Thoughts on Geography and Search and Placement

Profitable specialties come and go, and most people who have been in the business awhile have switched specialties from time to time – usually due to a combination of factors, but most often for economic reasons. The industry or functional area they worked, for whatever reason, tanked. In an industry where two non productive months in a row can drive you out of business, flexibility is a necessity.

Desks are specialized by industry, function, geography, or combinations of these, but it’s generally accepted that geographically specialized desks run the highest risk of eventually failing, simply because geography, by its very nature, is something fixed, inflexible, and subject to nature, man made disasters, or being too closely tied to one industry (please search: “hurricanes” “oil spill” “Detroit automotive”). However, there’s something to be said for firms which dominate their local markets. I know several owners who will not work outside their office’s immediate geographic location, and over the years they have become the “go to” guys in the industry for their locations. Most of these firms have desks specialized by function, but they generate all their business from the local marketplace. I admire these firms for how they have become dominant locally.

It’s also always better to look into the eyes of someone who cuts you a five figure fee; something local desk specialists can and should do. But I’ve found that I would rather have a few people in a lot of places cutting those checks than a lot of people in one place paying me, despite all the benefits of deep relationships with “clients” (note: quotation marks because I believe there is no such thing as a “client” in this industry). To my way of thinking, there will always be the need to spread out the risks so that one dumb oil company, or hurricane, or some other geo specific thing knocks me out of business. That said, my firm places by geography, but we do it in a different way: we take great candidates, find out where they want to go, then place them within 30 miles of exactly where they want to live, and usually within just 30 days [“30/30 Placement Program™”].

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I’ve often wondered why anyone would perform “searches” anymore, which I did for my first eight years in the business. Why not simply “place”? Searches and job orders are means to an end…placement. The quickest way to make placements, good economy or bad, is to find a great candidate and place him/her exactly where they want to live and work. After 26 years in the business, I know that most people will accept a less than ideal position in their most ideal location before they will accept an ideal position in their less than ideal location. Also, solid placements result when you put someone into the city or town where they most desire to live and work. We recently placed a Navy lieutenant for 50k in his top location when he had an offer of 63k in his second favorite location. The other recruiter could not believe it. That is the norm, not the exception.

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5 Comments on “Thoughts on Geography and Search and Placement

  1. In theory the above is correct, however this is your basic MPC approach to making placements. Some industries can support a strong MPC approach ie. retail, manufacturing etc..typically where you have hundreds of places within a given radius you can place a candidate, the numbers end up on your side. Many industries don’t support this approach simply because the amount of companies that you can place a candidate at in a given area simply aren’t enough. Most sucessful recruiters either balance the MPC approach with searches or focus working great searches where you can expect a payday. I have truly found that finding an opening in your given industry with a true need to hire, getting fee clearance and sending candidates in is absolutely the fastest and quickest way to a placement, sometimes within 24 hours from start to finish.

  2. Appreciate the comment…but, with due respect…you are 75% correct. 100% of what I wrote is true. I was the first to “discover” (others have known it but, for some reason, nobody except me has had the unowhats to stand behind it in a public forum) the “Thirty Mile Placement” principle. I know from 26 years of placement experience that there is a job you can place…for a fee…everyone…from butcher, baker, to candle stick maker…within 30 miles of any point on the map…if they have the personality to “connect”. I have taken career switchers who could not relocate, who had the right personality to “connect”…and placed them for five figure fees in something they have never done before. The entire hiring world is based on personality. That is nothing new, of course, but if you want to make fast placements, take an engineer who has a “knock them out” personality to the market. By the third company, you will have a placement.

  3. Neil- I hear the theory and it makes sense but if you are trying to place a skilled grocery store manager and you only have 20 grocery markets in 30 miles of where this guy lives and his speciality is grocery store management, how are you ever going to place a guy like this for a recruitment fee when you only have 20 places to present him? What you are saying is take that grocery store manager and place him doing accounting or something else close to where he lives and get paid a fee? Highly unlikely! If you are taking in theory a retail manager and you have 150 retail stores to present to you have a better chance of a placement. Typically whether I’m MPCing or hunting for JO’s it takes a minimum of 100 calls to see anything happen. Yes, chemistry is huge in the hiring process but if the person doesn’t have experience in that position it is very rare they would get hired and a recruitment fee would be paid. I have found the absolute biggest obstacle in this market is fee clearance. You can have the absolute best candidate on the planet but if the employer really has no need to hire I can’t see making very many placements especially if they aren’t skilled in the inudstry you are placing them in.

  4. The key phrase in your comment is “very rare they would get hired”. Everything we do is “very rare”.(If it wasn’t, everyone would be in our business!). My point is take that grocery store manager who has a high impact personality (THAT is important…too many recruiters work average people and expect results)and present him with EXCITEMENT to organizations which have nothing to do with groceries. (Of course, your first 20 calls are to the 20 grocery stores within 30 miles). Call owners of small retailers you have never heard of before…the places nobody calls. If that grocery store manager has led 150 people in a major chain and you present him to a Mom and Pop small retail store owner, and it is local, that is the same as presenting a Major League Baseball player to a Single A minor league team. If you do that 30 times, at least one of those Mom and Pops will hire him…AND pay your fee.

  5. As I read this book, the evidence supporting the author’s points became increasingly overwhelming and it began to seem more and more obvious. In fact, I wondered why it never occurred to me that humans living in different societies would have a different perspective about nearly everything. My surprise demonstrated just how much I had created my own idea of the brain based on myself instead of taking into account the differences other people exhibit. However, it also became clear that differences in culture are not black and white, East or West.

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