The Myth Of A “Book Of Business”

This is a phrase I hear constantly when talking with companies about their hiring needs. Everyone seems to be looking for that magic account executive or perm recruiter that can bring accounts, turn a switch and voila… Billing! Unfortunately, Cinderella gets the better of how this story ends.I agree with the value of hiring industry-experienced professionals. The right hire, with the right experience can be very successful. The concern is the shift, largely because of the economy, from companies hiring people with potential to people with accounts. Business is so challenging in today’s economy, staffing companies have pressure to hire people and get immediate results. If you are hiring someone ONLY because you believe they will bring accounts and business “to the table” you are making a critical business error.Bringing a book of business just doesn’t happen. Unless you hire someone who runs their own company and can transfer all the billings they have to your books, new hires are not going to bring a book of business. They may bring contacts, but this is not a guarantee they are going to be able to use those contacts with you, nor does it mean business is going to fall out of the sky.The biggest downfall in these situations is that hiring companies set unrealistic expectations because they feel an Account Executive or Permanent Placement Recruiter will ramp up quicker because of the mythical “book of business.” It can be a smart move to hire talented industry experienced people, but it is very dangerous to set expectations that will be unattainable. I often hear my clients say, “I need to hire experienced people because I don’t have time to train.” Well if you don’t have time to train, you are setting yourself up for a big pitfall. I’ve got news for you. Everyone needs training. If you hire people into your company without proper training, no matter how much experience they have, there will be trouble. Just because someone has experience in our industry, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to be trained. It oftentimes means they have to be RE-trained! That, my friends takes even more time than training!The hiring process over the last 12-18 months has been compromised because the pressure on everyone to perform. Hiring the right people is one of the critical roles management/ownership has. If you feel you are hiring someone just because of the promise of accounts, don’t hire! Interview the individual, not their accounts. The companies that have the strongest teams will endure the tough times and grow exponentially when the market turns. The way to get a strong team is by hiring focused, motivated, driven professionals, train them, and give them the support to thrive. If they have industry experience, great! Just don’t sacrifice all the basic qualities that make successful staffing professionals for a promise of a book of business that may not ever materialize.When interviewing, make sure you are focusing on the individual. Understand how they think and what makes them tick. Put more emphasis on performance and behavior not experience. If a Perm Recruiter has billed 300k in the past, it doesn’t automatically make them a superstar. Understand how they got there. We sometimes overvalue the result and assume because a Perm Recruiter billed 300k at our competition they will do it for us. I am not saying they won’t, but I am saying it doesn’t guarantee they will. Know who you are hiring and why. The way to ensure hiring success is behavioral, performance based interviewing and, regardless of what they have done in the past, set realistic to the market expectations. Good luck with your staffing and build your team for success!

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Jay Brunetti, Owner of Hire Alliance, specializes in recruiting and consulting for staffing industry organizations. Jay has been in the staffing industry for nearly a decade and brings that experience to the clients he serves. You can find more information about Jay and his company at


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