ke to be your representative,’ ” says Sabine Klahr, director of international programs at Boise State University. “We don’t answer those e-mails typically.”
“There are no standards at this point,” Klahr explains. “You could work with agents throughout the world who are not” — she pauses, searching for the right word — “they are not reputable business people, essentially. How do you know that you can trust them?”
Klahr’s question forms the foundation for the American International Recruitment Council. Incorporated as a nonprofit organization last summer and now counting 35 colleges as institutional members (including Boise State), the council is rapidly moving forward with developing standards and an “accreditation lite” procedure for certifying reputable international recruiting agents.
Yet, in embracing the practice of colleges paying recruiting agents per-student commissions, the AIRC aims to regulate an industry atop what many see as shaky ground, ethically speaking. The federal Higher Education Act bars such incentive compensation in domestic student admissions, but exempts international recruitment from the ban. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice includes a ban on commissions based on the number of students recruited, “and it does not make any exceptions” for international recruiting, says David A. Hawkins, the association’s director of public policy. “All along we’ve noted that the use of agents in and of itself isn’t a problem. It’s the way in which perhaps they’re compensated that our principles would really be more applicable towards.”
By contrast, the commission approach is more common among Australian and British universities, increasingly fierce competitors with American colleges when it comes to attracting international students. Mitch Leventhal, AIRC’s chair and president, sees the strategic use of recruiting agents as a way for the United States to maintain its historic edge. (By contrast, recruiting fairs, he says, “are 1960s.")
“If you’re involved in this, you are associating with institutions who have sort of stepped beyond the question of ‘can we, can’t we,’ and are beginning to think differently about the way American higher education recruits globally,” says Leventhal, vice provost for international affairs at the University of Cincinnati, a founding institutional AIRC member.
“They were gracious enough to extend an invitation for us to join their effort when they announced their formal incorporation,” says Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “We just as graciously declined, mostly because the very purpose for which they have now formally organized themselves is being debated within AACRAO. So we thought it’s premature for us to join that conversation, when there was at least some significant opposition within our own ranks to the very activity that they now seek to regulate.”
The AIRC’s institutional members, about a third of which are Ohio colleges, bring varying degrees of experience with agents, says Leventhal. “Some of them have been using agents for a long time, but they recognize they’ve been doing it in isolation.… Some have only recently adopted a strategy; some are considering it and they want to make sure they get it right. And then there are a couple, I think, who are not sure they’re ever going to do it.”
Officials at AIRC universities describe using a variety of payment models, including commissions, but also flat fees paid to agents and even loose institutional affiliations with agents who are paid only by students. At Cincinnati, Leventhal works with 12 to 15 agents. They earn, per student referred who is accepted and enrolled, 10 percent of net tuition paid the first year. (So if, for instance, after a scholarship, a student pays $17,000 in tuition in the first year, the agent earns $1,700 total for his or her services.)
Many colleges that have joined AIRC point to limited recruiting budgets (commission-based recruiting requires a much lower upfront cost than hiring a staff person abroad, say), and limited name recognition. Still, they strive for significant international student representation on their campuses. “We’re not a household name in the world,” says Michael Basile, director of the Institute for International Studies at Murray State University, located in southwestern Kentucky, a two-hour drive from the closest international airport. (“We’re not even within shouting distance of any large metropolitan area,” Basile says.)
“We really have to go out and dig,” Basile explains. “So I think there’s an advantage to having representatives that are located in different parts of the world that we want to attract students from.”
AIRC held its first meeting in Cincinnati in October, and, according to its timetable, expects to approve a set of standards and a certification process for agents at a meeting in May (to coincide with the annual meeting of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, in Los Angeles).
AIRC’s plans derive from American higher education’s historic process of self-regulation through voluntary accreditation. The process for certifying agents is under development, but here’s what Leventhal says is currently being considered: Agents would apply for certification, paying a fee; they also would pay for an IntegraScreen background check of their company. Following that, a certain number of employees would complete a professional development curriculum created by AIRC, which would probably focus on standards, best practices and structure of the U.S. higher education system. The agents would undergo a self-study as well as an external site visit before certification. Re-certification would come up after three years. After certification, a compliance board would investigate any complaints, and certification could be revoked, Leventhal explains.
The AIRC’s goal is to pilot the process with a very small group of agents in 2009. “Hopefully in 2010, we’ll then have systems in place so we can put a good number through the process each year,” says Leventhal.
He knows the council’s proposed approach is ambitious, but also, given a general reluctance to use agents in the United States, believes it must be so.
“What we need in this country to make people very comfortable is an established set of practices. So they know that it is in fact ethical and it can be done safely and you can hold your head high about it,” Leventhal says.
“I have exactly the same concerns that the people who are arguing against agents have. The difference is, I think we can address the concerns through the systems we’re so good at, self-regulation.”
There are many horror stories about abuses, both on the part of agents and that of American colleges. Even proponents of using agents relate such stories, although, as Leventhal says, they believe that these abuses can be addressed.
For example, when asked about a common concern that engaging agents on commission encourages an “any warm body” approach to enrollment management, Leventhal stresses that college admissions offices have an obligation to accept only qualified students, rather than take scores of unqualified students whom an agent might refer.
Admittedly, not all U.S. colleges are so scrupulous. Says Leventhal: “There are institutions in the U.S and we can all name them — and I’m not gonna, but it’s not hard – but there are institutions in the U.S, proprietary in nature, small struggling liberal arts colleges…. They’ve signed on dozens and dozens, hundreds of agents. There’s very little oversight of the agents. They’re going after the numbers. It’s not hard for the students to get in. I don’t know what their success and retention rates are.”
In May, The New York Times reported on the phenomenon of recruiters earning money from both ends — accepting commissions from colleges and direct payments from students themselves.
“In the mid-’90s, we did have some problems with agents that I would say they were less than … well, they were unscrupulous,” says Joe Tullbane, associate dean of St. Norbert College, in Wisconsin, an AIRC member. “That is, they would send students to you and you would pay their fees and a couple different things might happen. You might find that the agent had already charged the student a considerable amount of money — so in a sense, they were charging both sides for the same service. And that seemed wrong. Secondly, there were agents who would place a student and literally after you paid your money to them the student would change to another institution” (which would be harder to do now, post 9-11).
“There are plenty of them out there that are kind of fly-by-night operations that put a shingle out,” Tullbane says. “The last thing I want to hear as a small school is, ‘I can provide you with 50 students a year.’ Well, I only want two or three, from every country.”
Tullbane says he feels “pretty confident” about St. Norbert’s current checks and balances for its agents; it has about 60 on the books, he estimates, but works actively with about 15. He adds, however, that he’s hesitant to add any agents to their current roster. Speaking of why the institution joined AIRC, he says, “We felt here at St. Norbert that it’s unhealthy to sort of be your own assessment agency.
“Part of the reason we’re involved with the AIRC is so we can be assured that best practices and best standards are being established — so that when we work with agents, we know that everything is above-board and going on in the best possible fashion,” says Ray Lagasse, director of international programs at the University of North Dakota, another AIRC member. “It’s not just a rubber-stamping of whoever or whatever shows up on our doorstep. If they go through that procedure and then they obtain a particular certification, that rigor or those steps at least provide a particular level of assurance.
“We have heard horror stories,” he continues, of agents “promising this, promising that, in the name of a particular university. We do not have the time or the energy to deal with the fallout from any of this.”
Student-Centered or College-Centered?
Those critical of the practice of using agents look beyond the question of preventing flagrant abuses to ask further: Does the agent model best serve the interests of potential international students?
Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the Institute of International Education, says via e-mail that “IIE supports any effort to set standards and disseminate best practices in the field of commission-based recruiting. Our position on use of third-party recruiters is that while we recognize that some U.S. campuses feel this kind of approach works best for them, in general we believe that international students are best served by having access to the widest possible set of options, and this is available to them free of charge from the network of over 450 EducationUSA advising centers supported by the U.S. Dept. of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs around the world.” (IIE hosts a handful of these centers, and also works with the State Department to provide training and resources to EducationUSA advisers. IIE publishes the quarterly journal, EducationUSA Connections.)
In a follow-up phone interview, Blumenthal explains, “Basically a third-party recruiter is working for a college or a few institutions, so they’re going to understandably be representing those colleges and are not going to be presenting the student with [questions like]: ‘Have you thought about a community college, have you thought about a state school, a big school, a small school?’
“Do you begin with a student focus or do you begin with a campus interest? They’re both legitimate ways to proceed but from IIE’s perspective, the best success comes when the student is matched with the right school after reviewing all the options.”
“This is a two-way street. It’s not only what’s best for the school. It’s also what’s best for the student,” says Nassirian, of AACRAO.
He adds that it can be exceedingly difficult to understand what’s really happening in the office of any given international agent, signed contracts and good intentions aside. “You’re not there. You can’t read the language; you don’t understand the customs. If you did, you’d be there yourself.”
AACRAO’s ethics committee has also been questioning the wisdom of low-budget internationalization efforts more generally. Nassirian asks: “If you don’t have resources to recruit those students, how do you believe yourself to be good destinations for them?”
— Elizabeth Redden
The original story and user comments can be viewed online at http://insidehighered.com/news/2009/01/06/recruiting.…
Daniel Harris is one the bright stars within the constellation of strategic sourcing talent developing within Silicon Valley. He has been developing his name generation and overall research capabilities over the last seven years, and in that time, has been a passionate evangelist for his vocation as a distinctive fine art within the staffing realm.
Daniel Harris recently was a Sourcer/Talent Researcher at NetApp Sunnyvale headquarters since February 2007. He Reported directly to Sr Staffing Managers, building a pipeline of talent lead generation supporting different recruiters on a daily basis. Dan actively sources both active and passive passive leads on behalf of NetApp, finance/accounting, sales, consulting and marketing departments. Prior to NetApp he worked at VeriSign for a year supporting multiple recruiters from engineering to sales/marketing.
It is suffice to say that Dan cares deeply for people, his work, and about living life to the fullest. He takes time to smell the roses so to speak. He is an international traveler, always looking over the horizon for his next experience overseas year after year. Dan prides himself in being part of the American dream, and likewise in being traditional; maintaining tight familial bonds. He visits his family often in Vacaville, about 1.5 hours away from his home in San Jose. His parents have since retired; his mother was a florist and father was in the Air Force and a part-time car mechanic, and he is mindful of his younger brother, and their family dog, "Momo" He is just as animated about speaking about those he loves as he is about the passion he has for his profession, sourcing.
And for all these stated reasons and more, I am proud to have Dan as my first personal apprentice in the JobMachine Advanced Cybersleuth's program.
It has been my personal observation that Dan Harris has a particular passion for life, one which resonates in each of the opportunities I have had the pleasure of meeting him. He has often been seen passing out sheets of the latest niche sites he has discovered to colleagues with a large grin and a sincere enthusiasm, and never seeks reciprocity for his generosity. He is often one of the first to register for a webinar or workshop, with a tenacious desire to maintain his cutting edge. When Research Goddess in Training, AmyBeth Hale visited the Bay Area, Dan provided legendary tour guide assistance. Of special note, Dan is one of the most modest people I have met in this industry. He is if anything, bashful when it comes to recognition, always thankful for the smallest of favors, and never a braggart. It is a significant quality for someone whose career is noteworthy for accomplishments and destined with the high expectations of his peers. Dan is respected for many reasons, but because he is a genuinely kind and thoughtful person he is a person who develops bonds in his friendships that go beyond the professional meet and greets.
Dan is one of the small circle of colleagues I contact within the Bay Area to assess hiring trends for recruiters in the technology economy. Someone of Dan Harris' talent and work ethic is in demand and the availability of sharp sourcers is in limited supply. I can honestly say, Dan is one of my personal bell weathers “ if Dan isn't on a contract, I promptly surmise the bay area economy is slowing down.
Q&A with Daniel Harris, Sourcing Expert
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world Daniel.
Daniel: I bought a Nintendo Wii and I like to play video games but haven't lately at all. I've been spending my time reading more books to sourcing/research on the internet. I am picking up Golf and enjoying that greatly. Mainly my time is spent at work/home in research and sourcing (passion for it). Currently reading books on Competitive Intelligence as I am finding the subject and topics it covers extremely interesting. I love listening to self improvement audio books at my desk everyday (for about 1 hr while I'm working). I listen to webinars to CDs from others such as Bill Vicks Big Biller audio dvd to Lou Adler zoominfo webinars to Shally Steckerl recorded webinars I have. I also enjoy volunteering at my local church serving as an usher to help setup and takedown on Sundays.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
Daniel: I got pulled into recruiting from retail. I was working for Best Buy as a Merchandising/Media Supervisor and one of the General Managers left to join a small boutique Name Generation/Profiling company (HTC Research). He recommended me and I was hired on the day I interviewed.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Daniel: Well, I would say itâ€™s multiple events, but if I had to nail one it would be Jack Young, a coworker I had at HTC Research who stated to me, "Dan, BE YOUR BEST" just before I left there. Its has been a lasting effect over me and the changes I've made within my career in my learning development, growth, thoughts, work ethic, understanding and how I go about in research and sourcing for the best passive talent.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your job
Daniel: I'm most currently a Contract Sourcer/Talent Researcher at NetApp working onsite in Sunnyvale, California. My responsibilities are delivering a pipeline of talent of names/profiles/resumes to senior recruiters covering marketing, sales, to finance position opportunities we have.
Six Degrees: Are there occasions in which you share best practices with your colleagues?
Daniel: In-house at NetApp I gave presentations & my cheat sheets on some of the newest techniques, websites, and sourcing strategies I share with the recruiting teams I worked with every quarter. In November and December this last quarter I Led and contributed to sourcing training via phone/web conferencing to the NetApp India recruiting team along with the help of two additional sourcers within NetApp. I love to teach and also learn from others!
HOW DOES DAN DO IT?
Our continuing series on the rank and file and thought leaders who make us proud of our vocation. Dan Harris is a worthy role model to spotlight. He is modest, - truly uneffected by each of his successes, suffice to say it is because his inner core is driven by a certain, most unique love for his profession in life. It is comparable to a professional football player remembering the first time he held a pigskin in his grip or a baseball player recalling that warm summer afternoon as a youth playing catch with his dad. It is a sincere passion, a bliss few of us can maintain given our daily chores, and it is for that reason, that Dan Harris is respected and admired by his peers - his focus and drive being all the more infectious to us all. Today we continue our discussion from the trenches in this War for Talent.
Q&A with Daniel Harris, Sourcing Expert
Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?
Daniel: While I won't give an exact number, I will state we have a higher percent of employee referrals that are hired and come onboard vs through our corporate website but its almost equal I would say.
Six Degrees: What is the source of the "Most Hires" collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)
Daniel: Employee Referrals and directly through our Company Website are representative of our highest quantity hires. Both are about equal.
Six Degrees: What is the source of your "LOWEST COST OF HIRES" - (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?
Daniel: Employee Referrals and Internal mobility.
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
Daniel: One of my focuses is building out a talent pipeline at NetApp. I am the orginal creator of our NetApp Facebook page which now boasts over 700+ fans. I'm proud I was able to create something that will now contribute to more overall branding and social networking relationships for NetApp. I also targeted specific competitor companies and built out handmade directories/contact title lists for multiple recruiters with a majority of names that won't be found using any resume board, Linkedin, or via the internet.
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
Daniel: Well, I am currently Secretary of HRCA and actively assist putting together great speakers here locally in the bay area every quarter. I usually try and attend great webinars given by Humancapitalinstitute.org. I also look at ERE.net to taking Shally Steckerl's Jobmachine, Inc. webinars.
Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?
Daniel: I would say my biggest three tools I used everyday at NetApp are jigsaw, spoke, linkedin, and talenthook. There are some other tools I am itching to get but for now I must use these.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
Daniel: I was originally trained via telephone methods while at HTC Research. I then started using the internet more and found search engines like Yahoo, Dogpile, or Google helpful.
Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? To this day would you say people's assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?
Daniel: Found it pretty exciting and challenging at the same time. The expectations and what I thought I would be doing was extremely hard but I was able to reinvent myself by a combination of using both the phone and the internet. While I had a lot of personal interaction while working retail before I found a lot of my skill sets I learned did carry over but still had to work and learn at recruiting, specifically the biggest being just really understanding the job and what the hiring manager was looking for.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn't and how that was a learning experience?
Daniel: Ha ha! I've made so many and learned a lot. I can't say I could single out any single practice in my mind this moment. However, One point I would say the you can't really start a job without first really understanding it and knowing what your looking for and requirements.
Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? If you started that process, outline the problem, your solutions, and the vision.
Daniel: Its starts with me! I openly share my research/sourcing knowledge with my coworkers and friends I have in recruiting. I believe in sharing knowledge and skills as it comes 100x back. I think the biggest differentiator is that I do feel confident in the work quality/quantity I can produce, how I think and can best bring value and talent into a top organization. I believe the YOU can be the biggest component in your success along with meeting and surrounding yourself with the right people/talent and knowledge along the way. Continually Learning and I never give up plus I love the thrill of hunting talent and winning.
Six Degrees: Best practice you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
Daniel: Striving to Be My Best everyday. Continually learning and improving. Understanding the position, having focus and then taking the right actions to get the results I need.
Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?
Daniel: The biggest obstacle I still face internally sometimes is when hiring manager(s) or certain upper management within companies doesn't understand the challenges that sourcer/researchers go through in the recruiting process. Sometimes the hiring manager needs coaching and understanding on what is realistic (both in timetable to the multi-faceted skill level candidates the hiring manager is wanting).
Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?
Daniel: Maybe an HR Business Partner or Upper Management at many companies that don't have a fully understanding grasp of what research/sourcing can do within their staffing organization (not to mention help possibly impact marketing, sales, and Competitive Intelligence).
Six Degrees: Considering all of the frustrations you have experienced in your career as a recruiter, -- what inspires you as you continue in your career?
Daniel: People Do! What motivates me everyday is People. I truly want to help impact and make a difference in their lives. Yes, while I do acknowledge I reach out and connect to passive talent mostly, I really do want to make a positive impact and create that great win/win in their career and financially for their families.
Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to implement that hasn't been done before?
Daniel: I would like to lead and take part in implementing some very low-cost training & networking luncheons starting here in the silicon valley/bay area that would provide more opportunities for face-to-face networking of industry leaders, HR staffing mgmt, and recruiting peers as we truly are only a couple degrees of knowing each other. We can help each other and others through this as People and the connections we know is one of our most powerful assets throughout our career and through our lives. If we can build lives, help build each other, we all get better and get through challenges and challenging times together!
Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?
Daniel: Well, I love to make great connections on linkedin so I can be found there
Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?
Daniel: This feels like a Pinky and the Brain question! I will endeavor to get research and sourcing more well known, valued, and an understood function within industry organizations. Also see above on networking luncheons.
Recommendations For Daniel Harris
"Dan's generous spirit and ebullient enthusiasm are absolutely contagious. Few people in our industry have such a hunger for learning even after they have developed a deep wealth of knowledge, yet remain so openly willing to share. Dan is sharp and engaging, making him not only a pleasure to work with but someone with whom to enjoy exploring new ideas. I strongly recommend Dan among the elite CyberSleuths" September 21, 2007
Shally Steckerl, Chief CyberSleuth & Founder, JobMachine, Inc,
"I hired Dan based on a recommendation from one of my Name Generation Managers and I'm glad I did. Dan is probably one of the best Internet Name Generators I've every trained. We trained him to take a project and "make it his". When he first started he had never even heard of Name Generation and within a year he was taking ownership of projects and runing the research from start to finish. He made tons and tons of mistakes but never allowed his ego to get in the way of what was best for the research and the client and was easily corrected and put back on the right track. He was always eager to learn new tricks and invested a few new ones himself. He has the highest integrity and truely appreciates the skills he has acquired. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and I highly recommend him as I know he will go very far in this career." February 21, 2007
Jeff Weidner, COO, HTC Research Corp
"Dan worked for me at HTC for 4+years. Was sorry to lose him. Great work ethic and super employee. Knows his way around the internet too! Solid researcher. Would love to have him back!" June 9, 2005
Jeff Shiverdaker, President, HTC Research
"Dan is an excellent sourcer and team player. He is up to the second on what's new in sourcing techniques and tools and so willing to share what he knows with others. He is always positive and always willing to go the extra mile to help the team be successful." September 20, 2007
Andrea Schmidt, Recruiter, VeriSign, Inc.
"Dan is passionate about his role and committed to providing value to the team. He is a fearless researcher and has freely shared his insights and techniques with me. I feel I've learned a lot from his cutting edge techniques and his take on the future of recruiting plays out for me in my bid to secure top technical talent daily." September 19, 2007
Kate Gordon, Senior Recruiter, VeriSign
"Dan is great guy, very professional, focused and interested on getting to know the actual person to find the best fit." March 27, 2007
Federico Bockel, Sr Network Engineer, DTCC
"Dan is one of the best sourcers of the industry and is always well equipped with new sourcing techniques and ways to find qualified talent for "hard to fill " jobs .He is very talented in sourcing and always ready to share information.I would highly recommend him." September 25, 2007
Nikhila Bhingarkar, Human Resources-Staffing, Oracle ( formerly Hyperion Solutions Corporation)
"Dan has an incredible sense of how to best utilize information technology to attain and maintain a true competitive advantage. Use his resources and watch his amazing network bring you the results you need almost magically." October 18, 2006
Kevin Nations (firstname.lastname@example.org), Owner, SilverBack Marketing Corp
View my profile on RecruitingBlogs.com…