July 16, 2018

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Can I Get That in Writing?

Recently, my daughter found a perfect house she wanted to rent. After looking at the property and shaking hands with the owners, she called her current landlord and gave 30 days’ notice.

A week later, the owners of the new house changed their minds. Without a signed lease to fall back on, and with a new tenant moving into her old place the first of the month, my daughter is soon to be homeless.

Hopefully, she’ll be more careful in the future. But at the very least, her experience should remind us that handshake agreements come with a whole lot of risk.

More than Protecting Your Interests

Just as good fences make for good neighbors, strong written agreements can help build strong business relationships.

For example, I’d never commit my time and resources to a search without having a signed fee agreement. And I certainly wouldn’t advise a candidate to quit a job before receiving an offer in writing.

Aside from search contracts and offer letters, there are many other ways to apply the written word. Getting it in writing not only gives you a greater sense of security, it helps clarify the other party’s true intentions. In other words, if writing it down scares them off, you’re better off without them in the long run. Here are four of the tools I use:

1.Proposals. Before I take on a search, I’ll write a brief proposal that includes the title and salary of the position the company wants to fill, along with the estimated time frame for completion and a calculation of my fee. If there’s a problem, I’d rather find out sooner than later. If everything is satisfactory, the proposal converts to a contract, once a signature is applied.

2.Navigators. These are job description questionnaires I ask employers to fill out and sign before I start a search. Navigators help clarify my understanding of the position, and they force the hiring manager to acknowledge that we’re both reading from the same sheet of music.

3.Resume updates. As a general rule, I don’t submit resumes to an employer as a way to qualify or disqualify a candidate. However, once I get the “green light” to arrange an interview, I’ll make sure the candidate’s resume is carefully updated to reflect the person’s ability to do the job and satisfy the requirements found in the navigator or the company’s job description.

4.Comparisons. In the rare event I get pushback on a candidate (as in, “This person doesn’t appear to be qualified”), I’ll design a spreadsheet that compares the candidate’s credentials with the job description or with other candidates under consideration.

Not long ago, I drew up a comparison chart for an employer who was reluctant to consider any of the four candidates I recruited. By demonstrating that each of the candidates satisfied the most important requirements, the employer agreed to interview all four, resulting a placement.

Similarly, if a candidate is unsure whether to accept a new position, I’ll provide a spreadsheet that compares various elements of the new job with the candidate’s current role. Very often, the written word (or a visual illustration) can satisfy concerns or be more persuasive than anything I could say out loud.

Yes, all words are important. But words recorded on paper or in digital media have optimal clarity and staying power. While it’s admirable to trust what other people are saying, it’s even better to verify.

Bill Radin

Bill Radin is one of the most popular and highly regarded trainers in the recruiting industry, and has trained many of the largest independent and franchised recruiting organizations, including Management Recruiters, Dunhill, Sanford Rose, Snelling and Fortune Personnel. His speaking engagements include the NAPS national conference, the annual Kennedy Conference, and dozens of state association meetings and network conventions, including Top Echelon and