Recruiter's Blog


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It’s been 30 years of being a recruiter and I have no plans to stop. I love what I do, and I have learned a tremendous amount in that time. About business, people, and raising bars. I have a lot of information to share that is typically competitive and confidential in my field, but at this point in my career and life, it is more important to me to do the right thing than hold back information that can help someone. I’m sharing this with you purely for your benefit. This is not a letter to inspire you to hire me. It is a letter to inspire you to expect more from people when hiring and keep an open mind.

When you look at the success of your business, your workload, your product, your process and how well the company is running, is everything working well? If the answer is not a resounding Yes, then you need to look at your team members. If there are any issues within your organization, it will always point back to the members of your staff, or vacancies needing to be filled to ensure you are reaching optimal operations.

Your product should make you feel like you are the best in the marketplace — beautifully designed and manufactured; something that, at the end of the day, you stare at with disbelief. Your work process should feel seamless.

If you have good people in place, you yourself should feel promoted. And you should be able to sleep at night, a full solid 8 hours. Even if you own the business. Even if your company is huge. And even if you feel you have insurmountable challenges. Having great people in place takes some worry and allows you to do what is vitally important to grow your business. And to enjoy doing that.



Your staff at every level is responsible for creating this situation and the success of your firm. The first people to look to when needing to add or replace staff are at the lowest levels in the organization, and then upward from there.

In fact, the receptionist runs your company to a large degree. They are the face of your company – the first impression made when people contact your company via phone or in person. It is the first voice and personality they encounter, and a poor greeting can turn people away. The person in this role, who is one of the lowest paid in the company, is the most valuable employees to look to for internal promotion. With the greatest overall exposure to clients, constituents, and inner workings of your business, they can ease into a high-level role and perform with more efficiency than a new hire. This is the person to spend some time training by providing them with information and guidance, provided they show potential through absorption of information and positive presentation to the outer world. Financially, this move saves you substantial money. Their low salary can be increased to an amount that is lower than the pool of recruits available for this role.

Assistants can make the difference between inertia and advancement. They take work off someone so that person can assume greater responsibility in key areas. Assistants can promote executives through the quality and amount of work they handle. They are a key to major growth, because the more they take on, the more the higher ups can assume responsibility that generates greater income on some level and those executives improve upon their contributions. Thus, those executives comprise a valuable recruiting pool.

So now you have three experienced and informed groups of employees to recruit into higher level roles, with positive attitudes too boot from having been promoted. You’ve saved yourself substantial interview and training time and leveraged your ability to be successful by hiring known entities show have proven their efficiency. You’ve also saved yourself recruiting fees – the costs of postings and hiring recruiters to find candidates for openings.

If these employees are self-driven, eager learners who work at high-efficiency levels – and their focus and motivations are on company needs verses their own – they should be on top of the list of candidates for consideration. One of the other telling signs is that these employees will make you feel positivity and pride when you come to work.



If I said the only way to fix your problem is to recruit candidates, and that I was the only one who could do that for you, I would be telling you a lie. Let’s say you do need to go outside of the organization to find new employees to fill existing or new openings, the success of the process must start with you. You must feel that you deserve to have the best people in the marketplace and be honest with yourself if you are keeping someone on board for the wrong reasons. This rationale is based on fear: of making a mistake in letting someone go, their reaction, catalyzing exodus by other employees, hiring the wrong person, losing time — perpetually avoiding the termination and replacement process, discouraged by the outcome and the time and effort involved. But you must bite the bullet, know when it is time to let someone go and hire a replacement. As soon as possible. You need to focus away from your fears and look toward the next person being the hire that can advance in the future.

What constitutes a good person? Right off the bat, their resume and cover letter should be compelling to look at with consistent elements in the format – even indents, periods, bolding, alignment. etc. Spelling should be accurate. mistakes on a resume are an immediate rule out when I review them. There are plenty of candidates out there who care about how they present themselves and take time to do that well; are proud of their achievements; show desire to take on more responsibility, thinks clearly and double checks their work for accuracy. There are plenty of resources out there to help with putting together outstanding resumes. If they are not able to put their personal documents together in a way that makes people take notice, their standards are too low in what they expect of themselves and too high in being confident that despite the look of their documents, employers will see how wonderful they are and hire them. This is not someone you want working for you. You will find this person will under-perform no matter what is said and done. The best lesson you can teach them, and best impact you can ever make on their career, is not to hire them. Take a pass.

In most situations, the candidate will perform in their job exactly as their resume looks. This person should have taken the time to make sure their resume and cover letter are the best they can be: aesthetically pleasing, easy to read — not too much information but not too little either. It has been spell- and grammar-checked.

There are two exceptions which require following up:

  • A second language is involved.
  • A translation issue whereby sometimes resumes will be altered by glitches or changes in software.

In these situations, review the experience, and if the qualifications meet your high bar, follow up with the candidate by:

  • Having a conversation and written exchange with the applicant for whom English is a second language.
  • Telling the candidate whose formatting is askew that it came in that way and ask for another resume. If it is corrected, that person is worth talking with.



Training someone is a separate situation, but there can be confusion between poor performance and need for training. Mistakes in distinguishing one from the other can result in premature termination or wasted time and effort on an employee who should have been fired.

Training should commence at day one of employment. It is vitally important for someone – you as the owner or the person to whom the new hire will report – to be accountable for a success in training and to assume responsibility for it as top priority, not as an afterthought. Learning on the job can be part of the process but not the entire process. Defining goals, reasonable expectations and time periods to achieve those goals is key. 90 days is the typical time period to train and evaluate the performance of a new hire. 30, 60 and 90 days are typical benchmarks for performance reviews.

Lack of information and direction will result in a dearth in ability. Don’t confuse this with the new employee not working out. Some progress with training and a consistently positive attitude with motivation to learn are signs that you don’t have a performance problem, just someone who is green. Also bear in mind that character is the basis upon which you should terminate. Should the new hire not exhibit good quality in attitude, don’t keep them.



This is where recruiters can help but they should be helping you far beyond putting warm body in a spot. You should expect, and receive, much more for your money than a person. The candidates you receive should reach the high bar you set and set it high. I agree that my clients have every right, and should exercise, their ability to recruit on their own. But there are two limitations: time, resources and lack of incoming applicants. You may only wind up with one or two choices if you go that route if that. That is consistent feedback I hear from clients. But since recruiters work on success fees, it is worth it to see who they have for you before you hire anyone. Give yourself some choices; hire the right person.

This is a reason that 90-day guarantees are important to include in your contracts with recruiters, no more, no less. The number of days in an agreement runs parallel to a highly effective and tangible hiring, training and evaluation process. No guess work, no ifs and buts — just well managed time to evaluate someone based on performance. Never sign a recruitment agreement that is less than 90 days. And ensure that your recruiter will be there for you should the placement not work out by including that service in your contract clearly stated as to what the replacement clause means. There are many who will ghost – not be reachable, not work on the replacement because they prioritize by the search that will most likely result in the next fee they earn. In the event you are receiving a lack of qualified candidates being sent to you within the first or second week, the search specialist is trying to keep your money with as little work as possible, or “acting” by sending paper. Not all recruiters are like this. But consider these elements as part of choosing someone to handle search for your company.

As mentioned, many recruiters will prioritize according to the fee they earn, so talking them down in percentage will likely have an intrinsic effect on the order of their searches. You are not saving anything by negotiating a reduction in their typical fee – you are compromising the performance of the recruiter and outcome of your search. A recruiter who runs a business for a specific industry typically has a set fee so that parity is kept among their clientele. That is what should be paid to ensure performance.

And do NOT pay retainers: overall, they are monies for people who can’t recruit or do so half-heartedly. If they were confident in their ability to recruit and prioritize well, why do they need money up front? This is where recruiters can help but they should be helping you far beyond putting warm body in a spot. You should expect, and receive, much more for your money than a person

We, as recruiters, should be paid only if we succeed at finding you the right person. The dynamic of a retainer is different from contingency. They can put themselves in a position of being an expert above you. You had to pay them. They must be smarter than the other recruiters. Smarter than me. I should listen and let them tell me who to hire because they know better. They also have my money, so I need them to perform. Retainer recruiters may try to dictate the time table, process, etc. which is further out than you are comfortable with. They may be relaxed because they have already collected monies and may not be working hard as contingency folk to make sure you get the best of the best, so you may hear some excuses as to why deadlines were not met.

They may work just hard enough to find that person who will do but is not the best. They may pressure you to interview and hire someone you feel in your gut is not right. But we all succumb to being convinced beyond our concerns, and that can be a major flaw in the recruiting system. I am not saying all retainer recruiters are not good at what they do, but I am discouraging you from using one.

But remember here as well: the bar should be raised even higher when it comes to recruiters.

When you first contact a recruiter, they should be listening closely when you first explain what you are looking for. The more information you can give, the more likely you will find someone perfect for the job. They should ask a ton of questions about the business, history, operation, success, evaluation of staff overall, tenure, culture, location, your competition, and so forth. There should be an explicit agreement and evidence that this person will be honest and transparent with you. Prepare a list of questions for your initial conversation. Ask them:

  • Are you prepared to remove someone from consideration if you are not 100% confident the candidate should be hired?
  • Do you share the exact compensation someone is receiving? Tell them that you do not wish to only hear about requirements and want to make sure there is complete accuracy and all details about someone’s present compensation plan. You can always tell the recruiter you may do a W-2 check to confirm the information.
  • Tell them that you would like reference and background checks completed before offers are made, and that you will do those yourself.
  • Be specific in what you expect in the situation of a replacement.
  • You should feel that they want to be in business with you for a long time to come, whether implicit or explicit, and that they care about doing a good job versus collecting a fee and running.
  • They should give you explicit advice – free of charge — for how to improve your business. What to do about certain individuals that you are questioning, how/when to give a performance review, how to mitigate bad performance, salary ranges, etc. Honest recruiters will tell you if you should give your existing employee more time. Those individuals have the best interests of the business at heart and should be on your short list as to who to hire.
  • You should feel a sense of ease, completion and relief from being in good hands. From there, the recruiter should be able to write up a summary about your company and the job description for your review. And it should be done the same day you have that discussion.

Set your expectations high and drive the boat. Don’t let the recruiter drive the process; keep your needs as the top priority so you can meet them. Give them a deadline, give them a block of time on certain days that they need to schedule candidates for interviews and ask them to prioritize their top selections for those meeting times. Give them feedback: tell them if you need to see more people and keep reminding them of your timing and who you want to see. Feedback is essential.

If a recruiter is doing their job, you should be able to make a choice as to who to hire from reviewing 5 to 10 resumes and from interviewing 3 to 5 people. It works like a science when done properly. The true recruiting aces can hit a hole in one. One resume, one interview, one offer. The important outcome is that you are receiving highly qualified candidates that meet the high bar you set.



One more area I wish to address is compensation, which is a vital determinant of the success of a hire. This is an area in which I see clients over-negotiate and a good candidate may take a walk at the first sign of a low offer, prompted by the assumption the company does not value what they bring to the table and concerned that they will not be rewarded for the tenure of their employment.

So, what do you offer? A 10% to 20% increase over their previous salary, a figure you should be receiving that is completely accurate from either the candidate or the client. It is tough nowadays to confirm that amount because of privacy practices in companies revealing information. But the number should make sense to you.

However, the more important number is what the candidate is minimally requiring. Find out if this is a decrease or lateral salary. Under no circumstances should you offer either: there is always that chance they may look for or be approached with higher compensation. Make them an offer they are more than happy with. The same rule should apply – at least a 10% to 20% increase.

When you do the math, don’t look at the annual figure. Look at what the salary translates into for a daily rate. Understand you are only paying for the time they are there and not the overall salary. Before you hire this candidate, ask yourself is it worth losing them over a nominal amount of money daily?

There are other forms of compensation you can put on the table if your offer is rejected or you are exceeding a set salary range. Sign-on bonuses paid at 120 days, the point at which performance has been thoroughly evaluated and an extra amount of days provided to try to ensure the hire will be staying on board.



Should you end up hiring someone who is not performing, all of those sit downs to troubleshoot performance and attitudes, caring personal chats, guilt because of perceived friendship (a survival skill of your staff member to ensure their continued employment), time writing up notes and walking away with discouragement in their potential, are unnecessary. Existing employees with troubled performance should get one shot to change within a 15-day period. If you are not completely clear on why it wasn’t working, and happy with their adjustments, it is time to move on. Remember: the act of termination is healthy for the individual’s career path. Ultimately, they move on to something new and different, more up their alley. This is what I have seen throughout my career as a consistent result.

There are never any guarantees but the information I have provided should help to leverage your ability to hire the right people. It should be enough information to start the healthy process of looking at your staff with objective and critical eyes. Measuring them for performance. Identifying weak links. And determining the necessity of a recruiter. The takeaway is also that the health of your business is your top priority. Never feel hesitant or guilty making good staffing choices. They are truly the key to your success.

In my next article, I will cover the specifics of compensation, good work habits (being on time, calling out repeatedly, being on cell phones, etc.) and when to mitigate or terminate in these situations.



Adriane Lee Schwartz is CEO of Style Search & Consulting, the leading recruitment firm specializing in expert placement of superior talent in accessories, jewelry and watches, gift, novelty, beauty, home décor and textiles.

Adriane possesses 33 years of recruiting experience. She holds a Master of Science in Management & Organizational Behavior and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language Arts. She has additional coursework under her belt in all forms of design, but especially in the accessories and jewelry arena, which she has continued to obtain throughout her career. She has her own jewelry business as well which directly feeds her ability to recruit well.

She is a published writer, blogger, speaker and consultant on organizational development, structuring positions, hiring techniques, employee performance, compensation and benefits planning, increasing revenues and profitability, and enhancement of productivity, efficiency, creativity and morale. She is also involved in mergers, acquisitions and joint endeavors within the marketplace.

For more information about our services, and discussion about your hiring needs and/or additional questions you may have, Adriane can be reached at 860.961.9061 or



Adriane Lee Schwartz, CEO & Matchmaker
M.S. Management: Organizational Behavior
Style Search & Consulting LLC

Chris Kidd is the owner of,,, and

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