For Third Party Recruiters: "When Clients Say “Lemme See Some Resumes First, Then I’ll Agree to the Fee”

I would explain it like this:
“All I need from you, Mr. Client, is your authorization that, should you hire this candidate, you will pay us our fee.  For this type of presentation to you, there is no retainer up front.  I’m waiving that.  If you don’t feel the candidate is worth the fee, then don’t hire him.”
If they still insist that you show them a candidate’s resume before gaining their agreement or that they want to ‘try’ your service first without agreeing to pay you for it, then that is a clear indication that the client is a problem client. If they are a problem client right now at this stage of the process, then they will be a problem later on in the process and in other areas. They might slow pay you or pay only part of the fee, that sort of thing. From now on, don’t worry about clients who do this.  That just means they are risky clients, and you should stay away from them.


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You should never forward resumes without a signed fee agreement. Having said that, of course we've all done it in our excitement over landing the new client. But, it's generally a waste of time. I usually tell new clients, "I'm excited to work on this for you, as soon as you return our signed agreement letter, my team will dive in."

How quickly they turn that fee agreement back is often a good indicator of how serious they are, and how real the req is.
I agree, you have to draw a hard line on this one... No signed fee agreement = no resumes. Stand firm and it will prevent you from spinning your wheels.
99% of the time I stand firm, and simply tell tell Mr. or Mrs. client that I need a signature in order to present anyone. I have very rarely had an issue with this.

However, if it is a company with a few layers, and I know it could take a bit before legal reviews my agreement and agrees, I might send a totally blinded copy to the company to get the ball rolling. This ONLY happens when I hear a few critical factors (winding down the "process", seen someone they like, etc). I also inform the candidate I am doing this but DO NOT mention the company just yet. I let them know I am negotiating something to get them in the door, and working hard on their behalf. I can count on one hand the number of times I have done this in my 12 years recruiting, and it resulted in a sendout in about 6.
well, at that point, a company is a prospect, not a client, and prospects don't get to call the shots. I like Scott's comeback, and yes, if they still insist on the try before they buy, they will cause trouble later if they do engage your services..

All I would add is that the recruiter must be brave enough to hold firm and be prepared to state his position a few times..the spirit behind the words is as important as the words themselves.

Now the question..if a recruiter encounters a prospect like this, are you talking to the wrong company? or just the wrong person within that company? And do you ( as the recruiter) respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to be walked like a dog through the process?

And are recruiters willing to accept that their initial approach may be the cause of the problem in the first place? You've got maybe a minute to establish value, and make a connection..if that doesn't happen, it's time to play "punt the recruiter" , or "stall the recruiter", or the other old favorite, " let's see if the the recruiter is desperate and dumb enough to give me something for free".
OK, I admit that on occassion I do this with a "blind resume" only. And I generally state the terms of our agreement should they hire the person (and sometimes even email the agreement with the blind resume). I have gotten a number of sendouts this way...
I agree with Will.....I too send out "blind resumes" and have gain a lot business that way.
Implied contractual obligation says that if a client knowingly asks you, a recruiter, to provide resumes for the consideration of hiring those people, legally they are binding themselves into an obligation to pay you a fee that is consistent with their industry or any similar recruiting fees that they have paid in the past, even if nothing is signed and no fee is discussed. (It helps to have this request in an e-mail should you ever need to present it in court)

I agree that a client like this is typically an uphill battle, but every case is unique and requires a cost benefit analysis, some of my best client relationships started off this way. Also if a client is not paying a fee and there is no signed contract, my experience says that one letter from your lawyer to the client will get the ball rolling. I have actually done this, got the fee, and am still working with the client. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to go to the CFO or their equivalent at the company. A CFO's job is to minimize accounts payable....of which we are all a line item! In this case they are always the decision maker.
Didn't realize you were on here & I couldn't agree with you more. An executed fee agreement is our only risk hedging mechanism. After explaining it to clients that way I've found most have no problem signing an agreement. The one's who still won't aren't serious, or worse are using our industry as a free name generation service.

Without a doubt, if you haven't cleared your fee in writing prior to revealing the candidate's identity you've lost all leverage.

On a side note, Jeff Allen wrote a piece on not too long ago suggesting recruiters not have a client signature on the agreement. That way consent from the other party is assumed after emailing them the terms. I've never used this approach, but it did strike me as a legally valid way to demonstrate consent to the fee from a difficult client. At the end of the day though, if the client objects so much to a simple step early in the hiring process why stick around and see how bad they become in later stages?

Go ARMY - beat Navy,
If you trust your candidates tell them the situation and ask them to send you a representation statement, something like " I agree that my details may be sent to Mr X and Blahdeblah Plc for the position of XXXX. I confirm that my details have not been submitted directly nor have I given my permission to any other agent to represent me.

Any interviews/offers resulting from this submission will be conducted through (insert your name and company here).

Whilst this may not be legally binding it does show your candidate and client that you weren't born yesterday and that you are a great recruiter at the top of your game.

Good advice - and agreed with Scott.

A good partnership - no matter how small the transaction - has got to be built on some sort of foundation of sharing. The way I was always taught to negotiate is "get/give". Never "give" anything unless you first "get" something - even if its verbal. Your candidates are your most valuable resources, you worked hard to source them. A customer who asks for them - without making even a simple verbal commitment to pay what's fair - is fishing.

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