10 More Tips for Getting a Staffing Contract with an HR Gatekeeper

Like most sequels, this is not as good as the original, but I hope this is a better sequel than Revenge of the Nerds II Please read #4 first if you are pressed for time.


1. Cold Calls on Voicemail. Keep the pitch short. Find out the delete # in my system and say "Don't hit the 9 key! My friend Julie is a top notch SharePoint developer and asked me contact you about yesterday's posting. I'm Julie Carr with Blobert Blaf Blechnology (or any company that just happen to rhyme with it).  My friend is a free referral, but I'd like to get 15 minutes to discuss your future needs." For a lower demand position, use a hook like, "My friend Julie is a top notch helpdesk agent, and I promise she will
pass your background screen."

2. Warm Intros. I generally encouraged them, but there is one kind I loathe…one through my hiring managers after your had her interview the "perfect" candidate without a signed agreement. I could hire your candidate without paying you, but I'm honest. I'll have you sign my agreement. The day after the placement, I'll implement the rescission clause, and I'll let you give the news to your boss about the one placement contract.

3. LinkedIn. I know this has been addressed elsewhere, but send a personalized LinkedIn invite. The default "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" translates to "I'm too lazy to tell you why I want to contact you, and I'm just trying to expand my contacts so I can leverage your network."

4. Timing for Visits. There is a good time to visit! Schedule some time the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. Memorial Day and Labor Day are some good examples. Someone in HR must stay even when  everyone else leaves early. My telephone won't ring. No emergency IMs. This is the time to bring me  something to snack on. If you insist on making unannounced visits, this is the time try it. 

5. Give Me Information Early. Unlike you, my job primary job is not to keep an external network going, but my primary job is to please my internal customers. Because of this you get information faster than I do. If you find out my competitor just suddenly laid off 25 people an hour ago, let me know. I'll find out tomorrow anyway, but you'll get noticed if you beat the web alerts.

6. Payrolling. How could I possibly have another tip about payrolling? If you went any lower than the 25% I recommended before, your boss would kill you. If you insist on a race to the bottom don't go below 20% or
I'll think you are doing something illegal.

7. Lunch. Don't be afraid to close the deal. If I am not a complete mooch, I'm open to hearing your pitch. I've had a few, "I just wanted to get to know you better so we can build on this relationship" lunches. I hate those worse than a pushy hard sell. I'm having lunch with you so I can multitask. Find out what I need, and provide solutions. Make it worth my time.

8. Executive Referrals. Avoid telling me my CEO suggested you call me, unless she did.   It is usually
a white lie. "Bert, saw your CEO (in the Dallas Morning News) and I heard (from my boss) that you were the guy to contact for new staffing contracts."  If you have managed to get to me by executive contact, put on your "A" game.

9. My Ego. Check me out. Google me. Look at my public LinkedIn profile. Remember my "anonymous" resume on the boards. Check Facebook too because no one can keep up with the changing security settings.

10. Gifts after I Sign. What last longer than a ceramic mug? A titanium mug? No. Your friendship, honestly, and advice.  We are all here to make a living, but at the end of the day this is a business that is dependent on relationships. Prove to me you can exceed my business expectations, but show me this is a long term relationship.


About the Author: Bert Shimabukuro is an HR professional with expertise in talent acquisition, employee relations, collective bargaining, electronic monitoring in the workplace, and International HR. He holds a Master of Arts in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Hawaii.

Views: 2945

Comment by Mike Hard on June 29, 2011 at 12:26pm

Hi Bert - interesting post (i'm sure you'll get alot of kudos) 


I'm interested, between all of the cold calls, linked in requests, lunches, etc...how much time are you spending every week with search firms? I like your recommendations, and I think there need to be more best practices published about how to deal with headhunters, but I am interested in how you handle all of this and still balance everything else you need to do.



Comment by Bert Shimabukuro on July 7, 2011 at 12:18am
Mike, Sorry it has taken a while for me to respond. A ton of reqs on my desk. For new firms, maybe 2 hours a month because I will only take referrals. I'll take a lunch once a month but is with an existing agency at least half the time. With existing firms, the hours have ranged from 0-10. If I'm spending too much time with an agency, they aren't doing their job. Caller ID screens out most of the new agencies. If someone does get me, I listen for about 15 second to see if they are saying anything interesting. 99 out of 100 times I politely tell them I don't have a need for new vendors. I'm nice even to the bad ones. I feel for them but not enough to spend a lot of time with them.


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