By Bob Marshall  |    Monday February 11, 2014

Category: Expert Advice


Here’s the question:  “When do you stop beating a dead horse?”

Here’s the answer:  “When you can say to yourself, ‘this deal is unworkable on my terms and I’m not going to spend any more of my straight commission time on it.’”

Five Reasons Why “Horse Beating” Occurs

1.  Incomplete information from Employers and Candidates.

2.  Use of ineffective Qualifying and Pre-closing Techniques.

3.  Lack, or complete loss, of cooperation from Employers and Candidates.

4.  Hope Sheets … instead of Hot Sheets.

5.  Not knowing what or when Employers and Candidates will buy. 


1.  Companies that are “Always Looking”.  These are companies who have no clear definition in mind of what they want.  They merely utilize the services of a recruiter to be made aware of the top talent that’s available.  These are the people who have not determined what positions are open—and who might never have a position open.  But they are always asking you to call them when you find anybody who’s a likely match because they are “always looking” for top talent.  In other words, there is no urgency…no deadline.

2.  Employers who are not sure of the answer when asked a question.  This is because they never thought of the question.  Therefore, they’ve never framed an answer.  Again, there is no clarity of purpose in this type of employer.  It’s like attacking a cloud.

3.  Employers who are difficult to get on the phone.  Most likely, they are not treating you as a professional.  None of us are so busy that we can’t take a call when something is urgent.  All this employer is saying to you (non-verbally) is, “I don’t think that you are important.  I don’t think you are professional.  You will have to call me on my schedule, and my schedule is too important to bend for just any of your phone calls.”

4.  Employers who have a reluctance to see your Candidates on “your terms”.  Again, this is usually because the hiring manager is not treating you with respect.  They don’t think you know what you are doing.

5.  Long period of time to make a decision and/or extend an offer.  You need to be aware that after an interview takes place, “White Heat” cools down quickly.  We never know when it will actually go below the magical ‘buy-line’, but time does kill all of our deals.  A long period of time to make a decision and/or extend an offer can only serve to stop a deal from coming together.

6.  The “Expert From Afar” mysteriously appears.  This could be the ‘other’ recruiter, the in-house recruiter or the corporate vice president from back east—any new person who comes into the situation and changes the rules after the game has already been set up.

7.  Fee problems at any time.  It is easy to agree to any fee that you might state when the hiring manager is not thinking about hiring.  That’s why, when you cover a fee in dollars and percent with the hiring manager, that you want them to be concerned.  You want them to pause and think of whose budget the fee will be coming from and how they are going to pay it.  The worse possible scenario, when you quote a fee, is for the hiring manager to quickly say, “No problem.”  Well, it’s usually no problem because they don’t intend to pay it.  They don’t think you can come up with the type of individual they want.  When you do, then there is a fee problem because they are now faced with a fee that they had no intention of paying in the first place.

8.  Need to run an ad.  There’s no urgency if they can run an ad.  And as a recruiter, you need three things to be successful:  Urgency, urgency and urgency.  What you need to explain to hiring managers, when they want to run an ad, is this:

“You know, Mr. Hiring Manager, you can let your Personnel Department run an ad and work on this job order.  However, it’s not the most economical solution.  But realize this … when you run an ad you are going to attract job hoppers, job shoppers and rejects.  These are the types of applicants who are looking at the job boards, at the on-line postings and reading the want ads.

“I, on the other hand, enter into a segment of the marketplace that you are not going to attract with your ads.  I am going to recruit people who are happy, well-appreciated, making good money and currently working, but can be motivated to move for a better opportunity.  These are fast track people.  They don’t look in the paper.  They don’t surf the Internet job boards.  There is no need for them to do so.  Therefore, they will not be aware of your ads.

“At the end of the day, all you are really saying to me, by running ads, is that you have no urgency.  Not a good thing for me to hear since I am paid to circumvent the time factor.”

9.  Job Orders with too broad a range of compensation.  The hiring manager says, “We will pay anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.”  You need tighter salary parameters so you know where to go to recruit the right people.  There are not enough years left in your life to recruit every good person living in the USA in that wide of a salary range.  What you need to do is to pinpoint that range.


1.  Obtain complete information.  You will probably need to talk to the hiring manager more than once.  A personal visit may be required.  But you eventually need completeinformation.

2.  Set up a grading system.  Grade your hiring manager’s job orders so that not only will you work on those JOs most likely to pay off, but also so you can remember what a hiring manager said originally and how the JO changes as time moves forward.

3.  Establish start date – work interviewing procedure backwards from start date.  You say, “When is the last day that you (the hiring manager) can reach, so that on the next day something bad happens if the new person is not on-board by then?  In other words, what is your drop-dead date?”  Keep in mind that there are three people involved in everything we do:  The Hiring Manager, The Candidate and The Recruiter.  Each party needs a segment of time.  So, take the three time segments, add them together and back them off from the drop dead date to determine if this JO is really realistic enough for you to work.

4.  Establish hiring process, i.e., who, when, where.  Also time periods between interviews.  You want this leverage in case something goes awry.  Having written down what is going to take place, and in what time frame, allows you to keep better track and control of the hiring process.

5.  How many people must be interviewed before you can make an offer?  If the hiring manager needs to see six people, they may have a directive from ‘higher up’ to see that number, so don’t send them five if that’s all you have because they will still have to wait for that sixth candidate to show up.  If you take on an assignment, and they tell you how many people they need to see, whatever that number is, make sure you get that number in to the hiring manager.

6.  Make sure internal transfer or promotion has been explored and any possibility eliminated.  Some recruiters don’t want to do this because they are afraid that they will lose the job order.  But isn’t it better to lose the JO at the beginning of the process than at the very end?  That’s when it hurts the most.  By learning this information at the beginning, you haven’t expended a great deal of time and energy and money, and you can cut your losses earlier.  Also, you now have the ability to be able to write JOs to refill the slot from whence the transfer or promotion originated.

7.  How many people have been interviewed?  You need to know this to give you an idea of the ‘quality’ of the job order.  If it is ‘unfillable’, this will be an indication.  If twenty-five people have been interviewed, and the position has not been filled, you need to know why.

8.  How many offers extended, turned down, and why?  This gives you some insight into the knockout factors and the general health of the JO.

9.  Why were some Candidates eliminated prior to an offer?  As above, this will further cover the knockout factors.

10.  How many dollars have been budgeted to fill this position?  You want to make sure the employer is being realistic by knowing how much he is prepared to spend.  If the hiring manager says the salary is $60-70,000, but they only have $58,000 budgeted, there will be a problem.  Even if they have $65,000 budgeted, where will your fee come from? 

11.  Where does the money come from?  Whose budget?  You need to talk to the person who has control of the purse strings because this is the person who will ultimately pay you.  This person has the final power to say “yes or no” and you need to talk to him/her right from the beginning. 


1.  Candidates who are always looking.  This type of candidate hasn’t made the mental commitment to change jobs, and would, most likely, accept a counter-offer, or use the offer as a “lever” to get what they want from their present employer.

2.  Incomplete Data Sheet.  Information has been left off and/or there are gaps.  Time frames just do not ‘jibe’.

3.  Won’t make themselves available on “your” timetable.  They don’t see you as a professional.  They will only interview on weekends or after hours.  They need to be made aware of what’s required of them.

4.  Resumes that are all feature oriented.  Features are dead things.  A resume is a logical presentation and people buy emotionally.  Therefore, a resume that is all feature oriented is difficult to sell.  Also, resumes may be composed of features because the candidate really doesn’t have any accomplishments.  The problem facing us here is that we need those accomplishments from previous employers to turn into benefits for the new companies—the companies to which we are marketing.

5.  Won’t return your calls.  Again, they don’t respect you as a professional.  Or they don’t need you.  Or there is no sense of urgency.

6.  Reluctant (or won’t) tell you where and/or with whom they have interviewed.  They keep it a secret.  They act as if they are going to compete with you for their candidacy.  To combat this, you can say two things:  (1) “Where have you been?  I don’t want to cover the same ground where you’ve left a resume and identified yourself.  Therefore, I don’t want to go back into those same companies”; and (2) “I need to know where you might have your candidacy pending and I will need you to ‘unpend’ yourself.  In other words, I can’t work with you if you are competing with me in regards to your candidacy.”

7.  Reluctant to watch interviewing films, or listen to interviewing tapes.  Again, the candidate is not treating you as the expert.  They believe that they are the experts in interviewing.  (Special Note:  Beware any candidate who is a ‘terrific interviewee’.  Those who are too adept at interviewing merely have done it a lot, which means they might not be quite as proficient at the technical aspects that relate to their job.  They have become ‘professional interviewees’.) 

8.  “No Shows” or late for appointments.  This is an indication of a sloppy person, a sloppy attitude, and will probably carry over into their new position, should you be lucky enough to place this person.  It also reflects directly (and negatively) on you and your recruitment firm.

9.  Reluctant to talk relocation with their family.  Let’s say that the candidate wants to move.  No problem for them, but keep in mind that when you are facing a relocation, you are looking down the cylinders of a double-barreled shotgun.  You are either going to have to address the not-so-recent phenomenon of a two-income family or the reality that there might be children (especially teenagers) who will be affected by the move.  It’s not the person doing the work.  Therefore, if you have a candidate who will not discuss relocation with his/her family, there is going to be a major bump down the road.  You will undoubtedly have a turn-down or a fall-off later on in the process when the family suddenly discovers that the candidate is contemplating a move.

10.  Reluctant to submit resignation in writing, leaving them open to a counteroffer.  What you want is for the candidate to write a letter of resignation at the beginning of the process because by physically writing this letter, the candidate is mentally making the break with their current employer.




1.  Obtain complete information regarding:  can do’s, will do’s, won’t do’s, can be motivated to do’s, counteroffers, emotions, etc.

2.  Itemized list of what they will buy and when they will buy it.  What companies does the candidate want to work for?  When can the candidate make the move if the perfect position comes along?

3.  Have them list their Features/Accomplishments/Benefits (TFL, 10/05) – do FAB sheets.  These should be originally typed for each employer that they will see on an interview.  This original sheet will be left with each employer.  You need a copy of the FAB sheet, and the candidate will need one for their records.

4.  Submit a list of “target” companies.  These are companies that the candidate would like to work for—companies in which they have an interest.  Also, it would be good to know those companies that they don’t want to work for. 

5.  Submit a list of questions.  These are questions that the candidate needs the answers to before they can make a decision of coming onboard with the new company.  Questions beyond the regular salary and benefit type queries--types of projects they would like to work on, amount of travel time, special perks they would like in order to make the move.  Anything the candidate needs answers to, before making a decision.

6.  Agree to interview your way.  Because you are the expert, you know about interviewing whereas the candidate knows about what they do for a living.  Prepare your candidate for the interview.  Go over Agenda Closing and the Eight Point Candidate Prep.  You want to make sure the candidate is prepared correctly for the interview.

7.  Must be able to ask for the job (TFL, 5/06).  Somewhere in the interview, the candidate must express an interest in the job—verbalize that they want the position.  They need to take the initiative because the hiring manager is usually waiting for the candidate to express an interest in the company/position.

8.  Give you the authority to negotiate, accept/reject offers.  The candidate must understand that you are the professional and that you are also an effective third party.  After you have introduced the candidate to the employer, then many of your duties are those of a buffer.

9.  Pre-write a resignation letter and sign it.  It is best if you can have your candidates give the resignation letter to you so that you can mail it for them later.  If not, just make sure they write this letter early in the process.  As I said before, it is important that they write it so that they have made a ‘mental break’ with their current company.

10.  Submit the letter the day he/she accepts an offer.

11.  Must be willing to exchange commitments of cooperation as well as agree to make decisions.  The candidates have to cooperate with you—to work with you as an ally.  And they must be capable of making a decision.  If they can’t make a decision, no matter what situation you put them into, they won’t be able to say “yes or no”.  It will always be “maybe”, or “Let me think about it…”


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Anytime you discover any problems, STOP, REQUALIFY Employers and Candidates and either GET THEM BACK IN LINE or BACKOUT of the project.  Remember, you are a straight commission sales person and you are paid for results, i.e., Send Outs and Decisions, and if the results are not there, you are wasting your time and not doing your job!

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