Ask the Recruiter

July 1st, 2006

By Gary Zelamsky
Founding Partner, Executive Alliance
July 2006 

As recruiters, we receive questions daily from hiring managers about how to search for candidates, handle relocation packages, format resumes, and everything related to recruiting. Here are some questions that were recently asked, along with our suggestions:

Candidate questions

Functional vs. chronological resume
Q: I have had some unfortunate experiences that have resulted in a lot of job changes. Can I prepare a “functional” resume that focuses on my skill sets, and leave out either some employers or dates of employment?

A: There is some difference of opinion on this but most recruiters will tell you that you should prepare a standard chronological resume that lists most recent job first and includes dates of employment. The reason is that with a functional resume, it appears that you are hiding something.

I have found that it is much better to present a chronological resume and be prepared to provide logical reasons for the job changes.  It’s not the worst thing in the world to have had a boss that you didn’t get along with.  Downsizings are not necessarily negative; it happens to the best of us. So your best bet is to be honest and have a good story to tell about what you accomplished and what you will do to become the star performer in your next job.

That being said, if you are a seasoned candidate and you don’t want to advertise your age, there is no reason to include early job history.  It is acceptable to provide job history for let’s say the past 20 years. Most employers won’t spend too much time inquiring about anything before that.

Relocation Expenses
Q: I anticipate getting a job offer that requires relocation. What should I ask for in a relocation package and when should I ask about it?

A: Generally speaking, the higher level the position, the more a company is willing to invest in relocation. For supervisory and entry-level management positions, some companies will not fund any relocation, although most hiring managers realize that they should cover at least the minimal relocation costs. Many times this will be a cash stipend, just like a signing bonus, so that the company doesn’t have to deal with reviewing and reimbursing several invoices.

For VP positions and above, the candidate will usually be able to get full reimbursement of actual moving costs. Larger companies are more likely to pay real estate closing costs and mortgage points. For C-level positions, even smaller companies may have to come up with a significant relocation package if they want to attract the best candidates.

As to when to ask about relocation, this is a compensation question that is best raised after an offer is made. As a candidate your mission is to have the company attracted to you while you are assessing whether this is your employer of choice. To borrow from JFK, ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company. Only after the employer is convinced that you are their knight in shining armor should you inquire about relocation packages.

When to resign
Q: I was just offered a great position, but the offer is subject to a background check. I know my background is clean, so that won’t be an issue in my employment. Should I resign from my current job now, so I can start this new job as soon as possible?

A: No. You should wait until all contingencies are removed before you resign from your current position. As a recruiter I would normally do everything possible to speed the hiring process. However, it is not in your best interest to resign until you have an unqualified offer. While chances are that the background check will go smoothly, there are lots of reasons for delays or even withdrawal of the offer. A final offer can get delayed due to a slow response on a background check, a transcription mistake on a date or social security number or any number of other bureaucratic errors. Also, while you may think that nothing can go wrong, candidates have lost job offers due to bad references, seemingly minor incorrect data on a resume or transgressions that took place so long ago that the candidate forgot about it. It is best to wait the extra week until you get the “all clear,” then you can safely resign from your current position.

Employer Question

Compensation Packages
Q: I would like to hire a collection manager who is currently earning a base of $50,000 plus a small bonus. Our bonus plan is much more generous. Is it OK if I offer the candidate $45,000 because the candidate will have the opportunity to hit $80,000 total on a W-2?

A: Sorry, but I think you’ll need to spring for at least $50,000 on the base. We humans tend to be risk-averse. The value that the candidate places on the guaranteed base is a lot greater than the value placed on the bonus, and sometimes for good reason. I hear this all the time from salespeople who say they aren’t earning optimal commissions because the operations folks aren’t performing well. Some employees don’t see eye-to-eye with their employer regarding what goals need to be achieved in order to get the full bonus. And then there are companies that adjust a commission plan (usually downward) because they think the employee is earning too much money.
I’m trying not to take sides here, but you really need to at least match what the candidate is currently earning. There is always the chance that a salesperson will move for a lower offer, but that is a rare event.

Gary Zelamsky is a principal at Executive Alliance, a strategic partner of Kaulkin Ginsberg, and a leading national recruitment firm that specializes in the debt collection and accounts receivable management industry. Contact Gary at

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