The Candidate Can’t Waive Your Fee

Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. A few years ago he began documenting them in a weekly collections column. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed. The complete collection is here.

What Client Says:

The candidate assured us you weren’t representing him.

How Client Pays:

There are three ways this attempted waiver of the fee occurs:

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  1. If the candidate is still at the interviewing stage, the client can casually state something like, “You know we’re not willing to pay a fee for hiring you.” The candidate then simply says nothing or states that no fee should be due anyway.
  2. If the candidate is at the offer stage, the client can state something like, “Of course, we didn’t expect to pay a fee for hiring you.” I am only aware of one candidate who objected to this in my entire career. He was recovering from the effects of thiopental due to some root canal work just before the interview.
  3. Then after the acceptance, few recruiters will risk wedging themselves between an employer and employee. There’s no legal reason not to, though. If you’re in business just to lower the jobless rate, fine. But a candidate who isn’t hired (or is fired) because a recruiter hasn’t been paid has rights only against the client.

A candidate who tries to tell you that he is “dismissing” you from “representing” him doesn’t understand contract law. His “consent,” “willingness,” or “cooperation” have no relevance whatsoever on the client’s liability for a fee.

Liability for a full fee — to you!

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


1 Comment on “The Candidate Can’t Waive Your Fee

  1. I have a contract with a client and after he made an offer to the candidate told the candidate that he was not going to pay the fee, and if candidate wanted the job, he would have to pay fee to the me. I know that legally the client is responsible, but he told the candidate that if he had to pay my fee, he couldn’t hire me. Candidate is an attorney and taking his whole office with him to client. Candidate offered $10k, which is a fraction of fee. Candidate indicated that he has really in an office sharing situation, although I don’t believe that to be true.

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