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Recruiter Puts Its Money Where Its Workers Are

By Andrea Caumont
Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 6, 2004 -- Clint Heiden's two-month-old recruiting firm offers its clients in the technology industry what amounts to a partial money-back guarantee: A job candidate hired through the Heiden Group, which specializes in sales positions for tech companies, will be a top performer within six months. If the candidate quits or falls short, the recruiter refunds between 20 and 40 percent of its placement fee, which averages about 25 percent of a candidate's annual salary.

"We spent 15 years listening to recruiters try to sell us people," said Heiden, referring to the years that he and his partners spent as executives with Washington area technology companies.

"The disconnect was, they were never as accountable for the people as we were," he said. "If the person didn't perform well, there were no repercussions" for the recruiter, he said. "But if I had ineffective hires and failed to deliver on revenue, my job was on the line."

Heiden said bringing such agreements to the recruiting world was long overdue. It was "incredibly scary" because no one had done it before, Heiden said. "We felt like it made sense, so why has nobody done it?" He says he doesn't expect to see too many imitators right away. "I think they'll wait and see how we do. If you look at the Internet service-level agreements, it took a year, but eventually everyone offered it, and it set a new standard. . . . More people have to stand up and guarantee that their representatives are going to perform."

Heiden merged his fledgling recruiting company Heiden Hopewell Phillips with Jason Weisberger's San Francisco-based recruiting company Brigantine Consulting in October and renamed the organization the Heiden Group. He declined to say what his company's revenue is but said it is profitable. He predicts it will be a $10 million company in two years.

The company has 30 accounts with technology companies that represent more than 90 available positions across the country. "Our focus is taking high performers in the sales arena and finding high-growth, exciting companies that they can get involved with," Heiden said. He said the company maintains a roster of 2,000 to 3,000 candidates who generally are not actively seeking new jobs. "Most of the people looking are not the stars," Heiden said. "Our network is a hidden network because it's a group of top performers who don't have their résumés scattered all over the industry."

Heiden said he and his partners have built their contact list by working in the sales departments of technology companies and through connections they've made with other managers. Heiden served in executive sales positions for Cable and Wireless, Qwest Communications International Inc. and UUNet. He said he and his partners have typically worked with the candidates or know someone who has.


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