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Personal Touch Sets Recruiter Apart

Telecom specialist visits sites, learns about communities and gets to know firms and candidates to make the best match.

October 18, 2000

Elaine Cohen's niche as an executive recruiter, placing employees in the telecommunications industry nationwide, has taught her to master the art of long-distance relationships. Keeping ties alive with clients and candidates across the country takes commitment and availability, Cohen says. Meeting face to face, developing personal friendships and honestly assessing a candidate's chances help accomplish that. Cohen was interviewed by freelance writer Karen E. Klein.

When I have new clients come to me with multiple openings that they need to find candidates for, or I see the potential for several positions to be filled in the future, I visit their work site in person.

When I take time to visit them, I'll get to know the work environment, I'll meet the personalities in the company, I'll assess the work environment--is it structured? relaxed? innovative?--and I'll learn about the residential area.

I place people in all kinds of positions in the telecommunications industry, from network operations to electrical engineers to sales personnel, and I work both for the individuals looking for jobs and for the companies looking for new hires. I'm always relocating people, so if I can tell potential employees what homes cost locally, how good the schools are and what amenities are offered in that area, I have a much better chance of selling them on new positions.

Every month, I'm out of the office about half the time. I schedule several meetings in various locations back-to-back, so I'm on the road three or four days going from one client to another. I set up the interviews, fly in one day to interview applicants with my client and stay over another day to discuss all the candidates. It's a lot of work, and it's tiring, but giving clients my personal feedback makes all the difference.

I've done this work for so long that my sense of people is intuitive, and I am very, very honest. I walk away from a lot of deals that I know are wrong. Clients are sometimes cautious about recruiters because they think recruiters will say whatever it takes to place a client. I don't do that.

Another thing that makes clients remember me is that I do not get bitter if a deal falls through. I don't get angry with a candidate for not taking a job I've recommended, or with a company that hires a candidate that is not mine. Because I keep the relationship positive, I've found that many of them will call me again. I also recognize that I'm dealing with people's lives, so I don't sell a position really, really hard if it is not right for them and their families in the long run.

When applicants or clients call me, I try very hard to be available for them. We don't even have to talk about the positions all the time, sometimes we just talk about them. I meet people in stressful situations: They're in the middle of a divorce, or they're changing careers, or they're unhappy with their work. I become a major part of their life when I help them make a change or further their career. I take this responsibility seriously.

Sometimes corporate clients call and need me to set up interviews immediately. It's a booming time for this business, and it's very, very hard to find people right now. I try to accommodate my clients as best I can, even if they can't give me the two weeks' notice I usually require.

And I try hard to make personal connections with the clients I deal with, whoever they are. While we're on the phone, I ask if they have great plans for the coming weekend or if they had a nice weekend if it has just passed. Most people will start talking. Sometimes they will give me more information than I really want to know, but it definitely breaks the ice and the relationship-building starts from there.


If your business can provide a lesson to other entrepreneurs, contact Karen E. Klein at the Los Angeles Times, 1333 S. Mayflower Ave., Suite 100, Monrovia, CA 91016 or at Include your name, address and telephone number.


At a Glance

* Company: Fortune


* Owners: Steve Pandolfo

and Elaine Cohen

* Nature of business:

Search and recruiting firm

* Location: 42 Corporate

Park, Irvine 92606

* Founded: 1979

* E-mail: fpc@fortunecom


* Web site: http://www

* Employees: 15

* Annual revenue: $2 million

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