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Ask Barb

Dear Barb:

Please give me some advice on how to approach my owner about a situation that is getting worse. I’ve been a recruiter for a little over a year and I’m now the top producer in our office. I work with people who have 10-plus years of experience but don’t make 10 calls a day. All they do is talk about why people are not hiring and how our candidates are all impossible. It’s getting harder and harder for me to tune them out. I question why my owner just doesn’t fire people who are not producing. You always say our owners are in business to make profits, well three of our employees haven’t done that for months and they are still here.

When I tried to say something before to her, she told me to focus on my own desk and not on other employees. I don’t want to quit, but I can’t stand the negativity of my co-workers. If they’d quit complaining and pick up their phone, things could be so much better. As an owner, I’m hoping you can tell me what approach to use.

Frustrated in LA

Barb Responds

Dear Frustrated:

I appreciate the fact that you obviously care about your employer and realize you have co-workers who are not adding to her bottom line. If one of my recruiters approached me and said, “I have some ideas that could increase profits,” they would definitely have my undivided attention. Your opinion is also more valuable because you are currently the top producer in your firm. (more…)

About the author: Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income. Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb’s cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don’t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business. If you’d like to contact Barb, call 219.663.9609 or email support@staffingandrecruiting.com.

Mike Hard

Mike Hard

2012 was one of the biggest M&A years for recruiting technology: Kenexa bought by IBM, Taleo by Oracle, SuccessFactors by SAP, etc. With all the consolidation and innovation, however, it’s ironic that one major source of talent acquisition remains stubbornly resistant to change: the way companies find, communicate, and work with search firms.

The oversight certainly isn’t due to a decline in the relevance of third party recruiters. Despite the emergence of LinkedIn, recruiting agency usage is exploding. Staffing Industry Analysts’ most recent report predicts that agency spend will hit $8B in 2014 (not including retained search), more than double what was spent as recently as five years ago. CareerXroads, in its 2013 Sources of Hire report, found agencies were responsible for 3.1% of all hires in 2012. Since agencies account for some of the most critical hires any recruiting team will make, one would think of this as an area corporations have locked up and tightly managed. (more…)

About the author: Mike Hard is the CEO of BountyJobs, the Enterprise Agency Management company. Companies use BountyJobs to consolidate their existing recruiting agencies into one cloud-based system, centralize spend and administration, and improve their agency performance. BountyJobs is the contingent search solution for more than one-third of the Fortune 500, and has a private marketplace featuring more than 10,000 approved third-party recruiting agencies. Prior to BountyJobs, Mike was an executive with Microsoft for 17 years. He received his BA from Yale, his MBA from Harvard, and was a member of the US National Rowing team. He lives with his wife and family in New York City. More information is available on BountyJobs.

Unless someone develops a way to stop humans from having feelings of greed, nonprofit leaders are going to have to continue to be vigilant about fraud prevention. At a recent AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference, the best ways to do this were discussed.

At the conference, Mitchell Lewis, David McRoberts and William Mellon said that while it is nearly impossible to stop fraud, there are ways to reduce the chances it will happen to you and to limit the damages if it does. They said that one of the main causes of fraud is a work environment where lack of oversight and too much trust are rampant.

With that in mind, Lewis, McRoberts, and Mellon offered five suggestions for organizations to practice:

  • Fraud governance structure, including tone at the top, a zero tolerance
    policy, documented fraud policy statement and a code of ethical
  • Regular education and training.
  • A fraud tip line.
  • Completion of a fraud assessment to identify fraud exposures and related events that require mitigation.
  • An investigation and response reporting process.
In terms of specific anti-fraud controls, they suggested:
  • Vendor bidding process;
  • Completion of background and reference checks;
  • Dual signatures and levels of approval;
  • Segregation of duties;
  • Mandatory vacations; and,
  • Internal audits and use of Computer Assisted Audit Techniques (CAATs).

There are no more excuses. You are almost out of time. But even with just these few days left in the year, you can still put together a budget for 2013!

Budgets give you the vision of where you are headed and will provide you the compass to ensure you get to your goals. Budgets will make you aware of your performance and force you to reorient yourself to your business plan.

I said, no more excuses! No matter the size of your firm, if you want to be in business you must have a budget. The reality is “cash in the bank” is not a good gauge of where you are and whether you are profitable. How many times have you had that false sense of security only to have it diminish after the next accounts payable and payroll run? A working budget will allow you to work with intentionality and focus, and will help alleviate the peak and valley production cycles. And I believe those peak production cycles are what make budgeting so critical to our industry. Budgets will help remind you that you still have a business to run. (more…)

About the author: Bill Gibbens is managing partner and co-founder of Global Recruiters of Victoria, a contingency search firm headquartered in Victoria, Texas.The office achieved top honors in 2010 as the leading firm in revenue for GRN’s 180 office global network. The office has been home of four National Rookie Search Consultants of the Year and home of three National Search Consultant’s of the Year. Gibbens has twice earned the National Manager of the Year honors.

A CPA with a background in banking and accounting with KPMG, Gibbens currently operates a desk and is growing his firm. He frequently shares his experience speaking at national recruiting engagements and training forums and may be reached at bgibbens@grnvictoria.com.

The California state Legislature is considering a bill that would give the state attorney general’s office more power to crack down on nonprofits that are found to be mismanaging charitable funds.

California Watch reported today that a bill by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-West Hollywood) would give the attorney general the ability to take legal action against a charity or fundraiser if it fails to provide the required documents or makes a false statement in application or report. Current law requires the state to prove that there was intent to deceive before taking action.

Organizations would be given a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation after a five days’ notice. The bill passed the Assembly, and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee today.

According to analysis by staff from the Assembly Judiciary Committee, the attorney general’s office is unable to prevent fraud from occurring with its current powers. The report claimed that this is the case even in instances when concerns are raised about a nonprofit before charitable donations are lost.

The state of California has dealt with many cases of alleged fraud in recent years. In 2010, the attorney general’s office reached a settlement with the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics Inc. The state accused the Santa Ana-based organization of spending thousands of dollars meant for burn victims on a Caribbean cruise, trips to resorts, and other personal expenses. The nonprofit denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Bill AB 2327 is very similar to laws that are already in place in other states. The one difference is that the law, if passed, would require fiscal sponsors of charities to have directors’ and officers’ insurance in case they lose the money the are managing.

You can read the full story in California Watch.

A nonprofit might have the greatest plan in the world, but it’s still just a plan at the end of the day. It has no more guarantee of success and is only potential. To help reach that potential, good oversight is needed to ensure that the plan is followed as closely as possible.

This is where management reporting comes into play. These are a series of reports that detail how the nonprofit is doing. According to Howard Berman in “Making a Difference,” performance
reporting is just a subset of an overall, larger, management reporting
performance assessment and evaluation function.

Berman wrote that to successfully complete such a report, the following six questions must be answered:

  • Is the enterprise doing what it said it was going to do? Is it executing
    its operating plan, producing the anticipated outputs, on time and on
  • Is the enterprise doing what it said it was going to do efficiently? Is
    cost divided by output at least continually improving — if not, at an
    absolute best practice?
  • Are the outputs that the enterprise is producing achieving the expected
    outcomes? Is it achieving the expected results — or benefits for the
    involved stakeholders?
  • Are the realized outcomes being achieved in an efficient manner? This is a combination of questions 2 and 3.
  • Are the outcomes producing a significant impact? Are they producing a result that would not have otherwise been achieved?
  • Is the effort sustainable? Can it be continued or will it fail of its
    own weight, due to either financial and/or operational imbalance?

Forum group shot

What are you doing to develop your business?

If there was a theme to this morning’s Fordyce Forum presentations that might have been it. The final sessions of this last day of the best attended Forum since the start of the recession in 2008 all focused on practical advice for thriving as an owner or solo, rounding out the “hundreds of tips” that conference chair Barbara Bruno promised during her Thursday welcome.

Among those tips were these:

  • Track your placements. It’s wise business, and smart networking;
  • Do what the Big Billers do and plan tomorrow before leaving the office today;
  • Say thank you to clients, and candidates;
  • Stand out from the crowd;
  • Have a playbook of standards, so your team knows what’s expected.

In the recruiter workshop track, Joel Slenning told a full house “How to Elevate Your Desk Production to Extreme Heights. Next door, Rob Mosley and Karen Schmidt offered insights from Next Level Exchange on “What Great Managers Do.”

Not surprisingly, what both audiences heard was the need to set goals, plan, and hold yourself – or your team – accountable. “The first thing,” Mosley told his audience of mostly owners, “is to put together a playbook.” By that he meant a set of standards by which recruiters can be measured.

It’s not a job an owner or manager should do alone. “Don’t mandate,” cautioned Schmidt. “Delegate. Have the team develop the standards… They will come along for the ride.”

Rob Mosley

In their rapid-fire, tips-packed presentation, Schmidt and Mosley talked about using the standards to measure recruiter performance and compare it against their individual plans and other recruiters. In a packed distributed to everyone in the workshop was a form they use to gauge weekly production. Besides using the “Progress, Analysis, and Review” to track performance, it’s also used to predict monthly closes and revenue.

However, warned Mosley, the weekly review is “a tool. Not a weapon.” Coaching and training are its goals.

Getting things underway earlier, 2012 Fordyce Forum chair Barbara Bruno offered the early risers dozens of ideas during her nine lesson keynote address. Part how-to, part motivational, she provided a blueprint of sorts to “Take Your Business Through the Roof.”

Successful people, she said outlining lesson one, “do what other people don’t.” Bruno suggested that every recruiter and every owner make a list of all the workday things they do; number them; then delegate the bottom 10 to others, even if that means hiring an assistant for a few hours a week.

“You’ve got habits. Some things we do because we always have. Until you break those habits nothing’s going to happen,” she said.

Lesson two – You have to stand out, said the PowerPoint slide. What can you say that no one else can? – prompted a number of suggestions from the audience. One recruiter sends Thanksgiving cards to clients, getting ahead of the holiday card clutter. Another started a LinkedIn group that now has 70,000+ members. Others track placements, maintaining at least a casual contact with them.

That prompted one owner to ask why? “Once I place somebody, they’re gone,” he said.

He got a quick answer from his colleagues: Today’s placements become tomorrow’s candidates – or even tomorrow’s clients. And they can be counted on for future referrals.

“That’s a change,” said the guy who asked the question, “that’s going to occur Monday.”

One of the biggest “ah ha’s” followed an engineering recruiter who recounted the time he withdrew a sendout that was loved by the hiring manager. “Something wasn’t right,” the recruiter told the audience. “I pulled him.” His surprised client thanked him and said it was the first time a recruiter had warned them off a candidate.

Her other lessons?

  1. Prepare for the unexpected
  2. Don’t fear failure. Conduct a weekly review of what you did right and wrong. Then fix the latter, but don’t be overly concerned about something not going right.
  3. Determine friend or foe. Walk away from the negative. Represent the client. Talk to them to learn their pain points and needs before the marketing presentation.
  4. Timing is everything. There are no coincidences.
  5. Play every day like a winner. Big billers know what they are going to do every day.
  6. Attract new business. You do it based on reputation and performance. Give yourself a report card. Survey your clients. Ask them what they think.
  7. Realize: If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are 100% correct. Believe in yourself.
About the author: John has been writing about recruiting and employment for nearly a decade,and has worked in the field for almost twice as long. He traces his connection to the employment industry back to the beginning of the commercial Internet when he managed some of the earliest news oriented websites. These offered job boards, which became highly popular with users. John worked with agencies and large employers on job postings, resume search, and campaigns, before consulting with media companies on audience development and online advertising sales.

There comes a point in the life of most nonprofits when its previously healthy brand becomes stale. Whether it’s become of some external controversy or a normal change in attitudes, organizations sometimes have to consider re-branding.

This was the case with the organization formerly known as Gifts In Kind International (GIKI). The Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofits changed its name to Good360 a year ago, part of a re-branding effort to refresh their image after 30 years. Good360 also completely revamped its business model as part of that effort.

Re-branding doesn’t always have to be that extreme but, whatever form it takes, the results won’t come instantly. As Nick Saul wrote in his book “Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success,” change takes time. If you are one of those nonprofits that is considering fundamental change to your brand, Saul suggested five things you can do to re-imagine your organization:

  • Listen. It sounds obvious but it’s not just a matter of “sending out
    feelers” every few years. It must be habitual, part of your
    organizational DNA.
  • Create a plan, but don’t always stick to it. A plan is always a work in
    progress so don’t get so caught up making it that you stall before
    taking action. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
  • Embrace your inner entrepreneur. Nonprofits need to be as nimble and
    opportunistic as possible. Your landscape of service delivery can shift
    quickly and unforeseen opportunities will arise. You must be willing to
    be bold and think big.
  • It’s competitive out there. You must be able to differentiate yourself
    from others. Be clear about the difference your organization is making
    and why you have no equals in the pursuit of your mission.
  • Contribute to public policy conversations. Advocacy doesn’t turn people off — it makes you relevant.


I’ve been a fan of Tim Tebow since he was at the University of Florida. I cheered for him then, and I take great pleasure in cheering for him still — and not just because he is a Gator (like me), a Heisman trophy winner, and an all-around awesome guy. I cheer for him because while he was a winner in college, he’s a guy who isn’t “supposed” to win in the NFL — and yet he does. He’s the proverbial underdog that we all claim to want to see win. (Though popular opinion sure doesn’t seem to indicate that… but that’s a completely different article.)

So after the Denver Broncos’ record improved to 5-5 (4-1 with Tebow starting) with a win over the Jets this last Thursday, I was so pleased to read this fantastic article by my colleague, John Hollon about how Tebow is breaking the mold of what success and leadership is supposed to look like in the NFL.

Leadership, no matter what line of work you are currently in, doesn’t have to come in a certain package, a certain style, a certain look, or from a certain background. Hollon says,

“If you get locked into believing that a leader must look and act a certain way, or have a certain kind of demeanor and experience, you’ll miss out on the unconventional person (or style) who can be equally (if not more) successful for you.”

In order for this to happen, sometimes you have to change what you may not even realize is broken. Because it’s not. It’s just not as good as it could be.

The Experts Don’t Always Know Best

In Hollon’s article, he says that new leaders surprise us when they break the mold of what leadership and success are supposed to look like. And it’s often the experts who are the worst at determining what it should look like:

“The lesson of Tim Tebow is that the “experts” are frequently wrong about what works and that the unconventional often troubles us because it doesn’t square with our pre-determined notion of what leadership success looks like. If we aren’t willing to step back and challenge our preconceptions — really misconceptions about superior talent and how it manifests itself — we might miss seeing it standing right before our eyes.”

While the experts in this case have been bashing him since day 1 (and many continue to do so), Tebow continues to pursue his passion and work harder than anyone else to be successful. The truth is — expert opinion will not stop a winner from winning or a leader from pressing forth to more success.

Encouraging those on your team to pursue excellence no matter what obstacles they may face should be standard. Will your folks to win — don’t expect them to lose (and if you do, perhaps you should take a hard look at your own hiring practices). And sometimes this means having to be flexible in your organizational process in order to encourage and cultivate leaders.

If It Ain’t Broke… There’s Still Probably A Better Way

A few years ago, I wrote an article that I hoped would open some eyes to the idea that just because something isn’t ‘broken’ doesn’t mean it couldn’t use some improvements. Just because something works well now does not mean it couldn’t work even better with some changes. In that article I quoted Carmine Coyote, author of the now-discontinued blog called ‘Slow Leadership’:

“Change is more about letting go of old ideas than finding new ones. Most of the time, people are sufficiently happy with the way things are, so they see no need to change. Life may not be perfect, but it’s good enough; the effort and uncertainty change brings look too great to be worth it. That’s why the moments when you’re open to change are precious. Miss them and your life and growth goes back on indefinite hold. Seize them and you have moments of infinite preciousness, when your mind is open to new ideas and fresh perspectives.”

In your line of work, in your office, or in your business, are there things that are sort of ‘good enough,’ but not exceptional? Jim Collins wrote an excellent book called “Good To Great” that discusses this very type of situation. The Broncos saw the value in Tebow, even though his style didn’t seem to ‘fit’ into the NFL’s established system of successful quarterbacking. So in order to accommodate the leadership they knew he would bring, they willingly changed their existing system to fit his strengths, going 180 degrees in the opposite direction of decades of football strategy that had worked.

When’s the last time you made changes to the way you manage your team or your business to accommodate the strengths of a new leader on your team, instead of requiring that they change everything that has made them successful to conform to your model?

Making Changes Isn’t Always Pretty

The very nature of change means that things are going to be different. And different isn’t always beautiful — but it is necessary for progress. Whether you’re a Tebow fan or not, you cannot deny that his wins are quite often ugly. Often they are heavily accomplished by the defense, as well. But pretty or not, they are still tick marks in the “W” column.

Winning often means making unpopular choices. It often means risking hurt feelings and assignment adjustments. It may even mean taking on more work than usual for a period of time in order to refine new ways of doing things. In our business, it may mean taking more responsibility for things that were previously outside of your scope of work in order to partner with others on your team as a more cohesive unit.

Regardless of how you look at it, there is no cookie-cutter mold for leadership — sometimes it looks exactly like what we’d expect. Other times it’s ugly, yet determined to win. And sometimes, it’s just downright unconventional, against all odds, and still inspires and brings forth the best in everyone. Make sure you can be open to make changes when it shows up in your organization.

About the author: Amybeth Hale began her career in recruiting working for Jon Bartos as the sole researcher for his award-winning MRI-affiliated executive search firm in Cincinnati. She then served as the Manager of Internet Research for SearchPath International out of Cleveland, OH. She is currently the Editor for The Fordyce Letter and manages the Fordyce Forum annual conference for big-biller recruiting. Amybeth is affectionately known as the “Research Goddess.” You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

I was taught long ago that “whatever you focus on expands,” and I wish I could credit the teacher. You have probably all heard something similar in the past. In this article I am going to do my best to put this concept into practical terms for the recruiting industry.

Based on many conversations and my own personal observations, the recruiting industry is coming back nicely. Many of my clients had their best quarter, not in years, but EVER! Companies are beginning to re-invest in their growth and operations. However, some recruiters are still stuck in “fear” mode and are focusing on scarcity right now, still thinking the business is in recession mode.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are in fear/scarcity mode:

  • Are you overly focused on trying to reduce expenses?
  • Are you worried about your business in 2011?
  • Are you worried about positions being frozen or cancelled?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, you are in danger of making them true for you! You see, what you focus on expands. If you answered yes, you are at some level focusing on business evaporating. This is probably not a conscious choice, but your mind has activated its objective-seeking sensors and is sabotaging your work.

You might be thinking “Mike’s losing it,” but let me ask you – have you ever thought about losing weight only to gain more? Have you ever focused on reducing debt only to go deeper into debt?

Psychologists have proven the subconscious mind can’t distinguish the word “reduce” or “eliminate” from the word after it. The subconscious focuses on the word as a concept, so in the above example, it focuses on “weight” and “debt.” Since this is what the mind is focused on, it expands and we tend to get more of both.

It is much harder to increase revenues and profits when you are focused on minimizing expenses. It is hard to sound great, consultative, and confidant with your prospects when you are worried about hiring freezes, a lack of openings, and so forth.  My experience from earlier in my career is that when I was worried and focused on surviving, I sounded desperate! Desperate recruiters are given the assignments everyone else is given; the low fee, multiple recruiter positions because that recruiter unknowingly commoditized themselves as being one of the herd, one of the vast field of mediocre performers at best.

Here is the remedy:

  1. Focus on the concepts/words revenues, placements, profits, and commissions. Do you see how these words are one-hundred-eighty degrees different from “expenses” and “freezes?” This may appear subtle to you, but you are discounting the power of your subconscious to change its focus on your behalf!
  2. Write out specifically what “success” would look like in your firm or on your recruiting desk. Write in graphic detail and avoid the negative trigger words/concepts I mentioned above.
  3. Write out in graphic detail what this success would allow for you in your LIFE. A common problem many people have when they set goals for higher earnings and/or a larger office is that the benefits to them in their lives are not clear at all. Many have not thought this through clearly enough to create a vivid picture for themselves of what their own personal definition of success looks like. Sure they know they will be “happier,” but they are not clear on EXACTLY how. Each person is different and when I am able to “pull this out of them” I witness significantly higher levels of execution of their plans. More importantly I witness significantly higher levels of self satisfaction and excitement about their work.
  4. Define the activities needed to GUARANTEE the achievement of number 2 above. Avoid statements that aren’t specific like “make more calls”, “work harder”, “start earlier”, etc. How many more interviews do you need to arrange? How many more job orders do you need to take?
  5. Define who you have to “become” to achieve what you want. You see, we rarely get what we want in life; we DO often get what we are every day on a consistent basis. So, do you need to become a better business owner/leader? A better marketer of your services? A better developer of talent? What skills do you have to develop to become this person? Make sure you inventory them and put an action plan together to find the resources to invest in yourself to get you there!

I challenge you to study the five points above; there is a LOT in those very few words. All five points get you focused on outcomes most recruiters and managers want to expand. Don’t be lazy here and just read this. Take some action. Write some notes for each of the points.

Even if you only invest 30 minutes in this exercise and write out some beginning ideas, you have begun the process of changing your focus. If you don’t write another sentence for the rest of the year but simply read your notes occasionally from this 30-minute exercise, you will increase your focus on these concepts… and what you focus on will expand!

This article is from the February 2011 print Fordyce Letter. To subscribe and receive a monthly print issue, please go to our Subscription Services page.