I wanted to talk about quality in one of my last Vignette articles. Jason Elias will be taking over authorship of the column later in March. He is smarter and funnier so you should be in good hands and entertained. I am passionate about quality! In my view, quality is the primary driver on how we differentiate ourselves. This is true as individual members and as a network. We have quality standards within our firm (WilliamCharles Search Group) and we promote those standards as part of our branding pitch. Quality standardization is challenging within our network. Why?


Have you considered how diverse we are? We have sole proprietors, smallish firms and larger independent recruiting firms. These varied-sized firms are spread across five continents and a multitude of countries. Often these countries have their own language, customs and market realities. Each of our members incorporate their own unique business model, fee schedule, internal structures, business philosophy and market reality. We have generalist firms focused on a geography and we have specialist firms focused on a vertical industries or specific functions or subfunctions. We have firms placing top executives and others placing skilled trades. In addition, every member has a different view of how they want to leverage the network, if at all. Head spinning? How can we have “standard anything” with this membership.

We can establish best practices for exporters and importers as is done on this document and we can help members integrate NPAworldwide into their business. You likely won’t find a Quality Best Practices document on NPA Central. It is challenging to establish quality standards across the network and harder to develop a scorecard for members to evaluate quality members within the network.

Success making splits is often through finding members who have comparable expectations and similar philosophies. It is also important to communicate your expectations and also to seek understanding of your trading partners’ expectations.

Here are 7 Quality Factors from my point of view (one member’s point of view).

  • Phone or in-person contact with candidate. Email is a good starting place, but I believe a live conversation directly with the candidate is critical. You understand the person, their personality and you also build trust that will be needed later in the process.
  • Candidates are screened against the requirements. The submittal of a candidate should include the basics around salary expectation, alignment against requirements and screened for interest in location, position, travel etc. This info should be included with the submittal.
  • Half the work for half the fee. I expect the trading partner to check the references or handle other candidate duties.
  • An expectation that the company name is protected as if it were your own client.
  • Quality to us means that exporters are sourcing and proactively recruiting. When we bring a partner into a search, we expect them to actually source and recruit. Running ads or referring candidates who are already “out there,” particularly within our area, are available to us without splitting the fee.
  • Quality is tied to price. Right or wrong…when I see fee percentages under the market it gives me the perception of lower quality. Max Messmer, CEO of Robert Half International always said that “the quickest way to lower the perception of quality is to lower the price.”
  • Quality means Quality Candidates. Companies that pay a fee to hire a candidate will look for the best candidates. We should be seeking and screening for candidates that are employed and succeeding in their current positions. Candidates that have marketable backgrounds and the right reason for being interested.

Happy Hunting.