Category Archives: Leadership

A Different Type of Candidate Debate

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

In a recent blog posting (Politicians and Recruiters Make Strange Bedfellows) I suggested that there are some interesting similarities between the process that companies use to fill their open positions and how voters end up choosing a candidate for a political office.

If you think about it, political candidates are actually applying for a job, a job that carries with it certain responsibilities and in many cases comes with a pretty generous compensation package and opportunities for career advancement in or out of politics. In other words it is a good job.

And the voters make up the hiring committee, that group that will ultimately decide by majority vote which candidate will get the job, will be hired.

Candidates for any political office should be required to apply for a particular position (office), their application including resume should then be reviewed (vetting process) by the hiring committee (voters) and those deemed qualified and who are interested and available should be invited in for a series of interviews (primaries).

I was thinking about this comparison over the past couple of weeks while watching some of the highlights (and low lights) of the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. In the political arena the debate format is used as a series of final interviews for the candidates.

Regardless of which side you are on, most voters would agree that if conducted properly a debate is a good format for addressing issues that are important and sometimes critical to job performance for that office, and for observing how each candidate responds to the various questions, thus giving the voter (sometimes undecided) enough information to make a decision for or against a particular candidate.

Could a debate format work as part of the hiring process?

Let’s say that a hiring manager has an opening to fill and a number of candidates have been screened and presented for consideration. A series of interviews have been conducted, phone and face-to-face by various stakeholders in the hiring process, including internal recruiters.

The hiring manager has selected three very qualified candidates that he would like to schedule in for final interviews before he makes the hiring decision. Normally, these three interviews would be set for each candidate and each would be interviewed, hopefully by the same individuals or team and each would have been asked the same questions. Debriefing meetings could be held after each candidate is interviewed and notes for all interviews would be compared and a decision made.

But what if all three candidates were brought in at the same time for a Job Debate?

The audience could be made up of company employees, vendors, upper management, customers, board members, anyone who might have an interest in hiring the best candidate for the position to be filled. The moderator would be the hiring manager and the questions that each candidate would be asked would have been prepared with input from all stakeholders and would deal only with issues that were necessary to performance for that position.

The candidates would be made aware of the topics to be covered, would have been given, if they did not already know, the performance expectations for the position, the critical initiatives that they would need to address and accomplish within the first 90 -180 days in that position.

Depending on the position, upper management, mid-management, staff, the job debates could be one and done or a series of up to three. All relevant topics would be covered, each candidate would have a chance to sell himself/herself to a much broader audience, and decisions regarding the hire could be made based on a comparison of each candidate’s responses to the questions and to the other candidates.

So, would a Job Debate work? I have a feeling that most hiring managers would not want to try because, not unlike the political debates, they have already made up their minds regarding which candidate will be hired.

But here is the upside to at least considering a Job Debate. More people will have an opportunity to see and hear each candidate. Other opportunities may present themselves to other hiring managers in attendance, thus allowing for more than one candidate being hired. The entire hiring process would become more transparent and candidates would be excited and anxious to apply to future openings just to participate in the process.

Now, I for one would like to be the fact checker in these Job Debates, unless you think that none of these candidates would ever stretch the truth.


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.


Reflections of a Rookie Recruiter

By Jen Copley, Rookie Recruiter, Q4B

“Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school” –Robert Fulghum.

I recently graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Communication Studies and French degree (if you need some help ordering a good wine at your favorite French restaurant, call me). Like every fresh out grad, I spent the better part of my senior year writing resumes, looking at job opportunities on Career Builder and Monster and generally stressing about my chances of landing a job, any job in this economy.

A little over a month ago my mother (thanks Mom) introduced me to a friend of hers, Jennifer Brownell, a remarkable woman who had just become the Managing Director of an established managed recruiting services firm, Q4B. Jennifer was in the process of setting up operations in the Denver area, hiring staff and preparing to expand Q4B’s target markets and service offerings.

I am sure that my mother (thanks again, Mom) thought that perhaps Jennifer could use some help, any help in getting her office up and running, functioning on all cylinders. And it wouldn’t hurt to be working for a company that helps people find great careers.

So, I was hired on as a part-time intern, initially handling various office chores and making several daily runs to the local Starbucks. I began working closely with Carmen Lapham, who was brought in by Jennifer to be the Director of Recruiting and Operations.

Soon, within days, I was being asked to help Carmen and Jennifer with the work of recruiting. I was being taught the fine art of sourcing, screening, selecting and marketing by two very talented, dedicated women.

And it turns out that aside from feeling excited, challenged and rewarded for the work I was being asked to do, I felt prepared to do it, to take on the various tasks I was given.

What prepared me for this job, what allowed me to feel that I could do it wasn’t the fact that I graduated from college, wasn’t my degree in Communication and French, wasn’t even my desire to always do my best, to be successful.

My preparation goes all the way back to my first experience in school. It turns out that all I needed to know about recruiting and working for Q4B, I learned in Kindergarten.

Robert Fulghum in his best selling book, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, lists 11 things that can be learned in Kindergarten and here is how I have seen them applied at Q4B.

  • Share Everything –

Communication is the key to success in any personal and professional setting, and perhaps even more so in the recruiting business.  At Q4B, we have a great channel of communication internally and externally with other employees and customers, our clients and candidates. Making sure that the candidate has all the information about an opportunity; making sure that the client has all the information about the candidates; making sure that everyone involved in the recruiting process has all the information they need to do their jobs successfully, that is sharing everything.

  • Play Fair –

Jennifer Brownell and Carmen Lapham are the greatest authority figures to work under.  They play fair.  They work hard.  They both fix problems tactfully and use positive reinforcement properly. They also play fair with Q4B’s clients when negotiating business and setting the fees for services. They also play fair when closing the candidates on a realistic salary range to consider for any job opportunity. But don’t challenge them to a game of Trivial Pursuit – that’s a whole other ball game!

  • Don’t Hit People –

I know we could get away with actually hitting people when we were in Kindergarten. None of us packed too much of a wallop. But there are other types of “hitting” that I have seen practiced in the adult world that are in many ways much more harmful than a right cross to the chin. I am referring to verbal “hitting” of employees, subordinates, clients, customers, vendors and candidates.  It is not a good practice to hit any one and certainly doesn’t make any sense in the recruiting business, where everything hinges on the strength of the relationship that recruiters establish with their clients and candidates. We don’t hit.

  • Put things back where you found them –

Hard copy or digital it doesn’t matter. If you take something from somewhere always put it back. This includes resumes, files, job orders, notes, reference material, sourcing material, company info. Jennifer and Carmen are insistent upon this. Information is key in the recruiting business. Knowing that the information will always be accessible is equally important. Put it back is my motto, along with twenty (and counting) others so far.

  • Clean up your own mess –

This applies to just about everything that we do. Not just physical mess, like papers and files on a desk top or coffee cups and left over lunch around the work space. But the other messes that we sometimes find ourselves in, such as, not following up with a candidate as promised, not following up with a client, not checking references, not closing the candidate properly, promising more than can be delivered to either candidate or client, agreeing to do something and then not doing it. These are all messes and if they are yours then clean’em up! So far at Q4B, the messes if there were any have either been cleaned up by the messer or the cleaning crew. Oh, wait, we don’t have a cleaning crew!

  • Don’t take things that are not yours –

At Q4B I have been taught some basic things about ownership. Candidates are “owned” by the recruiter who sourced them, screened them and in many cases presented them to the client. Clients are “owned” by the recruiter/business development person who identified the account, presented the proposal and got the engagement agreement signed. And as long as those who “own” something have documented their “ownership” then there is no possibility of someone taking things that are not theirs. Honesty is our policy.

  • Say you are sorry when you hurt someone –

This applies to anything that might be said to candidates, clients, employees, peers, vendors, partners, contractors, consultants by any one, by any means. I have not seen any evidence of this at Q4B, not to say that it could never happen, which is why there is a social media policy being developed that will address what is being said by any one in the company through any SM channel. Luckily, the company has some good role models.

  • Wash your hands before you eat –

Or maybe it should be wash your hands before you greet. I have noticed that Jennifer and Carmen schedule a number of face to face meetings, mostly with potential clients. Those candidates who are local to the Denver area will also be interviewed face to face, by either one or both. I have had the opportunity to attend a few meetings and de-briefings. People always shake hands. My impression is that aside from the information on job opportunities, candidate’s qualifications, interest and availability, and establishing a profitable, long term relationship, Carmen and Jennifer want to leave a good impression. Not germs.

  • Flush –

This refers to the obvious, but also to other types of waste that need to be disposed of quickly and sometimes quietly (thanks Moen) or avoided all together. Working at Q4B and with Carmen and Jennifer, I have seen very little waste of time (candidate’s, client’s and our own), energy, resources, opportunities.

  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you –

And so is a good bottle of wine (French of course) and some cheese; a cold can of Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Mama’s Little Yella Pils and pizza; or just that first latte in the morning. Especially if there are others around (co-workers, bosses) to enjoy it with. All work and no play…..etc.

  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some

I learn every minute of everyday working under these two women.  I think about how successful they are and how I can reflect their actions into my own work and life. I draw connections between candidate and career/listen to Carmen paint an enticing picture of the job for the candidate, and the candidate for the client. And we all sing and dance at work when the perfect candidate is hired.

So this is what I was taught in Kindergarten, along with a few other things that I will discuss in future blogs.

And I will leave you with this one last thought which is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world and look for a job, it is best to hold hands with a good recruiter and stick together.

Thanks Jennifer and Carmen (and Mom)!


On Leadership

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

“We Need You to Lead Us”. – Seth Godin, Tribes

Until recently I was probably like most people when it came to talking about and considering the word leadership, and what it means to be a leader. To me a leader was someone running a country, at a high level in government, military or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. A leader was someone in front of a movement, the founder of an organization, a well known and recognized authority in the arts, science or business. In other words, someone who was famous for what they did or for what their company or organization did.

Turns out I was wrong. Turns out that all of us have the ability to be leaders and that the qualities of leadership can be learned.

Since 2003 I have participated in three intense and very rewarding training courses on leadership, offered by Rapport Leadership International. I am now a Master Graduate of Rapport’s Leadership training. I mention this to emphasize a point, and that is that if I can train others to become leaders; can consider myself to be a leader and posses leadership qualities; and if I can take what I have learned and effectively apply it to what I do, namely find great talent for companies and find great opportunities for top talent, then any one can do the same. Anyone can become a leader.

Here are the six Leadership competencies that I was taught and anyone wanting to be a leader should learn.

  • Creating Teams & Building Support
    Increased strengths to reach goals far beyond your own capabilities
  • Focus and Taking Action
    Focus that sharpens the ability to shut off distractions and laser in on what’s important and move forward.
  • Passion and Enthusiasm
    Passion and enthusiasm to live out loud—work is no longer work!
  • Feedback & Accountability
    Free flowing communication and accountability to align organizations for optimum results.
  • Self-Awareness & Values / Mission
    Clarity that brings incredible inspiration to people eager to work with leaders with focus.
  • Self-Confidence & Unleashing Potential
    Confidence to get outside one’s comfort zone, change your approach, create stability in the organization, innovate, share ideas for improvement, and take action.

Now, when I talk with business leaders, department heads, and decision makers at client companies, I can relate to their respective issues, their individual needs and can better understand how important my role as a recruiter is in helping identify great talent that will make their jobs as leaders much easier and enjoyable.

Additionally, when I talk with potential candidates for positions that require leadership qualities, I can more readily identify those who possess some of the above competencies and suggest areas that would require some training.


Learning more about what makes great leaders, learning to understand and implement leadership qualities has helped me become better at what I do and has allowed me to take on the role of Director of Recruiting and Operations at Q4B with a great deal of confidence.

What about you, do you consider yourself a leader. Do you think you could be a leader? Remember, leadership is a choice. What will it be, leader or follower?