Monday, February 14, 2005

Flying Under the Radar Screen

By Frank Risalvato

One corporate account I’ve been doing business with for 17 years every now and then goes into “slow motion” modes. These periods create a situation where even an entry level finance or business analyst earning $50k require eight weeks or more to get from first interview to offer stage.

Eight Weeks!!

Another “Fortune 100” company frequently requires twelve weeks for what should be routine “low six-figure level” positions. And yet another, often has most of its open jobs requisitions in finance and marketing open for periods of six to nine months failing to ever find a candidate that is ever “Good Enough” for their high standards.

I figure if I stopped shaving the day I first submitted a candidate’s resume to the hiring managers of these firms, I would easily have a beard as long as ZZ Top band members by the time the offer was actually made!

The dilemma is some of these “slow accounts” is good for at least three hires annually … and I hate to kiss them goodbye altogether as there are candidates out there actually willing to wait in line to work for them! They also pay the standard industry 30% fee and never complain about it.

Determined to do something about the ever-increasing “submission to hire” time frame I decided to hit the books and the internet and conduct some online research a few years ago. I also had my assistant Deb print out an array of financial reports and stats on our own placements going back ten years.

I found very little information anywhere outlining the steps in selecting a good Client Company. While there’s plenty of information available on selecting a “Good Job Order” the company itself … and the subsequent speed at which they’re likely to hire and pay you your fee … was frequently ignored in other recruiter training material I encountered.

So here is a magic formula I developed for myself in 2002 to pull us out of a steep slump we were confronted by in large part to due to the perpetual interview process. My formula works. I should know as I personally used it.

Good economy or bad … my formula will always result in finding accounts that will:

1. Pay your fee quickly (ten days or less)
2. Immediately reply to candidate resume submissions (within 24 hours).
3. Hire quickly (less than 2-3 weeks from first interview to offer).
4. Sign YOUR FEE AGREEMENT, under your terms!
5. Appreciate what you have done so much they will a) Refer you to other managers or b) send you a wonderful “thank You” letter

Did I get your attention?!

I hope so!

The account acquisition strategy that results in the above requires you follow these five rules:

1. Company Size of less than 100 employees – If you’re looking for quick “send out to placement ratios” … stick with SMALL companies with under 100 employees. These companies rarely have an HR department (if they do it is weak and ineffective and generally report to the beck and call of whomever your already dealing with).

2. Company revenues of $200 million or less – This can be public, closely held, or private organizations. There are exceptions to the rule … but overall whenever I have serviced and recruited for companies in the $200 million in revenue and under zone the placement has always taken place in much shorter time frames than larger companies.

3. Use Your Fee agreement – By sticking with small companies within a targeted revenue range, you usually find yourself dealing with a flatter organizational structure. This means NO CORPORATE LEGAL department to create twelve page fee contracts. As a bonus of sticking to items 1 & 2 above, you usually get to use your own fee agreement under more favorable terms. Tired of signing 12 page legal agreements? Switch company size and the problem vanishes! * Poof * just like magic!

4. Stick to profit centers – If you have a choice of working with the home office, or a branch sales center … the branch sales center (a.k.a. “Profit Center”) will usually pull the trigger faster. Sales Managers, Regional Branch Managers working the front lines of the revenue generation stream are usually given much more autonomy to hire quickly without requiring Home office approval than the corporate controller heading the internal accounting function which is viewed as a nasty but needed expense.

5. Minimum Revenue of $8 million or greater – While a company can be “too big” … there is also such a thing as “too small”. If a company does not have revenue of at least $8 million and ten employees I find they rarely can afford a personnel recruiting service or can justify our fee. This has been the “magic threshold” point below which recruiters are unaffordable … and above which they are indispensable!

So there you have it … the Magic Formula to dream client accounts!

But there’s more:

By sticking to the above formula you will also avoid a lot of the “air traffic” and “near collisions” involving bumping into other recruiters.

Think about it:

Every recruiter I’ve ever encountered always goes after the “easy targets”. This means the same large boring Fortune 500 or 1,000 corporations the other thousand or so recruiters in your state are targeting. If I try to make an accounting placement with ADP or IBM … I may pit IRES up against six other personnel firms.

My strategy permits you to fly undetected under the radar screen. You get to “hit” your targeted client with your introduction, sign the fee agreement, and leave with your placement in position before the competition ever gets wind of what even happened.

About Author

Frank Risalvato founded IRES, Inc. in 1991 and has been in the executive search industry since 1987 . The firm has expanded continuously since introducing multiple areas of specialization in numerous industries and currently has offices in three states. Frank provides recruiter training and coaching on a customized one-to-one basis throughout the U.S. His training style emphasizes substance as opposed to showmanship. His popular 132 page “Recruiting Training Manual” he authored has been used by individual recruiters and national chains in the U.S. and abroad. Contact Frank Risalvato at or (973) 300-1010.


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