duty, mental capacity, and of course pre existing relationships. With Federal and state statutes in some jurisdictions just disobeying the statute is proof is enough to warrant an automatic conviction)
    Quite often we think the law is black and white, but think about it, there are some really strange instances where we shake our head and go, I can?t believe he lost that case, and I can?t believe they Won (Take O.J. Simpson)

    It really comes down to the presentation to prove or disprove Action, Intent, Harm and Proof, that wins or loses the cases. The presentation of either the defense or plaintiff, and how the Jury or Judge/s view the presentation.

    Brandon regarding the Montgomery V. Sears case ? I quote
    ??.But when Ward sued, its attorneys uncovered in-ternal e-mail circulated among Sears employees plotting to ‘put them out of their misery’ by hiring away key Ward managers. The court ruled that one company may not hire away employees of another company with the intent of crippling that company. ?

    ?Brandon, Again intent does come in to play but also so does Harm.. In general, the courts say people have a duty to reasonably protect others and ourselves from harm

  60. Karen

    When did you get a law degree? Lawyers are responsible for legal issues… not HR, finance or ad people.

    IMHO… you are practicing law without a license, how unethical!

    I can site court cases that say it’s illegal to park illegally… but so what, I still park illegally on occasion, and I pay the fine for it.

    Calculate the ROI of being sued… and then you might have a case both lawyers and executives would listen to.


  61. Dr. Sullivan,

    hmm, interesting.. are you trying to intimidate? Why?

    Don’t understand your comment, please review, neither do I cite cases, (I have cut and paste information that is available to the public- Please note the quotation marks and the VERBAGE ‘I quote’; ‘meaning NOT My words’, I have even given the strings to be used to find this information and have EVEN stated this more than once.. – )

    nor have in any shape way or form potrayed to be a lawyer , or associated with the law anywhere in this string… And ACTUALLY I have stated over and over CONTACT A LAWYER

    Sir, being familiar of the law due to personal reasons, and knowing what to look for and stating what I have said over and over is MY personal opinion is a far cry from citing cases, and misrepresentation…

    Also, no where in ANY of my posts on this STRING have I directed my views to ANY one particular individual, PERSON or business – My comments may have specifics, yes, but they are based upon general actions –

    The few times a name was mentioned it was either a question or a response to a question…

  62. one other thing sir,

    I neither pretend, claimed, or suggested to be a lawyer, litigator nor attorney, (nor played one on TV) claimed to have passed a bar exam, have a license, have been paid for any legal advice, or statements, nor misrepresented myself of such –

    Which means I have Not broken Any Laws Sir… I would like to believe I am much smater than that…

    Intersting, by stating what you did- are you not doing the same thing you accuse me of?

    Considering your statement ‘To be sure, such a layperson could not try a jury case without ?practicing law? under any conceivable definition, but what would be the status of a trust officer in a bank, a financial adviser, a lobbyist, a consultant on compliance with environmental regulations, or a human resources director advising his or her company about civil rights laws compliance….’ Anthony E. Davis, sq. President, APRL W. William Hodes, Esq. Chair, APRL Committee on Defining the Practice of Law

  63. Karen, did I really say [?common sense? is not common]. Come on! If you?re going to quote me be accurate and if you?d simply like to paraphrase get the CONTEXT correct. You did neither in this case and to do less, using your evangelistic standards, isn?t ethical.

    Show me where John?s article states any intent to cause harm; moreover, didn?t you see the acknowledgments that ?everyone gets your point about ?intent?? Why keep beating a dead horse. All I can say is dido to John, your logic in citing legal president without context escapes me. I?ll stick with a bona fide lawyer.

    From where I sit your approach to commentary (reading in what isn?t there) resembles that of Amy Halloran, the antagonist, in the article: ?Attacks without Facts, Who’s Responsible??; which can be found at:

    On a final note, I think you?ll appreciate this ETHICS resource. USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review ethics web page offers?A basic Ethics guide for writers and bloggers. It can be found at the and offers tips to help ?avoid common mistakes that can make you look foolish, at best, or worse, land in you serious trouble.? Are we done yet?

    And in the event that you fail to see any of this logic?you might consider starting an online LARK program (see previous reply) for ethically challenged recruiters, educators, and don?t forget attorneys.

  64. Brandon,

    Please view my post which unfortunately you missed prior to posting yours (time zone constraint)


  65. Karen –

    Very well put.
    I an in awe the time you (& some others) devote to this forum.


  66. Shooting the Messenger

    Watching the recent spate of back and forth makes me look at what?s? really being accomplished here. This debate is really over what do we call it: black, white or gray? You say tomato I say tomoto. One of the things that emerges though, most definitely, is the different way people interact with each other. For no other reason this string has been an extremely valuable learning lesson.

    I read a Fast Company article today about persistence. Here?s the link:

    There?s a passage, ?…She hopes that the math and technical skills that she’s acquired at Focus:Hope will one day help her become a computer programmer. But she has acquired other skills as well. ?The most valuable thing I’ve learned is how to interact with people on a professional level,? she says. ?Our communications class has speaking sessions in which we read articles aloud or discuss them. A classmate can say to one of us, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t say this word that way.’ We also have free-for-all discussions in which we debate issues. The objective is to learn to consider other people’s opinions and to avoid conflict. A lot of people are shy — they don’t like to stand up and speak — and this exercise helps them.?’

    The article goes on to comment that the program has unforgiving standards:

    ?Focus: Hope has come under attack for its unforgiving standards. But Josaitis argues that by setting high expectations, the program not only challenges people to reach their potential but also respects their dignity.?

    Let me propose that Karen is exhorting us to rise above ourselves and look upon our industry with a bird?s eye view. That?s not a bad thing ? we might even approach the altitude of eagles in so doing. The drum she beats carries a deep reverberation ? many of the ?legal? issues she raises do deserve consideration. I?ve spoken with Karen many times, though we laughingly ?agree to disagree? on some things I would not mistake her for an attorney; her passion for our industry is real and though her zealotry may not be appreciated by all sometimes it?s people like her who lead the charge of change. Being on the frontline of anything can be hazardous, this experience is no exception.

    ?Three principles govern Focus:Hope’s businesslike approach to social change: Think big. Demand results. Invite people to help.? I don?t think any of us would argue with these three concepts. It?s just that ?big? comes in different sizes, drive through any fast food restaurant ? you have Big, Bigger and King Kong Size to choose from. I suggest Karen?s new moniker should be King Kong Karen.


    The Focus: Hope article ends with, ?Banish your biases.? We?d be smart to do the same.

  67. Stopped in at the local 7-11 yesterday.The clerk and I were talking and the poor girl was frazzled,having to work a shift and a half.Asked me if I had anything available with any of my clients that she might qualify for.I told her to come see me when she got the time and we’d talk.Now I guess I’m going to have to go on the run for violating RICO,trying to harm 7-11,and violating the Lanham Act (or Mannheim Steam Roller or whatever it was that Karen mentioned).Lord love a duck if this is not getting sillier and sillier.Recruiting is not brain science or rocket surgery…’s recruiting….it’s simple.Find a need,fill the need.Where do you find experienced people?Gee,they probably are working.How do you recruit them?You pick up that new invention,the phone,and you call them.I can hear it now…’Thief!!!Racketeer!!!Trying to harm business,you dirty rotten scoundrel’Under some of the assumptions that have been put forth here,we can and must do away with job fairs,job posting boards,newspapers,and just about everything else involved in hiring people.Let’s all go hire HVAC people who have no experience,CE’s who have never designed a highway or a bridge,doctors who have no pactical experience.That way we’ll never have to worry about Big Brother courthouses and playing XGames with legal interpretation.How something so simple can get so messed up is beyond me.Company A (Homula) aggressively recruits and all of a sudden Entity B decides that the legality is questionable or Entity C decides that too much aggressiveness is unethical.Homulas company,according to what I find,has over 160 locations in Ohio.Now let’s assume that includes ATM,s and unmanned sites.Since there are more than 2 banking operations in Ohio I would bet that the competitors are not going crying around wailing about losing ‘their people’.They are placing ads,contacting TPR’s,and interviewing to replace the departing employees.According to some of these posts,they should be making sure counsel is earning their retainer fees and screaming bloody murder.If you equate recruiting (real recruiting,not scanning the boards) with theft or unethical practice,you’re doing something wrong.Get over it.Dr. John is correct,Homula is correct(for the most part)and there is nothing illegal about recruiting experienced people.If this were illegal,there would be a real overcrowding in the jail system.I’ll be going underground until the RICO thing dies down and will probably hang out with the Corleone family in Italy until the heat dies down and that Lanham thing disappears.Gee,who knew that recruiting would lead do a life of crime.In the meantime,just say no to recruiting people with jobs.You don’t want to become a Homula do you?The recruiting oath…First do no harm…and if you do you are an unethical law breaking rat who should be shot or hung by the toes.Power to the people(who don’t have a job in the industry that you’re recruiting for or work for a competitor)Ciao and arrive derci and all those other Italian sayings.My coyote is here to escort me out of the country.

  68. Larry,
    Please don’t be offended…but I think you are oversimplefying the point Karen was trying to make. And PLEASE for the sake of our eyeballs, use some spacing in your posts.

    That being said…good luck with the 7-11 candidate. I will do what I can to get my candidate a job, or to find my client a candidate, but not at the expense of what I find is ethical.

    Let’s not get too worked up people. But remember your ethics…and lets all not forget that NO ONE that posts here on ERE is GOD, no matter how long in the biz, what degree you have, or how many people you pulled from your competitor.

    Let’s take it down a notch and relax.
    I order all of you to relax this weekend, and wait until Monday or Tuesday to spar again.

  69. This is the FINAL response I shall make in regards to this string – Words are becoming misconstrued and that is unfortunate,.
    There is no need to make anything personal. My comments were Not directed to anyone person, but to this industry as a whole. What we as a group, who participate in this industry should be aware of.. What it is NECESSARY for us to Know.

    Yesterday, I was asked again why am I so passionate about this industry – well I thought about it, and here was my response to my friend, it is my personal feelings, my personal opinions, and I am grateful to find out that others also share it. –

    One of the things I was thinking about today after we got off the phone, is yes, why am I so passionate about what we do? … I was again comparing us to the real estate industry and how individuals are regulated licesensed and such like, I wondered why? why are they regulated and we are not? Why do they have set standards and we don’t.. well it hit me – it was because individuals become corrupt with money, they will act in any way they can just to make money – yet the laws are mainly about how they charge people (like double dipping) , report the paperwork, promises made, preserving privacy, avoiding conflict of interest and due to the money involved protect from corruption, measure minimum competencies, provide an effective screening process of new license applications and MAINLY Protect and Safeguard the Public’s interest.

    WELL here we are in an industry where there are actual FEDERAL and State Public interest Laws that do protect the individual regarding – hiring, interviewing, solicitation, reference checking, sharing of information, protection of privacy, immigration, Unions and advertising – there are actual federal groups like the EEOC, National Labor Group, and State Labor Boards and Department Of Labor that also relate to the recruiting industry. Yet it so weird that anyone and I mean anyone can become a recruiter, and not have to know their laws, there is no necesssity for training, or certification..
    ‘The profession is built upon sensitive relationships with clients, candidates, employees and communities. Confidentiality and integrity are key to our professional practices and ethics. ‘ quoted from the AESC Association of Executive Search Consultants

    Anyone can buy a book off the internet, and voila, then call themselves a recruiter, some even don’t go that far.. Can you imagine if I decided to just plaster a real estate placard on my car, call myself an agent, create some documents – the damage I can do to the community..
    That seems wrong of course, because we Know it is wrong, because the Law says so.. We all Know that the Law says so because of the mandatory training, registering, and such like, ,,,, So I wonder why isn’t it the same for Us. What we do is very similar, yet for so many recruiters the money involved can be even more than a single real estate agent make. ?Korn Ferry alone made 438.1 million last year. The industry reported $1.135 billion in 2004?
    U.S. professional fee revenue for the 25 biggest firms grew 20% in 2004 over 2003

    It is also interesting that in so many states there is no actual structure or governance to dictate to a recruiter what they can and cannot do.. should or should not; even at the expense of the consumer or candidate.

    We can charge fees and not complete assignments (so called retained searches) we can abuse people and companies privacy (we get so much financial and personal information about the companies we work for). We can even mess with a person’s jobs, and we can cheat and abuse each other.
    Yet There is nowhere any person can go to complain about abuse due to unethical or illegal behavior from a recruiter, address concerns regarding our industry, to learn about new laws or subjects of interest , not even regarding issues between one recruiter and another. Anyways this is like a diary of sorts.. as i ramble.. This is truly why it bothers me so much!!!!!! and why I get so darn angry about it all…

    People, it is Not about IF we are going to become regulated if we continue this way, it is a matter of WHEN.. We must do something to better self regulate ourselves before it is taken out of our hands…

    More privacy Laws are being created on a day to day basis, and they will affect us..

    Do I want Regulation, no, can we self regulate ourselves.. I am truly beginning to wonder…

    My final thoughts Online –

    Thanks for allowing me to share
    If anyone wishes to continue this conversation off line or e-mail please contact me at the following –

    Karen M.

  70. Every time I think I?ve left this particular discussion behind, someone(s) comes up with more challenging points and/or observations. Since this is a ?learning? forum I decided to chime in with Larry and on a couple of Maureen?s observations.


    Engaging in this discussion reaffirmed for me that sometimes opportunities present themselves in unusual ways. I?m currently publishing articles on recruiting industry association ethics, business standards and professional practices, so this diversion into a dialog on ethics has presented a unique opportunity for me in more ways than one.


    I?m with Larry, recruiting is Social Engineering (I think that?s what he said) not Social Work. There?s room for good people in both disciplines and it?s best to follow your passion (no matter what it is). I believe that neither Larry nor Karen will need a coyote.

    STEEL ON TARGET (In Military Terms Hit Your Mark)

    Maureen, Karen certainly has been in the hotseat; and her olive branch is a nice gesture that I hope will change the tone. I too respect Karen?s right to argue, and encourage her to do so with passion; but zealotry is in deed hazardous. It draws fire from other passionate people?like me. The following words and phrases are a condensed sample used by one contributor that I don?t think hit the mark: Ridiculous, immorally, Fraud, Lies, Deceit, sabotage, malevolence, unethical, unsavory, dirty, tainted, infected, unscrupulous, misleading, false, Raiding, pillaging, deceptive, criminal behavior, and breaking the law. Do words and phrases such as these add to the discourse? Paraphrasing Maureen, formal debate is governed by rules that offer structure to minimize the open conflict of a free-for-all, thus insuring respect for each participant and dignity of the process.


    The character Ann Darrow, played by Faye Rae, while being sympathetic to King Kong was terrified by his approach. The advice to ?Banish your biases? is good, as it will help to promote the suggested businesslike approach. It will also serve to act as a check against using comments and phrases that inflame rather than educate.


    Lesson?s Learned is an important concept. So what are the lessons learned? In terms of ?leading the charge of change?, Dr. Sullivan led the charge by writing the original article and offering it for debate. The topic he offered was about aggressive strategies and doing something different (at least that?s what I read). I think that Dr. Sullivan and Mr. Homula followed exactly the ?Three principles? offered by Maureen. Didn?t they ?Think big?, ?Demand results? and ?Invite people to help??


    I think that it was Dr. Sullivan and Michael Homula that got unceremoniously shot?at least that?s my observation.

  71. Watching the way this discussion has evolved is disappointing in many ways because it is loosing sight of the original article and the tactics contained within it.

    Karen has very bravely put her thoughts out on this and has made some very valid points. She is certainly not offering an olive branch because she does not need to and to describe her passion as zealotry is well off the mark.

    We would all do better to keep focused on the original article than trying to ‘outsmart’ another just because they got in first.

    And no I don’t think that this article met the three principles offered by Maureen. It didn’t even come close.

    Think big and thinking you’re big are two different things. Demanding results at any cost to people and companies for personal gain is wrong. Inviting people to help? Must have missed that one.

    Dr Sullivan is not simply the messenger in this. He is the author that has presented the tactics used by FirstMerit as, in his opinion, the best in the world.

    If he had presented these tactics merely as a commentator with either no opinion or, like some of us disagreeing with them, then he would indeed be considered the messenger and it would be wrong to ‘shoot’ him.

    BUT he supports them and at the time, could not wait to publish part 2. (Absence says it all). So he is clearly not just the messenger but a supporter of the tactics and is therefore open to criticism or support depending on your own values.

  72. The self-described Passion Catalyts Curt Rosengren has an interesting blog today that
    seems to fit what we?ve been dealing with in here ? he calls it dealing with ?ultimate problems?. Dealing with ultimate problems doesn?t make you a bad girl or a good boy.

    ?Do we really want to place ourselves in situations in which we know we’re going to feel frustrated and confused? Emphatically, yes! If you’re feeling frustrated, you’re in the company of the greatest poets, composers, and inventors of all time, and, more likely than not, you’re on the verge of a new idea. Failure is not something to fear; properly managed, it’s a great wellspring of creativity.?

    Interesting perspective:

    And oh, by the way, I’m waiting for Part II and I think it’s absence may be (I hope it is) only a backlogged function of interesting ERE articles we all are so lucky to have. In the event it’s not, and the author(s) have been blanched into submission, let it be a lesson to all of us what judgment accomplishes.

    Nowhere (in recent ERE history) have I seen a discussion so enlightening, so subscribed to (75 posts!), so disturbing, so exhilarating as this one. I can only speak for myself but I’ve learned a tremendous amount from everyone and this discussion has piqued me to explore some extremely interesting issues in my own character.

  73. Karen –

    Please reconsider – you may be punishing countless thousands who enjoy your postings and the resulting engagements. And sure, they could be toned down a bit. But stopped altogether?

    Since they call me the #guy (former CFO), I must mention the top 3 (MRI is the largest but never reported) bring in more than $1.2 bil. Did you mean Trillion?

    Namaste –

  74. Hi Karen, Lol I see you are still at it. 🙂

    I think the regulation idea will be a hard sell. But I admire the fact you can be such a prolific author and still get your regular work done. I barely have time enough to write this. Anyway, ?Karen for President? what do you think?

    Keep up the good fight?

  75. Lol Lary too funny. Thanks for giving me a good laugh this morning, its a great way to start the day…

  76. The comprehensive regulation of the real estate industry evolved for one reason, businesses are providing services to consumers who are paying the fees. The recruiting industry is the same way. If you are doing business under an APF model, where candidates pay the fees?you?ll be regulated to the same degree as a real estate agent. APF was a common practice in the past, but as that model has mostly been replaced by employer paid fee models, where individual consumer protection issues, except for reference checking (consumer reporting) became mute points. With essentially nothing to regulate relative to consumer issues, states one after another deregulated what had become a business-to-business model. Government generally presumes (rightly or wrongly) that Businesses can and should be able to look out for there individual interests. Limited government interference is one of the foundations of a free enterprise system.

    That said, like Karen, I?m an avid supporter of promoting high standards of ethics for business and professional practices in the recruiting industry. And like Karen and Anthony (I think every one in this discussion), I believe that our individual and collective actions matter. As to the question of evaluating the merits of Dr. Sullivan?s suggested practices, every one of my posts had one basic intent?to incite a challenge to review each strategy [practice or tactic] against specific industry code standards. Quote the standard and make the comparison and in turn an industry specific qualified judgment. Unfortunately, no one took up that mantle.

    Maybe installment #2 will provide the opportunity for some brave soles to make an apples-to-apples focused comparative analysis against industry code standards.

  77. I love all this back and forth between TPR’s and Corporate recruiters… and even the personal shot taken at me when I was congratulating someone on a great job…however, mostly what I see is territorial – and probably so because TPR’s are trained to despise HR and Corporate recruiters and Vice Versa …. Those times have changed and both sides need to get along – a necessary evil if you will, so let’s all enjoy a coke and a smile. Also what I see is a great divide between TPR’s and Corporate recruiters… is it because corporate recruiters have taken away business for the TPR’s or is because TPR’s can’t change with the times, or both… Times, they are a changin’ and sure, I know a lot of recruiters are struggling to find business the same old way; the old way may still work for some, but for others that have aired their views within this particular thread, it may not be the way it was… by the way who got their chocolate in my peanut butter?

    Are TPR’s necessary – yes; are corporate recruiters necessary – yes — but they need to get along because somewhere along the way they will be introduced to each other, whether directly or indirectly, within the client company and they may even be asked to partner up – now there’s a concept.

    Change with the times folks – find a need and fill it – and try to get along with the others in the sandbox and stop putting yourself between the other side and a fire hydrant (whoever the other side is). If a company has a need and you are lucky enough to be called by them to fill that need – don’t you think it’s in your best interest to get along with your client and wrap your arms around them, get inside of their organization and do great work so you can become a partner? Or would you prefer to get in an argument because they are not a TPR? Well look round folks – I know a lot of great ex-TPR’s who have become corporate recruiters, Vp’s of Talent Acquisition, etc, and who have done a tremendous job. One of those seems to have been the entrée of this thread and my hat still goes off to him. Great job Michael!!!


  78. TPR Ts are trained to despise HR and Corporate recruiters and Vice Versa

    I am a TPA with about 10 years of experience here in the Twin Cities.
    I have found it more often that Corporate Recruiters and HR are trained by their upper management to despise TPA’s, if that condition exists within that company.
    Whats funny is the Corporate Recruiters tend to despise their managers also due to the unrealistic demands placed on them to be both HR and Recruiters, daily meetings, etc.
    Companies where Corporate Recruiters respect the committment and loyalty of their TPA’s where they have a true relationship I feel are more successful in their recruiting efforts and everyone wins.
    Just my 2c,
    Keith Severtson
    Recruiters of Minnesota

  79. Maureen

    No reason for the delay of part II other than an administrative snafu.

    I have enjoyed your comments throughout though


  80. Always one to pick a sore scab time and time again, I came across this in one of my yahoo groups this a.m. and thought it might be of interest here…

    ‘Day-to-day actions and discussions are where the real development of ethical leadership takes place.’

    This article was adapated from the CCL/Jossey-Bass Magazine Leaderhip in Action.
    LIA Volume 23, Number 3, July/August 2003
    Character Study: Strengthening the Heart of Good
    LIA volume 21, number 3, July/August 2001
    A Question of Leadership

    A Moral Muddle? Why Organizations Struggle with Ethics?

    It may be apparent that leaders and organizations could do with a healthy dose of integrity, character and ethics. But several factors typically get in the way.

    Touchy subject. Concepts such as character, morality, ethics and integrity are inherently subjective and thus controversial. What are right and wrong behaviors, on what are those standards based, and who determines them? says CCL’s Gene Klann.

    Out of the box. Schools, MBA programs and organizations don’t often address ethics as part of their training of leaders, leaving them ill-prepared to factor right and wrong into their business practices. Ethical considerations are not natural to the business venue, writes Peter J. Neary, an adjunct trainer at CCL and principal of Peter J. Neary Associates in Colorado Springs , Colo. Most businesses do not factor into their management routine reviews of the rights and wrongs of their business functions. He adds, ‘Training in ethics can teach leaders to contemplate motivations for business decisions that are necessary but may not be tied to the bottom line.

    All words, no action. Defining and instilling behaviors and attitudes relating to broad moral and ethical choices is largely disregarded. Most organizations have drawn up a statement of values, but in many cases this statement is largely for show and is given little more than lip service. The fact is that what many companies and many of their leaders continue to value most is the bottom line — profit margins, shareholder value and the like, says Klann. Leaders often compromise character to reach performance goals.

    Too late. There is a widespread but mistaken belief that an individual’s character is totally and indelibly determined at an early age, so efforts to develop character in adults are often seen as a waste of time, explains Klann. Certainly childhood experiences are formative and powerful, but it is also true that adults imitate each other. Ethical behaviors, if articulated and modeled, can influence others and generate a new standard for a group or organization.

    Training challenges. While standards of conduct, responsibility and ethical behavior need to be articulated, formal programs have their limits. When ethics is approached head-on in a session, people activate their filters, political correctness kicks in, and it’s difficult for them to be authentic. In addition, an issue that is an integral part of leadership may end up being discussed only in a vacuum, warns CCL’s senior fellow Bill Sternbergh. Day-to-day actions and discussions are where the real development of ethical leadership takes place.

  81. I find it astonishing that so many TPR’s become so outraged at what they perceive to be unscrupulous and/or ‘dodgy’ candidate control tactics. Really……amazing. Especially coming from an industry sector that has come to define sleaze and questionable trading standards. And that is all the more unpaletable when you see the fee they charge compared to the actual work they do….for the client paying the fee.

    Yeah…..I know every TPR here is going to say that they’re a paragon of professionalism (I’ve yet to meet a TPR who has admitted to being the wide boy wannnbe that the majority of them are). But the sector of the recruitment industry that Michael Homula is rightly undermining is the contingency end of the market. The generalist, database, job board, opportunist recruiters that place around 3% of the candidates they ever talk to.

    These are the recruiters that First Merit are cutting out of the loop. I suspect the really good Executive Search guys are still needed by them for the occasional, tightly defined, senior management type roles?

    First Merit, based on my understanding of the two articles, are not compromising the space that someone like Anthony’s business operates in.

    What Michael Homula has done is simply insist on putting control of the recruitment function back where it should be. With the client. For that he is to be applauded.

    OK…I am a little biased as I am writing a book detailing how HR departments can develop their own in-house ‘agency ethic’ and what support technology they’ll need to help deliver it. It is reassuring to learn that there are actually company’s out there with the ‘cojones’ to actually do what I’ve been telling my clients is possible for 3 years now.

    Oh and by the way, I am also a TPR.

    Michael, is that offer to call you open to me too? You might be able to help me with a little research.

  82. Wow, someone is sure harboring a little resentment and negative feelings about TPA’s.
    I will keep this short and simple, I am a professional with high ethics, I started in the recruiting industry almost 10 years ago with those ethics in mind and I have not compromised them once nor will I.
    In closing, I think anyone with any level of intelligence at all refrains about making all encompassing generalizations.
    Recruiters are human beings like every other type of human being, there are good and bad ones.
    This business is about relationships and successful recruiters know that, regardless of where some think the industry is going.

    Best Regards,
    Keith Severtson

  83. Keith,
    you nailed it on the head, one can read from these posts who have been recruiting for more than 8 years (prior to the internet boom), who has received training, and who is aware of the ACTUAL code of Ethics of this industry (they really do exist) from those who have not!!!!!!

    Karen M.

  84. Really Karen? OK…go for it. Which of the posters here have been recruiting for a long time and which ones haven’t?

    Keith, ‘generalisations’ are what people do. It’s impossible to do much else……unless you’ve met everyone. I used the word ‘majority’ when talking about the less than impressive ethics and knowledge of recruitment that agency recruiters have. This is mostly based on those I personally have met and interviewed.

    The TPR business model is fundamentally flawed. Always has been actually. Just taken people time to realise it. Some people anyway. It doesn’t deliver value for money and ultimately this has bred the type of ‘consultants’ that work in the industry. I use the word ‘consultant’ in its loosest sense here because ‘consulting’ accounts for very little of what most of them do, day to day.

    PS….When I say what I say about TPR’s I am really talking about those working at the contingency end of the market (one I worked for many years and which still accounts for about 15% of what I do). I am not talking about people in senior management Executive Search. Just to be clear.

  85. Mitch,

    Now that just would not be fair, because there are many individuals out there who have less than 8 years experience, but who do have GREAT ethics and do know the industry.. They have taken the time and effort to be trained..

    That was why I had the other qualifiying factors, should have probably used an OR,,

    anyways.. Many of the individuals on this post I have had the opt. to speak to personally. Some I respect tremendously, and can state that they do share EXTREMELY strong values and ethics in this industry even if they ‘only’ do contingency searches (as I do which by the way also encompass executive and C level).

    The type or agency searches (Retained, contingency or corporate) one does does not qualify the person, it is the individual who makes the person. It is their behavior and their actions.

    This industry has gone to heck in a handbasket. Oh yes it has. Why!!!! Well – it is due to lack of education, lack of knowledge and lack of ethics. Which comes from the factor that too many people came into this industry too easily with the thought of a quick buck, but w/o realizing or knowing that there were other elements to this job.

    I know of people who do not know that the EEOC laws affect us. I know of individuals who believe that just having a phone and a computer is all that one needs to know about this job. Many do not realize that this job has so many legal issues that ethics and legality cross over where one does not know where one starts and where one part ends

    The Recruiting Association Test to be certified is a couple of hours long, in California it is about – it encompasses so many laws regarding this industry – as ADA, FMLA, Constitutional Law, Common Law, State and Federal Regulations, INS, Age in Discrimination and a comprehensive overview of other legal issues that face us and our clients every day. There are generally requirements before someone can take the tests.. Naps Requires that During each three year period, new certificate holders will be required to participate in 50 hours of approved continuing education activity or one could lose certification.

    Yet anyone and I mean anyone can just enter this industry – without training, certification, knowledge or education.

    Yes it is shocking to see that some individuals do actually believe that there are recruiters who do Not believe and live up to the standards and ethics of this industry.. We are not pollyannas, we are not boring, we are just people who believe in our industry and would like to see the High standards return.

  86. By the way – I wonder how many people know that there are 23 states that regulate Placement Fees –

    meaning they regulate the Guarantee time, and percentage – for eg. IA states that the Placement firm must return 15% of annual gross earnings – that is a ONE year Guarantee period… HMMM, most states of the 23 stated 90 days – there were one or two that did 1 Mth, but the general was 90 days, or 12 weeks…

    Interesting Stuff..
    Karen M.

  87. Mitch,
    I still disagree.
    Generalizations are not what people do as an all encompassing statement.
    Generalizations are done to group people together as someone’s defining example of that group.
    Personally, I find generalizations insulting.
    Especially when I think of being grouped together with some of the unprofessional, cutthroat, unethical individuals I have come across in this industry.
    This industry is about professionalism, ethics and most of all….relationships.
    You can’t build professional relationships grouping every recruiter, hiring manager or candidate in one lump sum.
    People are unfortunately individuals, thats why we have the problems in this industry that we have!
    Personally, if you took an unethical, unprofessional individual and put them in a completely different profession, they would still be the person they are. Thats why I don’t like generalizations.
    Give people credit for rising above taking the easy way out!

    Best Regards,
    Keith Severtson

  88. Karen –

    Good to see your continued input. I may have missed something here (happens a lot lately), but you stated that placment firms in IA have to return 15% of their fees? To whom?

    Actually, my real concern, concerning regulation or industry standards, just what kind of fees are we talking about? Or are fees free from regulation (in the 23 states)? If not, what, if anything, is in these regulations about fees?



  89. Louise,

    There are too many entities to just post which regulate fees, as there are other aspects as well, is it the fee – guarantee period and such like… The following are for Permanent placement –

    AS it is there are 23 STATES that Regulate FEES and GUARANTEE Periods for PERMANENT PLACEMENT AGENCIES

    23 STATES require that FEE schedules must be submitted to state (not all the same as above)

    11 states require fees for counsellors

    There are 14 STATES that Regulate and HAVE LAWS (must be licensed in the state as well) FOR THE PERMANENT AGENCY –

    There are 10 STATES that IMPOSE Sales TAx for recruiters

    There are 20 States that Regulate Applicant Paid

    12 STATES require tests for Counsellors and Managers,

    By the way what is interesting is that some states were different for each column, so what one state may have said no to thought they needed to put laws elsewhere….

    What may be interesting to know is does that state law have presedence when I am recruiting in that state, even if I am in another state… The general case is Yes, the stronger law takes presdense, but in regards to this aspect of recruiting,,,, well it might be interesting to know…. HMMMMM!!!!

  90. I understand your point Keith and of course you’re right – there are many, many fine and ethical recruiters out there. Perhaps I have focused on the wrong element to this debate.

    The real issue is that for the most part, TPR’s don’t offer great value for money. The business model they work to is flawed. It churns around candidates, more than 90% of whom never get placed anywhere by them and subsequently have a set of charges that is as much driven by this monumental waste of time as it is by the fact that the agency is taking all the risks by working on ‘sucess only’.

    External Recruiters should be selling things like Candidate Attraction Strategies, Employee Referral Programs and Database Building & Management Services to their clients rather than simply selling candidates.

    Maybe it’s the TPR business model that is responsible for much of the unethical behaviour? Maybe if TPR’s stopped being capabale of making a living by being nothing more than good cold callers, the industry may start to make some progress?

  91. Royce,
    It really interests me that people really seem to resent knowing information regarding this industry.. Look this particular informatation Can be found on ASA (for those who don’t know that is American Staffing Association)

    You can buy the book (they have member and Non Member Prices – that has this information; call them like I did and ask them about the PERMANENT PLACEMENT AGENCY LICENSING LAW GUIDE 2004, and how you can obtain a copy of it. (note law not regulation)

    Now in regards to my former statement.. People, guess what, I do NOT pull this information out of the Air, what purpose would that serve me.. The information I have stated I definitely TRY to get from reliable sources.. In this case I would like to think ASA is pretty reliable.

    Royce, do you think you know every LAW out there, do you think an attorney knows all the laws (why do you think they have to do research)I sure as heck don’t and don’t pretend to and remember I am no Lawyer, I just want to know out of Necessity and out of curiousity;

    Laws change every day in every state and federally but when I find out something that I think could eventually effect us I want to allow people to be aware of it.. – So don’t kill the messenger!!!! I also suggest that individuals speak to an attorney that specializes in our industry… They often tend to know if not, they know how to find the information

    Do these laws apply to us, I am sure they do, one way or the other, it sure appears to based upon the information, but how and why, well maybe it just comes down to the State’s GENERAL guarantee periods… ONe would have to look up each of the state laws. I realize one thing, I personally will NEVER again consider signing a company aggreement, unless they are in MY state, or that there is an addendum to their aggreement stating that my state laws will apply.

    Do I think we should ALL have access to this information, YES I do, but then again, why would it matter even if it was public. Really based upon the responses it is interesting to know that many individuals do not even know that the ASA or NAPS even Exist… Far less even know that certain laws apply to our industry, that there is a Code of Ethics regarding what we do, that is real, and have been in place since 1937 in some states, and probably longer in others, and it seems that Many Don’t even want to know –

    We really cannot blame people of lack of common sense, or of ignorance.. This industry is really too easy to enter into, and because of the ease enterance, it is easy to understand why many people are not aware of the Industry Laws, and why they would not even consider looking for or try to be aware of them … That in itself is a scary thing.

    Anyways, someone asked me today, why is it we don’t hear about the Law Suits, how come this informtion is not public.. Well, think about this, quite often most companies request a privacy and non disclosure requirement at the close of lawsuits.. and most other times, it may not be the important news to the Newspaper or News Stations, and Lastly, if you had a membership to ASA or NAPS or the Associations that have a legislative representative, then one would be made aware of much of this information… They do send them to you…. The information is out there, if one wants to find it.

  92. The real issue is that for the most part, TPR’s don’t offer great value for money. The business model they work to is flawed. It churns around candidates.

    Ah ha, now we’re onto something! :o)
    This is the point I was making about generalizations.
    I don’t focus on candidates, I focus on relationships.
    I have found that in general, when a job order is taken, its like a feeding frenzy, there is no real qualifying, no fact finding, no showing of genuine interest in where the client is and has been on the position. You might as well announce 1.99 jumbo shrimp at your local seafood market.
    Thats where I differ.
    Information is power.
    The more information I have up front, the less time I have to spend and the fewer candidates I have to qualify.
    Thats one of the the recruiting differences I feel I make as a TPR.
    Also, I really don’t feel that corporate recruiters can devote themselves exclusively to recruiting, I don’t know how they make it through their day with all the HR issues and not to mention the ‘how many times have we had this same meeting this week’?
    I may be opening up a can of worms and I hold absolute respect for corporate recruiters, I wouldn’t want that job, but I feel true TPR’s who follow the above ‘business rules and philosophies of recruiting’ are offering a value that is unequaled.

    Best Regards,
    Keith Severtson
    Recruiters of Minnesota

  93. Karen,

    I’d be interested in knowing where you get your statistics from. I can tell you that I’ve done business all across this country and I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    I may have companies who ask (or demand) for lower fees or longer guarantees but I’ve never been told that ‘State Law requires that you…’. Frankly, with the number of companies that I deal with that have offices in almost every state in the country, I can’t see how that could ever apply.

    It also doesn’t make sense for a law to be on the books that would have states dictating fees and/or guarantees. It’s too much of a generalization and doesn’t lend itself to the marketplace dictating the supply/demand relationship. Not only would this tie the hands of a recruiter but it would also tie the hands of who a company can do business with. Not to mention inter-state trade opportunities.

    I can also tell you that I spoke with a SrVP in a firm in Iowa just two weeks ago and when I told him my %% and guarantee terms, he never flinched. Nor did he say anything about ‘state law requires…’ I would imagine that even if such laws exist, they are so full of loop-holes they’re probably unenforceable.

  94. Karen – I’m curious about one thing (let’s keep it brief however as I’m not as good of a typist as you are) …

    You stated ‘I won’t sign any company agreement unless its in MY STATE’.

    If my memory serves me right, are you not in California? If so .. isn’t California, along with New York, New Jersey among the most REGULATED states when it comes to recruiting?

    The last state I’d want to defend myself in is New Jersey … This is the most liberal leaning state in the nation. I’m actually considering re-domiciling our company to New Mexico which has NO REGULATIONS whatsoever.

    All of our contracts state ‘New Jersey law applies’ but whoopie doo … most judges have no clue what a search firm is anyway.

  95. Frank,
    quick answer, California Good, Very Very Good, N.J. Not as Good, in regards to Recruiting.

    N.J. is Regulated, Ca is Not, and the basic law was 90 days replacement guarantee, if doing money back would be 1/90 of the fee for each day work

    Re the information I put out there, I think the laws were made for the individuals who are doing money back guarantees – to protect the consumer. They (the states) do have a time frame, and thus it would be my belief that the timeframe would also be considered for replacement.

    So Frank, Since CA, good, I stick to my guns, aggreements now must aggree that CA, where I live and their courts, will have jurisdiction or I NO sign.

  96. Keith,
    Excellent point you make here. You said:
    ‘Also, I really don’t feel that corporate recruiters can devote themselves exclusively to recruiting, I don’t know how they make it through their day with all the HR issues and not to mention the ‘how many times have we had this same meeting this week’?
    I may be opening up a can of worms and I hold absolute respect for corporate recruiters, I wouldn’t want that job, but I feel true TPR’s who follow the above ‘business rules and philosophies of recruiting’ are offering a value that is unequaled.’

    At FirstMerit our Talent Acquisition Consultants entire role is to find the highest performing talent in a specific job category and bring them to FirstMerit. The only way to do this effectively is to accurately understand the position success profile, match that with the highest performing talent and offer that talent a better opportunity than the one they are in currently. It is ALL about the relationship!

    You do make a generalization – one I happen to agree with however – when you say that corporate recruiters can’t devote themselves solely to recruiting. My team is ONLY recruiters – NO HR! That is the only real way to succeed as a recruiter. Our results prove that having professional recruiters who are passionate about their craft doing ONLY recruiting works. Building and in house search and staffing firm model can work in any organization provided the organization is willing to commit a team of professionals solely to the craft of recruiting the best talent – take away their administrivia and HR work and get them focused on the most important thing any company does – RECRUIT!


  97. Re the state Laws, I THINK they may be based upon a states specific laws regarding service agreements.

    On another note Yesterday, I was asked why make such a big deal about all ‘these Laws’ – well I guess I just look at this way – to the person who asked me, you are right, one can keep just going along and not being aware of them, but I guess for me, I look upon that as the Drunk Driver who keeps driving, because he has never hurt anyone, that person feels invincible, and they think they are above reproach.

    The only problem is If someone keeps participating in a particular behavior just because they can, or because they don’t care to know, well unfortunately it may only be a matter of time –

  98. Frank:

    The best reason to have the laws of your home state govern a contract is that you don’t have to travel to another state when there is a hearing or discovery and; you can use your own lawyer, who may not have standing at the bar of another state.
    When you consider that recruters need to sue clients for payment far more often than clients sue for refunds, it certainly makes good sense to keep disputes close to home.

  99. Michael,
    I am with ya 100%!
    I have found in my conversations with corporate recruiters, they all seem to be going insane with the work load and its not the open reqs that are driving them crazy, its trying to free up their time from the other corporate ‘stuff’ to do their jobs.

    Best Regards,
    Keith Severtson
    Senior Recruiter
    Recruiters of Minnesota

  100. As a person who was laid off about two years ago and just recently found employment, I am very disappointed and concerned at the methods suggested by John Sullivan in the above mentioned article. I have copied parts of the article below and added my responses.

    ==> ‘A poaching emphasis. FirstMerit’s talent acquisition strategy is primarily a ‘poaching’ strategy. They focus 100% of their recruiting efforts on currently employed, already trained talent (the so-called passive candidates).’

    ‘poach’ defn: (1) to trespass on private property, esp. for hunting or fishing to hunt or catch fish illegally.
    ‘Poach’ sounds like it is an unethical method.

    To focus ALL effort on ‘currently employed, already trained talent’ means that they are ignoring totally candidates that, through no fault of their own, are currently unemployed and are eager to be employed.

    ==>’Send cookies when prospects are rethinking their life. … They gather all kinds of data on candidates, including decision-making criteria, spouse and family names, birthdays, and anniversaries.’

    ‘spouse and family names, birthdays, and anniversaries’ – can you say the words ‘Invasion of privacy’? How about ‘identity theft’?

    ==> ‘Recruiting on their turf. Some members of the recruiting team wandered through a competitor’s offsite seminar wearing the competitor’s lapel buttons.’

    This is trespassing plain and simple and could easily lead to criminal prosecution!

    ==> ‘Buy your own offer letter. This process requires some finalist candidates to provide three names of top talent at their current firm (with phone numbers and an introduction ‘to us from you’) as a ‘price’ for their offer letter. The introductions must be made before the offer letter is given. The premise is to let everyone know, before they even start at FirstMerit, that everyone is expected to be recruiting 24/7. Even a candidate’s references are considered fair game as hiring targets.’

    ‘as a ‘price’ for their offer letter’ What a sleazy thing to do! If I were a candidate and was told this, I would think that for that company, AS A WHOLE, there was nothing too sleazy for them to do AT ANY TIME to me or to anyone else during my employment.

    ==> ‘Raiding during a traumatic event. …The team holds phone-in parties to inundate the firm with calls …’

    ‘inundate the firm with calls’ – Check with your phone company; I believe this would fall under ‘obscene and harassing calls’ which are illegal. I believe the company receiving the calls would also have legal grounds for a civil lawsuit.

    ==> ‘Competitive intelligence mixed with recruiting. The director created a recruiting roundtable with the announced intent of learning and sharing. However, the quarterly roundtables had other purposes:’

    Nothing like more deception during employment. What do you think the employees invited to the roundtable will think about HR when they realize, and they will, that HR is lying about the purpose of the roundtable?

    ==>’Job boards versus the phone. … For example, if they are trying to hire commercial lenders, instead of placing an ad for a commercial lender, they take the indirect approach and place one for a lending assistant…’

    More lying and misrepresentation – just wait until the word spreads around – and it will!

    ==>’Service level agreements. … Managers commit to making decisions on candidates within 48 hours.’

    For managers that wish to interview the top five or so candidates which will probably take several days – maybe even a week, they now know that they must choose just from those that interview the first two days!

    ==>’They need to develop a system to proactively identify internal talent that is misaligned and to move it to areas where it will have a higher return.’

    Move ‘it’? Now that really makes me want to work there! I’d be just an ‘it’!

    ==>’As their notoriety grows, they will become a prime poaching target for firms both within and outside of banking.’

    ‘notoriety’ – defn: the quality or state of being widely known, especially unfavorably. As the above, and the other mentioned methods, become widely known, and possible lawsuits filed, they WILL become notorious!

    Summarizing, the reason the actions of HR recruiters offend me as a job seeker is that, if they act like this toward another company that probably has a roomful of lawyers at their beck and call, how will they treat me as an employee during my time with them? I don’t have even one lawyer at my beck and call and they know it.

    From outplacement services and other job hunting activities, I have found that the typical time to ‘resolve’ a lawsuit between a former employee and the company they worked for/are suing is about SIX years. If during this time you find similar employment at a similar rate, you will probably not win the lawsuit even though it has merit. If you do win, the award will probably be minimal – even for egregious conduct on the employer’s part.

    If the recruiters work for a recruiting company that was engaged by the company potentially hiring me, then it says something about who/what companies they are willing to make deals with. What may I end up getting involved with while an employee?

    Look at the trouble Wal-Mart got into because a company they contracted with to clean their stores was hiring illegal aliens. ref: ‘In a recently settled lawsuit, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million in fines for hiring illegal workers to clean some of its stores during overnight shifts. Wal-Mart officials insist they were not aware that the contractors they used were hiring undocumented workers.’

    I have no problem with honest, above-board recruiting. Over the years I have received many calls at work from recruiters and have willingly talked to them for a few minutes even if I was not interested.

  101. Administrivia and HR ‘type’ meetings are the death of most corporate recruiters.

    I often ask these questions of the companies who ask me to come and speak to their recruiting teams or when I speak to C level executives.
    ME – ‘Why do you use TPR’s?’
    ANSWER – ‘because they have the time to focus on my position and focus only on recruiting.’
    ME – ‘how many requisitions are your recruiters working on?’
    ANSWER – I hear varying answers but generally ‘over 25.’
    ME – ‘how many reqs is that TPR you hired working on?’
    ANSWER – ‘I don’t know, maybe 8-12’
    ME – ‘then why are you so surprised that the TPR is so much more effective and efficient than your in house recruiting team? And why do you keep complaining when your recruiters aren’t filling jobs fast enough or presenting enough qualified talent when you bog them down with 25 or more requisitions while asking them to be at the meeting to schedule a meeting to meet about a meeting on compliance and process?’

    TPR has a vested interest in keeping HR stupid when it comes to recruiting. Their livelihood depends on it. As long as HR is more focused on process, compliance, meetings and administrivia the more opportunity there is for TPR’s to make money off of their recruiting ineptitude. That is why so many have such a HUGE problem with what we have done and accomplished here at FirstMerit.

    Joe – We do utilize SOME TPR assistance but it is very rare. For example, In 1999 FMER spent $1.2 million in third party search fee’s. In 2004 we spent $206,000 and YTD we have not spent a penny. The model we have implemented here has been a huge savings to the bank but what we are most proud of is the improved performance of the candidates we have identified, recruited and selected compared to the performance of the candidates hired through TPR’s. We measure Recruiting Efficiency not the HR weenie cost per hire here. Our Recruiting Efficiency number is almost 5 basis points better than the national average reported by Additionally, we can draw a direct link between commercial loan portfolio growth and our recruiting efforts which demonstrates to our shareholders we are driving revenue not taking up space and sucking up money. Again – the advantages of not thinking and acting like traditional HR recruiters.

  102. ‘TPR has a vested interest in keeping HR stupid when it comes to recruiting. Their livelihood depends on it.’

    Clearly there is no understanding of how the better TPRs operate and what value they can bring. HR being stupid as so quaintly put, makes matters worse not better for TPRs, whether they are traditional HR recruiters or not.

    Thankfully our livelihoods do not depend on the recruiting ineptitude of Companies but rather Companies that recognise a valuable service that cannot be achieved any other way.

    Recruiting ineptitude in Companies leads to bad practices which is well in keeping with this article.

    You might be interested to read this article’s review by one of the industry’s leading author’s and specialist’s, Nick Corcodilos.

    I was pleased to see that some of us are not alone in recognising what these ‘best’ practices really mean and the wider audience, including job hunters, will now get a chance to comment.

    I hope Nick will share the feedback and response with us.

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