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9 Ways Recruiters Can Spot a ‘Dead Horse Employer’

by | Dec 1, 2014 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Here’s the question: “When do you stop beating a dead horse?”  (Figuratively, not literally, of course.)

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.”

Here are five reasons why “dead horse beating” occurs in the recruiting profession:

  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

9 Signs of a ‘dead horse employer’:

1. Companies that are “always looking.”  These are companies that 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 . . . and no deadline.

2. Employers that 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 that 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 that 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.  Our recent survey of the recruiting industry shows that a long period of time to make a decision and/or extend an offer can only serve to stop a deal from coming together. Don’t let your recruiting software turn into candidate purgatory.

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, 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.

“So, 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.  Using standard recruiting fees as your guide won’t cut it. What you need to do is pinpoint that range.

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Bob Marshall of TBMG International, founder of The Marshall Plan, has an extensive background in the recruiting industry as a recruiter, manager, vice president, president, consultant, and trainer.  In 2015, Bob is celebrating his 35th year in the recruitment business.  Marshall can be reached at or at 770.898.5550.  His website is

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