Category Archives: Identify

Politicians and Recruiters Make Strange Bedfellows

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

I got my political fix over the last few weeks that should carry me for a while, at least until the debates start. I watched some of the proceedings from both conventions, read the analysis from some political wonks that I follow and caught snippets of video from a few of news shows. I like being informed. I am interested in the issues and am willing to listen to those who want my vote as they attempt to explain their solutions, their vision, their qualifications for the job that they want to be elected to.

I will make my decision (maybe I already have) based on a number of factors the least of which is party affiliation. I want to see the best qualified person elected. I want to make an informed decision and I think that every voter should want the same. Otherwise any election for any office becomes more American Idol and not what our founding fathers envisioned.

During both the conventions there was a good deal of chatter about the vetting process. When I heard this phrase repeatedly I all of a sudden realized how similar that this process used in the political arena was to the process that recruiters use.

The Vetting process is employed by a political party to look for and uncover any and all issues, scandals, misdeeds, skeletons-in-the-closet events or relations that might pose a problem for a particular candidate and potentially make him/her unelectable in the eyes of voters. It is not used to determine proper qualifications for a particular position/office but it is sometimes used to determine the candidate’s positions on certain key issues how aligned and in agreement those positions are with the party or in some cases a running mate.

Recruiters have their own Vetting process and it is called the reference check. Good recruiters use the reference check to verify much of the information that the candidate has supplied during the interview and use some of this information when making a presentation to a hiring manager.

The true reference check is much more than dates of employment and title of position held. A true reference check comes from the candidate’s peers, supervisors, customers, suppliers and includes such things as verifying RFL (reason for leaving) a job; type of employee; type of co-worker; college degree; rehirable or not; strengths and weaknesses; recommended fit for position to be filled; and if and when there is not a strong reference, advising the candidate not to use that reference in the future.

All of this information becomes part of the candidate’s history that the recruiter could use in presenting the candidate to the hiring manager and to provide evidence that this candidate is the right candidate for the job. Additionally, if during this vetting process information surfaces that suggest some issues such as scandals, misdeeds, skeletons-in-the-closet events that would pose a problem with the candidate being hired then the recruiter can decide to not represent the candidate or take other action.

Recruiters also use a vetting process in determining the clients they would want to work with. Or do we just take a job order from any company that has an open position that is somewhere in our market space? How you answer that question goes a long way to defining what type of recruiter you are and what your client’s perception of you truly is.

Good recruiters struggle with vetting their clients but in the long run they know that it is worth the struggle. Before deciding to pursue a prospective client recruiters should do some research and gather as much information about the company, profitability, market position, number of open positions, history of layoffs, viability of product or service, BBB reports, Hoover’s info, references from former or current employees, references from customers. More information can be gathered in the needs analysis portion of the process where recruiters can get a sense of how cooperative the hiring manager will be, how much HR or internal recruiters will be involved, commitment to the recruiter’s process for interviewing candidates, commitment to quick feedback and access to those involved in the interview, complete specs for the position and a signed fee agreement.

If during the course of your upfront research and the needs analysis you discover anything that would cause concern, anything that would make you think that this may not be a good engagement then make a decision. Cast your vote to either go forward with the assignment or decide not to do business with that company and be professional about it.

The recruiters vetting process allows the recruiter to provide the best qualified, interested and available candidates for the most cooperative, appreciative and long-term clients.

Now, if that only could work in the political arena.

My next blog will be about another phrase I heard repeatedly during the conventions, Fact Checkers.

Til then.


My Recruiting Bucket List

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

A colleague of mine recently had a birthday. He is an avid reader and a beer guy who borders on being a beer snob. His wife gave him a book for the occasion entitled 300 Beers To Try Before You Die by Roger Protz. He calls it his beer bucket list (although he would refuse to drink any of his beers from a bucket) and after paging through the book he discovered a few things.

Over the years he thought he had sampled his fair share of good beers, microbrewed, handcrafted and tasty. It turns out that of the 300 beers listed in the book he had only had 12 of them. Twelve! But rather than being disappointed, he now feels that since most of the beers that he has never had are from outside the US and most are not exported to the US it may take him a good thirty to forty years before he completes the list. He feels that he will live to a ripe old age. He just turned sixty-eight!

When he was telling me this story recently I was thinking that I should probably get a copy of the 300 beers book since I too am somewhat of a beer snob (Dales Pale Ale over Bud Lite any day) and that I should also put together my own bucket list for recruiting. What would I like to accomplish as a recruiter before I die or before I retire and hang up my password to my ATS?

Here is my bucket list.

  • Make at least one placement at each of the top 25 companies in our targeted markets (Technology, Oil & Gas, Energy/Utilities and Healthcare IT) – Since the Top 25 companies change yearly this could take a while.
  • Have a Million Dollar year in individual production from permanent placement fees – You do the math!
  •  Make a placement in all fifty states as well as Guam and Puerto Rico – So far my count is at 13, long way to go.
  • Conduct all my candidate interviews on Skype or Google+ Hangouts unless there is a local Starbucks in the area – This may be the easiest one to check off since there is ALWAYS a local Starbucks in the area.
  • Source, Screen, Select and Place the elusive Purple Squirrel – If you don’t know what this is then that means less competition for me.
  • Finally, have my blog post appear as the Subject line in’s daily update emails – This is what dreams are made of and it should be on every recruiters bucket list.


So, there is my recruiting bucket list. I know that I have left some important things off and I also know that I will add to this list over the years. That is the nice thing about creating bucket lists. The more things you add that you want to accomplish the longer you will live. It is, like my colleague told me, a self-fulfilling prophecy. You won’t die (or in this case retire) until you have checked all of them off your list.

Now, where can I find a place that sells Bridge of Allan Glencoe Wild Oat Stout?

If you know of a place please let me know.


On Partners, Partnerships and Possibilities

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

part·ner·ship –  A relationship between individuals, groups or organizations that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal.

Ever since I started in the recruiting business the terms partner and partnership have been part of my vocabulary. I am sure that any recruiter reading this would say the same. We all would like to be considered a partner with our clients. We probably have it written somewhere on our company web site and we certainly feel that being a partner or being part of a partnership sounds much better, more professional than being a vendor or a supplier or heaven forbid, just a recruiter.

Well it turns out that rather than wanting to be a partner with our clients, both company and candidate, we ARE partners with our clients every time we enter into an agreement to help source, screen and select the best talent available for their positions.

Consider the client company relationship. Once we have met with the client, gone through a needs analysis, agreed upon the various requirements and responsibilities for the position, agreed to a fee for services, established the process for submittals, interviewing, feedback, frequency of communication and reporting and offer extension we ARE in a partner relationship. And the specified goal is filling the client’s position with one of our great candidates.

The same partner relationship exists with our candidates as well. From the first contact to establish the candidate’s qualifications, interest and availability all the way through the interview process, the offer acceptance and the 90 day on-boarding period there is, or should be, mutual cooperation and a clear definition of responsibilities which will lead to the achievement of the specified goal, namely placing our great candidate with our client company.

There is however another type of partnership that is unique in our industry and that is the relationship between two recruiting firms, serving similar industries and markets who both agree to cooperate and share responsibilities in order to achieve the specified goal of providing excellent service to their respective clients and markets.

Last week, our company Q4B, agreed to just such a partnership arrangement with a very successful staffing firm, OnPoint Staffing. As you might expect the decision to partner and form this type of relationship was not made without a great deal of due diligence, research and planning. It was however made easier since there existed a history of mutual admiration and respect between two of the principals involved with the decision.

I have known the COO of OnPoint, Denise Surratt, for a number of years, both professionally and personally. We have worked together; have a similar approach to recruiting, client service and making and keeping our commitments. We are both passionate about our industry and have always looked forward to working together someday.

We now have that opportunity.

We both felt that when any business leader looks to smash the competition they often miss opportunities that could come from cooperation and that through cooperation there is a good chance to make a bigger pie and to get a bigger share of that pie.

Even though there are some overlaps in some of the markets that each company serves and some of the services that each offers, there are more opportunities to leverage the knowledge, experience and resources that each brings to the relationship in order to achieve the specified agreed upon goal, and that is providing the best possible service to our clients.

And the Possibilities? Well we both feel that they are endless.


Do You Speak My Language? Or Further Reflections of a Rookie Recruiter

By Jennifer Copley, Rookie Recruiter, Q4B

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”  – Charlemagne

I am not sure when I first fully appreciated the importance of having learned a second language. I took French in high school and college and most of my friends and peers took some language as part of their course requirements. For many of us it was just another subject, sometimes required, that we needed to pass in order to graduate.

In college I took a few trips to France, traveled the country side, visited the museums, sampled the exquisite cuisine, the wine, the cheeses and spoke to or tried to speak to the locals in their language. Over time I became more comfortable with speaking French, my second language. And I began to see France through a different lens. And I liked what I saw.

I am now in my third month as a Rookie Recruiter for Q4B. I am also in my third month of learning a third language. A third language, you might ask, maybe Spanish, Chinese, German? No, although any one of those languages would certainly be of some use no matter what business you were in. No, the third language I am just beginning to learn is the language of Recruiting.

I read somewhere that English is considered the language of business, that French was considered the language of diplomacy (at least up through the mid 20th century) and is considered the language of love. If that is so then Recruiting should be considered the language of success.

My job as a Rookie Recruiter with Q4B is primarily to source and screen candidates for the various positions that we are trying to fill for our clients. In other words, I am the first point of contact with candidates and it is my responsibility to understand our client’s business, their market, the position and identify the basic requirements that the candidates must have in order to be considered.

From the very beginning I knew a couple of things. One, I had no knowledge of our client’s business, the position requirements and most if not all of the terminology was foreign to me. In other words it was a foreign language. And Two, I needed to approach each assignment the same way that I approached the subjects that I took in school, in other words, I needed to learn another language.

Before I begin working an assignment, a job order, I read the information that the client gave us during our needs analysis meeting. I then research the client’s web site, picking up information on the company, the culture, any press or media information, their blog (if they have one) as well as information on their key executives. I also read their own job description on their site. I then research their LinkedIn page, their FaceBook page and their Google+ page in an effort to gather even more information. I make a note of any specific words, phrases, terminology that are unique to this client’s business. I look up the definitions for these words, phrases and terminology in order to better understand them.

With each assignment that I am given I am slowly beginning to learn a third language.

The language of Recruiting is quite broad. There are just so many dialects, so many colloquialisms, so much local slang. Every industry has its own way of speaking; every job has its own terminology. Learning to speak French certainly was a whole lot easier, but perhaps not as rewarding.

Learning to speak Recruiting has opened up doors that I never dreamed existed. And just like my experience with speaking French on my trips to France allowed me to see that country through a different lens, learning to speak the language of Recruiting has allowed me to see the opportunities that exist in each of the markets that Q4B works and the value that we bring to both our clients and our candidates, through a different lens. To say the least this experience has been eye opening. And I like what I see.

So, do you speak my language? Or should I say, “Parlez- vous Recruiting?” Because I can speak yours!

How to Handle Your Talent–on-the-Bubble

“Today more than ever, the fate of an organization depends on its ability to recruit, retain, and, when necessary, replace talent.”

–        Emmett C. Murphy, Talent IQ

In his best selling book, Talent IQ, Emmett Murphy lays out a very clear and researched process for increasing your company’s productivity and profitability. It all starts with identifying your company’s Top Talent, improving the talent that is not quite Top, and when necessary removing the talent that can’t be improved. It is this last group that Murphy refers to as Talent-on-the-bubble.

Warren Brueggeman, former head of GE Nuclear Energy once said, “You know when the decision is not to improve, but remove when you no longer hold a positive expectation that an individual will make a contribution. It’s intuitive but is backed up by a trail of accumulated evidence and mishaps, some explained and some not, that tell you the risk of continuing is too great. It’s all about the risk, first to your customers, then to your stakeholders, employees and associates, the ones who will bear the burden when all is said and done.”

Chances are good that every company has its fair share of talent-on-the-bubble. The question is can you readily identify them? To help you here are some common traits of the types of employees who fall into this category.

  1. Procrastinator – a fence sitter; dislikes investing his/her energy; avoids commitment.
  2. Gossip – hostile; critical of others; spreads lies; intends to harm others.
  3. Manipulator – contemptuous; deceives others by inventing/distorting information; convinces others to shun those he/she wishes to harm.
  4. Black Hole – hostile; unresponsive; territorial and unproductive.
  5. Stonewaller – an obstructionist; challenges the legitimacy or need of another party for information or support.
  6. Bully – hostile; attacks someone’s character or the quality of their work; threatens employees with dismissal or a similar fate if they do not comply with his/her demands.
  7. Predator – irresponsible; feeds off of other’s insecurities; uses or destroys others to increase personal power; feels confident that he/she can hunt and destroy.

Recognize anyone? If you currently have employees in your company who exhibit any of the above traits ask the following questions.

  1. Can they change, can they improve?
  2. How destructive are these traits, to fellow employees, to customers, to company reputation, to stakeholders?
  3. Can they be replaced by better talent, by Top Talent?
  4. How quickly can they be removed?

One of the consistent themes that Murphy heard in his research was how difficult it was to fire someone, especially when the person doing the firing was responsible for the hiring. It is always difficult to admit a mistake was made. But when you consider the alternative and how much your talent-on-the-bubble is impacting your company’s productivity and profit, there is no choice.

Just remember the immortal words of The Donald, “You’re fired!”